Will Obama foolishly escalate his secret wars?

These are two wars the American public would not support if consulted. That should be reason enough not to escalate them.

A legacy in the balance and two wars at play.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Barack Obama is now facing some tough decisions about two countries he is bombing in the Middle East. Watching the demoralizing carnage in Syria and an uptick in the hostilities in Yemen, an itchy press corps and policy class are starting to demand that Obama sack up and really fight. They warn him that he is the president who did nothing while Iran burned down the Middle East. But listening to that advice could radically shape Obama's legacy for the worse.

Saudi Arabia's ongoing war with Houthi-controlled Yemen recently reached a new low. Saudi coalition forces repeatedly bombed a packed funeral home in Sanaa. It is claimed that Houthi forces in Yemen responded by ineffectively firing a missile at a U.S. warship. (The Houthi government of Yemen denies this). In any case, it would be a logical target in that the U.S. has been providing the Saudis with arms, helping them with logistics, and refueling their planes. After the failed attack, the U.S. Navy engaged in what the Pentagon called "limited self-defense strikes" against radar targets in Yemen. The Wall Street Journal and hawkish foreign policy writers are calling the Houthi attack an "act of war" to which the U.S. should respond more forcefully. The idea that the Houthis have only "just" been ushered into hostilities with the U.S. is good for a dark chuckle, because it is insane.

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Michael Brendan Dougherty

Michael Brendan Dougherty is senior correspondent at TheWeek.com. He is the founder and editor of The Slurve, a newsletter about baseball. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Slate and The American Conservative.