I guess I was traveling when Congress took the vote on this one

The Americans are providing targeting intelligence and refueling Saudi warplanes involved in bombing rebel positions. But coalition strikes have also destroyed hospitals, markets and residential neighborhoods, killing large numbers of civilians.

Last Saturday, airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition killed more than 100 people at a funeral in Sana, shown above. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the war, according to the United Nations, and the threat to civilians has increased since the collapse of peace talks in August.

After the Houthi rebels launched two failed missile attacks at an American warship in the Red Sea, another American vessel destroyed three radar installations in Yemen.

I do not know what is correct American policy in this conflict, but is it so wrong to have wished to have seen a Congressional vote and thereby Congressional accountability?  Now that the conflict has heated up, will this be happening anytime soon?  Is anything stopping the President from requesting it?  Didn’t my whole Twitter feed just decide they want a President who respects the Constitution and the rule of law?

Here is the full story (NYT), short but useful and informative in any case.


It's the difference between a stationary bandit and a roving bandit, as Mancur. Olson pointed out. Incidentally, Olson in one of his books makes the point that a command-and-control economy like the USSR would "work", but only with a man like Stalin in charge, who ruthlessly culls the population when resources get constrained, and gives them only what they need to survive (potatoes, turnips), not what they want (consumer goods). Wartime communism works (as the USA itself adopted during WWII) to fulfill a single objective. But once a soft "Gorbachev" gets installed, or even a Khrushchev, it's game over.

Bonus trivia: it used to be said the USA supports Saudi Arabia, an artificially created country, because it wanted cheap oil. Now that oil is irrelevant, what's the justification? It wants a less repressive Islamic state? God help us if these Middle East countries develop deliverable nuclear weapons, as Pakistan already has, and North Korea, Iran are trying to do so.

The USA supports the Saudis to lessen the incentive for them to pursue a nuclear weapon program.

Saudi has access to Pak nukes--they paid for them, after all!

The US supports Saudi Arabia to have $2 gasoline and heating oil and to kill 100,000 jobs per year to prevent labor gaining power over wages and benefits.

Name the American "patriots", ie conservatives, who call for cutting all ties with Saudi Arabia and seeking global sanctions on the human rights violating dictatorship and police state?

Name the "patriots" who praise the opening of relations with Iran which is ten times as liberal democratic and republican as Saudi Arabia.

In an ideal world, Trump, Bernie, and Stein would be campaigning on their first day in office ban on all oil imports to create the economy that rapidly creates a hundred thousand energy jobs per month in the first year on top of the baseline 150,000 jobs from growth.

That would be far less disruptive than banning imports of manufactured goods like cell phones, computers, and flat panel TVs and media-DVRs. Of course, banning imports is sold like Brexit, never will the 90% of imports that even the candidates want to be cheap will be restricted.

Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling we will always have $2 a gallon gasoline.

Part of it is bribes. In exchange for the government supporting the regime, the Saudi government procures services such as construction from US firms that happen to have sitting or former members of congress on their boards. Since the use/sale of oil is one step removed, nobody makes a big deal of it.

I guess they also want to oppose any democracies in the middle east by propping up as many Kuwait-style dictatorships as possible.

Didn’t my whole Twitter feed just decide they want a President who respects the Constitution and the rule of law?

Are they all urging you to vote for a 3rd party candidate?

Of course a self-proclaimed libertarian like Prof. Cowen will vote for a principled candidate aligned to his sincere political beliefs.

Right? I mean, a libertarian like Prof. Cowen believes that governments preparing for war (though not engaging in them, one must note) is a good thing, and I'm sure that this is the sort of policy that virtually all libertarians consider an important part of their principles.

...shockingly naive for a PhD to expect the Federal Government closely adhere to the Constitution, at this point in American history... especially regarding undeclared "wars".

We now have a highly dysfunctional Congress, Executive and Supreme Court... relative to the text of the Constitution. The endless, undeclared U.S. wars (large & small) should be the most obvious evidence of a grossly unhinged U.S. government. And the current circus of a "Presidential Election" should further convince even the dumbest Americans that something is seriously wrong with the current government system.

But gotta protect our Navy destroyers at all costs -- can't just sail them away from Yemen.
And how well did that Vietnam "Gulf of Tonkin" destroyer-protection plan work out for American citizens, long term?

Sleep tight America, your Constitutional government politicians are protecting you 100%... 24/7.

See my comments on the Deep State further down below. Congress may be constantly in gridlock, but the Deep State is not.

If you want Peace you must prepare for War -- and fight!

