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The Sand Trap

By Mahons On April 17th, 2019

It is unclear to me why Trump does anything. Why he vetoed the joint resolution calling for an end to support of the Saudis in their war efforts in Yemen defies a rational or even Trumpian explanation.
Officially he claims Congress was intruding on his Constitutional Authorities. We have some self-professed Constitutional experts here, do you think that is the case?
A civil war in Yemen seems to have little to do with vital US national interests. The Saudi backed forces arent particularly appealing (or even particularly friendly). They appear to be quite abhorrent in practice and spectacularly immune to civilian suffering. The other side is unappetizing as well, but not enough to prolong the conflict as it is being waged.
Trump says elsewhere he wants us out of these mideast conflicts, if so why is he insisting we remain involved in this sandtrap? A serious question for all, should the US continue backing the Saudis in this?

35 Responses to “The Sand Trap”

  1. //Why he vetoed the joint resolution calling for an end to support of the Saudis in their war efforts in Yemen defies a rational or even Trumpian explanation.//

    ??

    Ask not what your country can do for you, but what your country can do for Israel.

  2. “Officially he claims Congress was intruding on his Constitutional Authorities. We have some self-professed Constitutional experts here, do you think that is the case?”

    Broadly actually yes. As John Marshall put it “The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations”. Outside of the areas where the Constitution grants Congress (primarily the Senate) a role in foreign affairs they remain the sole purview of the President.

    He is wrong to continue to support the Saudis in Yemen. He is right to say it is his decision and not for Congress.

  3. Trump is beholden to the Saudis and it has been obvious from the start of his administration. It is not in the interest of the US but in his interest. That explains many of Trump’s positions regarding the Saudis. Trump’s personal interest is in conflict with US national interest.

    The power to make war rightly belongs to the Congress. That power has been eroded greatly but should be restored. Therefore, I believe Trump’s claim is false and canot be defended constitutionally.

  4. The war spanned the last 20 months of Obama’s presidency. Do these criticisms of President Trump apply also to his predecessor?

  5. America is not at war with Yemen, nor is it directly involved in combat in Yemen. The Green Berets are the only troops there and as far as I can tell they are training the Saudis not actively fighting.

    So while Congress has the power to declare war this isn’t a war.

    Again the American support for the Saudis in Yemen is appalling. But Trump is legally correct, if even if morally bankrupt.

  6. Pete – certain of these criticism may very well be lodged against his predecessor, though the veto of the resolution is driving the issue today. Do you support American support of the Saudis on this occasion?
    Seamus – it isn’t a declared war. But that doesn’t mean congress has no constitutional role.

  7. Mahons –

    I believe I’m record here as stating the war should not be supported. However it’s a continuous war. One cannot criticise American support for it under Trump without likewise criticising Obama. Maybe criticism should be laid also on those in Congress who didn’t send such a resolution to Obama.

  8. It has some role. Its main one being to advise and consent on foreign appointments and treaties. It also has oversight authority to investigate executive actions. And broadly due to having the power of the purse it can have some role.

    So it has the power to say no to this appointment or that treaty, and has the ability to investigate executive abuses, and can decide to stop funding an element of the President’s foreign policy, but it doesn’t possess the power to direct foreign policy.

  9. Both Obama and Trump deserve blame for supporting the Saudis in Yemen. However, Trump seems beholden to the Saudis and Obama did not. Both should have shunned the Saudis. The Saudis have been involved for over four years and the disaster just gets worse.

    Congress could cut off funds that go to support of this and all Saudi military activities as it is not in the nation’s interest. But Saudi bribing operations are extensive. I don’t hold my breath until there is a change of leadership to one that is impervious to Saudi malign influence. Meanwhile it is good for Americans to learn how devilish the Saudis are and that the US has supreme leverage over them.

  10. sorry been a bit under the weather and I apologize for not being about. (not that anyone missed me, but me)

    now I’ve read your comments and Mahons post and will give my views.

  11. Seamus described it Constitutionally perfect by using Marshals words, do yourself a favor and read it.

    I will take it an even further step.

