March 31, 2003

Voices from the Quad

Selections from "U.S. & Iraq: Many Voices" held Wednesday, March 26

We are, for better or worse, somewhat addicted to wars of this kind. In Teddy Roosevelt’s day, a time of general peace, the Marines were repeatedly sent to invade small Caribbean countries. People then talked darkly about American empire.—Fraser Harbutt, history

Failure to claify objectives makes for fuzzy foreign policy. It means that we as Americans are asked to sacrifice our resources and our lives for goals that are unclear. We know that countries that rely heavily on oil exports tend not to be democratic. If we want to promote democracy, we should encourage these countries to reduce their reliance on oil. But by refusing to push for energy-saving measures at home, the administration is signaling that it intends for the Middle East to continue as a U.S. gas station.—Rick Doner, political science

Preventive war is a bad policy solution to the problem of nuclear proliferation. The danger that nuclear weapons could be used aggressively has been exaggerated. [They] did not help the United States win in Vietnam; they did not help France keep its Algerian colony. The destabilizing threat of nuclear weapons is reduced even further if America commits itself to a deterrence policy of retaliation against the use of nuclear weapons by rogue states. America has a long history of deterring nuclear-armed dictators from launching aggressive moves.—Dan Reiter, political science

Emory is no doubt a place of brilliance and innovation, but face-to-face dialogue has subsided to electronic activism—a community relying on information technology instead of real and audible voices to discuss and exchange. On our campus, dialogue is replaced with polarization and intended controversy.—Meg Rithmire, Foreign Policy Exchange

I’ve seen the capacity of humans to live in absurdly unsafe conditions and to survive them through the loving intimacy of everyday routines. But it is the way that their very survival ups the notch on the acceptability of violence that I find unacceptable.—Maysoun Freij, anthropology

The traditions of Christianity and Buddhism say we should reflect on feelings of inadequacy. We should use the motivation of hope for action—let your inadequacy and guilt go.—Bobbi Patterson, religion

[Saddam] Hussein burns with a white-hot hatred of this country, a hatred equal to or greater than that Al-Qaeda has for us. Given the opportunity, Hussein would gladly wound or destroy us by any means, and he has surely learned from Al-Qaeda the efficacy of terrorism, of sneak attacks, in hurting us.—Bob Bartlett, political science

Villagers are using their cell phones and satellite phones to trade their gasoline for water. Surely we cannot let technology prevail so that cell phones and gasoline are more prevalent than clean water to drink.—Laurie Patton, religion

The children of Iraq are 100 percent dependent on government food ration systems. The inevitable disruption of this rationing system will have devastating effects on the already critical nutritional status of these children. In fact, the United Nations estimates that more than 1 million children will die as a result of malnutrition directly caused by this war.—Aimee Webb, nutrition & health sciences

The president’s vision is profound and noble: To liberate the people of Iraq and remove from power Saddam Hussein and his regime of terror. To the many who oppose the war, the opposition to this statement is varied, but the intent—delay, diversion and moral obfuscation—is the same.—Daniel Hauck, College Republicans

The [U.S.] Army is a force of volunteers tempered by kindness and respect. The removal of the Hussein regime in Iraq will re-establish a healthy international respect for the American military power and presence. We allowed this to rot in the 1990s and have paid a dear price for it.—Edward Thayer, College Republicans

The reasons for anti-American sentiment in the Arab world are complex. They range from the preference of many of the region’s governments and opposition groups to externalize blame for the region’s problems rather than search for their roots in local politics and culture to longstanding grievances concerning the ends and means of U.S. policy in the Middle East. While many in the Arab world recognize Saddam Hussein for what he is—an aggressive and duplicitous tyrant—they reject what they see as the unilateral, heavy-handed intervention of the world’s only superpower to expel him.—Carrie Wickham, political science

In Afghanistan, they tell a story of rainbows and freedom, and that any girl who walks under a rainbow becomes a boy and any boy becomes a girl. Perhaps if we switch sides, we’d be better able to understand each other. And, like the rainbow proclaiming a new morning after the rains, peace would finally brighten our earth.—Lili Baxter, women's studies

