University President Lee Bollinger last night joined Vice Provost for International Affairs Michael Kennedy and Business School Dean Robert Dolan on a 10-person panel discussing the global implications of last Tuesday”s terrorist attack.
The symposium, held at Hill Auditorium and titled “Terrorism and Globalization: International Perspectives,” was sponsored by the International Institute and moderated by Kennedy, who also serves as the director of the International Institute.
Kennedy began the symposium by expressing grief at last week”s tragic events and underscored the global impact of a terrorist act of this magnitude.
“We have not appreciated the terrorists” global reach,” Kennedy said. “This event was deeply connected to globalization and we must understand how it will play out against people and institutions across the nation.”
Bollinger questioned whether the nation could sustain its right of free speech in a time of national crisis.
“There is a different level of free speech during times of war,” he said.
Political science Prof. Kenneth Lieberthal, former special assistant to the president and senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, addressed security issues and offered insight into the terrorists” strategic goals.
“The terrorists had two strategic objectives in mind beyond killing Americans,” he said. “One was to make the American people and government feel insecure and demoralized. The other was to bring us out of the Middle East.”
“Lieberthal was incredible, he brought it all together,” said Education senior Jen Van Dyke. “He was the first I have heard address security as it really is. We try to put a fluff over all of this to get through the day, but it could happen again tomorrow. I think everyone in the world should have heard that.”
Third-year graduate student, Amara Brook said Lieberthal “made very clear what a difficult situation American leaders are in, and weighed it against political immediacy.”
Many of the panelists spoke of the necessity of reason during a time which evokes passionate emotion in so many Americans.
“Reactions so far have been emotional. That is natural, but now to fight evil we need the council of reason,” said panelist Ashtush Varshney, a political science professor and faculty member at the Center for South Asian Studies.
“The blame of the attacks cannot be laid on the door of Arab Americans,” Varshney said. “We run the risk of embittering a minority that will create divisions in the United States at a time when we need to have unity.”
Javed Nazir, a member of the Michigan Journalism Fellows program and a native Pakistani, gave the panel a perspective on the next course of action.
“It was a very important night, during which diverse views were expressed,” Nazir said. “I found a new level of tolerance among the audience. The fact that the University allowed me to speak here in disagreement and that the audience received it, is significant.”
“The University has done a great thing by getting all of us together,” Nazir added.