As the invasion of yesterday continued with paratroopers being dropped into northern Iraq, a dialogue among political science professors and a Rackham student addressed the central issues of the conflict.
The forum combined diverse perspectives, ranging from Prof. Vincent Hutchings’s expertise in domestic politics and public opinion to the viewpoints of international Prof. James Morrow and Rackham philosophy student Justin Shubow.
“Wherever one stands, all sides can agree the United States is currently in a extraordinary time period,” Hutchings said. While “educators do not have all the answers,” it is their responsibility “to provide clarity in light of the recent events,” he added.
Shubow, a graduate student instructor, agreed that educators should provide students with information in times of uncertainty.
“Unfortunately, many students don’t know many important facts. I’m sure I taught them things they did not know about the real threats and about the Bush administration,” he said.
The panelists discussed various topics from the previous war in Iraq to the media’s current portrayal of the situation and the future of the relations between the United States and the international community. Morrow compared the current situation to that in the Persian Gulf War, saying that while anti-war sentiments are higher now than in 1991, opinion could shift as the war progresses.
Hutchings said that while many Americans endorse President Bush’s actions, he has less support than his father had in 1991.
Opposition to the war is especially strong among “liberal Democrats, African Americans and women,” Hutchings said, adding that the media is criticized for inaccurately covering the war as they were in 1991. Fifty percent of Americans think Saddam Hussein is directly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, which contributed to support for the war, Hutchings said.
Hutchings and Shubow repeated concerns about the media’s inaccuracy. “The media has become a megaphone for Bush’s administration,” Hutchings said.
Both panelists and the students in the audience agreed that the session was a success. Event organizer LSA senior Fenlene Hsu said that her only regrets were “the missing gaps.” She would have liked to hear the perspectives of other qualified professors on the “topics of North Korea and comparative government,” she said.
Business School senior Carl Hasselbarth said he left “with a better understanding of the war.”
“It was very productive … hearing the facts and objective points of view without passion or emotion,” he said.
The undergraduate political science organization sponsored the lecture in Haven Hall.