April 18, 2019

Trump Vetoes Yemen Resolution

“President Donald Trump vetoed a resolution passed by Congress to end U.S. military assistance in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen… Congress has grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.” AP News

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From the Left

The left condemns the veto and urges Congress to override it.

“The war in Yemen… has killed more than 50,000 people and left more than 20 million Yemenis in need of humanitarian assistance. The US helps the Saudi-led coalition, which also includes the United Arab Emirates and several other Gulf Arab and African countries, by providing them with intelligence, selling them arms and ammunition, and, until late last year, fueling warplanes. That means the US is partially culpable for the death and destruction…

“[The resolution] was a clear rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy toward Saudi Arabia… the result of progressive antiwar activism and a rare bipartisan coalition of progressive and conservative lawmakers to claw back war-approving authority from the president.”
Tara Golshan, Vox

“Trump's refusal to halt America's contribution to the world's most acute humanitarian crisis is utterly indefensible… Equally absurd is Trump's insistence that the United States is ‘not engaged in hostilities in or affecting Yemen’ beyond its counterterrorism operations… Suffice it to say if any foreign country offered intelligence sharing, logistics support, blockade assistance, and refueling for airstrikes on American soil, we would consider that nation ‘engaged in hostilities in or affecting’ the United States, and rightly so.”
Bonnie Kristian, The Week

“Trump, like his predecessors, has taken advantage of a decaying system of checks and balances.” According to Senator Sanders (I-VT), “the congressional votes on Yemen represent ‘the beginning of a national debate over when and where we go to war and Congress’s authority over those interventions.’ For that debate to have meaning, the override vote must take on new meaning. It is about Yemen, of course, but it is also about the role of Congress. This is the point at which Congress can begin to restore checks and balances on issues of war and peace.”
John Nichols, The Nation

“Expected or not, Donald Trump’s veto of a bipartisan Congressional resolution to end US military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s murderous war in Yemen is an outrage. It will prolong the unspeakable suffering of millions of Yemeni civilians, the blameless victims of Riyadh’s vicious proxy war with Iran and its Houthi allies… Congress should now move heaven and earth, in the name of Yemen’s starving children and the majority of Americans who oppose the Saudis’ war, to override Trump’s veto.”
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian

“This conflict must end, now. The House of Representatives calls on the President to put peace before politics, and work with us to advance an enduring solution to end this crisis and save lives.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-NY), Speaker.gov

From the Right

The right is generally critical of the veto.

The right is generally critical of the veto.

“Successive White Houses have pledged to deeply reform America’s war on terror; it's the follow-through that’s underwhelmed. With Bernie Sanders and a resurgent left running strong in the Democratic primary, the president risks having the antiwar vote, such as it is, stolen out from underneath him… the strong-arming of Assange combined with Tuesday’s rare veto have some asking what exactly they voted for.”
Curt Mills, The National Interest

“Trump could have issued a much overdue correction by fully removing the U.S. from a conflict it had no business being involved with from the beginning. This is a man, after all, who campaigned on extricating the U.S. from endless wars with no strategic purpose. Signing the War Powers Resolution Tuesday would have been a win-win-win situation: a win for the president, for the country, and for the Yemeni people.”
Daniel DePetris, Washington Examiner

“The administration very much wants to have things both ways… Supporters of the war are desperate to claim at the same time that U.S. involvement is so meager that it doesn’t amount to hostilities but also so vitally important that it must not be ended… if the U.S. role were really as small as they sometimes claim, there would be no danger in ending it, and if it is as significant as they say at other times it is absolutely appropriate for Congress to shut it down because Congress never authorized it.”
Daniel Larison, The American Conservative

Some argue that "a declaration of war requires an affirmative act of Congress. A bipartisan majority’s rejection of American participation in the Yemeni conflict is anything but an affirmation. And when the Constitution requires congressional affirmation, then congressional rejection can’t be vetoed by the president.”
David French, National Review

Supporters of the veto, however, acknowledge that “Saudi Arabia has caused famine and misery in Yemen. It has destroyed not just schools but school buses, and prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid… it’s easy to see why members of Congress would want to end U.S. support for the Saudis’ war in Yemen. Nonetheless, this approach is short-sighted. To focus solely on Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen conflict is to give Iran a pass for making it worse — by, for example, giving its Houthi clients missiles capable of reaching Riyadh. If the Houthis prevail, then Iran will have access to a port in the Red Sea, from which it can make more mischief in the Middle East…

“It’s not only possible but necessary to criticize the Saudis and their depravities, while still recognizing that it’s better for the U.S. if they prevail in Yemen and help to contain Iran.”
Eli Lake, Bloomberg

A libertarian's take

“As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to put some reasonable limitations on how the United States conducted its post-9/11 wars across the Middle East… But on Tuesday night, Trump unambiguously backed Forever War. He vetoed a congressional resolution that would have ended American military involvement in the Yemeni civil war—a conflict that has killed an estimated 50,000 people (scores more have died in a famine triggered by the conflict) without having any significant bearing on U.S. national security.”
Eric Boehm, Reason

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