News / USA

US Presidents Often Use Constitutional Power to Intervene Overseas

U.N. vehicles carrying a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts, are pictured as they return to their hotel in Damascus  Aug. 26, 2013, after visiting one of the sites of an alleged poison gas attack.
U.N. vehicles carrying a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts, are pictured as they return to their hotel in Damascus Aug. 26, 2013, after visiting one of the sites of an alleged poison gas attack.
VOA News
As U.S. President Barack Obama weighs whether to attack Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons against rebels last week, he must consider significant legal factors.

The U.S. Constitution says the president is the commander in chief of the military, but it gives Congress the power to declare war and control war funding. In addition, a four-decade-old U.S. war powers law requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days without lawmakers' approval.

Since its enactment, the war powers resolution has been a point of contention between U.S. presidents and Congress. American leaders have several times authorized overseas military intervention after consultation with congressional leaders, but often without getting specific approval with a congressional vote.

An international relations professor, Michael Corgan at Boston University, told VOA that President Obama has wide latitude to take action against Syria if he decides to.
 
"He can do what he can get away with. If he does something fast and quick, it's a fait accompli, and the old thing of you ask forgiveness rather than permission," Corgan said. "So a president, if he can act fast, and some of our high-technology weapons give us at least the illusion that we can do things with military strikes quickly and then back off."
 
Two years ago, Obama ordered U.S. military participation in bombing Libya to support U.N. resolutions, but did not get congressional approval.  
 
With no immediate U.N. resolution on combating Syria, the United States might have to rely on allies such as Britain and France if it decides to take action.
 
A senior State Department official said Obama is "studying the facts and will be making an informed decision about the responsible way forward." 
 
In an interview last week on CNN, the American leader noted that "there are rules of international law" governing warfare.
 
"When you start seeing chemical weapons used on a large scale ... that starts getting to some core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region," the president said, adding that  "... as difficult as the problem is, this is something that is going to require America's attention, hopefully the entire international community's attention."
 
Corgan said the Syrian attack last week calls for U.S. action. "You've got to do something, because otherwise we have absolutely no credibility in the [Mideast] area."
 
No decision has been made for U.S. intervention, such as firing missiles from U.S. warships stationed in the eastern Mediterranean at Syrian military targets.  Some U.S. lawmakers, including Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election, Senator John McCain, have called for such limited strikes.
 

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Omaha from: Omaha
August 26, 2013 2:00 PM
No attacks on Syria. Neither side is worthy or our support. As we supported chemical weapons use during the Iraq-Iran war we do not have the moral right to intervene here. The majority of rebel factions owe allegiance to Al Quaeda and we are serious going to use tax payer money to arm and defend them? How about we mind our own business and let the sunnis and shias handle their own business.


by: Anonymous
August 26, 2013 1:42 PM
Mr. President. NOT IN OUR NAME!

Regards,
We The People.


by: Haron from: Afghanistan
August 26, 2013 12:11 PM
what will happen after this kind of attack, nobody knows. every effect in this kind of war can be impact on US troops on Afghanistan. as we saw in Iraq. when US involved with war in Iraq. thousand of US troops were killed, injured, got suicide depression from war and escaped from war when they arrived in United State. thus, everything will happen is not desperate from Afghanistan impact.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid