By Michael Kan, For the Daily
“This is a revolutionary war,” said journalist Jonathan Schell in a dialogue on America’s war in Iraq Friday at the Alumni Center. Schell and other speakers discussed the context of the war in global geopolitics and how the current and long-term actions of the U.S. government will affect the world.
“There is a danger in assuming that we know what the war means,” anthropology and history Prof. Fernando Coronil said.
Schell then explained his analysis of the war in Iraq. “We have to devote special attention to its justification,” Schell said. He also said the war is revolutionary in the sense that a new government in Iraq will be created. He said the war is also revolutionary because the U.S. government now has found ways to surpass the international community’s jurisdiction and its own constitution in conducting its foreign policies.
Because of this, Schell said U.S. foreign policy also wishes to assert its military power in securing its own interests. “Iraq furthermore is the pilot-project of this policy,” he said. In this regard, America’s current plan of preventing foreign countries from obtaining weapons of mass destruction is just another “imperialist strategy,” Schell said. He added, “This is the old-fashioned business of taking over a country and running it for them.”
By adopting this strategy of preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction, Schell said the United States hopes to teach a lesson to the other counterparts of the “Axis of Evil” – Iraq, Iran and North Korea. But Schell said Korea and Iran have only learned that possessing these weapons is crucial for their survival. “This justification of the war is unworkable,” Schell said, adding the war will only worsen the dangers of the situation.
LSA junior Ryan Watkins, a long time reader of Schell’s works, came to the lecture to hear more about Schell’s opinions on U.S. foreign policy. “Recent events make this issue even more urgent,” Watkins said.
Other speakers had similar messages when analyzing how different areas of American society, such as civil liberties, have been affected by the war. Law School Prof. Richard Friedman said civil liberties have not been threatened by the American government’s policies since Sept. 11.
Yet he added that secret arrests and secret deportations have occurred without the government providing any information about who has been subjected to this treatment. “It’s a question of how far do we go. Now, only narrow civil issues have been affected.” Friedman said.
Anthropology and psychology Prof. Scott Atran commented on the media’s portrayal of the war. He said it has thus far been appalling. “The media isn’t doing their job,” Atran said. He added that the media is trying to convince people to support the war, when the media doesn’t support the war itself.
Rackham student Zareena Grewall also spoke at the event on how Muslims have been treated in past years due to American politics. Grewall said Muslims “made a big mistake in voting for Bush” because he has not adequately supported Muslim-related concerns. With hate crimes against Muslims only increasing after Sept. 11, Grewall added, “This is a very frightening time for Muslim Americans.” Having recently traveled to the Middle East for her anthropological studies, Grewall also said U.S. actions in the region have damaged America’s reputation overseas. “Now the whole world hates America,” she added.