Why the US is losing the war to the Houthis

Biden’s occasional pinprick attacks barely even slowed down the Houthi attacks.

By Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage Magazine

After Biden came home from his Caribbean vacation, the Deputy Defense Secretary came back from hers and the Secretary of Defense was on the verge of being released from the hospital, airstrikes were finally authorized against the Houthi Jihadis attacking ships in the Red Sea.

Biden said that the air strikes sent “a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes.”

The message was not very clear since the Houthis then struck a bulk carrier owned by an American company and spent the next two months terrorizing the Red Sea.

The Iranian-backed terror group which seized control of much of Yemen due to Obama’s Arab Spring has launched even more devastating attacks on ships and has now reportedly attacked an undersea cable, after previously deploying an undersea drone and warning of further “submarine” attacks.

The Red Sea siege has affected shipping and commodities prices all over the world. The U.S. Navy ended a lot of its cargo runs in the Red Sea and so have a lot of civilian shipping firms.

Why have the Houthis been able to not only survive, but to escalate their attacks? Because the Biden administration was never serious about taking them out.

The original attacks targeted less than 30 sites from a terror group that had shot off over 1,000 rockets and missiles in the previous 7 years and was clearly prepared for an extended campaign of rocket attacks.

Israel had reportedly dropped over 1,000 bombs a day in the first week of the Oct 7 war. While numbers like these were widely criticized as overkill, they worked. There had been over 6,000 Hamas rocket alerts in the first two weeks of the war. Two weeks later, the number had dropped to over 1,000 and currently stands at less than 100. Israel’s massive assault had worked.

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Biden’s occasional pinprick attacks barely even slowed down the Houthi attacks.

After the first round of U.S. strikes, right before Biden flew off to Raleigh, North Carolina to promote his plan for subsidized internet, there was a remarkable exchange with a reporter.

“Are the airstrikes in Yemen working?” he was asked.

“Well, when you say ‘working,’ are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes,” Biden replied.

No one in the press seemed interested in following up the very strange statement. If the airstrikes aren’t working, why carry them out? Was there a plan to step up the strikes? No.

After the initial wave of attacks, the US Navy shifted over to what it euphemistically called “defensive air strikes” against Houthi missiles or rockets that had already been launched or were being prepped for launch.

The constant reports about “defensive air strikes” made it sound as if the United States were constantly bombing Yemen, when the US Navy had been allowed to do the bare minimum to prevent and survive more incoming attacks. It wasn’t enough.

Two weeks after the original raids, as the Houthis continued their attacks, Biden authorized follow-up air strikes on a mere 8 locations. A week later, a tanker had been hit and was burning. In early February, Biden signed off on a third round of attacks hitting 36 targets across 13 locations. In the coming weeks, the Houthis shot down the second of two U.S. drones

After multiple Houthi attacks and damage to an underwater cable, Biden now signed off on a fourth round of attacks that hit 18 targets across 8 locations. Will these stop the Houthis?

As Biden already admitted after the first round of attacks, they won’t. But that’s not their purpose. The goal is to maintain some sort of balance of power against the Houthis.

The Department of Defense regularly issues official warnings to the Houthis that there will be consequences. But the only consequences are the occasional light air strikes on old Yemeni air defense capabilities and rockets:, some of which date back to the days of the USSR.

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So far two American Navy SEALS are dead and Iran has control of the world’s shipping.

And how many of the Houthi Jihadis have been killed? After an initial naval battle in which ten of the terrorists were killed, the Houthis claimed that only five of their men were killed in Biden’s first round of airstrikes. The funerals of another 17 were held after the third round of strikes.

That would make for a total of 32 dead terrorists after two months of fighting the United States.

Are the Houthis understating their casualties? Maybe. But a New York Times article on the Biden administration’s intentions stated that the strategy represents “the administration’s attempt to chip away at the Houthis’ ability to menace merchant ships and military vessels but not hit so hard as to kill large numbers of Houthi fighters and commanders, and potentially unleash even more mayhem into a region”. As if ceding the Red Sea hasn’t done that already.

Chipping away at their arsenals while trying to minimize Houthi deaths has failed miserably.

What is the Biden administration doing wrong? Apart from scale, it’s trying to target Houthi drones and missiles, and some air bases, preferably right before they’re about to be used.

This is the same approach that failed in Iraq, and it’s also the same approach Israel used against Hamas to deter attacks, minimize casualties, and avoid escalation.

And then Oct 7 happened. Since then, the Israeli military strategy has been to destroy Hamas forces as functioning units rather than target its rocket stockpiles.

And it worked. Hamas, like the Houthis, had learned to fire off rockets or drones from disposable locations before running away. Even when rocket stockpiles are taken out, the terrorists can go ahead and build more.

Rockets can be replaced, but organized forces that have trained together are harder to replace. That’s what Israel demonstrated. And it worked. Even though Israel didn’t specifically focus on taking out Hamas rockets, the rocket attacks dropped sharply because there’s no one to shoot them.

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When rockets are targeted, the terrorists run away and regroup, but when the terrorists are targeted, they have to keep running, so they don’t have the time and space to regroup.

(That is what the proposed hostage deal and the various calls for a ‘ceasefire’ are really about.)

Biden is unwilling to target the Houthis and so they keep attacking.

After two months and over four rounds of larger attacks, the Houthi command and control operations, and their forces, remain intact even if they lost some infrastructure along the way.

This might be excusable if, like Bush in Iraq, Biden really believed that what he was doing would work, but he admitted in a direct quote to the press that he knows what he’s doing won’t work.

Beyond the damage to shipping and the prestige of the United States, two Navy SEALS are dead because the commander-in-chief pursued a military strategy that he knew would fail.

Biden had two options in Yemen. He could either hit the Houthis hard or let them do what they wanted. Both were politically untenable.

It would be too politically damaging to go into the primaries inflicting sizable casualties on an Arab Muslim terror group that his pro-terror supporters love and now chant at pro-Hamas ‘ceasefire’ rallies, “turn another ship around.”

But doing nothing while shipping slowed down and prices rose would also be damaging.

Given a choice between alienating the country and his party’s terror supporters, he chose a middle ground of ‘show’ strikes like the kind that Bill Clinton had deployed against Osama bin Laden that will avoid offending terror supporters but also will not end the Houthi attacks.

This strategy serves no one except Biden who has sacrificed the nation’s prestige, a major international waterway and the lives of two U.S. Navy SEALS to win an election.