The first of a week-long series of panel discussions to memorialize and analyze the events of Sept. 11th was held yesterday at David L. Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall.
The discussion, entitled, “The Impact of 9/11 on the International Scene,” was moderated by Isaac Kramnick, vice provost for undergraduate education and was attended by around 100 Cornell students and faculty members.
Three panelists spoke on United States foreign policy and the best way for America to intervene in international affairs.
The first speaker on the panel, Prof. Barry Strauss, history, spoke in favor of the war against terrorism and a possible war in Iraq.
Also speaking on security and American unilateralism, Ben Anderson, former professor of government and Asian studies, introduced the term, “extraterritoriality,” the practice of one country imposing force in another country without abiding by the host country’s laws.
Another panelist, Prof. Valerie Bunce, government, addressed U.S. hypocrisy in its relations with its allies.
Later, audience members were given a chance to question the panelists and propose their own ideas.
Kramnick began the discussion by introducing the upcoming week of events.
“Our events this week will combine commemoration with analysis,” Kramnick said.
Then, Strauss began the discussion with the United States’ war on terrorism.
“Our government, representing the majority of public opinion has pursued the attackers to the ends of the earth,” Strauss said.
The war in Afghanistan has not been carried out to its fullest and ground troops should be used, according to Strauss.
However, Anderson criticized the United States’ use of military power throughout the world by citing the recent controversy over the country’s opposition to an international court.
Anderson accused the U.S. of conducting a, “legal and global apartheid that would be threatened by a global court.”
He argued that the positions of both unilateralists and multilateralists in the United States are no longer as clear cut as in the past.
According to Anderson, there is hypocrisy in the U.S.’s intervention in countries hosting terrorists and its withdrawal from several treaties with other countries, including agreements about global warming and a ban on testing certain weapons.
A member of the audience, Ramon Bejar grad believed that Anderson placed too much of the blame on the U.S.
“I don’t think that there is an international organization that lacks hypocrisy,” Bejar said.
However, the U.S. “must feel more like a citizen of the world than like the gang boss of the world,” Anderson said.
Strauss also contended that the US must also alter its alliances with partner countries, making a smoother transition between the old ties formed during the Cold War and new agreements to combat, “Islamic fanaticism.”
Strauss claims that the alliances formed between the US and others must be altered to adjust to the post-Sept. 11th world.
Further addressing the nation’s relations with its allies, Bunce claimed that the U.S. has fostered renewed relationships with states such as Russia and Pakistan, whose domestic programs do not follow the U.S.’s ideals of democracy.
“If you are a friend of the United States, then [the U.S.] does not care about your domestic program. We care more about being friends than about political issues and that might be a costly trap to fall into,” Bunce said.
Another issue of security was America’s presence on military bases all over the world, Anderson said.
Military bases are located in several unstable countries, according to Anderson and are more vulnerable to attack than ever, even from military regimes supposedly friendly with the United States.
The discussion also shifted from the war on terror to the possibility of war in Iraq.
“Should we go to war with Iraq?” Strauss asked, then answered, “Saddam Hussein is a suicidal megalomaniac. He hates America and wants to harm it.”
Strauss claimed that Hussein would soon have the capability to work with outside terrorist groups, like Al Queda, to smuggle a weapon of mass destruction into the United States.
Prof. Maria Fanis, government, challenged Strauss.
“I think that you are collapsing two wars into one by using the legitimate cause for the war against terrorism to justify the war we want to start against Iraq. In my mind these are two different wars,” Fanis said.
Fanis suggested that forcing Hussein to accept the return of weapons inspectors might be an acceptable alternative.
“It would be very hard to ensure security with an inspections team,” Strauss said.
According to Strauss, Hussein has attempted to hide his programs for mass destruction and would do it again.
Another important issue was raised by a member of the audience.
Robin Messing, an employee in Olin Library asked the panel what would replace the principle of mutual assured destruction introduced during the Cold War.
The idea behind mutual assured destruction was that if the United States were to launch a nuclear attack on Russia, then Russia would retaliate immediately in kind. Many believe this principle helped prevent nuclear war.
“Who could we retaliate against? What replaces mutual assured destruction?” Messing asked.
“I don’t think we have one,” Bunce said. “Any kind of balanced system I cannot imagine.”
Archived article by Mackenzie Damon