Realistically speaking, there are only 2 candidates who have a chance of being elected this time around. Although everyone has their right to vote their conscience if they want, you have your head stuck firmly in the sand if you can't understand any other person's decision to vote in a way that will affect the outcome of the presidential election, rather than in a way that will not.

Many of the people who voted for Nader because of their idealism, when GW Bush was elected, and then had family members killed or injured in the Iraq War, can see this most clearly, since their own personal experience has driven home the point.

That's one of the problems with huge modern societies. Other people's losses, and perhaps the welfare of your entire country, seem just theoretical to you, in comparison to your beloved ideology that is personally fulfilling but has little resemblance to reality.

"decision to vote in a way that will affect the outcome of the presidential election,"

It is obvious that your vote will not, in fact, affect the outcome, if you vote for a person who is not elected. It is equally obvious that your vote does not affect the outcome if you vote for the person who ends up being elected.

That doesn't make any sense. The chance of your vote leading to or resolving a tie in your state's vote for electors which also creates an electoral college majority is far smaller than the chances McMullin or Johnson will win according to statistical models published by the likes of Nate Silver. Even if things were that close, the election would be resolved by the courts and appointed clerks examining absentee ballots. If you wish to adopt conventional wisdom, Clinton's electors were pretty much guaranteed a lock as soon as Trump was nominated; if you don't then anyone has a chance.

It has been proven many times over that even had Nader not run, Bush still would have been elected as many of his supporters would not have voted, would have voted for another new party candidate, or even voted for Bush; there were also votes for other candidates on the ballot in Florida who might have appealed more to Bush voters. Those killed in the war choose to enlist and knew or should have known that a reckless and irresponsible person would squander military lives; it is the most compelling reason to avoid military or national guard service at present. Those who join enable such recklessness and the Obama administration proves Gore might well have not been any better.

I'm sure there is a huge overlap between Nader voters and military families. Yup.

"Are they all urging you to vote for a 3rd party candidate?"

No, he'said just refusing to acknowledge we have a republican form of government where Republicans are outraged that Obama has not given Saudia Arabia far more respect and gone to war at their behest on Iran, Syria, Yemen, non-sunni in Iraq,...

Which of the 17 Republican candidates called Obama out on his support for Saudi Arabia and promised to cut off all ties to Saudi Arabia?

Which members of the Republican majority in Congress has introduced resolutions to sanction Saudi Arabia, and voted to reject arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

All weapons deals get Congressional approval by law.

"The Senate on Wednesday backed the Obama administration's plan to sell more than $1 billion worth of American-made tanks and other weapons to Saudi Arabia, soundly defeating a bid to derail the deal pushed by lawmakers critical of the kingdom's role in Yemen's civil war.

"Senators who supported the sale said the United States can't deny its Middle East allies the weapons they need to combat Islamic State extremists and check Iran's aggression in the region.

"Blocking this sale of tanks will be interpreted by our Gulf partners, not just Saudi Arabia, as another sign that the United States of America is abandoning our commitment to the region and is an unreliable security partner," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee."


Congress does not take votes on such things anymore - well, except for allowing Americans to sue Saudi Arabia, that is. And as commander in chief, the president is fully within his authority to offer American military logistics support to anyone, anywhere that the president directs, without requiring the permission of Congress.

You may have also missed, as the Guardian points out, that an American warship in international waters has been the subjected to three unsuccessful missile attacks, and American cruise missiles have been used twice to take out targeting radars in the area where the attacks were launched - what the response to the latest attack will be is unknown - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/16/us-warship-attacked-for-third-time-from-yemen-says-american-official

It seems like we don't threaten in such cases, we just strike back. And both the U.S. and Iran are practicing what is likely to happen whenever the two nations get into a conflict involving keeping the Straights of Hormuz open or closed.

This follows the fairly spectacular destruction of a UAE chartered naval ship on Oct. 3 or so by what appears to be an anti-ship missile, apparently first reported on here - https://www.rt.com/news/361339-uae-warship-attack-yemen/ (youtube video pretty much detailing what happened from the point of the missile launch is pretty interesting in its way - anti-armor rockets tend to be more straight line, while anti-aircaft ones tend to not plunge down on their target), following reported naval missile attacks in rebel held residential areas.

Pretty much the only people backing the rebels seems to be Iran, and there really is not much of a marketplace for freedom fighters/rebels/terrorists looking to buy anti-ship missiles. Proxy wars have tended to the sort of thing the president does not ask for permission for - it tends to make the 'proxy' part even more threadbare than it already is.

