War with Iraq?

When approached with the debate over whether or not Iraq should be attacked, professor of European history Alberto Ferreiro said yes.

"If (Iraq) is clearly in violation of the United Nations regulations, there is no doubt in my mind," he said. "It only encourages other rough states. We need to make clear to Saddam Hussein that we’re not reluctant to resort to war to remove him from power."

Mary Fry, associate professor of nursing, holds a different view.

"I’m absolutely convinced it’s about American greed and power, because we have incredible investments in the oil," she said. "To me it seems very apparent that war is an asinine pastime indulged in by power-hungry men, and if women ruled the world, we would never have wars. I don’t support war with Iraq at all."

From those in theology to biology to communication and history, the opinions of SPU professors regarding the possibility of war with Iraq are spread across the board. Some say an attack is inevitable, others maintain pacifist views. Some remain in between the two extremes and still others say the debate itself is invalid.


Those in agreement with Ferreiro argue that an attack on Iraq is the best option.

"There will need to be some judgment as to the magnitude of the breech (resulting from the weapons inspection)," associate professor of political science Reed Davis said. "My reasoning is that what we found so far indicated that the United Nations should enforce their regulations. (Iraq has) consistently failed to abide by terms of their surrender and continued to flout the norms of international conducts."

Reed said that Saddam Hussein needs to be removed either by the United Nations or the Iraqi people.

"What I would like to see is the Iraqi military either remove or assassinate Saddam, or Saddam voluntarily go into exile," he said. "I’m holding on to the hope that he will be removed by his own people, but I’m not counting on it."

Liz Torrence, associate professor of nursing, said she would support an attack, but it is not her first choice.

"I wish we wouldn’t, but if we do, I would support the effort," she said. "I would believe our leaders are making decisions we don’t know about. I don’t have to be involved to trust they are making good decisions, just like I trust President Eaton to make good decisions even though I don’t know everything he does."

Assistant professor of biology Cindy Bishop said something has to be done.

"It’s pretty clear that Saddam Hussein has not been following the guidelines for 12 years. His track record is so bad that if he gets nuclear weapons, he’ll be a threat to everybody."

Bishop said Bush can’t just sit back and watch.

"Somehow, someway, they have to go in," she said.

Ferreiro said that time is running out.

"We can’t have inspections for years and years and years, so the solution is to remove the regime or pressure the regime to (give up the weapons)," he said. "What do we give them, another 20 years? Thirty years?"

Ideally, the Arab world needs to play the role in forcing Saddam to surrender to United Nations regulations or it should exile him, Ferreiro said.

"They need to stand up to Saddam. Do they really want the nuclear Saddam?" he asked. "If they don’t do something about it, someone has to do something about it. We’re the only ones who can."


Other members of the SPU faculty strongly oppose an attack.

"I feel war is the absolute last answer to the problem with Iraq," said Marilyn Severson, professor of European studies and chair of foreign language and literature. "Before beginning any fighting, I would hope the United States would explore all possible options. I’m not a pacifist, but I oppose war unless there is a compelling reason and I don’t see it in this case."

She said the fallout from a unilateral attack would promote an image of the United States that is far from flattering. History professor Donald Holsinger agrees.

"Top administration spokespeople are arguing that the United States has the right to go to war regardless of what the United Nations may or may not do, but if you stop to think about what the means, the illogic of a unilateral attack is stunning," he said. "That would mean that the United States would violate the United Nations charter in order to preemptively attack a member of the United Nations for not abiding by United Nations resolutions."

Holsinger predicted an attack would greatly harm foreign relations.

"I almost hesitate to imagine what it will mean for Americans travelling abroad and American business people having to hide the fact that they’re Americans," he said. "I find it mind-boggling how the administration somehow managed to turn a worldwide wave of sympathy and support for the United States in its grief and need to defend itself into a worldwide wave of resentment."

In addition he said the costs of such an attack would far outweigh any benefit.

"We have a president who seems determined to go to war," he said. "But you’re not going to war without killing children. Once the United States launches an attack on Iraq, the die will be cast, and, from that moment on, the situation in the Middle East and the world will be changed for centuries-will be changed for the worst."

History professor Heath Spencer said he feels called to peace by the example of Jesus.

"I am a pacifist because of my understanding of Christianity and what Jesus asks of his followers," he said. "That doesn’t necessarily always lead to the most realistic or practical policies, but it’s based off of Jesus’ demands on his disciples. If we really follow him down the road, we might experience suffering too, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow Christ."

