The Devil You Know

Here’s an interesting point from Michael Crowley:

If you’ll recall one of the big foreign policy nightmares circa 2005–2006 was the possibility that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a destabilizing proxy war between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. We stuck around and that didn’t happen. But we may now be getting it anyway… in Yemen.


What I think is most interesting about this is the kind of magnetic pull that worst-case scenarios exercise over an ongoing American military operation. With a lot of political capital already invested in the Iraq War, and well over 100,000 American soldiers in the field, the prospect of an Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war emerging from a post-withdrawal Iraq was taken to be a valid reason for indefinitely continuing the war. But shift the scenario down the road a bit to Yemen, and suddenly it’s not such a big deal. An interesting story, sure. Possibly an unfolding human tragedy. Something to our eyes on. But nobody’s talking about sending 120,000 guys with guns to Yemen to keep the peace.