Iraq: Is this about politics or humanity?

Michelle Herrick

Michelle Herrick

“It is important to remember that those who support this war effort and those who oppose it are both patriotic.” — Walter Cronkite

People from every spectrum of our world view the conflict with Iraq differently.

On the scale of black to white, there are 256 shades of gray. This article includes only twelve. Here’s one.

“We are going in and promoting the ideals of what we consider just. We’re not promoting the ideals of the United States. We’re not trying to push capitalism on anyone. We are promoting the ideals of a just and equal system where all people can be treated equally,” said Ryann Fradenburgh, freshmen business major and KSDJ promotions director.Despite years of sanction and rebuke from the international community, Iraq has failed to release any significant information about its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. For this reason, many think that a war with Iraq is inevitable.

The fear is that Saddam Hussein will use these weapons. Though disarmament is at the top of the agenda, President Bush is proposing a regime change as a chance to free the Iraqi people. United Nations’ embargoes and foreign wars have put the economy in shambles and have severely eroded the Iraqi quality of life.

Enough said. Read on.

“No matter how we feel about a possible war with Iraq, it is important that we all keep informed on the issues and engaged in the debate. Apathy will be our worst enemy in times like these,” said Jerry Jorgensen, Dean of the College of Arts and Science and a colonel in the United States Army Reserves.

Marie-Laure Sauer, 26 Toulouse, France. Came to South Dakota two and a half years ago to get her doctorate. She is researching soybean oils.

“If Bush knows something that the United Nations doesn’t know and he wants to go to war he should give that information to the United Nations and they should take care of whatever needs to be done,” Sauer said.On Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to the United Nations Security Council about the United States’ position. He used graphic animations and satellite images as proof of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its affiliation with terrorist organizations.

Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix could not back up this evidence saying that Iraq had cleaned up suspected sites before inspectors could investigate.

“In France what they are afraid of now is that because Bush is getting ready for war he won’t want to lose face and he will go ahead with it anyway whatever happens,” Sauer said.

She worries about the United States acting alone against Iraq.

Bob Burns, Political Science Department head

“If what we are arguing is true, in that Saddam Hussein has biological and chemical weapons, then we have to anticipate that such weapons will be used in a war with Iraq. We have to then be prepared for the loss of a large number of lives,” Burns said.

Since the Cold War, the United States has played the part of the world’s only superpower. Burns says with that position comes certain responsibilities to the international community.

“Because we hold this leadership role, what are our responsibilities? Would it be irresponsible for the U.S. not to be aggressive toward Iraq? I really think that is the largest question out there,” Burns said.

North Korea admitted to having nuclear weapons yet the United States does not appear to be aggressively pursuing their disarmament. In contrast, the weapons inspectors in Iraq have not yet found any nuclear weapons even though most people are sure that the government possesses them.

“We are in no position to present the same kind of threats to North Korea because of the complete vulnerability of South Korea. We know that North Korea could respond with devastation in attacking South Korea which could result in the death of millions of South Koreans,” Burns said. Then is this a war about disarmament or oil?

It is estimated that oil reserves in Iraq could satisfy oil imports from the United States for the next century. The United States Energy Information Agency reported in 2002 that Iraq contains 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. The second largest in the world behind Saudi Arabia.

“Are we directing this aggressive policy towards Iraq because we really believe that she possess weapons of mass destruction and she will use those weapons against her neighbors? Or is this instead all about oil?” Burns said.

Rozhyer Aware, 26 Kurdistan of IraqReceived her first degree from SDSU and is now working on her master’s thesis in economics. Works as a teacher’s assistant and manages Taco Bell in Sioux Falls.

“It’s not saying that I support the war it’s saying that I am torn between two situations,” Rozhyer Aware said.

Rozhyer Aware fled with her family from Kurdistan when she was nine months old. They filed for asylum with the United States while living in an Iranian refugee camp. In 1977, two women who work for the Lutheran Social Services in Sioux Falls sponsored the family. Her family was provided with a place to live until Rozhyer’s father was able to get a job. Her father, Qadir Aware, now runs the Multi-Cultural Awareness Center in Sioux Falls, which he started in 1997. The Center serves as a hub for newly arrived immigrants to the area.

