‘Should the Se­nate use the War Pow­ers Act to re­move U.S. troops from Ye­men?’ YES NO

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - By MARK WEISBROT Tri­bune News Ser­vice By JAMES JAY CARAFANO Tri­bune News Ser­vice

WASH­ING­TON — Your tax­payer dol­lars and mil­i­tary forces are at work, on the other side of the world, in Ye­men – one of the world’s poor­est coun­tries.

Every 10 min­utes an­other child dies of pre­ventable dis­ease. It’s not a nat­u­ral disas­ter but a hu­man made one: Saudi Ara­bia has cut off most sup­plies of food, fuel and medicine from Ye­meni ports.

This has put more than 8 mil­lion peo­ple on the brink of star­va­tion. The de­struc­tion of in­fra­struc­ture has also cre­ated the worst epi­demic in his­tory of cholera, a wa­ter­borne dis­ease that has sick­ened more than a mil­lion peo­ple there and killed thou­sands. Saudi and Emi­rati planes have also killed more than 10,000 peo­ple, mostly civil­ians, with bombs.

What does the U.S. gov­ern­ment have to do with this suf­fer­ing, which has cre­ated the worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the world to­day?

Un­for­tu­nately, a lot. The U.S. mil­i­tary is di­rectly in­volved, pro­vid­ing mid-air re­fu­el­ing to Saudi and UAE war­planes dur­ing their bomb­ing runs, as well as tar­get­ing as­sis­tance for their bombs, and other lo­gis­ti­cal aid.

In Novem­ber the New York Times Ed­i­to­rial Board ac­cused the U.S. gov­ern­ment of complicity in “war crimes,” in an ed­i­to­rial en­ti­tled “Saudis try to starve Ye­men into sub­mis­sion.” Which is ex­actly what they are try­ing to do.

Most Amer­i­cans would be hor­ri­fied by the U.S. role in these atroc­i­ties. Now there is some­thing we can do about it.

Last week a bi­par­ti­san group of se­na­tors, led by Bernie San­ders, I-Vt.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Chris Mur­phy, D-Conn., in­tro­duced a bill to end U.S. mil­i­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion in this war, which was never au­tho­rized by Con­gress.

The bill is his­toric in that it in­vokes the 1973 War Pow­ers Res­o­lu­tion, which was leg­is­lated to­ward the end of a long strug­gle to end U.S. mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in Viet­nam.

The law re­quires that Con­gress must have a de­bate and vote on end­ing in­volve­ment of U.S. mil­i­tary forces in unau­tho­rized hos­til­i­ties if a mem­ber of Con­gress re­quests it.

In Novem­ber, this law was used to force a vote in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in which the House voted 366 to 30 to con­firm that the U.S. mil­i­tary was in­deed in­volved in midair re­fu­el­ing and bomb tar­get­ing as­sis­tance, and that this U.S. mil­i­tary in­volve­ment was not au­tho­rized by Con­gress.

But the Se­nate vote will be much more pow­er­ful, in that the Se­nate bill, if passed into law, would ac­tu­ally re­quire the with­drawal of U.S. forces from par­tic­i­pat­ing in Saudi Ara­bia’s war.

It has a good chance of pass­ing, too, since the last arms sale to Saudi Ara­bia – in June – was ap­proved by a vote of just 53-47. And in De­cem­ber, Trump called for Saudi Ara­bia to “com­pletely al­low food, fuel, wa­ter and medicine to reach the Ye­meni peo­ple who des­per­ately need it.” Ac­cord­ing to press re­ports, he made this state­ment af­ter a brief­ing that in­cluded pic­tures of starv­ing Ye­meni chil­dren.

In his speech in­tro­duc­ing the bill, San­ders said: “The Found­ing Fa­thers gave the power to de­clare war to Con­gress, the branch most ac­count­able to the peo­ple. For far too long, Con­gress un­der Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tions has ab­di­cated its con­sti­tu­tional role in au­tho­riz­ing war.”

Since Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 8 of the Con­sti­tu­tion clearly al­lo­cates to Con­gress the power to de­cide whether the U.S. goes to war, nu­mer­ous le­gal schol­ars have whole­heart­edly en­dorsed this ef­fort.

Many or­ga­ni­za­tions from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum have also joined in, as well as celebri­ties and other pub­lic fig­ures. The renowned ac­tor Mark Ruf­falo, in a vi­ral video seen by mil­lions, made an im­pas­sioned ap­peal for Amer­i­cans to call their se­na­tors at (833) 786-7927 and ask them to end U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion in this ter­ri­ble war. It’s well worth the phone call.

Mark Weisbrot is Co-Di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Eco­nomic and Pol­icy Re­search, a lead­ing pro­gres­sive think-tank in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. He holds Ph.D. in Eco­nomics from the Univer­sity of Michi­gan. Read­ers may write him at CEPR, 1611 Con­necti­cut Av­enue, NW Suite 400 Wash­ing­ton, DC 20009.

