November 18, 2002

Should U.S. Go to War With Iraq: C.U. Students Speak Out

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On Friday, a panel discussion was held titled “Should We Go To War with Iraq: It’s your prerogative.” The six-person panel was composed of Elliot Reed ’05, chief of staff of the Cornell Republicans, Timothy C. Lim ’06, who represented the Cornell Democrats, Ryan M. Horn grad, chairs of the Cornell Republicans, Amy Levine grad and Miranda R. Buffam grad, both members of the Cornell Anti-War Coalition.

Reed gave the forum’s opening statement, presenting reasons for immediate war as provided by the official White House website. “If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today — and we do — does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?”

Reed further discussed Hussein’s violation of human rights and brutalities imposed on the Iraqi people. “Like Stalin, Hussein has killed his own people, the Iraqi’s live in terror everyday,” he said.

In response to Reed’s comment concerning Hussein’s civil rights violations, Lim said, “How many people actually think that we’re going in because of human rights? Look at other countries. Why aren’t we taking the hard-line with North Korea who has recently announced that they have a nuclear bomb?”

Horn responded, “The United States has never forcefully entered a territory that has been known to have a nuclear bomb. The difference between North Korea and Iraq is that North Korea has a nuclear bomb, Iraq has 18,000 nuclear weapons pointed at the United States.”

Levine brought up the issue of national security saying, “The CIA has stated that we are more insecure as a nation prior to Sept. 11. We should think about the increased threat a war would bring to American soil.”

Lim turned the discussion toward the opinion of the international community. “I haven’t heard anyone mention the international opinion. The United States would be entering this war without the full support of its allies.”

Brandon J. Jackson ’03, an audience member, agreed. “I think one of the most important points made during the discussion of the issue was what are we saying to the international community when we respond with war whenever a country doesn’t agree with us?”

Reed did not share the same sentiment. ” I don’t think small countries such as Sweden and South Africa are going to contribute anything anyway. We need to send a message that the United States is not going to support terrorism.”

Horn posed certain criterion that should be met before the United States decides to enter war with Iraq. “Do we have an intelligent estimate of expected loss of life? Is it constitutional? Do we have an exit strategy? So far I do not feel the case for war has been met. However, I am not saying that it cannot be made.”

The forum was co-sponsored by the Class of 1922 and Class of 1928 residence halls, as well as Noyes Community Center and Campus Life. The forum was designed to inform as well as foster critical thinking in the Cornell community, according to organizer Kevaughn A. Harvey ’04. “We felt it would be interesting to hear the main topics and themes about the current issues in Iraq.”

Jackson also discussed the need for discourse concerning the proposed war. “I think war in Iraq is an issue that Americans do not want to talk about because they feel that it does not directly pertain to them. As a person who has been abroad, I thought it would be good to hear the different viewpoints concerning the issue and how these viewpoints reflect our understanding of international relations.”

Levine also discussed the estimated cost of the war.

“$200 billion is the minimum cost it will take to go to war. We have domestic issues here that we need to deal with, one being the number of people who live below the poverty line. Also, the number of jobs continues to shrink, for example the Ithaca Police and Fire Departments have recently experienced severe cuts. Where would this money be coming from? It would be coming from us.”

Archived article by Cassandra Wilson