Several days ago, press reports revealed that U.S. special-operations troops had conducted a raid in Yemen. Impoverished, violent, and bitterly divided, Yemen has hitherto had a place on the roster of countries that the United States periodically bombs without being graced with the presence of U.S. forces on the ground. As long as this arrangement persisted, few Americans paid attention to events in this far corner of the "war on terror." After all: Whoever was killed and maimed by U.S. ordnance falling from the skies, it wasn't our guys.
Now with one Navy SEAL dead, several others injured, and a $75-million aircraft destroyed, the calculus has changed. However briefly, Yemen is in the headlines, with the press even taking note of the civilian bystanders killed and wounded as the Americans fought to extricate themselves from an operation gone awry. Here for our novice commander-in-chief who has promised "we're gonna win so much people will say we can't take it any more" was a vicarious baptism of fire.