Ah, Saudi Arabia: Homeland of Osama bin Laden and almost all of the 9/11 skyjackers, with their government having actively supported the 9/11 terrorists. Saudi Arabia, which everyone in the world (except Donald Trump) believes attacked, dismembered and apparently dissolved the body parts of a permanent legal resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Saudi Arabia, accused by the United Nations of war crimes in Yemen.
Surprise! Saudi Arabia may just have forced the United States Congress to begin to take back one small portion of the power it has ceded to the presidency over many decades.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee has joined two Democrats to call for a halt to US support of Saudi Arabia’s civil war in Yemen.
The resolution, led by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), cites Congress’ authority under the War Powers Resolution and was first introduced in February. But it quickly picked up momentum as senators from both parties voiced outrage over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and President Donald Trump’s reluctance to blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder. . .
Supporters predicted they had the votes to prevail and send a sharp rebuke to the crown prince, also known as MBS, and the Trump administration. . .
After a briefing last week by CIA Director Gina Haspel, several senators, including GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee, said they had no doubt the crown prince played a key role in Khashoggi’s murder. Both had voted to move forward on the Yemen resolution last month, but reversed course on Wednesday. . .
Corker added that he is still working with Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on a bill that could be marked up in committee that would ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia, among other measures.
Trump has steadfastly supported the Saudi prince,
“He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview on Tuesday, confirming that “at this moment,” standing by the kingdom “certainly” equates to standing by the crown prince.
Though he wouldn’t say whether he believed the crown prince was involved in Khashoggi’s death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, Reuters reported that Trump repeated the crown prince’s claims that he “vehemently denies” orchestrating the murder. . .
Senators left a briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel last week more convinced than ever that the Saudi crown prince was culpable in Khashoggi’s murder, with Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) telling reporters that “if he was in front of a jury he would have a unanimous [guilty] verdict in 30 minutes.”
According to the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war. Our last legal war was when the U.S. declared war on Germany on December 11, 1941. Japan had declared war on us first, two hours after attacking Pearl Harbor, on December 7.
We have not had a legal war since then. On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South, hoping to reunite the country. The United Nations responded with a “police action,” led by the United States, but it was never a declared war.
Likewise, Vietnam, which had been fighting for its independence from colonial France, thought they had won when they defeated the French on May 7, 1954, at Dien Bien Phu. An election was scheduled for the new Vietnam nation, but the United States refused to allow it. The French war had been largely funded by the US, and after 1954, it was Americans who fought the Vietnamese. The fighting increased until Lyndon Johnson wanted to go all in. A supposed “attack” on Americans there (soon found to be government “fake news”) led to the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,” on August 7, 1964. Congress made it clear that the Resolution was only to avenge that one attack—and that Johnson would have to go back to Congress if he wanted to escalate the war. Instead, the Resolution was used as a “blank check.” In 1968, this undeclared war had 549, 500 American troops on the ground.
Other undeclared wars have included
Korean DMZ (1966-1969),
Dominican Republic (1965-1966),
South /Zaire (1978),
Trump, who campaigned against involvement in foreign wars has been “gung-ho” in Syria and Yemen and has continued in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Uganda, and Libya.
The jobs of Congress were listed at the very beginning of the Constitution—immediately after “We The People,’ showing that the Founders felt that Congress should make the rules—the president should “preside” over their implementation—and the Supreme Court should make sure that Congress’ new rules fit with the Constitution.
Right there in Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 11 through 16:
[All legislative Powers shall be vested in a Congress of the United States. . .]
11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
15: To provide for calling forth the Militia [that is, the “National Guard”] to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Note that it is ONLY Congress’ job to declare war. Also, note that money may only be appropriated for two years. The appropriation could be renewed, but every two years, Congress has the responsibility to review and decide whether to continue war funding.
People used to say that the world moves too fast, and democracy just gets in the way. But in this day of instant communication, there is no reason that Congress can’t give its approval before any military action. Wouldn’t it be ironic if democracy in war powers were brought back to the United States by a medieval family-owned oil-tocracy a half a world away?