Congress Should Get the U.S. Out of the Atrocious War on Yemen
Hugo Kirk and Reid Smith urge Congress to rein in executive overreach and end U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led war on Yemen:
When Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973, it did so to reestablish procedures for Congress and the president to share responsibility for the introduction of armed forces into foreign conflicts. By explicitly limiting the executive’s prerogative to initiate or escalate military actions, the act affirmed that such power rests with Congress. The founders assigned Congress this most important authority to ensure solemn debate and prevent the kinds of foreign policy disasters that plagued European monarchies.
The ongoing hostilities in Yemen are just the sort of conflict the founders meant to avoid. The Saudi monarchy’s war has become a foreign policy debacle for the United States, and hell-on-earth for the Yemenis.
U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen is unauthorized and illegal, but it cannot be stressed enough that it is also senseless and wrong. The chief beneficiaries of the war to date have been Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the local ISIS affiliate, and some AQAP members have been known to fight on the same side as coalition forces. Insofar as the U.S. has any interests in Yemen, the Saudi-led war has harmed them at the same time that it has implicated our government in their outrageous crimes.
The Saudi-led coalition’s enemies pose no threat to the United States or our treaty allies. When the war started, they also posed no immediate threat to the members of the coalition. The Saudi-led intervention was as unnecessary as it has been cruel and destructive. Even if the Houthis were the Iranian proxies that the Saudis claim them to be (and they are not), that wouldn’t be a reason for the U.S. to support a war against them. It certainly isn’t a good enough reason to support a war and blockade that have inflicted incalculable suffering on more than twenty million Yemenis. The U.S. has no obligations–formal or otherwise–to aid despotic governments in an attack on their poorer neighbor, and none of the coalition members is a treaty ally. All parties to the conflict are guilty of war crimes, but the U.S. has inexcusably been backing the forces responsible for the most and the most destructive.
The U.S. has volunteered its services to some of the world’s worst governments as they have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and driven more than eight million people to the brink of famine. Obama made the worst mistake of his entire presidency by backing the Saudis and their allies in this war, and Trump has compounded that error by increasing support for them. Like most of the truly staggering foreign policy failures of our time, this has been a bipartisan effort. Congress has the opportunity to get the U.S. out of this disgraceful war and to end the shameful policy of the past three years. If they take advantage of that opportunity, they will not only be fulfilling their constitutional obligations, but they will also be standing up in opposition to one of the worst U.S. foreign policy errors of the last several decades.