Hawaii delegation welcomes debate over military action in Syria

Hawaii delegation welcomes debate over military action in Syria
Published: Aug. 31, 2013 at 9:14 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 2, 2013 at 3:53 PM HST
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Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-1st District)
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-1st District)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-2nd District)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-2nd District)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Members of Hawaii's congressional delegation said they welcomed a chance to vote on whether to approve President Obama's resolution for U.S. military action in Syria.

Obama announced his intention for military action Saturday in an appearance in the Rose Garden at the White House.

"It's a very big decision, and its a decision that Congress has a responsibility to authorize as representatives of the people before we commit any of our resources to a foreign conflict," said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-2nd District).

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) issued a statement, saying, "Congress must weigh in. And this decision should spur an important debate, allowing us to review the facts. Most importantly, this assures the country that the gravity of taking military action is weighed fully before decisions are made."

President Obama's announcement came after the British Parliament turned down a similar request from Prime Minister David Cameron. A local political science professor said Obama's announcement shows that he may only be able to act with a clear congressional mandate.

"I think his need to seek support from congressional approval is part of that -- that he in some way doesn't have the full support of the international community," said Dr. Carlos Juarez of Hawaii Pacific University.

At least one member of the delegation is already firmly against military action.

"I cannot support the President's proposed action in Syria with what I know today," said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-1st District). "And I still have a very difficult time wondering what else they know that they haven't told us."

Hanabusa and fellow congresswoman Gabbard also have concerns about what ultimately will result from possible military intervention.

"What is the outcome? What is the end game? And what are the unintended consequences that we would potentially face should the U.S. military have any level of involvement?," said Gabbard.

"What is the objective? What are we doing?," said Hanabusa. "And I don't have any answers that I have heard that justifies this to me."

HPU professor Juarez said going to Congress for approval may also be to Obama's advantage.

"For the Congress, I think it's an interesting dilemma because now they are forced to have to begin to debate the issue, and so the ball is in their court, so to speak," he said. "And this gives the president a different kind of leverage."

Hawaii's other senator, Mazie Hirono, was traveling to Asia and was unavailable for comment Saturday.

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