But then, when it comes the area where something like a 1/3 of the world's exported oil moves through, the decades long tradition of the president not bothering to ask Congress (anyone remember the 80s Tanker War? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Earnest_Will ) to keep the oil flowing is not really all that surprising, is it?

Your can have your own opinions, but not your own facts.


"Although a resolution against the sale failed to advance on a vote of 71-27, the measure's sponsors said the debate demonstrated that congressional support for arms sales — even to a longtime and important Middle East ally — isn't automatic. They also used the time to insist that Congress play a larger role in foreign policy decisions, especially those involving the use of military force.

"The war in Yemen is pitting the country's internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led coalition against the Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who are allied with army units loyal to a former president. The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen since March 2015 and thousands of civilians have been killed in the fighting, according to the U.N. human rights chief.

"The United States is supporting the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence and logistical support, including refueling aircraft, according to senators opposed to the sale. Most Americans are unaware of how involved their military is in Yemen, they said, adding that lawmakers never have fully discussed whether the participation advances U.S. national security interests.

"Should Congress just lie down and be a lapdog for the president?" asked Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a sponsor of the resolution. "Everyone should understand that this is a proxy vote for whether we should be at war in the Middle East."

"Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who also opposed the sale, said the Saudis have bombed areas that the U.S. has asked them to avoid. At the same time, the Islamic State and al-Qaida are growing "by leaps and bounds," Murphy said, because the Saudis are hitting primarily Houthi and civilian targets.

"Let's press the Saudis to get serious about spending more time as firefighters and less time as arsonists in the global fight against terrorism," Murphy said."

"in the global fight against terrorism": do grow up, Murphy.

“Let’s press the Saudis to get serious about spending more time as firefighters and less time as arsonists in the global fight against terrorism,” Murphy said.”

Seems like a reasonable statement to me. We shouldn't have any illusions who we're in bed with.

LOL, you say "You can have your own opinions, but not your own facts."
And then you quote Fox News, as if it isn't the TV station that has broadcast far more lies than any other one in the U.S.

Here's Obama fulfilling his constitutional obligation:


Unfortunately, it seems like we've gotten into another conflict with no foreseeable "win" scenario.

Notification is not the same as 'a Congressional vote and thereby Congressional accountability.'

'Unfortunately, it seems like we’ve gotten into another conflict with no foreseeable “win” scenario.'

It has been that way pretty much my whole life when it comes to the USN (with some help from those absolutely no longer secret and well provisioned airbases built to USAF specs in places like KSA and Kuwait) ensuring that a significant fraction of the world's oil can continue to flow through the Straits of Hormuz. Whether it was intended to keep the Soviets, the Iraqis, or the Iranians from being the ones doing the blocking, the only difference has been how cold or hot the mission has been. And it has been much hotter, as noted by the above reference to the Tanker War notes.

Oh, I forgot to mention that this involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts revolving around the vital necessity to have oil continue to be exported through the Straits of Hormuz was predicted by a certain US Naval Academy graduate and nuclear engineer who just happened to have been ridiculed as a moron when he suggested that the U.S. (and the rest of the Western block) attempt to move beyond relying on oil as the foundation of our economy.

Luckily, we ignored someone actually familiar with the underpinnings of American Middle Eastern strategy since around the 1930s (check out the history of Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia as oil producers) for a succession of presidents who have clearly been able to convince voters that the reasons we care about the Middle East has nothing (well, maybe a little itty-bitty bit) to do with oil.

And for anyone wondering - Libya's oil exports are quite important too, though they do not flow through the Straits of Hormuz.

Prior_test2 you had me on your first comment but not your second. Yes, the War Powers Act means that after 60 days Obama needs authorization from Congress to keep forces there. Did this happen? If so, I missed it.

But no, this is meant to help an 'ally' not keep the oil flowing. The world is oversupplied and thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling we could ramp up and export much more if the oil price climbs due to a conflict in the Middle East.

"Oh, I forgot to mention that this involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts revolving around the vital necessity to have oil continue to be exported through the Straits of Hormuz was predicted by a certain US Naval Academy graduate and nuclear engineer..."

prior_test2, I knew nuclear engineers. Nuclear engineers were friends of mine. Jimmy Carter was no nuclear engineer.

You can have your own opinion, but not your own facts.

"Although a resolution against the sale failed to advance on a vote of 71-27, the measure's sponsors said the debate demonstrated that congressional support for arms sales — even to a longtime and important Middle East ally — isn't automatic. They also used the time to insist that Congress play a larger role in foreign policy decisions, especially those involving the use of military force."

This is one of the most frustrating things about the GOP, there are so many easy things to check Obama on but they don't bother because their base will only react if they call him a Kenyan Muslim terrorist or his wife a gorilla.

