Iraq, region discussed by faculty panel

Nation Politics World

The U.S. will be drawn into a world war, probably within the next ten years, and China will emerge as the new world power.

War PanelThat is the short version of a possible scenario posed by assistant professor of political science Dan Cox, based on one political science theory.

Cox and four other Western professors led a multidisciplinary panel on the war in Iraq last Thursday, which was sponsored by the Alpha Chi Honor Society, with about 70 people in attendance.

“Hopefully, I’m completely wrong,” Cox said later. “Most political theories are wrong,”

However, Cox did remain the lone gun in his convictions about which direction the U.S. will take with regard to Iraq and the Middle East.

“I see Iraq and our involvement in the Middle East differently probably than just about anyone,” Cox said. “I see what we are doing right now – I see it expanding over time. I think it’s unfortunate, but I think it’s almost certain we are going to expand into Iran.” He said he believes that expansion includes the bombing of Iran.

Associate professor of sociology Ali Kamali, who was born in Iran but has lived in the U.S. for decades, said he holds out optimism that bombing Iran will not happen. He also shared his views on how the war in Iraq has been bungled.

“It doesn’t take an intelligent person to see that the current policies of the current administration are inoperative and not working; however, think about who is taking advantage of the situation,” Kamali said. “There is no denying or lack of information that Dick Cheney, President Bush and a couple others actually own and are running oil companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

Professor of philosophy Phil Mullins agreed that oil has always been in mind with U.S. policy.

“I’m not sure that our policy ever had any very good, sensible roots…arrogance in recent times,” Mullins said. “But it does seem to me that now we’re in a real pickle.”

And that “real pickle” is something that history professor Dan Trifan feels needs clarification.

“One must differentiate between military invasion and occupancy,” Trifan said. “[This] has changed to occupation.”

Economics professor Reza Hamzaee, who was also born in Iran but has been in the U.S. for over 32 years, spoke about the economic cost of war in terms of missed opportunities in the U.S.: poverty, education, social security, health care and the shrinking size of the middle-class.

“These are all opportunities we are losing because we are putting so much into war,” Hamzaee said. He said that the industries of defense and oil are booming while others suffer.

Kamali also said that there is another important factor in the region’s stability that the U.S. Administration largely dismisses with names like renegades or thugs.

“One of the unspoken factors in international politics is non-governmental key players who make major decisions,” Kamali said. “We have to take them seriously.”

Any discussion about Iraq and the Middle East will inevitably turn to religion, and this panel was no exception.

“My general view is that American policy as a whole has not done a good job of taking into account religious dynamics,” Mullins said. And then there is the Israel factor.

Student Government Association Vice-President Luke Herrington, who is a history/government double major, attended the panel discussion and later gave his opinion about the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

“As an ally of Israel, we will do what we need to,” he said. “Israel feels threatened, surrounded by a sea of anger.”

Yet, with so many countries in the region – including Israel, Pakistan and India – in possession of nuclear weapons, Iranians also feel threatened, Hamzaee and Kamali said.

All the while, the U.S. possesses over half of the world’s nuclear weapons. It is also the only country ever to use such a weapon against another nation.

Following the discussion, the panel took questions from the audience. Many people stayed after to talk more about the multi-faceted subject of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

“I think you have to go after if with an interdisciplinary approach,” said senior Kasi Norris, a government major. “There is not only one view.”

Elizabeth Sawin, professor of English and director of the Honors Program said that perhaps there should be more panel discussions on this subject in the future.

“It is the responsibility and the privilege of the university to give students and the community breadth and depth of understanding multi-disciplinary points of view,” Sawin said.

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