The Trump administration is pulling out all the stops to oppose S.J.Res. 54, the resolution that would end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen:
The Trump administration is furiously trying to fend off a bipartisan effort in Congress to halt American military support to the deadly Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen as the kingdom’s influential young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arrives in Washington this week for talks with President Trump.
Congress needs to ignore the administration’s pressure and it needs to deliver a long-overdue rebuke to the Saudis and their allies over their conduct of the war on Yemen. Halting U.S. support for the Saudi-led war is absolutely the right thing to do for the sake of the people of Yemen, and it is also in the best interests of the United States. The Obama and Trump administrations have committed the U.S. to having a significant role in supporting this war without debate or authorization, and it is imperative that Congress reclaim its rightful authority in matters of war. The longer the war continues, the better things will be for jihadist groups and the worse they will be for regional peace and security. Insofar as the U.S. has any interests at stake, they are served by disentangling the U.S. from the war and ultimately by ending the war itself. The Trump administration is utterly in the wrong in opposing the resolution, just as they are utterly in the wrong by providing support for the Saudi-led coalition’s war. Voting for S.J.Res. 54 is Congress’ chance to stand up against a grave injustice that our government has been perpetrating for the last three years.
The best way that the U.S. can pressure the Saudi-led coalition to end their intervention is to deprive them of the assistance that they have relied on to carry it out. Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the U.S. provides the ideal opportunity for cutting off that support, since it needs to be made very clear to the crown prince and future king just how many Americans refuse to give his government a blank check. The case for continuing support for the war on Yemen is remarkably weak because the policy itself is indefensible. Every day that U.S. support for the war on Yemen continues is another day that our government is implicated in the coalition’s war crimes and the starvation of millions of people. It is a disgraceful blot on our record as a nation that grows ever larger.
Administration officials are warning “that approving the Senate measure could seriously damage relations with Saudi Arabia.” That is probably the only true thing that defenders of the current policy have said about it, but it just shows how noxious and destructive the current U.S.-Saudi relationship is. If good relations with Riyadh require that the U.S. aids and abets their war crimes and crimes against humanity, that is proof that the relationship is not worth preserving in its present state. The relationship with Saudi Arabia is increasingly a liability for the U.S., and it certainly isn’t worth being complicit in the wrecking and starving of an entire country.
The administration’s arguments that the U.S. military isn’t engaged in hostilities by supporting the war on Yemen strains credulity. The Republican co-sponsor of S.J.Res. 54 said as much last week:
“The U.S. government claims that it’s not engaged in hostilities unless U.S. troops are on the ground being shot at by the enemy,” Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican and co-sponsor of the resolution, said on the Senate floor last week. “It stretches the imagination, and it stretches the English language beyond its breaking point, to suggest the U.S. military is not engaged in hostilities in Yemen.”
The U.S. has no business being involved in this war, and it should not be enabling the region’s wealthiest governments to batter and starve one of its poorest countries. U.S. interests, respect for the Constitution, and justice all dictate that Congress should vote to end U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led war on Yemen.