Kurdistan is not a country in the legal sense, but rather a region that is divided between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. The 30 million Kurdish people, who make up this 190,000 square mile area, have their own government, culture and language and are relatively independent from the countries they inhabit.

It is estimated that about 5 million Kurds live in the mountains of Northern Iraq. During the 1980s, the Kurds were the victims of a mass genocide campaign by Saddam Hussein. Some 450,000 civilians were killed by execution, live burial and chemical warfare.

“Truly in my heart and from past experiences and knowing what this man has done I really believe that this is the only way,” Aware said.

On March 16, 1988, a Kurdish city in Iraq called Halabja was hit with chemical cluster bombs from Iraqi war planes. In this city of 80,000, more than 5,000 women, children and elderly died within 20 minutes and thousands were wounded. Halabja was the home to guerilla freedom fighters whose mission was gaining independence from Iraq.

“It is tragic. It is not a happy thing. But sometimes war is the only solution,” Aware said.

In 1991, the United States created a no-fly zone which prevents the Iraqi army from entering into the area where Kurdistan is located. This has allowed the Kurds the freedom to develop a government and their own media outlets.

“I don’t think we have much of an alternative because of Saddam. I don’t think this could be solved by negotiations. Just look at how many problems there has been just with the inspectors. If he didn’t have anything to hide why wouldn’t he just open the door and prove himself?” Aware said.

Brahim Garaoui Casablanca, Morocco

“Every human being in the world is against war and nobody can accept war because it is disastrous and it will kill a lot of people. That is why I am actually against war not only in Iraq but all over the world,” Garaoui said.

Garaoui, a practicing Muslim, is here teaching courses in Arabic language and culture in addition to studying journalism. He has been in South Dakota for six months.

“If Iraq has weapons of mass destruction I would be for this, because it would ultimately save lives. This is the condition though. We cannot just go to war without reason, without pretext, without a cause.”

Nicole Christopherson President of Republican Club and Senator for the College of Arts and Science Bio. She is a senior English major.

“A part of being an American is supporting our government even if you don’t always agree with it,” Nicole Christopherson said.France, Germany, China and Russia – the reluctant allies – object to disarming Iraq through force and prefer stepping up negotiations. Meanwhile, the United States and Great Britian prepare for a possible invasion.

“It is necessary for us to go to war whether we have U.N. support or not. We need to go in and get it done. If we keep looking for peaceful solutions when Iraq is working against us. Maybe we are waiting for support that will never ever come and we are waiting in vain,” Christopherson said. Christopherson said the reason that more evidence has not been released is because it is sensitive material, but that the American people should just trust the government.

“I have faith in our government. There is evidence out there. I seriously doubt our government is willing to take the risk without proof,” Christopherson said.

In all recent inspections no weapons of mass destruction have been found, Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix told the security council on Feb. 14. However, Iraq has not accounted for the many banned weapons that it is suspected of having.

“They are making weapons of mass destruction with the intent of using them on us. They shouldn’t be. They aren’t cooperating with the inspectors. We cannot continue to appease this tyrant,” Christopherson said.

Meghan Dahle Political Science Club President and Democrat. She is a senior studying Political science and communication studies.

“This whole war thing wouldn’t have come about if Bush wasn’t president. This is Bush’s ‘get-me-reelected’ thing because he can’t on his domestic policies. His domestic policies are crap. They’re putting our economy in the gutter and he knows it. The only way he can stay in power is to be blood thirsty for Iraq. It’s ingenious really,” Dahle said.

Dahle’s solution is just to leave the situation as is. She thinks we should at least find some other method other than going to war. She is optimistic that maybe Saddam Hussein will step down voluntarily.

“He is campaigning for this Iraq business on the idea of human rights, but there are so many of these such violations around the world. Some that are ten times worse than this. But he’s not going after these countries, because they don’t have oil. I think this is one of his biggest reasons for going is because of oil,” Dahle said.

