That was the title for yesterday’s article on a major al Qaeda gathering in Yemen, you can read the article here:
In Shadow Warfare we spend a good deal of time on American counter terror task forces in the Horn of Africa including Somalia and Yemen, there is a lot of history there, especially in the years since the attacks of 2001. We also point out how truly dangerous those areas are in terms of potential attacks on the west and even the continental United States, several have failed and trickled out of the news but clearly they are still at war with the U.S. – as they officially declared twice in the mid-1990’s.
The thing is, the U.S. Congress still has not declared war on them and the current administration still operates under the 2001 military authorization legislation which was specifically crafted around hunting down those responsible for the attacks on Washington D.C. and Boston. The CNN headline seems to suggest that the U.S. should have massively attacked that gathering if we had only been aware of it – however there was little commentary about the legal limits imposed on such actions and I’m sure there would have been a hue and cry if it had happened, especially if any of those people were American citizens.
Bottom line, we are stuck in a Gulf of Tonkin time warp, legislation passed for a very focused purpose is still the only legal enabler for military action more than a decade after its passage – the same as in Vietnam. Congress refuses to take up its responsibility then and is doing the same thing now. On the other hand, the military is forced to proceed on its own mission, combating jihadi terror and insurgencies, woriking under immense legal constraints and in a true operational gray area. Should it have stuck the gathering if it had known about it….being a bit hawkish my vote would be yes because I figure if someone declares war on you then you best respond….but my guess is that even if they did know and consider acting they might well have had to pass on it due to the immense legal and PR reaction that would follow. A bad way to fight a war….oh, I forgot, there’s a war only for one side…ooops.
On the other hand, if you want to see what the military is doing to prepare for such engagements, take a look at the following article on the logistics of military action in denied areas far from any sort of friendly territory: