Since the resolution to use military force in Iraq was passed in Congress, many organizations on campus have protested through rallies and informative conferences.
An anti-war symposium on Iraq was held at the Law School Saturday to educate students and faculty about the realities of war.
One of the featured speakers, William Boyer, a teacher and activist, emphasized the efforts of many organizations to speak against the conflict with Iraq and cited the march on Washington as an important example.
“C-SPAN devoted three hours to a pro-war rally, and the number of people in attendance at the rally could have easily fit into one camera span,” he said.
Boyer contrasted this with coverage of anti-war activities.
“The anti-war march on the Mall was the largest demonstration since the Vietnam War, but neither the MPR (Michigan Public Radio) nor The New York Times reported the event accurately,” he added.
Boyer also mentioned a possible rationale behind the resolution by Congress to use military force in Iraq.
“There has always been a link between petroleum, war and pollution,” he said.
Altaf Hussein, president of Muslim Students’ Association National, said he has spent time in Iraq observing the current condition of the country.
Hussein postulated that if there were to be an attack on Iraq, it would be in the southern part of the country, a section of Iraq already plagued by widespread hunger and disease.
Hussein said the destitute condition of Iraq is a direct result of the sanctions imposed on the country by the United Nations in 1990, prohibiting Iraq from selling its oil and importing goods from a global market.
“Iraq was on the brink of a developing nation prior to 1990,” he said. “But its status currently remains lower than that of a third world country.”
In addition to sanctions, Hussein also cited health, nutrition and education as areas of concern in present-day Iraq.
“In Iraq, there is little technology left intact. Iraqi citizens must endure poor facilities, overcrowding, limited supply of antibodies and medicines for curable diseases and malnutrition,” he said.
Mohammad Al-Omari, a member of Life for Relief and Development, mentioned the media as another catalyst affecting the prospect of war in Iraq.
“Before a war is launched, a media campaign is launched to justify the war,” he said.
Al-Omari said U.S. policies regarding Iraq have not had the desired effects on Iraqi citizens. Specifically, Al-Omari mentioned the Clinton administration’s Resolution 986, which allowed Iraq to sell up to $2 billion of crude oil in exchange for food and medical supplies over a six-month period.
The intent of the resolution was to offer Iraqi citizens humanitarian supplies without benefiting the Iraqi government.
“The U.S. may send the medicine, but not the syringes, because it believes that the Iraqi military could use the syringes in military warfare,” Al-Omari said.
“But by the time the syringes are sent, the medicine has expired.”
Additional resolutions passed since 1995 include Resolution 687, allowing the embargo on Iraq to be lifted if the country gets rid of its weapons of mass destruction.
Al-Omari said that to justify bombing Iraq during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandals of 1998, the Clinton administration wanted to create confrontations. But Al-Omari asked the U.S. government to consider the question of whether the resolution is really worth the turmoil experienced by Iraq.
“Doctors in Iraq describe the hospitals as graveyards because when you go, there you expect death,” he said.
The symposium was sponsored by the Muslim Students’ Association and Anti-War Action!.