War in Yemen?

It seems that Al Qaeda’s base of operations is now Yemen, not Afghanistan. That country on the
Arabian peninsula is where the Nigerian bomber got his training and where new threats are coming from. President Obama has said that our quarrel is not with Islamic radicals in general, just Al Qaeda. So should we now invade Yemen?

Just before Christmas, American forces participated with those of the Yemeni government in an air strike said to have killed 30 al Qaeda operatives. (One of them was thought to be the guru of the Ft. Hood shooter, but he apparently is still alive and may have played a role in the Underwear Bombing.) So President Obama, who must have approved the strike, may be thinking in these terms.

How about if we forget about nation building and long-term occupations? Instead, we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    I think you have a slight mistake there, dr. Veith: Yemen is not on the African continent, but on the Arabian peninsula.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    I think you have a slight mistake there, dr. Veith: Yemen is not on the African continent, but on the Arabian peninsula.

  • MarkB

    Unfortunately it looks like we are headed there. I mentioned my concerns about this in a recent post on this blog about the Underwear Bomber.

    “MarkB said:
    Am I over analyzing what has happened and what is being said, when I see a buildup in rhetoric that will lead to an attack of Al Qaeda in Yemen.
    Reference towards the end of this article on the second page. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/northwest-airlines-bomb-photos/story?id=9436297
    I see more and more of this type of talk and I fear we will not untangle ourselves from the Middle East. Instead we will double down.”

    I am not against going after these people, but we need some rational way to deal with them if we catch them instead of just holding them a few years and letting them go. I also do not think considering them to be criminals will work either. That just gives them a forum to spew their hate and to allow some sharp lawyers to twist our system of laws into knots and pervert justice.

  • MarkB

    Unfortunately it looks like we are headed there. I mentioned my concerns about this in a recent post on this blog about the Underwear Bomber.

    “MarkB said:
    Am I over analyzing what has happened and what is being said, when I see a buildup in rhetoric that will lead to an attack of Al Qaeda in Yemen.
    Reference towards the end of this article on the second page. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/northwest-airlines-bomb-photos/story?id=9436297
    I see more and more of this type of talk and I fear we will not untangle ourselves from the Middle East. Instead we will double down.”

    I am not against going after these people, but we need some rational way to deal with them if we catch them instead of just holding them a few years and letting them go. I also do not think considering them to be criminals will work either. That just gives them a forum to spew their hate and to allow some sharp lawyers to twist our system of laws into knots and pervert justice.

  • Carl Vehse

    What if we force islamoterrorists to wear their underwear on their head… oh, wait. We get in trouble for that, too.

  • Carl Vehse

    What if we force islamoterrorists to wear their underwear on their head… oh, wait. We get in trouble for that, too.

  • scots

    >>Instead, we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.<<

    Yep, sounds like a plan to me…sounds kind of fun too :)

  • scots

    >>Instead, we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.<<

    Yep, sounds like a plan to me…sounds kind of fun too :)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “How about if we forget about nation building and long-term occupations? Instead, we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.”
    in between dalliances with Monica this was Clinton’s way. I disapproved of it then, and now. We don’t need any more Somalia’s. Now building a strong presence in Iraq, that threatens the stability of the neighboring countries if they don’t fall in line, that is away to keep the pax Americana going, puppet governments and the like.
    Supporting our friends, and making it miserable for our enemies, proxy wars.
    But depleting our cruise missile supply in vain attempts to blow up baby formula factories doesn’t appeal to me.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “How about if we forget about nation building and long-term occupations? Instead, we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.”
    in between dalliances with Monica this was Clinton’s way. I disapproved of it then, and now. We don’t need any more Somalia’s. Now building a strong presence in Iraq, that threatens the stability of the neighboring countries if they don’t fall in line, that is away to keep the pax Americana going, puppet governments and the like.
    Supporting our friends, and making it miserable for our enemies, proxy wars.
    But depleting our cruise missile supply in vain attempts to blow up baby formula factories doesn’t appeal to me.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Right now through a combination of CIA and probably Special Forces operatives, supported by drone intelligence and operations, we are having reasonable success in Yemen. This is the middle way between feckless cruise missile bombing and full scale military operations.

    However, should al Quaeda in the future show the capability of overwhelming the Yemeni government, or the present duplicity of the Yemen government gets out of hand, we might have to go into that country with more force.

    The basic point is that we are involved in a major global war against the Islamic jihadis and need to use careful judgment as to the level of forces necessary.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Right now through a combination of CIA and probably Special Forces operatives, supported by drone intelligence and operations, we are having reasonable success in Yemen. This is the middle way between feckless cruise missile bombing and full scale military operations.

    However, should al Quaeda in the future show the capability of overwhelming the Yemeni government, or the present duplicity of the Yemen government gets out of hand, we might have to go into that country with more force.

    The basic point is that we are involved in a major global war against the Islamic jihadis and need to use careful judgment as to the level of forces necessary.

  • Joe

    Peter makes a good point. Whether we have to invaid Yemen is a question that will be decided by the Yemeni gov’t.

