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Defense Secretary Mattis Makes Mad Dog Arguments Against Congress Barring Yemen War Support


Interviewed Monday at The Real News, College of William & Mary Professor and retired United States Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson strongly criticized arguments Secretary of Defense James Mattis presented, in a letter to congressional leaders last week, in opposition to there being a vote on S.J.Res. 54 or other congressional measures to end or restrain the US government’s support for the Saudi Arabia–led war on Yemen.

Wilkerson was asked by host Sharmini Peries about what she termed “three main arguments” in Mattis’ letter: that Saudi Arabia is acting in self-defense, that absent US support Saudi Arabia would kill more civilians, and that the US must support an ally such as Saudi Arabia. “All three of them are nonsense, and I am really ashamed of Jim Mattis for making them,” Wilkerson replied.

Wilkerson then proceeds in his answer to provide detailed support for his blunt conclusion, beginning with explaining how Saudi Arabia, which faces no threat from Yemen, is engaging in an offensive war, not a defensive war against Yemen or against Iran that has been depicted as supporting the people in Yemen who are being attacked by Saudi Arabia.

Further, Wilkerson, who is an Academic Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, provides details concerning the major destruction Saudi Arabia has brought to Yemen with US assistance. Wilkerson states:
The idea that the Saudis are not doing things that are beyond the pale with regard to violating humanitarian and other strictures is also not, it's just not operable. It's not the truth. The Saudis are bombing ruthlessly civilian targets, indiscriminately. They are bombing food stores and foodstuffs and water and water sources so that they can't get the clean water they need in order to combat most effectively this cholera epidemic.
Regarding the need for the US to support Saudi Arabia because Saudi Arabia is a US ally, Wilkerson comments that “all the legal scholars that are worth a damn in this country” know that what the US is doing in aiding Saudi Arabia in the war against Yemen is engaging in hostilities — not just providing aid to an ally — and thus cannot continue to be pursued under the War Powers Act without congressional authorization. In addition, Wilkerson offers reason to reject the status of Saudi Arabia as US ally, noting that Saudi Arabia is “the greatest state sponsor of terrorism on the face of the earth.” Wilkerson further points out “that 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, and that Saudi money is still going to finance the worst forms of Wahhabism, the worst Salafists, the worst types of terrorists in the name of Islam on the face of the earth.”

Concluding the interview, Wilkerson expresses hope that S.J.Res. 54, the particular legislation challenged in Mattis’ letter, “might be the very first step in getting the Congress to resume its constitutional responsibility for this country killing people.”

In the in-depth interview centered on the Yemen War, Wilkerson also discusses matters including the “crystal clear” requirement of the US Constitution that wars be fought only with congressional approval, the US military’s refusal to even keep track of the destruction US military aid is facilitating in Yemen, and the visit this week of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Washington, DC.

Watch Wilkerson’s complete interview here:


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