More than a decade ago, teach-ins and protests popped up all over campus as members of the University community found themselves divided over what action the United States should take against Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s sudden invasion into Kuwait.
Eleven years later, some members of the University community are still divided and unsure about the current President Bush’s requests last week for a Congressional resolution authorizing military action in Iraq before the end of the year.
Political science Prof. Paul Huth said he is a little unsure of how much of an oppressing concern Iraq is right now.
“I need to be convinced that the threat posed by Iraq is so large and pressing that preventive military action is justified,” Huth said. “The other general caution I have about lateral action is I think combating terrorism – al-Qaida in particular – is the most pressing concern at this time.”
He added that the return of weapons inspectors in Iraq could hinder Bush’s plans to take military action against Iraq.
“I think the Bush administration will have a hard time ignoring the return of the inspectors if the inspectors return to Iraq under the right set of conditions,” Huth said.
By the right set of conditions, Huth said the inspectors must be allowed complete freedom to investigate without any interference from the Iraqi government.
He added that if the inspectors are not granted these liberties, the Bush administration will have a much easier time convincing the United Nations that Saddam Hussein is not willing to cooperate.
Many students said they are divided about Bush’s rush into war and if it is wise to go in with a lack of international and United Nations support.
“I feel that Bush needs to take control of the situation before it’s too late,” Art Design senior Nick Stanko said, adding that the U.S. government should take the responsibility as one of the world’s leaders.
“They’re going to have to take the first step,” he said.
Business student Dan Salinas said he felt that if the United States is in imminent danger due to the possible use of biochemical weapons by Iraq, then defending itself is necessary.
But, he has not yet seen enough evidence to justify action.
“I think we’re rushing into it. I don’t know what the burning platform is,” Salinas said.
An issue that could affect many students is the possible reenactment of the Selective Service draft.
Conscription of American men has been implemented in almost every American war since the Civil War through the later half of the Vietnam War.
But, if Congress chooses to, the draft could be reestablished and men between the ages of 18 and 25 would be drafted according to a lottery.
History Prof. David Smith, who teaches a class on the Vietnam War, said he doubts the draft would be implemented again due to the lessons learned from Vietnam about fighting a war without broad public support.
He said the Bush administration has to convince the American public that the conflict in Iraq is an important one, which will not involve many American casualties, hence more soldiers in the field.
“The lesson of Vietnam is to build national support you have to build a case of why the nation is going to war,” Smith said.
“If there was a war, and the U.S. came to a point where they needed more soldiers in the field, it would have to make a decision to find more troops or get other nations to support them,” he said.
Smith added that if the draft was reinstated, it would not affect many University students because they could get college deferments.
He said that during the formative Vietnam years from 1964 to 1973, only 2.2 million of the 18 million were actually drafted. An additional 8.7 men voluntarily joined to fight.
LSA sophomore Megan Schiltz said she would be very worried if someone like her brother were to receive a draft notice.
Although she said she is reluctant to comment on the Iraqi situation, she said she would support a draft if it had positive ramifications.
“If it’s for a good cause, it’s worth it,” she said.
Art and Design senior Stanko said he would support the draft if it were brought back.
“People should want to be there for their country,” Stanko said.