Kasiviswanath Muthukumarappan (Muthu) Tamil Nadu, IndiaHe is an associate professor in agriculture and engineering department who has been here for six years teaching and doing research in food processing. He is an advisor for the International Relations Club and lives in Sioux Falls with his wife and their 12 year-old daughter.

“It is a very complex situation. It’s not like fighting one’s neighbors. It has been going on for the last ten or fifteen years. It’s not going to end today or tomorrow,” Muthu said.

The United States had some involvement during the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s, but it wasn’t until Iraq invaded Kuwait that the two countries really clashed. “Operation Desert Storm began in January 1991 when allied forces began a land, sea and air offensive to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.”

Muthu says he doesn’t believe in aggression and he would like to see another solution, but that sometimes war is inevitable.

“Whatever the commander-in-chief is trying to do, he probably has some reasoning for what he is doing. He probably cannot explain clearly why we must go into Iraq now versus some other time,” Muthu said

Emily Hahn, 21 She studies sociology and human resources, and she just got married. Her husband, Lincoln, is being trained to go to war. He is in Missouri with his bridge building battalion until the call comes. He knows he will be deployed overseas, just not when.

“We had originally planned on getting married in June. The army said not to plan on him being home by June so then we just decided to get married early,” Hahn said.

Her husband, too, attended SDSU and was majoring in mechanical engineering until he was deployed. Lincoln is 20 years-old.

“It’s kinda scary. I try not to think about it,” Hahn said.

Lincoln might be gone for a year or more depending upon how short or long the war is. “Whether I disagree or agree, I have to agree. I feel like I need to support the U.S. Government because Bush and Colin Powell are taking care of Lincoln. I guess I don’t think war is the right way to go necessarily all the time. I think when they’ve tried everything else and it’s their last resort, then it’s okay. I guess we just have to kind of trust them,” Hahn said.

Major John Holter, Military science professor

“There are a number of instances that create the situation were in. One of them is the violation of the U.N. resolution that called for him (Saddam Hussein) to disarm. Our president and our governent along with the United Nations have shown that they are in violation of these things and that they are in possession of these weapons of mass destruction. This is a real concern for not just the United States, but for the entire world,” John Holter said.

Holter said many of the people being deployed are a bit uneasy, but that they are confident in their training and understand their reason for going.

“There are a lot of unknown things about it and they are headed towards a potentially dangerous situation,” Holter said.

Reverend Bob Chell University Lutheran Center, Lutheran campus pastor

In his office at the University Lutheran Center on a late Friday afternoon, Bob Chell explained the role of religion in war.

“All faiths have a deep commitment to justice, to equality and to morality. That makes it incumbent on us to speak out for justice. The question is, how do we achieve justice? Do we achieve it by sending in our troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein or do we send in food?” Chell said.

Justifying war is a difficult concept. Many will argue that pre-emptive strike against Iraq is reasonable to free the Iraqi people and because Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.

“There are Christians of good conscience and deep faith that say all war is wrong. There are Christians of a deep strong faith that think there is a time and place for war,” Chell said.

In war, though the conflict is generally between governments, often civilians are killed. Chell said this doesn’t make it an entirely black and white issue.

“If we do go to war, even though most of us pray that we can solve this diplomatically, there will be Christians on both sides. There will be republicans and democrats on both sides. Just like there isn’t any one Christian view there isn’t any one American view,” Chell said.

War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses. –Thomas Jefferson

The reality of the situation is that the American people don’t have much of a voice in the foreign politics arena.

Some, like Mary O’Connor in the English department, have turned to poetry to voice her anti-war frustrations. Some stage protests while others enlist.

The consequences of a war with Iraq are virtually unpredictable. Will there be an uprising in the Arab world? Will the United States see more terrorist attacks? Will there be an effective regime change? Will weapons of mass destruction be used? The political science professor, Bob Burns, said only a prophet could predict the consequences of this situation.

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