The president made an unconvincing speech about how he’s protecting American lives when the truth is that his foreign policy is putting the lives of American soldiers and civilians at risk
This week, President Donald Trump vetoed the War Powers Resolution, a historic bipartisan attempt by Congress to force the administration to halt US support to Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The Saudis are currently spearheading a war effort that has created a humanitarian crisis in Yemen — one that has killed more than 50,000 people and left millions in dire need of aid. Now, when Congress wants to withdraw US support, Trump decides to make use of only his second veto in office thus far.
In his message to the Senate, Trump wrote: “This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.” Not a single word of this is true, and this veto is a disgrace.
Trump claims Congress’ resolution is unnecessary. Yet the constitutional power to declare war lies with Congress — not the president — making the resolution entirely necessary. For the last 70 years, Congress has shamefully abdicated its constitutional authority over war. This is partly a means of avoiding the political buck on potentially unpopular conflicts, but it has allowed the executive branch wide latitude in using the military overseas.
Successive administrations have ended up dragging the US into peripheral and lengthy conflicts that likely won’t end anytime soon because of this complacency. In 2001, Congress used the broadest language possible to provide the Bush administration “authority” to pursue those responsible for 9/11, and did so again in 2002 for the invasion of Iraq. Almost two decades later, we’re still in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Bush administration, too, built a national security state infrastructure that has allowed the US to pursue a truly global war on terror that will never end. Indeed, terrorism is a fact of life and can never be fully eliminated.
So, yes, any Congressional effort to reclaim its war-making power is both welcome and absolutely necessary. Yet President Trump also describes the resolution as an attempt to “weaken my constitutional authorities.” Indeed, it is — and that’s the point. The balance of power has shifted much too far in the direction of the executive and needs a recalibration.