But what is their position? The Saudi's are a huge driver of terrorist, but because Obama did the deal they can't get on the path to some balance position to Iran. Their base doesn't care to distinguish, so what to do?

How big is the constituency within the GOP that feels the President's war time powers are too broad and that the U.S. should not be doing more to defeat ISIS? Hawks within the Republican Party have been in favor of expansive and implicit war time powers since at least the time of Nixon's bombing of Cambodia and Republicans have spent too much time already claiming Obama hasn't been doing enough against ISIS.

The Republican position is to give Saudi Arabia far more support, except for the "dangerous" Paul's who are dangerous for opposing most US military action and presence.

""Blocking this sale of tanks will be interpreted by our Gulf partners, not just Saudi Arabia, as another sign that the United States of America is abandoning our commitment to the region and is an unreliable security partner," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee."


Upon assuming office President Obama not surprisingly (unless you were foolish enough to be enraptured by the Anointed One) abandoned his campaign promise to seek Congressional approval before intervening abroad in this way (e.g., Libya, ISIS). A principled Madisonian would defend Congressional prerogatives, but if Congress won't defend its own prerogatives (still no ISIS vote yet) and if the American people (having long since adopted the imperial presidency) won't demand it of Congress either (at least not until they think that things are going badly), what Prof. Cowen is asking for is a political nonstarter.

"Blocking this sale of tanks will be interpreted by our Gulf partners, not just Saudi Arabia, as another sign that the United States of America is abandoning our commitment to the region and is an unreliable security partner," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Said in response to Senate action to disapprove of weapons sales.

Explain how Congress is not supporting the Saudi war on Yemen.

I actually don't blame the President for this one. I think it's pretty clear that Congress doesn't want to vote on military strikes precisely because they want to avoid accountability. They would rather wait to see how it turns out. If things go south, then they can criticize the President. If things go well, then they don't have to have been on record as opposing the strikes and being soft on terrorism. If Congress really wanted to vote, they would be raising hell right now. Instead, they remain silent.

Congressional ambivalence arises because very few of them, much like most Americans, have any clear doctrine of when or when not to deploy military force. An exception might be principled isolationists, who oppose use of force under almost all circumstances, but such isolationists are generally seen as too soft on defense to be elected to many seats. The consensus view is probably that we should use force if and only if our "strategic national interests are at stake", but that's in practice a tautology because "strategic national interests" is undefined. As a result, unlike on domestic matters, most Congresspersons probably have no strong views on what to do and, thus, search for the politically least risky path.

Hey, remember when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize?

And what did Obama tell the people who awarded him the "prize".

So why is he doing it then?

Bush's biggest mistake, and there were many, was going about a generation long project while trying to dominate the news cycle. Syria is a mess. Bombing this or that, a drone strike, taking out Assad, or whatever discrete event that fills the attention span of this President simply adds to the mess. If there is a strategy to be had, then build the coalition within the US that will carry it out.

Otherwise he is just another ugly American. Break it and leave.

Obama does all this stuff and the media barely talks about it. Do you think any nightly news program is going to lead off with this funeral story?

I'm not (necessarily) saying the media is just in bed with Obama. But Obama hasn't made a Big Deal out of this stuff, like Bush did, so it's Not Important.

I still don't know which is better. With Bush, there is definitely more public engagement in our military adventures. With Obama, the US can get the stuff done without the populace (the American populace, of course) getting in the way. I guess the answer for which is better might rest on what you think of the American people's wisdom in this arena.

If you refuse to give the go ahead due to not wanting to face accountability, is this not evidence that no one should be making those decisions?

When was the last time Congress declared war on somebody before the bombs start flying (or after, for that matter)? WW2. Ever since then, every war has been presented as an international policing, peacekeeping, limited intervention thing. One of the most important functions it has, and Congress washed its hands of it.

Both the Gulf Wars has votes before the bombs starting flying. They may not have had the name "Declaration of War," but it was an explicit vote on precisely what was done, sought by the Presidents Bush.

October 2002 when Congress declared war on Iraq, a bit more than a year after declaring global endless war on scary people to prevent another 911.

Military force is war, unless you can explain how war is not military force.

This is premature Presidential Accountability. We all know that only Republican Presidents fight evil wars and so need to ask Congress for permission. Obama made aerial death squads and invading other countries temporarily cool.

Have you ever heard of a person who would say both "I would vote for Obama" and "I support drone bombings"? My guess is that they are few and far between. I bet that the vast majority of people who voted for Obama (90%+?) would oppose these unaccountable strikes if they knew of them.

