37 Foreign Policy Experts Throw In with Populist Coalition to Pull Back from Yemen and Rein In the ‘War Party’

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), (L), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), introduce a joint resolution to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen, on Capitol Hill February 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

37 leading foreign policy academics, public intellectuals, and activists from across the traditional political spectrum delivered an open letter to senators Thursday, urging support for a resolution to rein in U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

“Since March 2015, U.S. Armed Forces have been engaged in hostilities alongside the Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led coalition of regional militaries fighting the Houthi rebels of Yemen,” the letter explains, citing reports of American targeting assistance, aerial refueling operations, and live U.S. intelligence feeds without which “the Saudi coalition’s ‘daily bombing campaign would not be possible.'”

The ideological antipodes of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) joined to introduce a Senate resolution (S.J.Res.54) invoking the War Powers Act and the U.S. Constitution to demand the administration seek congressional authorization or withdraw from Yemen within 30 days.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) threw his support “in principle” behind the proposal, which may represent the most serious effort to restrain executive power to unilaterally wage war since the post-Vietnam War debates that led to the War Powers Act’s passage in 1973. On Thursday, this group of 37 experts wholeheartedly endorsed the Sander-Lee-Murphy plan to reassert Congress’s sole constitutional authority to declare war and argues for withdrawing the unauthorized American involvement in the war.

The group is a who’s who of the opponents of neoconservatism and liberal-internationalist intervention, many of them stalwarts of the anti-war far-left like Professor Noam Chomsky. But also included are voices broadly of the right like former Republican congressman and one-time American Conservative Union Chairman Mickey Edwards, Reagan administration DOJ number two Bruce Fein, and American Conservative editor Daniel Larison, as well as those more difficult to define like left-libertarian law professor Lawrence Lessig, (initially) Iraq War-supporting liberal Peter Beinart, and the University of Chicago’s Dr. John Mearsheimer, perhaps the most prominent foreign policy realist in academia. Two Nobel Peace Prize winners and two activist widows of the 9/11 attacks also signed on.

The signatories cite President Donald Trump’s own demand for the Saudis to stop their blockade of Yemen and makes a humanitarian case for withdrawal. “Any public debate to declare war or authorize U.S. force against Yemen’s Houthis should account for the fact that the Saudi-led conflict has put a staggering 8.4 million Yemenis ‘a step away from famine,’ according to the United Nations,” it reads.

The letter represents the latest addition to a growing, ideologically-transcendent coalition that increasingly sees unilateral military action on the part of the presidency as illegal and undesirable and is willing to combat what conservative leader Pat Buchanan has for years called Washington’s “War Party.” In November, this coalition secured a more mild resolution against unauthorized U.S. involvement in Yemen in the House of Representatives through the joint efforts of, for example, arch-liberal Ro Khanna (D-CA) and solid-red Walter Jones (R-NC).

So far in the Senate, liberal senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Edward Markey (D-MA) have signed on to the Sanders-Lee-Murphy resolution. Beyond Lee and Paul, Republican support has been slow in materializing, but a broad effort is underway to change that.

Below is a full list of the signatories of the letter in support of the Sanders-Lee-Murphy resolution:

Bruce Ackerman
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, USA (ret.)

Jody Williams
Nobel Peace Laureate (USA, 1997)

Amb. (ret.) Stephen Seche
United States Ambassador to Yemen (2007-2010)

Philippe Nassif
Executive Director, In Defense of Christians in the Middle East

John J. Mearsheimer
R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (ret.)
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary,
Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell

Bruce Fein
Associate Deputy Attorney General to President Ronald Reagan, 1981-1982

Lawrence Lessig
Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard University

Barry R. Posen
Ford International Professor of Political Science, MIT

Shireen Al-Adeimi
Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University

Andrew J. Bacevich
Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History, Boston University

Tawakkol Karman
Nobel Peace Laureate (Yemen, 2011)

Kristen Breitweiser
9/11 Widow and Activist September 11th Advocates

Michelle Dixon
Director, Global Progressive Hub

Monica Gabrielle
9/11 Widow and Activist September 11th Advocates

Sama’a Al-Hamdani
Yemen Analyst and Media Commentator, The Yemen Cultural Institute for Heritage and the Arts

Hon. Mickey Edwards
Member of Congress (R-OK), 1977-1993
Aspen Institute

Peter Beinart
Contributing Editor, The Atlantic; Senior Columnist, The Forward
Associate Professor, City University of New York

Daniel Larison Senior Editor, The American Conservative

Noam Chomsky
Institute Professor (Emeritus), MIT; Laureate Professor, University of Arizona

Norman Singleton
President, Campaign for Liberty

Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs for FreedomWorks

Paul R. Pillar
Former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia
Georgetown University

Michael C. Desch
Professor of Political Science and Director of the Notre Dame International Security Center, University of Notre Dame

Eugene Gholz
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Monica Duffy Toft
Professor of International Politics, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

Michael J. Glennon
Professor of International Law, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

Christopher Layne
University Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, Texas A&M University

Joseph Parent
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Rajan Menon
Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations, City College/City University of New York

Juan Cole
Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan

Nader Hashemi
Director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Denver

Danny Postel
Assistant Director, Middle East and North African Studies Program, Northwestern University

Alberto Mora
Senior Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Dan Mahanty
Former Director, Office of Security and Human Rights, State Department
Adjunct Associate Professor, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University

Stephen Miles
Director, Win Without War

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