Members of Amnesty International and Students for Social Justice gathered in the Welles-Brown Room on Wednesday night to listen to three UR professors chair a panel on the current war in Iraq.

The panel discussion, entitled “Is Hindsight 20/20: Reflections on the Iraq War,” featured professor of philosophy Robert Holmes, professor of English John Michael and lecturer in political science Andrea Gluckman.

After introductions and applause for each member of the panel, Holmes took the microphone to address the assembled audience and chastise the U.S. Government.

“We are in violation of international law in the actions that we are taking,” Holmes said. “In having attacked Iraq and overthrown its government, we have committed the same violations of the U.N. Charter for which we killed many Nazis.”

Although Holmes equated the current government with that of World War II Germany, he professed his support for the U.S. troops on the ground to the audience.

“We can support the troops in the only meaningful way – by trying to see that they are brought back whole,” Holmes said.

Finally, Holmes offered his solutions to the receptive audience.

“If you are doing something that is wrong, you start by stopping,” Holmes said. “We can start by not killing a single more Iraqi, while pulling out our troops. Then, we can start to funnel massive amounts of money into Iraq. And finally, I would advocate supporting a movement to bring around the impeachment of the architects of this attack on Iraq.”

After Holmes’ comments, Michael introduced himself.

“I wouldn’t be doing this unless I felt that it was part of my duty as a citizen to do it – although I also feel at the same time that there must be people more qualified to speak on this, because in many ways I don’t have special knowledge of the area,” Michael said. “I’m not a student of modern warfare or contemporary politics.”

Michael did indicate that he had participated in a panel held three years ago at the beginning of the war, at which time he correctly prognosticated many of the problems that have befallen the nation since.

“It seems to me that hindsight isn’t the right word here,” Michael said. “Everything that happened in Iraq was predictable and predicted from the first.”

More issues were addressed by Michael, including the reasons for war and the conduct of government.

“We have left Iraqis saddled with years of civil strife,” Michael said. “The absence of acceptable strategy for the war in Iraq is criminal.”

Although Michael criticized the Bush administration heavily and also suggested impeachment, he did not confine his derision to the Republican Party.

“It seems to me that the Democrats, as feckless and cowardly as they have been, are at a disadvantage politically,” Michael said. “They, in the recent port scandal, have shown themselves not to be above racial profiling about Arabs and others themselves.”

After the two professors spoke, Gluckman brought a political science perspective to the discussion using her background as a Middle East regional specialist over the last 10 years.

“I’m as frustrated as the rest of you are and I want to say that there were a number of people, including many in this room, who had the foresight to see that this conflict was going to turn out the way it has,” Gluckman said.

Gluckman went on to address the regional consequences of the action using her knowledge of the area, with specific emphasis given to the ability of experts to predict the future of the conflict before it ever occurred.

After Gluckman’s segment, the floor was opened to comments from the audience. Many of the questions and comments offered addressed the expertise of the panel and members of the sponsoring groups described the event as a success.Majarian can be reached at mmajarian@campustimes.org.



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