Oh, so you are not just a troll. You do have a point there. See my comments way down further on this thread regarding the Deep State making the decisions, rather than the president.

So, you believe 90% of Americans want to defend the free speech and second amendment rights of people who are on the Internet promising to kill Americans and destroy American power?

So, why did American voters elect politicians to Congress to sanction Cuba, the Soviets, Iran, especially the clear "sanction with extreme prejudice" that Congress authorizes every year in the black budget.

Lots of willful ignorance is actually explicit support for these things.

How many people immediately opposed those politicians who called Ron Paul and Rand Paul "dangerous" for their statements as members of Congress about US military force being fundamentally wrong?

How can Trump have so much support given his statements about war and how he would unilaterally use war? War is military force, nothing more, nothing less.

Why isn't Rand Paul the Republican nominee?

Why isn’t Rand Paul the Republican nominee?
Because, politically and practically speaking, the role that Libertarians play in the U.S. is to get votes for the GOP, by deceptively luring in voters who are totally against the GOP wars and against many of the GOP's other policies.

How can Trump have so much support given his statements about war and how he would unilaterally use war?

Politics is tribal. People do not choose a leader who supports their views. People fall in love with a tribe and/or a tribal leader and then let the tribal leader tell them what their opinions are. Here is an article about a book and a study that demonstrated this.

A lot of RLC people voted for Paul in the primary and the Barr/Johnson in the general or did not vote. The others would vote GOP anyway, just for the tax savings.

I don't know. The Democrats seem to want to elect one President. They can't be that rare.

The vast majority of people who voted for Obama voted for him twice. Some of them perhaps more than that. They must be very low information voters if they were unaware of Obama's use of drones. Although, admittedly, the media does all it can to cover up for him.

During the Iraq war, we were told that the worst possible thing was American soldiers dying. Drone strikes put no American soldiers lives at risk (at least in any way that can be directly blamed on drone strikes). Whether they ought to or not, Americans seem A-OK with this. You have to go to weird places on the Internet, like Conor Friedersdorf's columns at the Atlantic, to find people upset about it.

The main arguments presidents have been making since WWII have been (1) inherent powers as Commander in Chief and (2) Congress has the power of the purse, could explicitly cut off funding and continued funding (or failure to cut funding) is approval. We also have the War on Terror's Authorization to Use Military Force.

"Congressional vote and thereby Congressional accountability" What does this mean? What sort of vote were you looking for? What's stopping Congress from holding a President accountable, whether or not there's a vote? What's stopping Congress from voting? They could pass a resolution condemning the President if they wanted to.

Letc see, Democrats cut off funding for war when Nixon was president. So, since then, Democrats have been praised for getting the US out of the wars in Asia, and Democrats have been the number one favored party on international affairs ever since. And Carter is idolized for bringing home Americans from Iran without starting a war that would have resulted in Americans in Iran dying along with US military dying as well?

Is Black Lives Matter condemning the Saudi Action. Where is the UN and the Boycott Divestiture and Sanctions Movement? We need Israel to drop a couple of bombs to spark their interest.

As completely unrelated issues, probably far away dealing with the issues that they are presently dealing with.

The fact of taking on one issue does not imply hypocrisy for a failure to immediately address every issue on the planet.

Moreover, the two issues you refer to took generations (or more) of offensive abuses before eventually attracting the attention they have. If the issue in Yemen persists for decades or generations, as in the case of the two other issues you raise, I`m sure that formal structure to address it will also evolve.

Congress knows what has been going on. They can step in an act if they want. They don't need to wait for Obama to ask, and in the case of ships being fired upon I think it clear that POTUS in the C-in-C role has the latitude to respond as he wishes. Unfortunately, Congress is much too busy. They have another 10 votes scheduled to repeal Obamacare this month and they have just started their 30th Benghazi investigation, but at least this one is finally going to discover the truth.


hey have another 10 votes scheduled to repeal Obamacare this month

The citing of "X votes to repeal Obamacare" is a sign of ignorance, the sort of thinking that led to Trump and is Trump-like, whether it comes from opponents or supporters of PPACA. It's an absurd measure that involves including not only multiple procedural votes necessary for every substantive action, but technical fixes and bipartisan actions to repeal and change provisions of the law, some of which have been requested by the Administration, and many of which have been signed. (1099 reporting change, repeal of the unworkable CLASS Act shoved into the PPACA for scoring purposes by the drafters but determined by the Department of Health and Human Services to be unworkable and repeal requested, etc.) There has been exactly one bill to repeal the entire PPACA each Congressional session, voted at the very beginning of the calendar. Counting every single vote to change any sentence in the law, even technical fixes requested, is an abuse of language by whatever side does it.