    You asked who should be blamed as President, Trump or Obama? I would also ask what about Bush?

    But but but The Saudi/Yemen fight didn’t exist when Bush was in office how can he be involved?

    The truth is it’s none of the Presidents faults it’s Congress’s fault and no one else. The United States is still in a State of War. War was Declared on September 14th 2001. It has never been declared over. Only Congress can officially End the War they can not end or micromanage any part of it except through the purse. The Bill they passed was Unconstitutional on those grounds.

    Please read ALL of the following. The one dissenting vote called this exactly what it was and until CONGRESS declares an end they can whine all they want.

    The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any “associated forces”. The authorization granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups. The AUMF was signed by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001. In December 2016, the Office of the President published a brief interpreting the AUMF as providing Congressional authorization for the use of force against al-Qaeda and other militant groups.[1][2]

    The only representative to vote against the Authorization in 2001 was Barbara Lee, who has consistently criticized it since for being a blank check giving the government unlimited powers to wage war without debate.[3] Lee has initiated several attempts to repeal the authorization, but as of 2019 has not been successful. Business Insider has reported that the AUMF has been used to allow military action in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia.[4]

  12. The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists was a joint resolution of Congress, not a declaration of war. It also is limited to use of force against the “those nations, organizations, or persons he [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons”.

    And here is the thing. I’m not questioning that the US action in Yemen is domestically legal (internationally legal is different matter). I’m not questioning that Trump has the legal right to help the Saudis in Yemen.

    Legally he can do so. Morally is another matter. The intervention in Yemen is starting to border on genocide. And the US is party to that.

  13. The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists was a declaration of War.

    They and everyone else can call it what they want it’s the only Congressional Vote on War since WWII and even with bodies buried in rubble it took two votes and was NOT allowed to be called a Declaration of War by the Democrats.

    It was interpreted as such 2 years later.

    In December 2016, the Office of the President published a brief interpreting the AUMF as providing Congressional authorization for the use of force against al-Qaeda and other militant groups.

    There is no morality in letting the Saudis slaughter the people of Yemen this falls under the disgusting term The Enemy of My Enemy…… We have to allow the desert barbarians their daliences to keep them satiated until the real fight starts.

  14. “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists was a declaration of War.”

    It wasn’t. It was a joint resolution. In the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish–American War, World War I and World War II, Congress formally, and explicitly, declared war based on the power granted to them by the Constitution. No other conflicts have formally been declared. And the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists gives the President the ability to use force against them without specifically saying the President has the right to wage war.

    “They and everyone else can call it what they want it’s the only Congressional Vote on War since WWII and even with bodies buried in rubble it took two votes and was NOT allowed to be called a Declaration of War by the Democrats.”

    Not actually true. Virtually all American use of force since World War II has had a Congressional vote backing it (except the ones done under the auspices of UN peacekeeping). The Gulf War had the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 1991. Vietnam had the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

    “There is no morality in letting the Saudis slaughter the people of Yemen this falls under the disgusting term The Enemy of My Enemy…… We have to allow the desert barbarians their daliences to keep them satiated until the real fight starts.”

    So the children of Yemen are you enemies?

  15. So the children of Yemen are you enemies?

    not mine

  16. “not mine”

    And yet you support their genocide? Or support supporting the people carrying out their genocide?

  17. ahhh not really, but we need the Saudis and not for their oil, but for their blood. We need an Arab Ally when we start bombing Iran.

  18. Saudi Arabia is the real enemy. Not Iran.

    And you are supporting Saudi Arabia. You are financially, militarily and materially supporting them in their genocide of the Zaydi in Yemen. You are supporting the equivalent of what ISIS did to the Yazidi. That’s what you support.

  19. no it’s not what I support.

    I support that we keep the fighting as much as possible confined to the ME. As long as they are killing each other the better off we all are. That’s what I support.

    As for the Saudi’s I have no love for those people and have advocated for the bombing of their oil fields and refineries for decades.

  20. Yet your government, and your President, continues to support their war against Yemen. Which is a war designed to bring about the destruction of the Zaydi in Yemen. If you support Saudi Arabia in Yemen you support the killing of the Zaydi.

