Editorial: Military intervention needs public approval

By Pitt News Editorial Board

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified in front of Congress yesterday, pleading for support for President Barack Obama’s proposed move to take military action against Bashar al-Assad and Syria.

In the wake of Assad’s use of chemical weapons in attacks on his own contingency, international powers have debated over a plan of action to deter such heinous violations of human rights. Obama, in his recent speech, proposed his plan to attack Syria for its use of chemical weapons, arguing that the United States has a moral obligation to respond with force because of its relationship with Syria’s neighbors. 

“This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security,” he said.

The national opinion concerning a situation which involves the United States intervening militarily with another country is not one of understanding. There is limited incentive for the American public to consider supporting another military venture overseas when U.S. forces remain engaged in the Middle East from previous conflicts. Yet, what the public can applaud is the fact that Obama has asked for the approval of Congress, and essentially the nation, on such a matter.

Obama’s duties as commander-in-chief are evident: He has the authority to take action with regard to our nation’s security interests. However, he also holds the reins to the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, which is built on the ideas of representative democracy and division of powers. If congressional representatives keep the interests of their constituents in mind and conduct business accordingly, the voices of Americans are extremely significant in this matter.

“And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress,” Obama said.

Regardless of what Congress decides to do in terms of engaging in limited military action with Syria, the people will be heard through their representatives in Washington, allowing for a more comprehensive and validated decision. Seeking congressional approval and providing congressmen with the necessary resources to make a decision can only increase the probability of coming to a consensus on the issue of Syria. Having both the legislative and executive entities of our government weigh in on a decision of this magnitude promotes both increased deliberation and democracy. 

It is highly encouraged that such relations take place not only between branches of government, but between the government and those who are governed.

“We would not put boots on the ground,” Obama proclaimed. “Our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope.” 

On Sept. 9, Washington will vote on Obama’s plan to take military action with both complete deliberation on the conflict and the insight of the American people.