So, why didn't you simply mention the Senate vote in support of aiding the Saudi war on Yemen?


This was a vote clearly in support of Saudi war crimes. Or else a vote that indicated killing women and children in Yemen is not a war crime.

The kinds of killings being done by the Saudis was given by opponents, but never refuted by the supporters of the Saudi war on Yemen.

The Senate did take a vote on whether or not to object to a recent arms sale to Saudi Arabia, which was heavily taken as a proxy on support for the Saudi war in Yemen. A provision of current arms sales laws allows Senators to fairly easily force a blocking vote. Rand Paul (R-KY) along with Chris Murphy (D-CT) forced the vote. It received a mere 21 votes in the Senate, unfortunately, as the leadership of both parties and the Administration heavily pressed for the arms sales (which are also a form of subsidy for Lockheed Martin.)

It's not actually an authorization of force, but it was a vote on the policy, and I'm a bit confused by all the commenters here ignoring that vote and preferring to prattle on.

Both the votes to block the sale as well as the speeches in favor of the arms sale painted it directly as a vote on support for the Saudis in Yemen. Perhaps Tyler did miss it while traveling, but I wonder what everyone else's excuse is?

"...the leadership of both parties and the Administration heavily pressed for the arms sales (which are also a form of subsidy for Lockheed Martin.)"

So how many of the votes in favor were in support of an American foreign policy initiative and how many were merely to subsidize Lockheed Martin?

And how is insinuating...with no evidence...a grubby economic motive not an "abuse of language"?

If that is all you have I will continue to prattle on. If the arms sale vote somehow counts as a declaration of war or approval from congress then by this logic the vote to be able to sue Saudi Arabia must be the opposite.

Read fair and balanced Fox News on this and quote it in support of your position.

Or quote your own news reporting.

fair and balanced Fox News, LOL.

A vote would make Congress "accountable," eh?

Like the way Hillary is accountable for the Iraq War?

Uh huh.

She was in Senate, not Congress.

Congress consists of both the House and Senate, my opinionated Canadian friend.

Darned words. I get the separation of the two, somewhat, but did not know that. To date when hearing "Congress" I've always heard "house", assuming "Senate" to be separate.

Would that the average American could make corrections at that basic level, probably things would be in a better state down there.

"My ignorance is OK because I can imagine some American who's even ignoranter."

Congress was lied to, about WMD in the Iraq War.

LOL, Troll Me, you know well how to be a troll. Keep telling everyone they are wrong, even if they are not.

Seeing Jill and Nathan fighting is hilarious.

Case in point, with regard to my response to Anon's correction.

Wow, even written that hurts my ear!
One seldom-violated rule: 3 or more syllables, make the comparative by using 'more' in front of the adjective. one syllable, add 'er', two syllables you get your choice.


I was trying to imitate Nathan's inimitable way with words.

If the charge is as strictly defined, providing intelligence, we have a Constitution 200 years too old. We were not prepared for a world where an internet packet has the wartime value of a munition.

I bet many laws talk about material aid in conflicts. Data is not material in the old sense.

I have no idea what law would or should cleave work-a-day intelligence sharing from wartime assistance. Messy.

When you go to war you seek out the enemies weaknesses. The ISIS and other Islamists know that the West is afraid to bring the battle too them if they hide among the general population. Our Western press reinforces this fear of winning and makes sure that we play by all the rules while the terrorists do not and get a pass. That is the ISIS forces can move into a city in Irq and kill thousands of people at their leisure while the West dithers for fear of killing a civilian. Where if we had smply responded with overwhelming force at the beginning we would have fewer total civilians killed and prevented future clashes due to the massive and effective response.

I liken this to the new mother whose toddler acts out and she tries to please the child even more in a vain attempt to urge it to be good. This goes on for years and the result is a spoiled child growing into a rotten adult. If the parent used immediate and direct punishments the child would more quickly learn their limits and both the parent and child (not to mention bystanders) would be happier and better adjusted.

War is hell. It should be conducted to win and end it quickly, NOT to satisfy critics sitting safely in countries and cities who are protected by the very forces and actions being used effectively in the war.

It is not "fear", it is recognition that it is not good to kill non-combattants.

The notion that fewer civilians would have been killed if we had just killed more civilians is pretty dubious. And moreover, it does not appear as though operational procedures are giving much attention to avoiding civilian casualities anyways. Especially when it comes to dropping bombs (which is why, to reduce future alienation and antagonism, it is better to risk lives through boots on the ground who can use more targeted measures instead of dropping big bombs).