An airtight patriotism often leads us to believe many things about ourselves that simply are not so. Our identity is rooted in our history, and that is precisely the problem. We are products of a history often reflected by a selective amnesia that discourages self-critique. That begins with the story of the so-called ‘discovery’ of this land, which we actually took by force from someone else. [How have] we suddenly become so concerned about the oppressed halfway around the world when we ignore the downtrodden right here at home?—Nathan McCall, journalism & African American studies

Without war, we would not have been able to stop slavery. Without war, we would not have been able to stop the development of fascism and communism. Without war, we would have been unable to turn back the invasion of Kuwait. The moral application of war is that we have been able to move the world out of barbarism and into civility, creating respect for civil liberties.—James Tarter, Students for War Against Terrorism

As the future of America, we must start taking an interest in our government’s policies and actions. Their decisions are our consequences. It’s time to react to what the leaders of our country do and say. We are here, we are listening and we will not stand silently. Advocating peace is as justified as supporting war. Burning the flag is as patriotic as flying it in pride. Don’t waste your time arguing over the semantics of patriotism, fighting over what’s American and what’s not—it’s irrelevant. Instead, channel your energy into educating yourself.—Erin Harte, Young Democrats

What unites each enduring form of conflict resolution is the desire to repair the rip in the social fabric, to return to the state in which social relations can continue as they were before. In light of this, the current invasion of Iraq by U.S. and British forces will not resolve the current conflict, nor will it ensure the type of national security currently given as a rationale.—Mark Goodale, anthropology

I served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War. I wonder how many of those who favor the war would favor the return of the draft. Even though I received several police escorts out of restaurants in Augusta, Ga., and Duncanville, Texas, during my term of duty, while in uniform, I served and served honorably. But I was against that war, just like I am against the war in Iraq. The administration has created a climate of divisiveness based on false patriotism currently led by the mindset of arrogant self-rightousness, a mindset that has divided our nation into two camps, the “patriotic” camp—those who are for the war and the president—and the “unpatriotic” camp— those of us who oppose the president and the war. It is a false dichotomy.—Tariq Shakoor, Career Services

War creates a “quagmire,” a “humanitarian disaster” and “blowback,” say worried opponents. With all due respect, we’ve heard that before. Such expectations were wrong in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and they are likely wrong yet again—unless Saddam cuts off the water and commits still more war crimes and crimes against humanity.—Frank Lechner, sociology

Would our perspectives and decisions be different if we lived closer to the Middle East? If we could hear the sirens screaming in our ears day and night? If we could feel the earth shaking below our bellies on the ground? If we could smell the smoke burning in our nostrils? If we could see nothing but sand swirling before our eyes?—Juana Clem McGhee, ICIS

We have consistently failed to show diplomatic savvy and finesse and have succeeded in appearing inept and tyrannical—a bad combination. It is a shame that our leading spokesman, President [George W.] Bush, seems horribly inadequate, mediocre in every conceivable way except wealth and privilege. We seem to have a knack for offending our allies. You might object that the French are always getting offended, but what about everyone else? It’s a shame that while our generals boast of high-precision bombs that can pinpoint one window on an airplane, some of these same bombs missed the entire country of Iraq and landed in Iran. Whoops.—Devin Stewart, Middle Eastern studies

We remind ourselves where we are—at a university, a special place reserved for thinking. Hence I encourage you—all of you, no matter what you believe with respect to the invasion of Iraq—to think, as hard as you have ever thought about anything, about the world as it has changed in the last six days. If you are a champion of this war, do not be afraid to consider other ways its objectives could have been pursued. War must always be the very last resort in human life. If you oppose this war, do not be afraid to consider what the last century revealed: that the dread odor of true evil can rise from the earth, that terrible tyrannies do exist, and that courage must at times come forward to suppress them.—Bill Chace, president

—Compiled by Eric Rangus; all photos by Ann Borden of University Photography