New Tulsi Gabbard ad: Let's face it, Trump has turned America into Saudi Arabia's prostitute

An outrageous claim. In reality, America has been Saudi Arabia’s prostitute for decades.

The occasion for this spot was Trump’s veto yesterday of Congress’s resolution withdrawing U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen. That veto is the logical endgame in a process of deforming the Constitution’s warmaking powers that’s also taken decades to play out. It used to be that only Congress could declare war; over time various presidents asserted unilateral power to send troops into battle without authorization, eventually inspiring a congressional backlash in the form of the Vietnam-era War Powers Act. Last month, for the first time ever, Congress invoked the WPA and passed a resolution retracting military support for the Saudis in Yemen. But because the bill didn’t enjoy two-thirds majorities in both chambers, Trump was free to bat it away and proceed with military assistance to Riyadh.

That is, instead of Congress having sole power to declare war, the president can now declare war and Congress can’t stop him even when it wants to. Not without a supermajority, anyway.

“The decision to keep support for the war in Yemen is perplexing to some members of the administration, considering the president is usually inclined to remove U.S. troops from all conflict zones,” noted WaPo this morning, reporting on Trump’s veto. At Reason, Eric Boehm wonders how “anti-war” President Donald Trump arrived at a moment when he’s waging war against Congress’s wishes.

[O]n Tuesday night, Trump unambiguously backed Forever War. He vetoed a congressional resolution that would have ended American military involvement in the Yemeni civil war—a conflict that has killed an estimated 50,000 people (scores more have died in a famine triggered by the conflict) without having any significant bearing on U.S. national security…

Yes, there are no American troops fighting on the front lines in Yemen, but the Trump administration has been providing logistical support and intelligence to the Saudi-backed coalition that’s fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. American-flown planes are being used to refuel Saudi aircraft in mid-air, for example. Trump’s own veto statement belies the internal contradiction, with its nod to American “service members” who are very much participants in the bloody, seemingly intractable conflict.

I’m torn watching Gabbard’s ad, thinking on the one hand that it should end with the narrator saying “Paid for by Bashar Assad” and on the other that not nearly enough is said by major politicians about how strange and gross our close alliance with Saudi Arabia is. Right, it’s a matter of realpolitik — the Saudis are the main Islamic counterweight to Iran and the guy in charge there is a kinda sorta force for modernization when he’s not busy ordering the murders of dissidents. But it’ll never not be weird that a president whose intense suspicions of Muslims once led him to endorse a global ban on Muslims entering the United States has chosen the capital of world Wahhabism as his favored regional partner.

Anyway, good luck to Gabbard trying to get traction in a presidential primary with a foreign policy message at a moment when America is involved in fewer wars abroad than usual.