Who is not the enemy in Iraq? Who should not be killed instead of killing everyone in Iraq so no humans other than invading soldiers remain?

Why shouldn't the same rules apply to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Somalia, Libya, ..., Afghanistan, Pakistan, the other stans,...?

Sometimes atrocities against civilians are not accidental, but part of a campaign to force submission on the part of the wider populace who is supposed to think "oh, see how they go around bombing weddings and funerals? I guess we'd better try to get those other guys to stop fighting with them ...."

Not so much a "bomb them into submission" strategy, but a "kill enough civilian for them to blame the militants for the fact of whatever militancy they are up to" strategy.

It might work in the short time frame. But it also amounts to the birth of an entire generation of wannabe terrorists who will hold strong grudges, and easily believe, say, that it's just as OK to kill those other civilians as it was for the Saudis (and American ally) to kill their civilians.

On what planet do people get up in arms about primitive bombs that kill a a few, but are indifferent to the killing of hundreds at weddings and funerals?

The hypocrisy and disproportions in all sides of this and related issues are appalling. How much hypocrisy? I bet a decent share of readers here will be somewhat angry at some supposedly "anti-American" attitude in evidence for the fact of mentioning these disproportions and hypocrisy.

I don't know if it matters, whether or not you have a president who respects the Constitution and the rule of law, if the Deep State does not. Those who write about the Deep State say that the Deep State tells the president what to do, not vice versa.




How did you fare in running for public office based on your interpretation of the Constitution?

If you are correct in your implied argument that 80% of We the People are either kept in the dark by a vast conspiracy or have felt totally powerless, you should be able to garner a grass roots massive movement to elect you to Congress to join Rand Paul, Bernie Sanders, Pat Murphy to speak out in opposition.

My guess is you have never tried because not even you want the very limited Federal government you claim.

Where did I claim to want a limited federal government?

And in the days of extreme government and politician bashing, who in their right mind would want to run for public office? Certainly not me.

You must have me confused with someone else.

I guess some of us should have read the fine print of the 2001 AUMF. Recall the USS Cole was an early target and the US has been active against AQAP in Yemen since then. Sure, it's mission creep, and the deal with Iran gave the US reasons to make it up to Saudi Arabia. But Congress did sign off on it with a blank check in 2001.

Thanks. This is a good point.

The Senate voted 71-27 in support of the Saudi war on Yemen just within the past month.

The 27 were
Baldwin (D-WI)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Durbin (D-IL)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heller (R-NV)
Hirono (D-HI)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lee (R-UT)
Markey (D-MA)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Paul (R-KY)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Warren (D-MA)
Wyden (D-OR)

Notice how there are no Democrats because they mindlessly vote in lock step for every Obama big government effort to destroy America....

I do not understand why the US is siding against the Houthi rebels. They are not ISIS or All Quaeda. They were a marginalized minority in a country which has historically been either a failed state or close to bring one.

Any military assistance we provide inevitable assists in the commiting of awful atrocities.

Is this to placate Saudi Arabia? Are we doing it because the Houthis are Shia and they will ally with Iran? Is it because we believe Yemen will not have a stable government otherwise, and it will be a breeding ground from ISIS and Also Quaeda? What's really odd is that these two terrorist groups have operated in the "Saudi" controlled territory. The Houthi being Shia are not going to be fertile breeding ground for these two groups.

If the Houthis are beaten, will Yemen be less likely to have ISIS and Al Quaeda groups than if they were to win? I doubt that. Is the US supporting the Saudis because they otherwise see a stalemate, believe the Houthis cannot win, and are convinced that the existence of a stalemate most promotes ISIS and Al Quaeda?

I see this type of action and wish we would get out of the Middle East.

In which State are you running for Congress promising to devote your time to bring all US military home and then to cut the military budget?

The ability of the US military to wage war is determined by 535 people in Congress, not by the President.

It's the first enumerated power of Congress.

In fact, it's the number one reason the Constitution exists.

Why do you think people who have other things to do should be running for Congress? It would be enough to just find a candidate to vote for who is against unnecessary wars.

Interesting questions. So do you see the U.S. as usually doing sane things in its foreign military interventions, but this particular one stands out as bad? I certainly agree with your conclusion, however, that we should get out of the Middle East.

Some foreign interventions are understandable. For example I understand why the US got involved with Kosovo. Although I thought it dangerous and foolish, I understand why the US invaded Afghanistan. The Iraq War was absolutely mad. The bombing of Libya was understandable - as to whether it was wise, I'm not sure.

