America’s numerous overseas wars have been allowed to continue for years upon years with little acknowledgment from either our elected officials or from the public, no matter how high the death toll grows or what horrifying crimes against humanity we enable and participate in.
But that may finally be about to change. In a surprising rebuke to President Trump, the House of Representatives joined their colleagues in the Senate to vote to invoke the 1973 War Powers Act and end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen, which has reportedly killed 60,000 people and whose blockade has pushed over ten million people more to the brink of starvation as the country is ravaged by the worst famine in a century.
Republicans crossed the aisle in both Houses to check the power of the President, largely disgusted with Trump’s shameless defense of the Saudi monarchy after their assassins brutally tortured and butchered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.
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The sponsors of the bill, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), released a joint statement celebrating its passage and recognizing the significance of the occasion.
“Today, the US House of Representatives took a clear stand against war and famine and for Congress’s war powers by voting to end our complicity in the war in Yemen. This is the first time in the history of this nation that a War Powers Resolution has passed the House and Senate and made it to the president’s desk. Finally, the US Congress has reclaimed its constitutional authority over matters of war and peace.”
Under President Obama, the United States quietly joined our Saudi Arabian “allies” in their 2015 war against the Houthi rebels that knocked Riyadh’s puppet leader from power. Ostensibly part of the larger “war on terror” due to the presence of an al-Qaeda affiliate group (AQAP), we have directly enabled Saudi crimes against humanity, having sold them the F-15 fighter jets that they use to drop the bombs that we also sold them on hospitals, markets, weddings, and school buses — and then refueled those same jets on their way back.
While the Pentagon swore our involvement was ostensibly largely a “supportive” role, investigative reporters discovered that U.S. commandos had been operating on the ground for months. The escalation appears to have been a project of the Trump administration, which launched its very first military operation in Yemen — the now infamous raid on the village of Yakla which led to the death of one Navy SEAL and the slaughter of dozens of innocent civilians, including ten children.
Unfortunately, the President will likely issue the second veto of his presidency to kill this bill on behalf of his buddies in the Saudi monarchy, and it is highly unlikely that the Senate will be able to gather the necessary votes to override it, having passed with only 7 Republican votes the first time around (a two-thirds vote is needed to override the veto).
But it still represents a historic step towards reining in the power of the executive branch to wage war without the authorization of Congress, which it has unilaterally done for over a decade.
The next step needs to be electing a President in 2020 who is committed to stemming the flow of American tax dollars into the military-industrial complex and putting a stop to the endless slaughter of innocents across the world that the Pentagon is intent on perpetuating.