The UM community has spoken out against President Bush and Congress’ resolution to use American military force against Iraq.
Last Tuesday, Hecht Residential College hosted a lecture on the Iraq crisis. The guest speaker was Hossein Alizadeh, coordinator of the Campaign of Conscience and part of the Fellowship of Reconciliation [FOR].
Once a part of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Alizadeh advocated peaceful resolutions and emphasized an end to the suffering of innocent people in Iraq and other war-torn regions.
“[If the US goes to war with Iraq], we’re going to have more civilian casualties,” Alizadeh said. “Saddam Hussein has made it clear that this war will have an urban fight in the cities rather than in the deserts.”
After a long debate that cut across many party and ideological lines, Congress passed a resolution last Thursday that approved the use of force by America’s military against Iraq in order to end the country’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons research.
The House approved the resolution by a 296-133 margin. The Senate vote, coming early Friday, was 77-23. Bush now has the authority to use force with or without the UN’s approval, although Congress stressed the need to first work diplomatically with the UN to avert war.
Throughout campus, most students and faculty said that they feel the decision to go to war would be a misguided and shortsighted one.
“As a Quaker and a Taoist, I think going to war with Iraq would be one of the most embarrassing things the US has done in a long time,” sophomore Jeff Block said. “I can’t believe we are this stupid to think that we can solve the world’s problems by bombing them.”
For the past several months, this impending war on Iraq has been the subject of controversy within the government and population of the US. With the economy declining, the general public opinion is that now is not the best time for an attack on Iraq.
President Bush, however, feels that the use of force has become unavoidable, and that all sanctions on Iraq have failed. He said that Iraq must be prevented from inflicting “massive and sudden horror” with weapons of mass destruction, which Baghdad denies having.
“On one hand, I wonder why we are acting like bullies threatening to bomb Iraq, but ignoring the innocent lives,” junior Kunal Patel said. “However, it is also a question of ensuring our safety- I’m pretty sure war would be detrimental to our economy, especially after 9/11.”
“The US should force the Iraqi government to accept the UN Weapons Inspections teams and lift the sanctions that have been imposed,” Alizadeh said. “However, the US cannot expect the problem to be solved overnight.”
Dr. Pete Moore, assistant professor of political science who lived in the Middle East and conducted research there, believes that attacking Iraq would only escalate violence.
“If Iraq is what the administration says, an immediate threat to the world and the maker of weapons of mass destruction, then why did we have these sanctions imposed for so many years?” he said.
Only one student interviewed was in favor of the US going to war with Iraq.
“I believe at this point there are no other options,” said sophomore Mike Sznatsteajer. “It is time that Iraq had a change in leadership. They have not complied with our demands to search for weapons of mass destruction.”