I’m not the only one who has noticed that the Yemeni drone attacks on Saudi Arabia have significantly changed the geo-strategic situation as well as the prospects for future war:
The devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities by drones and missiles not only transforms the balance of military power in the Middle East, but marks a change in the nature of warfare globally.
On the morning of 14 September, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles – all cheap and unsophisticated compared to modern military aircraft – disabled half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production and raised the world price of oil by 20 per cent.
This happened despite the Saudis spending $67.6bn (£54bn) on their defence budget last year, much of it on vastly expensive aircraft and air defence systems, which notably failed to stop the attack. The US defence budget stands at $750bn (£600.2bn), and its intelligence budget at $85bn (£68bn), but the US forces in the Gulf did not know what was happening until it was all over.
Excuses advanced for this failure include the drones flying too low to be detected and unfairly coming from a direction different from the one that might have been expected. Such explanations sound pathetic when set against the proud boasts of the arms manufacturers and military commanders about the effectiveness of their weapons systems.
Debate is ongoing about whether it was the Iranians or the Houthis who carried out the attack, the likely answer being a combination of the two, but perhaps with Iran orchestrating the operation and supplying the equipment. But over-focus on responsibility diverts attention from a much more important development: a middle ranking power like Iran, under sanctions and with limited resources and expertise, acting alone or through allies, has inflicted crippling damage on theoretically much better-armed Saudi Arabia which is supposedly defended by the US, the world’s greatest military super-power.
This is potentially very good news for humanity, in much the same way and for much the same reason that Minutemen defeating British regulars with cheap, readily-available musketry was good news. Historian Carroll Quigley observed that the democratization of weaponry tended to expand human freedom, while the monopolization of it tended to reduce it.
Today, it is the common man who has to fear the SWAT raid or the drone strike ordered by the rich and powerful. Tomorrow, the rich and the powerful will be every bit as vulnerable to the common man who is wronged by their actions.