IMHO, it's rather complicated to say that the US always should not intervene. I have seen human rights activists criticize the US for not doing anything such an in Rwanda. Refugees have bitterly pointed fingers at America's lack of action. On the other hand the US is bitterly criticized when it intervenes almost any time.

However, usually I at least understand why the US intervenes. And some interventions have been remarkably successful, such as the peace since the Dayton Accords. The gulf war was a good idea, otherwise Sadaam would have probably invaded Saudi Arabia after Kuwait. He was a menace. Joint action under the UN is sometimes a very good idea as a mechanism to maintain international peace.

The problem occurs when the US gets involved in a civil war, or when it unilaterally invades or attacks another nation without that nation having initiated hostilities.

I agree with Tyler that we need to have some kind of debate on the issue. Right now we are participating in atrocities and gross human rights violations.

And what is even more peculiar is that rich people (meaning part of the Saudi royal family) in Saudi Arabia are funding ISIS. And Pakistan set up the Taliban to begin with and also rescued Bin Laden from Afghanistan just before he was about to be captured by US soldiers. So why are we treating these countries as our allies? Much of the ISIS money flows through Kuwait - why is Kuwait out ally? The whole thing is confusing. Worse still - the gulf states fund institutions in the the West than encourage extremism among Muslims there that in turn provides the intellectual breeding ground for justifying terrorism. At the very least they foster dystopian beliefs among Western Muslims such as opposing human rights and gender equality.

The irony is that the very brutal and backward society these Muslims are fleeing that brings them to the West is the very thing they are creating by setting up extreme Wahabiist institutions in their communities. I don't understand why the US don't see the gulf states as being extremely dangerous.

It's a shame that the Shah is not longer around. He was a true American Ally who wanted to develop his country. He was not interested in exporting extremism abroad. The irony is that the US could quite easily live with a robust secular Shia regime in the Middle East. The Houthis have proclaimed that they do not want war with the US. Why do we have to make the out enemy?

And I hope we can replace oil as a fuel source as soon as possible and then be able to ignore the Middle East. I assume that by 2030 oil prices will peak in real terms and that by the middle of the century transportation will not use oil as a fuel source. It seems a long time to wait as price of Middle East involvement grows.

The Republican Party is not fit to run Congress, especially as the opposition party. Evaluating the best policy regarding Saudi Arabia and Yemen requires people who desire to be and want to serve as foreign policy specialists and get to the facts and make a case for a policy that might differ from the President (or align with him/her). The GOP, however, views Congress as a training ground for the next Presidential cycle so would actually rather not engage in any actual policy making at all.

In the long run, I'm wondering if Federalism has outlived it's usefulness. Local elections are gerrymandered so that party turnover becomes too difficult and the digital revolution has focused all attention on national issues rather than local. As a result there are no 'states' in congress anymore, just cheerleaders for their particular national party. One solution might be moving towards a Parliamentary system. Another might be statewide voting, eliminating congressional districts and gerrymandering and letting voters choose their entire delegation. By opening up voting, voters could express their views in the form of a spectrum of votes rather than an A B choice between two parties. For example, if voters could vote for ten Representatives, they could express their views by the mix....a strict Republican could vote for ten GOPer's but a more moderate one might go for 6 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Even very Red and very Blue states would provide the minority voters some influence over the outcome making strict partisanship less viable unless a state really has a super-super majority of one ideological voter.

Given the particularities of the state-level aggregations in representation, the idea of selecting your top ten preferred representatives at the state level sounds very interesting to me.

It's foreign policy, stupid. Get some realpolitik.

Here's some realpolitik for you:

When America helps the world' greatest sponsor and exporter of terrorism to stomp on insurgencies in neighbouring countries, this is likely to reduce the belief among allies that US leadership in the fight against terrorism is something we should get behind. And isn't one of the preferred objectives in US foreign policy to try to get its allies to spend more on military resources that can then be at the service of US interests in the case of extended or expanded conflaguration?

Which straw is it that breaks the camel's back that ultimately makes this question of potential multi-trillion dollar savings or expansion of potential overall influence or hard power entirely outside the realm of possibility?

That having been said, I believe it is worth noting that the recent US bombs dropped there were in response to an initial attack against a US warship, and that it appears that they were responsible to not foolishly act before reasonable certainty of good intel (the response took well over 24 hours). That is not the action of a draconian imperial superpower with complete disregard for human life, but it's hard to ignore such outlooks when so closely aligned with those who have severely bombed weddings and funerals alike.

This is just Israeli policy disguised as American policy. Keep the Arabs fighting one another. I hate Israel, but the Israelis are so much smarter than the Arabs.

Comments for this post are closed