April 18, 2019

Trump Vetoes Yemen Resolution

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“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

“Trump’s defenders will say this evidence is all circumstantial. But circumstantial evidence is not weak evidence: it’s simply evidence based on the circumstances in which an act of wrongdoing is committed — such as the license plate of a car that speeds away from a bank just after that bank is robbed. Criminals are convicted on such evidence all the time. They will also say that there’s no explicit quid pro quo proposal here. But… ‘even when a corrupt deal is struck implicitly, the government can still prosecute extortion on a quid pro quo basis. Circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove a criminal exchange.’…

“In the absence of an explicit quid pro quo over restarting aid, the context and circumstances are what will become the focus of the investigation. There is enough here to support impeachment. Whether it is also enough to convince Republicans and lead to removal is another matter.”
Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) “insisted the president couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong because, in the end, Ukraine got its money without committing to any investigations. This point of view has radical implications for America’s system of justice and overcrowded prisons, if Mr. Jordan in fact truly believes that all inmates convicted of attempted crimes are innocent of wrongdoing… Perhaps the most telling remark was offered by a Republican staff lawyer, Stephen Castor, who suggested that while the president’s behavior may have been highly irregular, ‘it’s not as outlandish as it could be.’ Here’s a tip: When ‘not as outlandish as itcould be’ is your strongest defense, it’s time to rethink your position.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

From the Right

The right is generally critical of the veto.

From the Right

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

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

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

On the bright side...

Carlsberg hopes to turnaround company by admitting its beer sucks.
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