Our View: Symbolic acts can have unintended consequences

KS Editors

This morning, President Barack Obama sent a request for authorization for military force to be used against the Islamic State. The request, an act that is within the powers of the president to use, would allow him to direct strategic military intervention in the Middle East on a limited basis.

For those who remember or who have since studied the immediate days following the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in September of 2001, George W. Bush was granted similar authority, beginning a “war on terror” that has since lasted more than a decade. Obama’s request would repeal that broad authority and, in a sense, would limit the powers of the presidency to a three-year time period and with limited use of strategic force.

While some members of Congress question the powers granted to the president in the Constitution, others support his authority. As an editorial board, we agree with those who believe Obama is within his right to request this action. We also agree that, as citizens who have grown up in a country that has been in a constant “war,” limited action is the best action. 

While none of us are political science scholars, we trust that the president, as an elected representative of the people — and as commander in chief of the military forces — has chosen advisers who have considered the many implications of such an action, both current and in the future.

As students at Kent State in Ohio, we might not fully realize or comprehend the potential effects the Islamic State could have on the U.S. But what we should realize is that, while the president is acting symbolically, the authority he may be granted by Congress is far from symbolic. Not only that, but the unfortunate effects of a continued “war on terror,” especially the negative stereotypes associated with the Islamic faith, persist within U.S. culture. While we agree with the president that the Islamic State should be viewed as a potential national security risk abroad, waging any kind of assault against a group labeled as Islamic can only lead to negative effects at home.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of The Kent Stater editorial board, whose names are listed above.