The Bush administration has called the war in Iraq one link in the war on terror. But will the newest attack on “terrorism” actually diminish the threat? Professors and students acknowledge that there are no easy answers to this question, but expressed varying reasons for concerns over increased American vulnerability.
Political science Prof. Mark Tessler specializes in Middle Eastern political research. He said the war in Iraq has created a hostile world environment toward the United States. “What we’re doing in Iraq is making a lot of people very angry with us,” he said.
Tessler, director of the Center for Political Studies, said sources of friction surrounding the war include America’s one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for dictatorial regimes and apparent lack of concern for civilians after the last Gulf War and after the bombing of Afghanistan.
But Tessler said most people outside of the United States can distinguish between government policy and American society. “Most people have a very low regard for our foreign policy and our administration,” he said. “They distinguish very readily between our government and our society and our people.”
Retired philosophy Prof. Frithjof Bergmann, who experienced first- hand growing anti-American sentiment while in South Africa as he worked to eradicate poverty, said many people there feel the war is only the beginning of the violence.
“Everybody in South Africa repeated relentlessly that what we’re now experiencing is the first phase of what is becoming the first really truly war,” he said. “More than half the population of the planet lives on less than a dollar a day. … I think that is really the significance of terrorism.”
Bergmann said the danger will not end until poverty and unequal distribution of wealth are addressed. Bergman said the war is seen in many places as more than a war of the United States against Iraq – he said it is seen as a war of rich against poor, Islam against Christianity and the “colored races” against the white world.
“There are now groups of volunteers trying to sign up to fight (for) Iraq from many Arab countries,” he said.
Increased worldwide anti-American sentiment has created fear in the nation of future attacks like those of Sept. 11.
LSA senior Dani Steinberger said he thought the war in Iraq made the United States less secure. “I think it makes America more vulnerable,” he said.
“I think there’s a lot of hatred among other nations toward America. It opens up opportunities for terrorists.”
Steinberger, a New York City native with family there, said tension over domestic security issues is harder to gauge in Ann Arbor.
“I think New York is more of a (target) than Ann Arbor because it’s the financial capital of the world,” he said.
“When you’re in New York you become more conscious of the security.”