  21. every president and every prime minister since that bastard Lawrence unified the damn savages has supported them and I continue to insist that what TE Lawrence did the world is still paying for.

  22. T. E. Lawrence had no dealings with the Saudis. He had dealings with the opponents of the Saudis. He formed an alliance with the Sharif of Mecca, who was a Hashemite. Effectively like doing a deal with Jordan.

  23. he taught the Arabs to act as an Army together how to cooperate against common enemies in modern warfare.

    You underestimate the significance of that.

  24. I wouldn’t be overly impressed with the Saudi military.

    I’ll take one Israeli with a stick over a Saudi with an F-15.

  25. “he taught the Arabs to act as an Army together how to cooperate against common enemies in modern warfare.”

    Firstly the extent to which that wasn’t going to happen anyway is debatable. Most countries eventually learn modern military tactics, regardless of this guy or that guy teaching them. So the idea that in the absence of T. E. Lawrence that the Arabs would not be able to fight in a coherent manner is nonsense.

    Secondly, he never taught the Saudis. He taught the Hejazi.

  26. “I wouldn’t be overly impressed with the Saudi military.”

    Increasingly over the last few decades they have come on leaps and bounds militarily. They’ve used their economy strength to punch heavily above their weight. And despite outrage after outrage committed either by them or their proxy groups, like Al Qaeda and ISIS, global arms sales to Saudi Arabia have not slowed down. They have pretty modern equipment from the US, France, Britain, China etc…

    They also have a lot of room to grow. By comparison to Israel – 20% of all Israelis are in some manner involved in the military. Israel’s military strength is probably maxed out. In Saudi Arabia only about 1% of all Saudis are involved in the military. They have substantial growing room. They also have key alliances in the region.

  27. The Isarelis are highly motivated. If they lose a war, they and their nation will be destroyed.

    The Saudi soldier is a fat waste of time.

  28. Phantom I love you 5:54

    Seamus it’s not the tactics…. he was the first to get individual tribes to see the value of the enemy of my enemy and they cooperated with each other.

  29. that should say your

  30. I stole that line from a Navy buddy who had served alongside the Greek military in Greece and the Turks in Turkey.

    He said ” I’d rather fight alongside a Turk with a stick than a Greek with a machinegun ”

    I steal from the best.

  31. The equipment is important but the soldier is essential.

  32. that is a fact

  33. “Seamus it’s not the tactics…. he was the first to get individual tribes to see the value of the enemy of my enemy and they cooperated with each other.”

    Again largely no. For the most part individual tribes had been banding together on the Arabian peninsula for centuries. At the time there were three major forces in the peninsula. Hejaz, ruled by the Hashemites. Jabal Shammar, ruled by the Rashidis. And Nejd, ruled by the Saudis. And for the most part the local tribes were broadly loyal to their central governor. The individual tribes in Hejaz were largely loyal to the Hashemites. The Nejdi tribes were largely loyal to the Saudis etc….

    And T.E. Lawrence only had dealings with 1 of the 3 of those. The Sharif of Mecca, the Hashemite ruler of Hejaz. So the suggestion that the Saudis learned from T.E. Lawrence is nonsense.

  34. we agree to disagree….. it’s all the damn british’s fault, and I blame T.E. Lawrence directly….

  35. It is the British’s fault. But not T.E. Lawrence. And not for the reasons you think it is. The reason it is the fault of the British was what happened after World War I. The British reneged on their promises to the Sharif of Mecca and he stopped cooperating with them. So they funded the Saudis instead to help them conquer Hejaz. If they had continued to back the Hejazi then likely the Saudis wouldn’t have gained dominance in the Arabian peninsula.

    “we agree to disagree”

    It isn’t an agree to disagree type idea. Its about what is factually true and what isn’t. It isn’t opinion. Anymore than me saying America was founded in 1275 by paedophiles. That is factually untrue, not an opinion. Similarly saying that T.E. Lawrence was responsible for the Saudis or helped the Saudis isn’t an opinion or theory. It’s just factually incorrect.