Home/Daniel Larison/Trump’s Bogus ‘Emergency’ and the War on Yemen

Trump’s Bogus ‘Emergency’ and the War on Yemen

Like clockwork, The Wall Street Journal editors rush to defend Trump’s outrageous abuse of power to send weapons to the Saudis and Emiratis in defiance of Congressional opposition:

Every decision Mr. Trump makes these days is supposedly a constitutional crisis, but in this case the President is relying on a provision in the Arms Export Control Act that allows for sales in the event of an emergency.

By abusing his power with this decision, Trump is making a mockery of the emergency provision contained in the law. He is doing what he wants when there is no emergency that could possibly justify it. Whenever there is an emergency or national security loophole contained in the law, Trump exploits it to take actions that Congress would otherwise block. It is obviously a cynical abuse of an exception that was intended to be used only in extraordinary situations. Nothing has happened that supports Trump’s action on these arms sales, and by pressing ahead with these sales the president is making every effort to ensure that the U.S. continues to be an accomplice in the slaughter of innocent people.

The weapons that the U.S. sells to the Saudis and the UAE won’t be used to defend against a supposed Iranian threat, and they won’t be used for deterrence. We know very well that the Saudi and Emirati governments will use the weapons they obtain from the U.S. to continue waging an atrocious war against Yemen, and those weapons will very likely end up being used to kill civilians as so many other U.S.-made weapons have been. Trump is helping to fuel Saudi coalition aggression against a poor country that they have been wrecking and starving for more than four years. This will not avert a war with Iran, but it will help to keep the war on Yemen going. That means that the Saudis and Emiratis will continue to be bogged down in a war they can’t win, and Iran’s limited influence in Yemen will continue to grow. As usual, Iran hawks’ preferred policies do nothing to reduce Iranian influence, and instead they help to increase it by fighting reckless, unwinnable wars that Iran can exploit to its own advantage.

The WSJ editors support the Trump administration’s continued illegal involvement in the Saudi coalition war, but even they can’t ignore that both houses of Congress have expressly rejected that involvement. Trump’s bogus “emergency” is being used to support our government’s despicable Yemen policy in the face of strong Congressional opposition. It is an underhanded tactic in the service of a horrible policy, and it should be condemned.

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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