On Sunday, President Trump was suggesting that a US response to the drone strikes in Saudi Arabia were pending Saudi Arabia’s determination of who was responsible. By Monday, US officials were instructing Saudi Arabia to determine Iran was to blame.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was already blaming Iran by Sunday morning, and others are talking up using this as a pretext for military action. Blaming Iran was only a matter of time, whether the Saudis blamed Iran to try to lure them into a war, or were instructed to do so.
Iran has denied any involvement in the drone attacks, and Yemen’s Houthi movement has said it was them, not Iran. US officials have appeared uninterested in the Houthis being responsible, however, and Iran was selected as the preferred choice.
Either way, Saudi Arabia’s huge military, the world’s third largest in spending behind only the US and China, appears totally incapable of defending itself from off-the-shelf drones with explosives strapped to them, and somehow this has become something the US has to do something about.
At least that’s the position of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who says the US needs to “defend the international order,” and is dutifully saying they need to defend the order from Iran.
President Trump, on the other hand, suggested that he’s not immediately looking for a war, and that he’s told Saudi Arabia that if the US is to get involved in any conflict, the Saudis are not only going to have to take a lead role, but will also have to pay for US operations.
Trump mostly echoed other officials on the US readiness, while insisting that he doesn’t want a war. Other administration officials are mostly speaking of the military option as virtually a foregone conclusion, even as Trump insists they aren’t even looking at options yet.