Yemen Strikes: Biden is Violating the Constitution
Congress must reclaim its war-making authority and debate on behalf of the American people, whether it makes sense for our nation to carry out strikes against the Iran-backed Houthis.
On Thursday, a multi-nation coalition led by the United States conducted a series of strikes in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthis in response to their attacks against commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea late last year.
President Biden’s statement said that these strikes were a “clear message” to hostile actors working to impede international commerce and promised he would “not hesitate to direct further measures…as necessary.”
A senior U.S. official immediately signaled a similar posture, telling CNN, “This may well not be the last word on the topic. And when we have more to say and more to do, you will hear from us.”
Yet Congress, the one body empowered by Article I of the U.S. Constitution to authorize military force and declare war, has still not heard from the White House. For over a month, President Biden consulted multiple foreign nations to plan these strikes on Houthi military targets, but never once felt obliged to garner approval for them, as mandated by law.
It’s clear from the White House’s advanced warnings and subsequent press statements that these strikes were meant to deter the Houthis from carrying out future attacks on commercial shipping vessels, making them an offensive action.
This must not be conflated with a defensive military action, which the president may conduct if “imminent danger” exists to our nation and its people. Since this was not the case, President Biden is constrained in his war-making abilities through the check and balance of congressional authority. Thus, whether one agrees with it or not, his offensive military action is illegal and unconstitutional.
It is evident why our Founding Fathers designed the Constitution in this way. As James Madison famously wrote in 1797, “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Govts. demonstrates, that the Ex. is the branch of power most interested in war, & most prone to it.”
It is entirely by design that the legislative branch holds the power to authorize combat. The most consequential question members of Congress can ever vote on is whether to send our sons and daughters to war. Yet Congress has abdicated from this job to avoid political risk, and instead forces others to risk their lives in endless wars. The legislature’s passive mentality explains the lack of focus and accountability for Middle East combat over the past twenty years.
Congress must reclaim its war-making authority and debate on behalf of the American people whether it makes sense for our nation to carry out strikes against the Iran-backed Houthis.
While I personally think the response was long overdue and support a strike to defend critical maritime vessels in the Red Sea, I will never ignore the U.S. Constitution by condoning the White House’s premeditated offensive action when it failed to receive, or even seek, proper Congressional authorization. Defending America means defending the Constitution.
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