The attack over the weekend on two oil-processing facilities in Saudi Arabia has chopped that nation’s output of petroleum products in half and resulted in oil price increases of $17 a barrel in a day. Houthi rebels in Yemen immediately claimed to have carried out the attack, using 10 as yet unspecified drones. Saudi Arabia has promised an update by Tuesday to announce the full extent and duration of the expected shortfall in production. But despite a singular lack of details about the locations from which the attacks were launched or the weapons used, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already blamed the attacks directly on the nation of Iran, without providing a single shred of evidence.
Then, on Sunday evening, Donald Trump did something more than just blame Iran for an attack already claimed by others. He put the United States military at the disposal of Saudi dictator Mohammed bin Salman. Trump declared that Mohammed bin Salman can name both whom we attack, and how we attack.
Trump tweeted that the Saudi oil supply was attacked, and that “we know the culprit” and “are locked and loaded,” awaiting verification. How is America to get that verification? According to Trump, he is “waiting to hear from the kingdom as to who they believe is the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed.”
The White House isn’t being vague. This isn’t subject to other interpretation. Trump is leaving it up to Mohammed bin Salman to determine whom we attack, and how we go forward. One guess as to the answer to both questions.
Thanks to the Electoral College, Donald Trump is the commander in chief of the U.S. military. But that doesn’t mean there’s not someone in charge of Trump.