  • Joe

    Peter makes a good point. Whether we have to invaid Yemen is a question that will be decided by the Yemeni gov’t.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Let us not confuse Islamic fundamentalist terrorism with war. If our own security lies in subverting the aims of these groups, then the solution is to create environments where their breed of hatred is less desirable than the cost of weeding it out. It is unlikely that conventional war of any kind will accomplish this, especially when we are in the habit of rebuilding everything we blow up. This is a psyops operation.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Let us not confuse Islamic fundamentalist terrorism with war. If our own security lies in subverting the aims of these groups, then the solution is to create environments where their breed of hatred is less desirable than the cost of weeding it out. It is unlikely that conventional war of any kind will accomplish this, especially when we are in the habit of rebuilding everything we blow up. This is a psyops operation.

  • Peter Leavitt

    John, we’re involved in a global war against Islamist jihadis who are determined to establish a global Caliphate with Islamic Sharia law. Viewing this, as Clinton did and Obama would like to, should he get away with it, as a matter of terrorists to be captured and prosecuted by criminal law would be to mistake the reality of the war. The fact that the nature of the war is irregular or asymmetrical is beside the point.

  • Peter Leavitt

    John, we’re involved in a global war against Islamist jihadis who are determined to establish a global Caliphate with Islamic Sharia law. Viewing this, as Clinton did and Obama would like to, should he get away with it, as a matter of terrorists to be captured and prosecuted by criminal law would be to mistake the reality of the war. The fact that the nature of the war is irregular or asymmetrical is beside the point.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.”

    Hey Bror, why not do this AND solidify only Iraq as the 51st State? It could be kind of a mega-base of anti-Sharia perpetual war-on-Middle East-terrorism operation. Plus once Disney Bagdad is complete it will rock as a tourist destination for law-abiding followers of Islam everywhere. If the war-on-terror becomes big enough in any of the surrounding states, we can just absorb them into the Mega-State of Iraq. Could be as big as Texas someday!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “we just attack the terrorists where we find them, and then leave? And if they re-assemble, attack them again. And then leave.”

    Hey Bror, why not do this AND solidify only Iraq as the 51st State? It could be kind of a mega-base of anti-Sharia perpetual war-on-Middle East-terrorism operation. Plus once Disney Bagdad is complete it will rock as a tourist destination for law-abiding followers of Islam everywhere. If the war-on-terror becomes big enough in any of the surrounding states, we can just absorb them into the Mega-State of Iraq. Could be as big as Texas someday!

  • Kirk

    @Peter,

    The point isn’t necessarily to arrest terrorists, the point is to prevent the next generation of terrorists from coming up. That may mean engendering good will, it may mean international development, it may mean a strict propoganda campaign. If history has taught us anything, it’s that simply killing terrorists doesn’t solve the overall problem, otherwise cruise missiles might do the trick. I’m not saying that physical violence isn’t a big part of stopping terror, but the overall strategy needs to be much, much more nuanced than simply killing the bad guys.

  • Kirk

    @Peter,

    The point isn’t necessarily to arrest terrorists, the point is to prevent the next generation of terrorists from coming up. That may mean engendering good will, it may mean international development, it may mean a strict propoganda campaign. If history has taught us anything, it’s that simply killing terrorists doesn’t solve the overall problem, otherwise cruise missiles might do the trick. I’m not saying that physical violence isn’t a big part of stopping terror, but the overall strategy needs to be much, much more nuanced than simply killing the bad guys.

  • DonS

    Short of war, we can use diplomatic pressure to force the Yemeni government to make Yemen less hospitable to terrorists. Blockades and severe international travel restrictions on Yemenis and those traveling to/from that country are a start. Peter’s comments on the issue seem particularly apropos. We also have to get over the idea that covert special operations are intrinsically bad, and let our expertly trained special forces and CIA operatives do what they do well.

  • DonS

    Short of war, we can use diplomatic pressure to force the Yemeni government to make Yemen less hospitable to terrorists. Blockades and severe international travel restrictions on Yemenis and those traveling to/from that country are a start. Peter’s comments on the issue seem particularly apropos. We also have to get over the idea that covert special operations are intrinsically bad, and let our expertly trained special forces and CIA operatives do what they do well.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    Like it or not, the realities of the world will dictate that we either rule or be ruled. I would rather rule. the idea of introducing Iraq as a 51st state and subjecting them to religious freedom, punishing them with Baptist missionaries and Disney Daghdad, though makes it all the more appealing.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bryan,
    Like it or not, the realities of the world will dictate that we either rule or be ruled. I would rather rule. the idea of introducing Iraq as a 51st state and subjecting them to religious freedom, punishing them with Baptist missionaries and Disney Daghdad, though makes it all the more appealing.

  • kerner

    As to killing terrorists where we find them and leaving immediately without rebuilding, consider the following:

    When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. The final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation. Matthew 12:43-45

    Like all analogies, this one is not perfect (at least as I, not Jesus, am using it). But the idea of driving out evil without leaving something behind that will keep it from returning does not sound like such a great idea to me.

