A great point from The Washington Post of all places:
This month, Trump was handed a seemingly perfect out from this mess. A resolution that landed on his desk last week, which had bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, invoked Vietnam-era limits on presidential war powers to force an end to American participation in the Yemeni war. Lawmakers contended that the continued American role in the conflict — which seemed strikingly outside the bounds of the post-9/11 authorization used to justify U.S. hostilities in multiple Middle East conflicts — required congressional consent.
Indeed, Congress handed Trump a huge gift. He could have simultaneously:
- ended a war which since the Khashoggi murder has become a moral embarrassment for the US
- compared himself favorably to Obama who had started an unconstitutional war and himself who pulled the switch on it — this would have been an insanely good talking point for the 2020 campaign trail
- made good on his stated ambition of scaling back America’s entanglements and endless wars in the Middle East
- yet he could have still saved face with the Saudis and preserved much of that relationship by telling them the Congressional vote had taken matters out of his hands
Instead he rejected the Congressional resolution claiming it was attempting to infringe on his powers which even The Atlantic points out is preposterous:
The explanation is preposterous. The president has no constitutional authority to enmesh America in a foreign war that Congress rejects. Indeed, as David French observes, “If a president can fight when he wants, where he wants, and for as long as he wants, then Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 is meaningless.” And if the danger posed to Americans by Houthi rebels were sufficient to justify war, the U.S. would be at war in dozens of other countries, too.
Having made Obama’s Yemen war his own what Trump can expect now is that parts of the pro-establishment press in the US — that part which hates him more than they like the Saudis/hate Iran — will start paying closer attention to Yemen and beating him over the head with it when it can.