Congress Asleep as Biden Makes War on Yemen

by | Jan 15, 2024

Late last week President Biden started a new US war on the tiny country of Yemen. US warships and fighter jets launched more than a hundred missiles at the country in a massive escalation that the Administration bizarrely claimed would “de-escalate” tensions in the Red Sea.

Taking the US to war without a Congressional declaration of war is a grave crime against the Constitution. Not only did Biden show no interest in coming to Congress for a war declaration, he didn’t even ask for authorization. Together with Washington’s reliable junior partner in war, the UK, Biden attacked Yemen. It seems the US Administration consulted more with the UK government than with the US Congress on the attacks.

But that’s not really the worst part. Far from taking action against this illegal move by an out-of-control president, Congress as a body couldn’t even see fit to criticize the Administration. On the contrary, Congressional leadership in both bodies actually applauded President Biden for brazenly violating US law!

House Speaker Mike Johnson not only praised the illegal move, he urged the President to go further and confront Iran. He said, “This action by U.S. and British forces is long overdue, and we must hope these operations indicate a true shift in the Biden Administration’s approach to Iran and its proxies that are engaging in such evil and wreaking such havoc.”

To their credit, several Members of Biden’s own party joined with a handful of Republican colleagues to denounce a US president taking the country to war without the authority to do so. California Rep. Ro Khanna was one of the first Democrats to criticize Biden’s warmaking, stating, “The President’s strikes in Yemen are unconstitutional. For over a month, he consulted an international coalition to plan them, but never came to Congress to seek authorization as required by Article I of the Constitution.”

The Framers of the Constitution gave war-making power to Congress because they understood that leaving such power in the hands of one person was a recipe for disaster. The role of the president is to make the case for a war declaration. Congress deliberates and either authorizes or refuses the proposed action.

Washington has obviously not learned the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and all the other failed US interventions over the past 20 years. Why do we keep losing wars? Because we do not go into wars according to the US Constitution. This war will be no different.

The Houthis in Yemen withstood years of attacks from the Saudis using the latest US weaponry and came out on top. To this point they have not been targeting US vessels in the Red Sea, but only ships heading to or from Israeli ports. They are doing so in opposition to Israel’s destruction of Gaza. In short, it was never our war. But now, with this attack, Biden has made it our war.

So we are left with the strange and sad spectacle of Congress asleep at the wheel as a Defense Secretary launches military strikes from his hospital bed in the service of a president clearly not in his prime. All this in pursuit of a policy that makes no sense and is leading us closer to a major war in the Middle East that will only harm, not serve, the US national interest.

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