ISO urges resistance to war in Iraq at forum

The looming possibility of a new war with Iraq compelled the International Socialist Organization to hold an educational forum Nov. 21 in Center Hall with the intent of boosting campus resistance toward another Persian Gulf conflict.

Brian Stefan

“”I wish there were more people there, but I thought the event was excellent,”” said graduate student Carl Sachs. “”I thought the speakers were very well-spoken and had control of the facts.””

The event, which was attended by about 80 individuals, featured presentations by members of the ISO, the UCSD Peace Coalition and Students for Justice, all of whom wished to express their concerns about a new U.S. war with Iraq.

Though small in size, the event did spark good discussion, according to UCSD junior Rebecca Anshell, who was the master of ceremonies of the event.

“”I thought the night was very successful,”” she said. “”I thought a lot of good ideas were expressed and people were educated.””

Anna Bolotnikova, a member of the UCSD Peace Coalition, said that these educational forums are important to students because many do not understand the truth behind the state of the Middle East.

“”Problems arise because [students] are uninformed,”” she said. “”Most students on campus don’t know enough about the war to really take a stand.””

In keeping with the beliefs of most of the other participants of the forum, Bolotnikova stressed that there should be no war or U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

“”We are trying to build awareness about this war,”” she said. “”This war is not just affecting Iraq. We are a part of this as well.””

The third speaker, Chuck Stemke of the UCSD Peace Coalition, gave a presentation about the Oct. 26 global protests over a war with Iraq. These rallies, which ranged in size from a few thousand in Los Angeles to over a million in Florence, Italy, were protesting against the United Nations taking military actions in Iraq.

San Francisco itself drew over 50,000 people, all protesting against “”Gulf War II.””

“”These rallies show that there is a huge number of people against this war,”” Stemke said. “”And this is what policy makers have to think about.””

The large number of demonstrators worldwide felt it particularly important to protest because many believe that a new war with Iraq is imminent. A recent New York Times/””CBS News”” poll demonstrates that over 70 percent of Americans believe that the United States will be fighting against Iraq in the near future.

And although these large numbers of protesters do indicate a large resentment toward a new war, the majority of Americans still encourage the United Nations to take military action.

The New York Times/””CBS News”” poll also demonstrated that 67 percent of Americans believe that the United States should go to war with Iraq to end the reign of Saddam Hussein.

Some UCSD students believe that these protests, though they united thousands of people in search of a common goal, did not accomplish their objective of increasing public support for the antiwar movement.

“”They only further their own propaganda,”” said undergrad attendee Shannon Stark. “”They are not getting a core representation of what the public truly believes.””

Regardless of popular sentiment about the war, the forum attempted to prove why the war was unjust from a socialist point of view.

Lance Newman, the last presenter of the night, described the war effort as fighting a battle with a wounded enemy.

“”After 10 years of blockade, Iraq doesn’t have pencils for schools, let alone nuclear weapons,”” he said. “”Most of us here believe Bush is lying.””

Newman, a professor at Cal State San Marcos and a member of ISO, said that antiwar hostility has to reach the levels that once occurred during the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s.

“”We need to make the political cost of the war so high that [the U.S. government is] no longer willing to fight it,”” he said. “”We need to fight like hell to stop this war.””