President Trump’s recent veto of a congressional measure intended to pull the U.S. out of Yemen confirms the president’s seemingly unchecked power to wage war without congressional approval. Yet Congress cannot amass the the two-thirds majority votes required to overturn the presidential veto thanks to Israeli and Saudi influence via campaign contributions. In addition, French, American, and British arms companies have benefited tremendously from supplying the Saudis and their partners with an unlimited supply of weapons.
By Richard Walker
President Donald Trump’s decision to veto a congressional measure designed to pull America out of the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of women and children, is a striking example of the unchecked war powers Congress has given presidents since the early 1970s.
In a rare bi-partisan effort to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war, Congress sent the president the resolution, expecting he would reject it, which he did. He justified his decision by claiming it threatened to weaken his constitutional authority. He thereby ended the matter because Congress lacked the two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to override his veto.
The reason there is not a bigger congressional majority to confront the Yemen issue—and with it the president’s seemingly unchecked power to wage war without congressional approval—is that there are many members of Congress on both sides who are influenced by Israel’s support for the Saudis, and just as many who are beholden to Saudi political donations. No country spends more money on lobbying in Washington and on Capitol Hill than Saudi Arabia and its coalition partner in the war, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Also in play is the Trump family business connection to the Saudis, who have spent heavily in buying Trump properties over decades, and the close personal relationship between the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner and the young, impetuous Saudi leader, Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS. Kushner, MBS, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu share a similar view of Middle East politics. They see the war in Yemen as a way of dragging Iran into a wider conflict since it supports the Houthis of Yemen.
It is worth noting that when the war began in 2015, there were 10 Arab nations involved, including Egypt and Jordan, but as of today that figure has been reduced to four—the Saudis, UAE, Sudan, and Bahrain. The reason for nations peeling off was international outrage and the unchecked slaughter of Yemeni civilians. In just a few years, there have been 24,000 airstrikes and, aside from the massive death toll from those, tens of thousands have died from disease and starvation, the majority of them children and the elderly.
The war has been made possible by the Saudi and UAE use of weapons provided by the U.S., France, and Britain. Democrats critical of Trump’s support for the war ignore the fact that his predecessor, Barack Obama, supplied the Saudis and the UAE with more weapons than his predecessor, George W. Bush.
In Kings and Presidents, a book on the history of U.S.-Saudi relations, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel writes that “no president since Franklin Roosevelt courted Saudi Arabia as zealously as did Obama.” Not only did Obama authorize more arms sales than any other U.S. president, he visited Saudi Arabia more frequently than any of his predecessors.”
Trump’s veto override of Congress’s resolution coincided with the public leaking of French intelligence documents that exposed how the Saudis could not manage the war without French, U.S., and British weapons, as well as the constant supply of spare parts.
The leaked papers highlighted the lies French leaders had been telling their own people about the war. President Emmanuel Macron had insisted that French weapons were being used by the Saudis and their allies for purely defensive purposes. It was an outright lie. French weapons were used in the slaughter of civilians. For example, the powerful French CAESAR howitzer capable of launching shells deep into Yemen had been within range of 430,000 civilians. It was revealed that the Saudis had placed an order for another 126 CAESARs to be delivered before 2023.
The leaked intel also confirmed that French arms companies had provided the Saudis and the UAE with their most powerful tanks, helicopters, and missiles.
The French government was so embarrassed by the report that it immediately ordered an investigation to find the person who leaked it to a French journalism site.
Amnesty International was one of many organizations that responded to the leak by calling on France and other Western nations to be more transparent and to halt sales of arms that were being used in war crimes.
The French have not been alone in supplying some of the most advanced deadly weapons that have caused untold civilian casualties in Yemen. The leaked papers also pointed out that most of the planes flying over Yemen were NATO types such as F-15s, EU Tornado fighters, and British Typhoons. The majority of helicopters were Apache and Black Hawks, and many Saudi battle tanks were American Abrams.
As AFP has pointed out in previous articles about this war, the deadliest munitions used by the Saudis were acquired from U.S. companies and the Pentagon.
An incontrovertible fact is that French, American, and British arms companies have benefited tremendously from supplying the Saudis and their partners with an unlimited supply of weapons that have been used to slaughter innocent women and children.
Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former New York mainstream news producer who grew tired of seeing his articles censored by his bosses.