Spencer feels the crisis can be handled diplomatically and that the use of force would be premature. He suggests allowing the inspection to continue instead.

"I know that Iraq is not completely cooperative, but I do think that the international community has successfully contained Iraq," he said. "Their capability of producing weapons of mass destruction has been drastically reduced. They’re being closely monitored. I don’t understand the impatience. I think we can afford more patience for the sake of the people of Iraq and our own people."

Rob Wall, professor of Christian scriptures, also calls on individuals to look to Jesus’ practices and teachings.

"Jesus’ response, even as outrageous as the violations of the United Nations regulation might be, is still opposed to violence," Wall said. "I take any kind of retaliatory response to be opposed to the Lord’s teaching and, also, I don’t see the practical value. (To attack) will create more of a problem than is already there. It’s going to inflame the will of the terrorists and terrorism."

A violent response only breeds more violence, he said.

"It fosters hatred and hostility that will make the terrorists more difficult and more of a problem for our country," he said. "I think diplomacy somehow has to avail."

The Undecided

"I’m still trying to make up my mind," assistant professor of classics Owen Ewald said. "A lot of it depends on the United Nations inspections. I believe in war only as a last resort, but the possession of actual material, proven material in Iraq, could be such a situation."

Barbara Innes, associate professor of nursing and director of the RNB program, said she is concerned about the ambiguity of the situation.

"I don’t think anyone has been completely forthcoming," she said. "Invading Iraq is one of those things I may have to live with, but it’s certainly not a first choice."

John West, associate professor of political science, said the public will have to wait and see.

"Lots of nations are in violation of United Nations directives of one sort or another, so that in itself doesn’t mean we should go to war. But it is an important factor," he said. "If Bush decides to go to war, he will lay out more clearly their case, and I’m very interested to hear what it will be. Crunch time is coming, and we will see."

History instructor Darrell Allen said an attack should not be the first option, yet he didn’t rule it out altogether.

"I have a problem with using a preemptive doctrine of warfare to solve issues with other nations," he said, and offered the idea of ramping up the inspection regime as a more productive means towards controlling the Iraqi production of weapons of mass destruction.

"My basic belief of this whole idea is that claiming you have a right of first use of weapons is setting a dangerous and national precedent," he said.

Invalid Debate

Finally, there remain several professors who see the debate as a whole as irrelevant or corrupt.

"I don’t know if anyone’s opinion counts at this point," associate professor of foreign languages and literature Eric Vogt said. "I think it was a foregone conclusion. You don’t send troops in to keep peace. Peacekeeping troops are an oxymoron."

William Woodward, professor of history, said he is very disappointed with the discussion on the crisis in Iraq.

"I have been disappointed by the comments on campus and the discussion in the media," he said. He suggested that one mistake affecting the discussion is limited, individualistic ethics.

"Too often there is the sense that what I would do as an individual Christian is what the government should do," he said. "I think the most important thing is, if this is an easy call for you, you’ve probably got it wrong. This is very, very difficult. We need to fight the tendency to be glib, fight the tendency to have a quick answer."

He said a good discussion produces empathy for the decision maker.

"If I’m the president … and they’re making weapons at levels of destructiveness the world has not seen, I have no choice because I am responsible for the lives of 250 million Americans."

He said that when the issue is discussed, individuals need to consider the ethics of the agency rather than the ethics that bind a free agent.

Lane Seeley, associate professor of physics, agrees that the question is a difficult one. He said he just finished reading "The Reckoning," which gave him a useful perspective of the history of Iraq.

"Something that’s really striking about this conflict is that the American public doesn’t have that perspective, they don’t know the history," he said. "I don’t think we’re being as far-sighted as we should be. I think we haven’t educated ourselves. If you’re going to go to war with a country, you should know a little bit about the people you’re fighting."

Woodward said these mistakes plague and prevent individuals from coming to a conclusion.

"In answer to the questions, I don’t know and neither does anybody else on this campus," he said. He added that a possible solution includes "learning about issues, getting involved in discussion and resisting easy answers from any side."

With reporting by Laura M. Onstot, editor in chief.

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Title: War with Iraq? | Author: Lia Sloth | Section: News | Published Date: 2003-01-29 | Internal ID: 3085