I’m going to take an unpopular position here. No. Just no.
Claiming the Obama administration turned its back on them, 41 Americans stranded in war-torn Yemen filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the State Department and Defense Department for not evacuating them — as fighting intensifies and U.S. allies launch airstrikes.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeks to compel the government to use “all resources” possible to rescue the stranded Americans. The plaintiffs range in age from just a few weeks old to senior citizens.
First, the Constitution stops at the water’s edge. That is, these Americans (many of whom are likely dual citizens of Yemen) are in Yemen, not the US. They presumably arrived in Yemen of their own free will, and not at the order of the US government. And it isn’t as if the US State Department hasn’t been warning for months for US citizens to leave.
Second, much as your local police force has no legal requirement to protect you, nor does the US government have an obligation to rescue you from poor choices, particularly the poor choice of ever being in Yemen in the first place, let alone staying during a civil war.
Finally, the remedy sought from the court is quite clearly beyond the court’s authority to grant. The President is the sole Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy. I looked pretty closely at both Article II and Article III and don’t see where any court has the authority to tell the President where or how to employ the forces of the United States, nor an Article I power to compel the US to enter a war, which any such non-combatant evacuation might easily lead to.
We don’t think anyone can rightly accuse us of being staunch defenders of the Obama administration foreign policy. But in this case, it appears that the President has decided to keep the US involvment at a minimum, and allow the Saudis and their coalition partners to bear the brunt of the burden. In this case, that appears to be the proper course of action. Nor is the President likely to be in a hurry to see US troops on the ground in Yemen to effect an evacuation. Nor am I. It’s not as though the collapse of Yemen was some wholly unforeseeable black swan event. These people had plenty of time to contact the US embassy before it was evacuated and make arrangements for repatriation then. We ask you, how many US troops should have their lives placed at risk to remedy the poor choices of those in Yemen?