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Boardman writes: "Resolution 54 isn't designed to solve anything, but it might lead to a reduction of suffering in Yemen."

A house in Sanaa destroyed by a Saudi airstrike that used U.S.-provided weapons, U.S. aircraft, and required U.S. midair refueling. (photo: Yahya Arhab/EPA)
A house in Sanaa destroyed by a Saudi airstrike that used U.S.-provided weapons, U.S. aircraft, and required U.S. midair refueling. (photo: Yahya Arhab/EPA)

Senate Resolution on Yemen - Better Than Nothing, but Three Years Late

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

07 March 18

It is long past time for Congress to exercise its constitutional authority on matters of war, and if the United States is going to participate in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, there must be a debate and a vote. Otherwise, our involvement is unauthorized and unconstitutional, and it must end.

his is the pitch Senator Bernie Sanders uses in a press release to entice people to “sign my petition if you agree.” This is also the full text of his Friends of Bernie Sanders petition. The petition seeks support for Senate Joint Resolution 54 “to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” Introduced by the Independent senator from Vermont, the resolution became tri-partisan when it picked up support from a Democrat, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and a Republican, Mike Lee of Utah.

Ordinarily, an effort to halt an ongoing American war could be shuffled off to committee never to be seen again. In this case, Resolution 54 is offered in the context of the War Powers Resolution, which requires that it be considered “in accordance with the expedited procedures” of the law. We may expect Resolution 54 to be voted on within the next few weeks, barring other developments.

Resolution 54 deserves support not only from people who object to war crimes or undeclared wars of aggression, but from people who believe our government should run in an orderly, transparent, and Constitutional manner. Resolution 54 is getting a big push from organizations on the left (including Demand Progress, Daily Kos, Code Pink, Our Revolution, Win Without War, and 15 others). And it’s about time.

Almost three years ago, on March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies started bombing Yemen, the poorest country in the region, with a population of about 27 million. US military units had operated there with impunity until the Houthis overthrew Yemen’s internationally-imposed government. From the start, the Obama administration blessed and enabled the initiation of this aggressive war, itself a war crime. Now it is blessed and enabled by the Trump administration. Besides selling the Saudis their planes and bombs (including cluster bombs, another war crime), the US has provided the Saudi coalition with military intelligence, targeting expertise, and mid-air fueling. The US Navy also supported another war crime, the naval blockade of Yemen that has caused starvation and disease (part of a crime against humanity). From the beginning, the Saudi-led attack on Yemen was a genocidal assault on the Houthis, an ethnic Yemeni minority with whom the Saudis have had territorial squabbles dating back decades, if not centuries. None of this has been a secret. By and large nobody cared any more than the inert US Senate in 2015 (including Sanders, Murphy, and Lee). In connection with Resolution 54, Sanders said:

The United Nations emergency relief coordinator said that Yemen was on the brink of, quote, “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades,” end-quote. So far, at least 10,000 civilians have died and over 40,000 have been wounded in the war, and 3 million people have been displaced. Many Americans are also not aware that U.S. forces have been actively involved in support of the Saudis in this war, providing intelligence and aerial refueling of planes, whose bombs have killed thousands of people and made this crisis far worse.

The carnage has been accumulating for three years under daily bombing, constant blockade, and the world’s silence. That is the profoundly sad thing about Resolution 54 and what it illustrates about the present, diminished state of American democracy: this gesture is the best we’ve got right now for ending the actually unauthorized, unconstitutional, and criminal war that the US has co-waged for almost three years. It’s not just the best we’ve got, it’s all we’ve got. Resolution 54, important as it is, is way too little and way too late. The senators make a point of noting that the American public is unaware of the devastating war in Yemen. And whose fault is that? All three of them have been in the Senate since will before 2015. That they have now found their conscience while 97 other senators hold their silence in the face of American-sponsored genocide is hardly a sign of political health in a country gone far off the rails since 2001.

The sponsors of Resolution 54 don’t mention US complicity in the blockade that starves Yemen. The sponsors of Resolution 54 don’t breathe a word about war crimes. The sponsors of Resolution 54 don’t come close to calling for the same rules being applied to the unauthorized deployment of US troops in Syria. The authors of Resolution 54 have nothing to say about applying the rules in advance of any attack on Iran. The sponsors of Resolution 54, in their small gesture to the rule of law, are pretty much detached from reality.

Resolution 54 isn’t designed to solve anything, but it might lead to a reduction of suffering in Yemen. That’s slightly better than just washing your hands clean after the crucifixion.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
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