Scholars voice concern over U.S. military action

    Four scholars voiced their concerns about the prospect of military action in Iraq during a panel discussion hosted by the UCSD Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies on Oct. 10.

    Hana Hsu
    Guardian

    The panel of two UCSD professors, a former UN weapons inspector and an international law professor from California Western School of Law in San Diego spoke to an audience of nearly 200 individuals, including Chancellor Robert C. Dynes, faculty, students and members of the community.

    While the scholars acknowledged Iraq’s status as a dangerous state, they did not believe that the United States should venture into a military operation against Saddam Hussein.

    “”I don’t see the logic or necessity of acting now,”” said Stephan Haggard, a professor at IR/PS.

    Hana Hsu
    Guardian

    Hasan Kayali, a UCSD professor of history, felt that the Bush administration’s reasoning behind pursuing Iraq was a diversionary tactic, citing both the upcoming elections as well as the course of the campaign in Afghanistan. He also said that the United States must be careful in assuming Iraqis are in favor of a U.S.-led intervention.

    “”We should certainly not assume that the general hatred of Iraqis for Saddam Hussein mean they are pro-U.S.,”” Kayali said.

    Haggard and Kayali held different opinions regarding whether or not the Iraqi people would fall into ethnic and regional factions, describing the process as “”Balkanization”” in reference to what happened after Yugoslavia dissolved in 1991.

    To prevent that process, Haggard addressed the issue of reconstruction, believing that the U.S. plan for Iraq after ousting Hussein will determine the success of the entire venture.

    “”I think [reconstruction] is the thing that the intervention will ultimately be judged,”” he said.

    Kayali was skeptical of U.S. reconstruction plans and said he wanted to see clearer ideas for what happens to Iraq after Hussein.

    “”I don’t see a plan to protect a unified Iraq,”” he said. “”The administration has not, in my opinion, given any assurances [Balkanization] won’t happen.””

    John Noyes, a professor of law at California Western School of Law, gave a brief lecture on relevant parts of the U.N. charter that included references to sovereignty, military intervention and self-defense. He said any military intervention in Iraq approved by the U.N. Security Council would be in compliance with the charter.

    “”The legality depends on the scope of the resolution,”” Noyes said.

    Ray Zilinskas, a professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, spoke of an “”unhealthy phobia of Iraq.”” He likened the United States’s fear of Iraq to that of Cuba, which garnered some applause from the audience.

    Zilinskas, who was a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, described what he called Iraq’s policy of “”deception and deceit,”” which slowed the weapons inspectors’ ability to disarm Iraq. He said that if Iraq does allow weapons inspectors to re-enter the country, fewer nations are willing to allow give Iraq much leeway.

    “”I just don’t think the U.S. government and international community would accept that [again],”” Zilinskas said of the deception and deceit.

    Michael Bernstein, professor of history at UCSD, moderated the discussion. He called the event a “”teach-in,”” inspired by scholarly discussions held on university campuses in the 1960s during escalating U.S involvement in Southeast Asia.

    The event was sponsored by IR/PS, the Institute for International, Comparative and Area Studies, the history department, the Middle East Studies Program, the Office of Student Affairs, the Office of Academic Affairs and the six UCSD colleges.

    The panel was held hours after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 296-133 in favor of a resolution to authorize President George W. Bush to use force in Iraq. Most Republican members voted in favor of the resolution, while most of their Democratic colleagues voted against it. Congresswoman Susan A. Davis (D-Calif.), who represents the district that includes UCSD, voted no.

    The U.S. Senate debated the resolution later that evening and also approved the resolution, which passed 77-23. California’s senators split their votes, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein voting yes and Sen. Barbara Boxer voting no on the measure.

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