The U.S. Senate recently voted 63-37 to debate a resolution ending American military involvement in Yemen. That’s a big change from March when the Senate tabled the motion 44-55. U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy was among the 14 Republicans voting for the resolution, co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Mike Lee R-Utah, and one of those who changed his earlier vote from no to yes. Cassidy’s vote is a courageous act to address the worst humanitarian crisis on earth. The rest of the Louisiana delegation should join him and vote to withdraw American support for a military misadventure that weakens U.S. security interests and stains America’s moral posture.
Yemen has been suffering civil war and a devastating military intervention by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi blockade of northern Yemen and indiscriminate bombing have collapsed the essential infrastructure for the survival of 14 million people now at imminent risk of famine. Save the Children estimates 85,000 children have died of starvation, on top of tens of thousands killed by bombing and battle. UNICEF estimates a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes due to diseases like cholera caused by the war. Hospitals, markets, bridges, ports and busses have all been repeatedly struck by Saudi bombs. Blockade of the port of Hodeidah means little food or medicine gets to millions of desperate people.
The Saudi military is completely dependent on American weapons, spare parts, intelligence, and diplomatic cover for its actions. So this war can’t continue if the spigot of American aid is turned off. That’s what the Senate and House are poised to do, and Louisiana’s delegation should support that bipartisan movement because this is not America’s war, it is not constitutionally authorized, and it’s a moral atrocity. The "Houthi" rebels in Yemen aren’t the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda; they’re political and religious enemies of those groups. They’ve never attacked or threatened America or Israel, and they’re not a listed terrorist organization. Barring American military involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen upholds the Constitution because Congress never authorized America to fight a war against people who have no quarrel with us and are not covered by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after 9/11.
Saudi Arabia’s leader has furthermore blockaded and threatened to invade the key American ally in the Persian Gulf, Qatar, host to Al-Udeid air base. Murdering a Washington Post columnist has sparked greater criticism of Prince Salman, but the war and the pattern of reckless and brutal behavior by the prince endangers American security interests, never mind thousands of dead children. For these reasons, Louisiana’s members of Congress should join the bipartisan effort to end a war the last two presidents wandered this country into without authorization, popular support, or a compelling national interest.
president, Bienville House Center for Peace and Justice