Another Obama Pail for me….people you’re killing me!


I am debating a broader post on Yemen this weekend but I really do have to vent some of the exhaust from the right-wing nut types and assorted other FP simpletons of the entire political spectrum.

Given the recent events in Yemen folks have been quick to point out President Obamas recent comment (9/14) that Yemen embodied a success story. The actual quote and context about Yemen looks like this:

This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out [the Islamic State] wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

The topic du jour was about ramping up action specifically against ISIL and was trying to use the anti-Al Qaeda actions in Yemen as an example.

The US drone war in Yemen has been successful depending on the metric you use. Indeed we have killed many people who were in direct and active opposition to our goals and policies in the region. Early engagements had a demonstrable impact on AQ membership rolls. So the drone war and the overall anti-terrorist program has had many successes but has also likely played a role in assuring Yemen’s potentially inevitable time line is playing out.

Bottom line valley viewpoint is this. Obama was correct in asserting Yemen as an example of success for fighting terrorists and since that was the extent of the context of his statement he wasn’t wrong. If people want to bash Obama or any other Oval occupant on issues in the Middle East they would do far better maintaining a focus on feverishly flawed foreign policy the USA has refused to reevaluate.



  1. Rutherford says:

    You continue to “play fair” in these matters. Admirable post!

  2. jonolan says:

    I see at as Alfie playing into Obongo’s personal game plan, that of making nuanced statements that can be held up as both true and defensible despite being at odds with the larger reality surrounding his actions and lack thereof.

    The war on terrorism, especially when waged within the confines of the Muslim World, cannot be pursued in a vacuum or without taking into account that “terrorists” become insurgents, often successful ones, quite readily and along proven event-response pathways.

    That all being said, Yemen is, was, and likely always will be a mess that is poorly disguised as a nation. I know. I worked their for a short time…before myself and my team almost got killed, got pulled out of the country, and the contract with what passed itself off as Yemen’s government was cancelled.

  3. Alfie says:

    @ jonolan were you in Yemen or was it back in the North/ South days?

  4. Alfie says:

    Also @ Jonolan,to your larger accusation towards me I obviously take great offense.
    The right wing punditry parade charade against Obama and Yemen are all gathered around the recent events of the Houthis and the failure of the federal government in Sanaa.I’ve seen no reason to believe they are on about anything other than taking a swing at Obama. I imagine a majority of them are unaware of Yemens history,unaware that the Houthis although better than AQAP don’t like us. US policy in Yemen has sucked since 1990 at least and that’s a fact. The right is myopic and the left blind on policy in the region imo and the USA is literally reaping what it has sown.

  5. jonolan says:

    Just post “unification.”

  6. jonolan says:

    I’m sorry you took offense but the “right wing punditry parade charade against Obama” is closer to right in their statements than that of Obama who sided with as accurate. It’s pointless to be right in a narrow context when what you’re doing either doesn’t address the somewhat larger context or exacerbates it.

    In other words, it’s accurate but untrue that Obama’s efforts in Yemen against terrorism were a success since they helped galvanize an insurgency that looks to be successful for the time being.

  7. Alfie says:

    @ jonolan thanks for the update on your timeline. In your opinion do you think the attempt of federalism in Yemen was a non-starter ? Do you think a break-up is in the cards?
    As for your other furtherance I think we are destined to not see eye to eye. Where was the outrage before the fall of the Hadi government? I don’t see where it was present in fact I see where for a long time our wrong policy in the region has been supported again and again.
    Still in other ways I am in complete agreement with you. The regions events do not occur in a vacuum and the cause and effects are something to behold and study. On that I could give people carte blanche for smacking O around and perhaps that’s what you see playing out on this specific point. I don’t believe that to be the driver however.

  8. Alfie says:

    A deeper question for you since you stood there… Where do you see the lines drawn regards Houthis and AQAP’s motivations? I ask because of your comments earlier about insurgency etc

  9. jonolan says:

    My extremely limited, despite having been the boots on the ground, on Yemen:

    It isn’t and hasn’t been a nation ever, much like Afghanistan (been there too). Their federal government’s power has never extended past the capital and some of the larger, closer towns. The rest of the “nation” is made up of quasi-independent city-states that regularly make war upon each other and have done so since antiquity. Even the dialect changes dramatically from village or town to village or town.

    Insurgency and coups may be expected but such are not going to impact Yemen as a whole because there is – pre- or post-integration – no Yemen as a whole in its own people’s eyes. Again, this is much like Afghanistan and, to a lesser degree, Pakistan.

    To sum it up – The West, most often a drunken, malarial Brit, drew lines on a map and named nations…without taking into account the beliefs or cultures of people within those lines…And we all seem to go along with that idea because we do make nations and think this is normal.

  10. Rutherford says:

    In other words, it’s accurate but untrue that Obama’s efforts in Yemen against terrorism were a success since they helped galvanize an insurgency that looks to be successful for the time being.

    Your thoughts on this no doubt run deeper than mine since you’ve been there and I haven’t. That said, don’t our acts against terrorism ALWAYS galvanize more terrorism? Don’t they love the fight from us because it furthers their propaganda? Seems to me we “inspire” insurgency in every country we touch lately.

  11. jonolan says:

    Given how we fight terrorism in other nations, I’m forced to agree with that assertion. Too many of our policy makers just don’t have the knowledge of the cultures we’re fighting in / against / with to make good decisions…and they don’t want to listen to those that have the knowledge because they DON’T like the answers or response pathways that knowledge would force upon them.

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