US Senator Bernie Sanders introduces new resolution to cut off support to Saudi-led war on Yemen

US Senator Bernie Sanders introduces new resolution to cut off support to Saudi-led war on Yemen

Bernie Sanders has introduced a new resolution to cut off US support for the horrific Saudi-led war in Yemen. The measure is a crucial step toward peace — but it will have to be backed up with serious pressure on Joe Biden, so he doesn’t flout the resolution.
Senator Bernie Sanders’s new Yemen war powers resolution aims to strengthen that tenuous peace by blocking US backing for the Saudi-led war. Earlier this week Sanders announced he has the requisite support to pass a resolution, and that he could bring it to the Senate floor for a vote as early as next week. If approved and signed into law, the resolution would require President Joe Biden to withdraw several forms of military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Sanders’s resolution is certainly a positive development. It would force the Saudi-led coalition to think twice before resuming the war and, at least in theory, withdraw US collaboration in an immoral war that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and pushed millions more into near-starvation.

Unfortunately, based on previous presidents’ record of skirting war powers resolutions, the Biden administration may not heed a congressional entreaty to drop military support for Saudi Arabia. Foreign policy progressives will have to keep up the pressure even if Sanders’s resolution passes — and then initiate a broader fight against the executive branch’s unchecked war-making powers.

What is less clear is how much the resolution would limit US military support for the Saudis. The current language is encouraging, mandating Biden to pull US armed forces from “hostilities” in Yemen. Concise yet capacious, the measure provides two definitions of hostilities ,“Sharing intelligence for the purpose of enabling offensive coalition strikes; and providing logistical support for such strikes, including by providing maintenance or transferring spare parts to coalition warplanes engaged in anti-Houthi bombings in Yemen and the assignment of United States Armed Forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of the Saudi-led coalition forces in hostilities against Yemen.”

But another question looms as the Senate prepares to vote on the resolution: If it passes the Senate and avoids the president’s veto, will Joe Biden actually to observe its requirements? The executive branch has played fast and loose with the War Powers Act since its 1973 passage, and as a result, the act hasn’t had the restraining effect on the “imperial presidency” that Congress intended.

If the Biden administration truly wants to continue its military support for the Saudi-led coalition, it will probably concoct an equally absurd legal argument resolution to do so.

Xi Jinping’s visit this week to Saudi Arabia likely reminds the Biden administration that the Saudis can pick and choose powerful allies in an increasingly multipolar world. Against that backdrop, Biden might be reluctant to drop military support for Riyadh.

Nevertheless, passing Sanders’s resolution — and pressuring Biden not to weasel out — is a vital step toward peace in Yemen. If Biden concedes, it would be a tremendous victory for ordinary Yemenis. And then perhaps progressives could turn to bludgeoning a key pillar of the US empire-making project: the president’s near-unilateral ability to make war.

Source: Jacobin