  • kerner

    As to killing terrorists where we find them and leaving immediately without rebuilding, consider the following:

    When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. The final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation. Matthew 12:43-45

    Like all analogies, this one is not perfect (at least as I, not Jesus, am using it). But the idea of driving out evil without leaving something behind that will keep it from returning does not sound like such a great idea to me.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well said Kerner.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well said Kerner.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kirk, The point isn’t necessarily to arrest terrorists, the point is to prevent the next generation of terrorists from coming up.

    The problem is that Islamic militants, those who spread Islam through the sword, have existed continually from the Seventh Century. They presently are involved in an asymmetric terrorist campaign that seriously intends to bring down what the jihadis regard to be a soft and decadent West. Realistically, like the Cold War, it will take a generation or two defeat this very real and determined enemy.

    In the long run we will need both to manfully face the jihadists, as our forebears in Europe did, and seriously try at the level of theology to strengthen the Islamic theologians and people who are willing to come to terms with modernity, especially in terms of accepting religious freedom and pluralism. Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture would be one successful attempt at this. All of us at the personal level need to seek out Muslims and discuss these issues, without in the slightest compromising a tough military and diplomatic stance against the jihadists.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kirk, The point isn’t necessarily to arrest terrorists, the point is to prevent the next generation of terrorists from coming up.

    The problem is that Islamic militants, those who spread Islam through the sword, have existed continually from the Seventh Century. They presently are involved in an asymmetric terrorist campaign that seriously intends to bring down what the jihadis regard to be a soft and decadent West. Realistically, like the Cold War, it will take a generation or two defeat this very real and determined enemy.

    In the long run we will need both to manfully face the jihadists, as our forebears in Europe did, and seriously try at the level of theology to strengthen the Islamic theologians and people who are willing to come to terms with modernity, especially in terms of accepting religious freedom and pluralism. Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture would be one successful attempt at this. All of us at the personal level need to seek out Muslims and discuss these issues, without in the slightest compromising a tough military and diplomatic stance against the jihadists.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    The problem is Islam, the problem is the Koran. I don’t think we will get anywhere trying to “strengthen” the liberal Muslims. The Koran says what it says. It is fairly plane to understand. But then Calvin was succesful in duping half a continent adn numerous generations into thinking Christ didn’t mean what he actually said, so maybe it does have a chance.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Peter,
    The problem is Islam, the problem is the Koran. I don’t think we will get anywhere trying to “strengthen” the liberal Muslims. The Koran says what it says. It is fairly plane to understand. But then Calvin was succesful in duping half a continent adn numerous generations into thinking Christ didn’t mean what he actually said, so maybe it does have a chance.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    #1: Thanks, Snafu, for catching my mistake. I fixed it. I was confusing Yemen with Somalia, which, it is said, will likely be al Qaeda’s NEXT haven.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    #1: Thanks, Snafu, for catching my mistake. I fixed it. I was confusing Yemen with Somalia, which, it is said, will likely be al Qaeda’s NEXT haven.

  • MarkB

    I certainly do not have any answers, but I keep thinking of how sending drones to do our dirty work looks to those where they are operating. We at the same time look down our noses at the Jihadists for being so cowardly to use personally carried bombs on their body to kill their enemies along with innocent women and children. I am not condoning what they are doing by this statement, but just doing a little comparison.

    On our end I cannot shove the images out of my head of the apocalyptic movies like “Terminator” in its various versions, where you see the drones come in and try to kill the hero. Our gut response to this is most likely the same as the gut response the Jihadists and their neighbors are having.

    Another problem we have is that we do not have the callousness of the heart to willfully go in and kill everyone who might have helped the Jihad members. I don’t know on this count whether that is good or bad on a Kingdom of the left view, but I have a hard time reconciling this with my Christianity.

    Like I said before I don’t have the answers. I am conflicted on what to do, and I don’t like where this is headed. But, my prayer is to bring some semblance of order and relative peace to this world or to say come Lord Jesus come.

  • MarkB

    I certainly do not have any answers, but I keep thinking of how sending drones to do our dirty work looks to those where they are operating. We at the same time look down our noses at the Jihadists for being so cowardly to use personally carried bombs on their body to kill their enemies along with innocent women and children. I am not condoning what they are doing by this statement, but just doing a little comparison.

    On our end I cannot shove the images out of my head of the apocalyptic movies like “Terminator” in its various versions, where you see the drones come in and try to kill the hero. Our gut response to this is most likely the same as the gut response the Jihadists and their neighbors are having.

    Another problem we have is that we do not have the callousness of the heart to willfully go in and kill everyone who might have helped the Jihad members. I don’t know on this count whether that is good or bad on a Kingdom of the left view, but I have a hard time reconciling this with my Christianity.

    Like I said before I don’t have the answers. I am conflicted on what to do, and I don’t like where this is headed. But, my prayer is to bring some semblance of order and relative peace to this world or to say come Lord Jesus come.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    #18
    You’re welcome. I guess it wasn’t a big mistake: isn’t Somalia ALREADY a haven for Al-Qaeda?

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    #18
    You’re welcome. I guess it wasn’t a big mistake: isn’t Somalia ALREADY a haven for Al-Qaeda?


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