The University of Michigan’s chapter of College Republicans discussed Iran-United States relations at a meeting in the Michigan League on Tuesday. About 25 students and members of the University community attended the event, as well as board members of the organization.
LSA sophomore Max Resnick, treasurer of College Republicans and Kathy Zhu, vice chair of College Republicans and LSA senior, gave a presentation on recent events in Iran.
Resnick gave a brief outline of Iran’s modern history, from its constitutional monarchy in 1906 to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, commenting on the current state of oppression.
Resnick and Zhu then explained the Iran-U.S. relationship, touching on Iranian attempts to enrich uranium.
“At first, we had evidence that they were enriching uranium, and you can enrich uranium for two reasons,” Resnick said. “You can either use it for fuel, or you can use it for weapons.”
The presenters also mentioned the Iran nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities and allow access to international inspectors in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
“Iran says that its activities were peaceful,” Resnick said. “So, we had sanctions. Obama signs the Iran Deal. President Trump pulls out.”
Resnick also discussed the Iran-Iraq War, noting criticism of the U.S. supply of weapons to the Middle East.
“I think what’s important to remember is we say, ‘Oh, we gave weapons to Saudi Arabia, and then there is a regime change in Saudi Arabia, and they do something that we don’t like,’ ” Resnick said. “And then people complain that we gave weapons to them. So, I don’t know if it’s a fair criticism to say, ‘Well, we were giving weapons to Iran and they have a religious coup, took over the government and started sponsoring terrorism abroad.’”
The talk proceeded to cover recent developments in Iran, including the assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. The presenters mentioned that the “liberal media” was not commenting on Iran’s initial attack against the U.S.
“A lot of liberal media, they don’t tell you that they attacked us first before we attacked them and assassinated their top general,” Zhu said “But basically what happened is that they attacked a military base, killing a lot of U.S. citizens and Iraqis, and then we retaliated and assassinated a top general, and then so, that was when tensions began.”
Zhu also assessed the reaction of Republicans to the assassination.
“Republicans largely agree with what’s happening, because they attacked us first and we need to retaliate,” Zhu said.
Student activists on campus have advocated against military involvement in Iran. At a rally on Monday, hundreds gathered to voice their opposition to starting another war in the Middle East.
Public Policy senior Arwa Gayar, president of the Arab Student Association, spoke at the demonstration. She said she was concerned for the safety of members of her community.
“I already see members of my community questioning if they can return back to their home and see their families in the coming months,” Gayar said. “Many of us … are already forced to leave our own home countries, due to the U.S. history of imperialism, American wars in the Middle East and legacies of colonialism. We now find the security of our families unknown once more.”
At the event, LSA freshman Will Kielm commented on U.S. intervention in the Middle East.
“I’ll talk about why people think Iraq failed. Here’s why: democratization,” Kielm said. “Democratization is not the best way to go about regime change… Unlike Iraq, Iran still had lineage, descendants of Mohammed Shah where we can actually put in place of the Ayatollah.”
LSA freshman Vince Tedrick attended the meeting. He said he thinks that these College Republicans meetings help him stay informed about current events.
“We want to look at both sides of the issue, we try to look at where everybody’s coming from,” Tedrick said. “And I think it helps us be more knowledgeable about the world around us and what’s happening.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote from Will Kielm to Max Resnick.