When Did Congress Declare War on Yemen?

Senators in the U.S. Congress finally had a debate about the absurdity and hypocrisy of the civil war in Yemen, and although the proposal to end American support of the Saudi-led coalition was unsuccessful, at least the Senate had a mild interest in taking back the congressional role of declaring war and determining which countries to support. The war between Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who control the capital of Sana’a, has devastated the country and caused much destruction of infrastructure, mass starvation, and casualties from the bombings by Saudi Arabia and its allies. Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee were right to bring this issue in front of the Senate and try to halt continuing efforts by the Trump administration (and previously the Obama administration) to support the slaughter in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United States is supporting Saudi Arabia in its war efforts through intelligence, logistics, refueling, and arms deals. It is estimated that only about one-third of the Saudi bombs have been directed at military-related targets, which means that the allegations that the kingdom to Yemen’s north has been responsible for numerous war crimes and human rights violations are a very serious charge. In addition to the possible ten thousand civilians dead as a result of these bombs, Saudi Arabia has also inhibited food, medicine, and other supplies from reaching the country with its blockades of ports. All-in-all, roughly twenty-two million people can no longer live independently, over eight million are on the verge of starvation, and cholera and other diseases have become prevalent. This has caused some of the devastated population to turn to groups like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS, or the Houthis for either jobs or retaliation against Saudi aggression.

Yet, the United States supports this type of action in Yemen, but it condemns Iran for supporting terrorist groups who commit similar actions or Assad for suppressing the rebels in Syria. The logic of the United States government is that supporting violence is justified only when it benefits large corporations or the agendas of politicians. Otherwise, violence and genocide are immoral. It is only a war crime or a violation of human rights when it is committed by enemies of the United States. There is a word to describe this type of reasoning (or lack thereof). It is called hypocrisy.

In addition to the support of the Saudi-led destruction of the country, the United States government has been conducting “anti-terrorist” drone raids since the Bush administration. This has led to more destruction and hundreds of more civilian casualties, and this only leads to more resentment of the United States and people turning to radical and violent groups (like AQAP) to counter American aggression. If you do not believe me, read what a Yemeni tribal leader, Mullah Zabara, had to say about it: "The US sees al Qaeda as terrorism, and we consider the drones terrorism. The drones are flying day and night, frightening women and children, disturbing sleeping people. This is terrorism.”

The final part of this discussion about American involvement in Yemen is the question of who has the authority to wage war in the country. According to Article I Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States, only Congress has the power to declare war. Unfortunately, this has been watered down to the point where now the president, since he or she is the Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to wage war whenever it is desired, and Americans have been conditioned to believe that this is acceptable behavior. Advocates of this usurpation of power will often point to the War Powers Act or the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) from 2001 to justify military action in any country around the world without any accountability. Yet, two weeks after the September 11 attacks, Congress could not have known that the War on Terrorism would be waged across much of the Middle East and Africa, and this dereliction of duty on the part of our legislators gave a blank check to Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump to do whatever, whenever.

This is the type of power that the monarchs of Britain had and one of the reasons only Congress was given the authority for war-making by the founding fathers. Apparently Americans are now comfortable with a more authoritarian approach to politics and have lost sight of what it means to live in a republican form of government. In order for this to be remedied, there would need to be a formal declaration of war from Congress for every country that the United States has on-going operations and conflicts in (even if we need one hundred such declarations) with a clear plan stating who the enemy is and how the troops or JSOC or CIA agents will be operating and when the wars will end. Congress may never take back its rightful duty as the authority that has the power to determine when to bring the United States to war, but at least the Senate had a discussion about it and that is something. It appears that the precedents started during the Bush administration in regards to combating terrorism on a global scale will be copied by future presidents until the political elites and the military-industrial complex finally get their war with Russia. On that day, it might be Americans on the receiving end of drones instead of civilians in poor and famine-stricken countries.

Thank you for reading, and if you are interested in exploring these ideas further, please check out my book, The Global Bully.
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Published on March 22, 2018 03:18
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