Home/Daniel Larison/Support S.J.Res. 54 to End U.S. Support for the War on Yemen

Support S.J.Res. 54 to End U.S. Support for the War on Yemen

Sens. Todd Young and Jeanne Shaheen have introduced a competing resolution on U.S. support for the war on Yemen that won’t change anything:

In response, Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Todd Young, R-Ind., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced a resolution last week that seeks to condition, but not end, US support for the war. Their resolution would require the secretary of state to certify that the Saudis are pursuing both “an urgent and good faith effort to conduct diplomatic negotiations to end the civil war in Yemen” and “appropriate measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen by increasing access for all Yemenis to food, fuel and medicine” in order for US aerial refueling to continue.

Sen. Young has been one of a relative handful of senators doing important work in calling attention to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the role of the coalition blockade in creating that crisis. It is therefore regrettable that he is co-sponsoring a resolution that would do essentially nothing to pressure the coalition governments to end the blockade or halt their indiscriminate bombing campaign. Sen. Young understands better than most of his colleagues that the war harms U.S. security interests and has done enormous harm to the people of Yemen, so he ought to be supporting the Sanders-Lee resolution instead of confusing the issue.

The conditions that the Young-Shaheen resolution would impose on U.S. support for the war are a woefully insufficient response to the disaster engulfing Yemen, and we have to assume that the incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will always find in favor of the Saudis and their allies. We already know that the coalition isn’t engaging in an “urgent and good faith effort” to negotiate an end to the war, and their “aid” efforts are poorly-disguised efforts to perpetuate a blockade aimed at starving Yemen into submission. Instead of constraining executive overreach and reasserting Congress’ proper role in matters of war, Young-Shaheen would once again defer to the executive and leave it to the administration to decide how long support for the war goes on. Three years of uncritical backing for the Saudi-led war on Yemen proves that the executive won’t do anything meaningful to rein in the coalition or pressure them to end the war. The best available solution is to cut off all U.S. military assistance in order to force the coalition into ending their wrecking and starving of Yemen, and the Young-Shaheen resolution doesn’t do that.

The resolution introduced by Sens. Sanders, Lee, and Murphy is the only one worth supporting. Passing S.J.Res 54 should end U.S. involvement in the war entirely, and because the coalition depends so heavily on that support it would put great pressure on them to halt their campaign. The vote itself would be a huge rebuke to the Saudis and their allies, and it would convey to them how unpopular support for their war is here. The U.S. should never have been part of this war, and S.J.Res. 54 will put an end to that involvement. The Sanders-Lee resolution is also the most effective thing that Congress can do right now to advance the cause of peace in Yemen. If senators want to respect the Constitution and do the right thing by the people of Yemen, they should support S.J.Res. 54 and not waste their time on anything else.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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