Yemen Strikes: Biden Knows Only Congress Can Declare War

Yemen Strikes: Biden Knows Only Congress Can Declare War

It’s time for Biden to take his own advice. The president has not been authorized to escalate our Middle East entanglements.

Credit: Consolidated News Photos

Yesterday, the U.S. Navy conducted massive strikes on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in retaliation for attacks made on shipping lanes. While defending sea and trade routes are indeed an American interest, President Biden’s bombing of Yemen carries severe risk of escalation spiral and another devastating forever war in the Middle East. 

Before I’m labeled as a pacifist or appeaser, let me clarify. The U.S. Navy was primarily created to defend seaborne trade routes against pirates and rival powers. But Biden’s choice to launch air strikes is a declaration of war without congressional approval. Since the time of the Washington Administration, the Constitution has been clear: Only Congress has the power to declare war. President Biden must come to us to authorize these strikes—as he must do for ALL acts of war. President Washington knew this when he wrote to William Moultrie that “[t]he Constitution vests the power of declaring War with Congress, therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject, and authorised such a measure.”

In short, Congress remains supreme for war powers. President Biden must come before Congress and ask us to authorize these strikes and specify an end game, time, and scope of operations. He must detail the risks of escalation and provide an alternative plan, if things worsen. 

Consider the facts. America carries a disproportionate burden of securing sea routes, and the rest of the world reaps the benefits. This arrangement is unsustainable and unfair. Yes, the Houthi attacks raised the price of shipping for all countries, but mainly for China, India, and Europe. Other countries need to equally share the cost of securing these trade routes. It’s absurd that Washington elites have forced it upon the American people to police the world’s waterways. 

The Biden administration has failed to explain why the U.S. is on the hook for spending American taxpayer dollars to guard sea routes far away from our shores instead of prioritizing and protecting American shipping companies and trade, as President Thomas Jefferson ordered. Especially at a time when we have an ongoing invasion at our southern border and face $34 trillion dollars in debt. Other countries need to chip in for their security.  

Second, the Biden administration is radio silent on this war’s endgame. The White House is officially arguing that we are “restoring deterrence,” while also warning that this might lead to further Houthi attacks! That is contradictory. What is the point of deterrence if it incites further attacks?  

The Constitution gives Congress various options to empower the executive branch, including authorizing letters of marque, punitive raids, and war. But Congress remains the sole authority to grant those to the President. As long as there is no immediate threat to the country, the President does not have the power to use the military as a private army or to deploy it to wherever he wants—whether he wants to gain support during campaign season or use “diversionary wars” to hide from his own corruption. The Houthi attacks are not existential or urgent enough to bypass Congress. 

In fact, President Biden used to agree: “Let’s be clear: Donald Trump does not have the authority to take us into war with Iran without Congressional approval. A president should never take this nation to war without the informed consent of the American people,” he said in 2020. “As President, I will use military power responsibly and as a last resort. We will not go back to forever wars in the Middle East,” he tweeted during the Democratic debate in the same year. 

Four years later, Biden has mired us in a never-ending proxy war in Europe and is risking a potential all-out war in the Middle East. It’s time for Congress to remind the President of his own lessons that he has seemingly forgotten.

The post Yemen Strikes: Biden Knows Only Congress Can Declare War appeared first on The American Conservative.

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