IR/PS panel discusses U.S. response to terror

About 200 community members and UCSD students gathered Monday evening in the International Relations/Pacific Studies Auditorium to attend the forum “”The 21st Century War: Sept. 11 and the American Response.”” The political science department and the political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha organized the event.

Attendees heard five UCSD political science professors — Nathaniel Beck, David A. Lake, Sanford Lakoff, Samuel Popkin and Philip Roeder — discuss terrorism and its implications for U.S. policy and economics as well as its implications for the Middle East. Following the presentations, attendees were given an opportunity to ask questions and voice opinions.

During the first half of the two-hour event, the professors spoke on different aspects of terrorism. Lake, the political science department chairman, began by defining terrorism and its goals.

“”Terrorism is the irregular use of violence by nonstate groups to achieve political ends,”” Lake said. “”An extremist terrorist is someone who holds goals that are beyond his grasp, but won’t settle for less. Extremist terrorist groups use the strengths of their target against itself and seek to provoke a response.””

Roeder discussed the significance of the attacks on the United States and how he believes the nation should respond.

“”The events of September are important because they shook the myth that it does not pay to attack the U.S.,”” he said. “”The United States must design a policy to restore this myth.””

Popkin further discussed U.S. policy, emphasizing the need for the U.S. government to create a balance.

Beck said the current recession is not a result of recent events but is a result of pre-existing economic conditions. He also expressed some optimism.

“”We were having bad economic times before Sept. 11,”” Beck said. “”At this point, [the current economic situation] looks like a cyclical recession. We are fairly good at dealing with cyclical recessions.””

Lakoff concluded the formal presentations with a discussion on the Middle East.

“”The only way we are going to turn the Middle East around is through active and creative intervention in it,”” he said.

After the talks, members of the audience asked the panel questions and raised varying concerns.

One attendee questioned how the world is viewing U.S actions and asked if the United States is viewed internationally as a “”bully.””

Roeder said he did not believe this to be the case.

“”A nation has the right to defend itself, which is vastly different from bullying,”” he said.

One audience member said he opposed waging any war with the minimization of casualties in mind.

“”You don’t win a war by worrying about civilian casualties,”” he said.

When he cited instances of mass gassings of towns during World War II, two audience members stood up and walked out.

One UCSD student asked how the United States was going to end the roots of terrorism in such places as Pakistani schools where anti-American sentiments are taught.

“”What are we supposed to do, tell them to change their curriculum?”” he said.

Mike Kung, president of Pi Sigma Alpha and timekeeper for the event, said he hoped the forum would get people talking.

“”I hope it might spark a debate within the community because we are in a situation in which we have never been before,”” Kung said.

Kung also said he was pleased with the turnout.

“”I was pleased with this evening’s turnout; there was a good mix of people — students and community members,”” he said.

Lake said he was pleased with the response from the political science department regarding the recent events.

“”The political science department has become more interested in being involved,”” he said. “”Faculty members have appeared on local television shows and written articles for the Union-Tribune. Over double the number [of faculty] we needed wanted to participate tonight.””

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