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Profs voice war concerns at Mideast center forum

Photo
DEREKH FROUDE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Political science professor David Gibbs explains his theory of U.S. motivations for wanting to go to war with Iraq during a forum organized by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies last night in the Social Sciences building. More than 500 people packed the auditorium to listen to nine UA professors speak about some issues involved with U.S. and Iraq.
By Brittany Manson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday October 15, 2002

About 500 students, professors and Tucsonans packed a lecture hall last night to hear UA faculty sound off on U.S. policy on Iraq. Some lecturers made the case for immediate invasion, while others outlined peaceful resolutions among cheers, yells and moans from the audience.

Congress gave President Bush the authority to invade Iraq on Friday, with the U.S. House approving the resolution 296 to133 and the U.S. Senate 77 to 23.

Professors discussed U.S. foreign policy, a history of Iraq's nuclear program, tactics for winning the war on terrorism and predictions that the war wouldn't come, during the forum last night organized by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Faculty members were supposed to present evidence to support the roles they were assigned, as opposed to their own viewpoints on the issues.

History professor Richard M. Eaton centered his lecture on how to win the war on terrorism, laying out his 12-step plan.

The plan included dismantling what he called the United States' "de facto overseas empire," which resulted in roars of clapping and cheering from the crowd.

Eaton also called for ending the United States dependency on oil, expanding understanding of Middle Eastern countries and opening the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to public scrutiny.

Associate political science professor David N. Gibbs focused on the United States' basis for pursuing a war against Iraq.

He cited the 1982 Iraq and Iran war as evidence of the United States' lack of concern for the Iraqi people. He said the United States furnished aid to Iraq in the form of selling helicopters and helping to develop weapons like anthrax.

The United States knowingly contributed intelligence to aid the 1963 coup that put Saddam Hussein into power, Gibbs said.

U.S. claims of intervention because of concern over human rights are as plausible and reasonable as a belief in Santa Claus, Gibbs said.

Terry C. Wallace, a professor in the geosciences department and a seismologist with emphasis in nuclear detonation, gave a presentation on monitoring nuclear proliferation, centering his talk on the history of Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

Nuclear weapons can be acquired by purchase from an outside source, on the black market, or by growing the materials.

The two main elements used for nuclear weapons are uranium, which is found in nature but is very rare, and plutonium, which is found in man-made reactors.

He outlined the steps necessary for weapons development and explained that making weapons is more complicated than the media has reported.

Countries only know whether their nuclear weapons are effective by testing them, and there is no evidence that Iraq has ever tested one. The CMES asked political science professor Tom Volgy to present evidence that the United States won't go to war with Iraq.

Iraq is no direct threat to the United States and there is no direct link between Iraq and al-Qaida, Volgy said.

A war with Iraq would not speed a recovery of the economic recession and would lead to greater instability in the Middle East, while posing risks for the United States, he added.

Patricia Morrison, activist for the American Friends Service Committee a Quaker group said the debate should be refocused to include the estimated $150 to $200 billion that would be spent on a war with Iraq.

Volgy, a former mayor of Tucson, responded by saying American politicians assume the public does not care about foreign defense policy and with no debate, the public can't know its choices.

"Democracy is hard work," he said.

He feels the Democrats in Congress approved the resolution supporting intervention in Iraq thinking that it would allow Congress to concentrate on its domestic agenda.

Jalal Sadeghi, who is from Iran, said the U.S. needs a "peaceful solution."

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