WASH­ING­TON — Three years ago this month, a Saudi-led coali­tion of Gulf na­tions waded into Ye­men’s civil war. The U.S. is aid­ing the coali­tion, sup­ply­ing spe­cial forces and shar­ing in­tel­li­gence with our Saudi and UAE al­lies.

For some Amer­i­cans, that’s too much. On Feb. 28, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Bernie San­ders, I-Vt.; and Chris Mur­phy, D-Conn., in­tro­duced a joint res­o­lu­tion in­vok­ing the War Pow­ers Act. The goal: to yank all U.S. mil­i­tary sup­port from the con­flict.

Le­gal schol­ars de­bate the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the War Pow­ers Act. Still, even if the Hill could tell the pres­i­dent to pull out of Ye­men, it should not. If Amer­ica walks away, it will only bring more war, not peace.

Amer­ica is there for a rea­son: to keep the re­gion from fall­ing apart. The col­lapse of any friendly regime there is bad for us.

The great­est threats to Mid­dle East sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity are Iran and transna­tional Is­lamist ter­ror­ists groups, prin­ci­pally ISIS and al-Qaida. And it is pre­cisely these forces that are fu­el­ing the Ye­men war.

If Con­gress forces the ad­min­is­tra­tion to aban­don our al­lies, Tehran, ISIS, and alQaida would feel em­bold­ened and likely dou­ble-down on ex­pand­ing the war.

Mean­while, Wash­ing­ton would lose its abil­ity to in­flu­ence how Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE con­duct coali­tion op­er­a­tions. With­out our mit­i­gat­ing pres­ence, the car­nage of this vi­cious war would only in­crease.

And Rus­sia would be tempted to fur­ther com­pli­cate the sit­u­a­tion. Moscow has al­ready ve­toed a draft U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to hold Iran ac­count­able for pro­vid­ing Ye­men’s rebels with the long-range mis­siles re­cently fired at the Saudi cap­i­tal.

Putin would in­ter­pret an Amer­i­can with­drawal as a green light for ad­di­tional Rus­sian med­dling — the type that Moscow has brought to the Syr­ian civil war.

In­stead of turn­ing our back on Ye­men, the U.S. should fo­cus on end­ing the war. The longer the con­flict per­sists, the more the chaos ben­e­fits ter­ror­ist groups in the re­gion and the more the main rebel group, the Houthis, be­comes de­pen­dent on Iran.

There are no easy an­swers. Just ask Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute an­a­lyst Kather­ine Zim­mer­man, who fol­lows the is­sue as closely as any­one. Her as­sess­ment: “The (Saudi-led) coali­tion’s ef­forts to end the war mil­i­tar­ily have been un­suc­cess­ful and will likely con­tinue to fail….”

There is no clear mil­i­tary so­lu­tion. There is no clear po­lit­i­cal res­o­lu­tion ei­ther. Ye­men’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape re­mains hope­lessly fractured. Any set­tle­ment talks that ex­clude key stake­hold­ers are likely to go nowhere.

A new U.N. en­voy, Martin Grif­fiths, is ex­pected to try to launch an­other round of ne­go­ti­a­tions. But for now, at least, too many key ac­tors seem un­will­ing to en­gage in se­ri­ous peace talks.

Rather than pull out, the U.S. should con­tinue to use its pres­ence and in­flu­ence to es­tab­lish the con­di­tions that will al­low for the de­liv­ery of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and the start of real peace ne­go­ti­a­tions that put the peo­ple of Ye­men first.

U.S. mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties con­tribute to both those goals, par­tic­u­larly by sup­port­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tions against ISIS and a-Qaida.

In ad­di­tion to con­tin­u­ing that sup­port, the U.S. should work to di­min­ish Ira­nian med­dling — not just by dis­rupt­ing its aid to the Houthis, but by broadly at­tack­ing Tehran’s for­eign es­capades through­out the re­gion.

Press­ing the regime over­all will strain its ca­pac­ity to sup­port the rebels in Ye­men — and that may lead to all sides in the con­flict com­ing to the peace ta­ble sooner rather than later.

If Con­gress wants to see an end to the hu­man­i­tar­ian suf­fer­ing in Ye­men, then writ­ing off the cur­rent U.S. role there ought to be the last thing law­mak­ers think about.

The U.S. can­not be a by­stander. In fact, it may be the only ac­tor with suf­fi­cient in­flu­ence to drive the other play­ers to­ward a peace­ful po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment in Ye­men.

James Jay Carafano is di­rec­tor of For­eign Pol­icy Stud­ies at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion. A 25-year vet­eran of the U.S. Army, Carafano is a grad­u­ate of the U.S. Mil­i­tary Academy at West Point and a holds a Ph.D in diplo­matic his­tory from Ge­orge­town Univer­sity. Read­ers may write him at Her­itage, 214 Mas­sachusetts Ave NE, Wash­ing­ton, DC 20002.

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