informed citizenship and military intervention

Damascus by night (Wikimedia Commons)

As the Obama administration contemplates military intervention in Syria, with heightened enthusiasm (or is it urgency?) following the disclosure of the Syrian government’s probable use of chemical weaponry against its own citizens, we the citizenry are cycling through the now well-trodden exchanges: How successful can military intervention be? (And what does that even mean?) Should we take a utilitarian outlook that privileges lives spared or money saved in the short run; or recognize the imperialist tradition and the long-term destabilizing influence our legacy of intervention has wrought? How carefully—and to whom—are the Western powers obligated to respect the various international bodies, laws, and traditions that have been set up to manage this kind of thing—particularly those in the region?

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