While the vote marks a significant political rebuke to Trump, it remains unclear what impact the passing of the resolution will have on the situation in Yemen, where the United Nations is struggling to implement a fragile peace agreement it brokered between the warring parties in December 2018. . . .The issue centers on the devastating humanitarian toll of the conflict, where nearly half the population, some 14 million people, are on the brink of famine, and some 22 million Yemenis require humanitarian assistance. Yemen is now considered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, due in part to a deadly bombing campaign by the Saudi coalition that has indiscriminately targeted civilians and reduced to rubble some of the developing county’s vital infrastructure.
Trump’s excessive reliance on Saudi Arabia in lieu of an effective Iran policy in concert with our European allies (which was shattered when Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement) has run into predictable problems. The Saudis do not share our values, to put it mildly, and therefore make for a highly problematic surrogate. Matters became even worse when the president and senior advisers misled Congress and failed to act against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the grotesque murder of The Post’s Global Opinions contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Gramer and Mackinnon point to Rep. Michael McCaul (Tex.), ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who pointed out that the resolution doesn’t amount to a policy solution to the humanitarian nightmare in Yemen or much of anything else. (“'This resolution does nothing to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. It does nothing to secure justice for the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It does not even make real decisions on U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia,' he said.”) And for that the administration has only itself to blame. It’s not Congress’s job to come up with a coherent policy; it’s the executive branch’s. With its vote, Congress is simply issuing what amounts to rebuke of Trump’s coddling of the Saudis.
“It’s a strong vote of no confidence in Trump’s approach, but it will require more attention and focus to bring a real change in policy and peace in Yemen,” Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress tells me.
Wherever one looks around the globe — Syria, Yemen, Central America — both friends and allies of the United States see an impulsive president who peevishly withdraws from conflicts, refusing to deploy either hard or soft power in defense of U.S. interests.
On the same day as the war powers vote, Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Thomas R. Carper (Del.), ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and 32 colleagues sent “a letter to President Donald Trump opposing his plan to cut national security funding to Northern Triangle countries. In their missive, the Senators make clear the U.S. Congress already appropriated these funds to advance United States’ foreign policy priorities related to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.”)
One fears what nearly two more years of chaotic, counterproductive foreign policy will do to America’s standing in the world and the security and prosperity of the West. When an unfit American president refuses to live up to the obligations of leading the world’s only superpower, the results likely will be unsatisfactory.