By striking Houthi rebel targets in Yemen with Britain on Thursday, Washington sent a searing message to both the Houthis and its Iranian backers that the United States has ended its longstanding defense-only posture in the Red Sea and is determined to stop the group’s attacks against commercial ships in regional waters.

It’s unclear whether that strategy will work, given the intransigence of the Houthis and the fact that they stand to benefit from a fight with the United States. Such a clash boosts their credentials with U.S. foes in the region and distracts from their atrocious governance of northwestern Yemen and the country’s capital.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau

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