Marking the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) held an open forum on the Iraq War Monday night, two days after members of the organization joined in on the Global Day of Protest by protesting the U.S. Occupation of Iraq and Palestine outside Brower Student Center.
Panelists at the forum included Miriam Lowi, associate professor of political science, Morton Winston, professor of philosophy, and Alan Dawley, professor of history.
Winston spoke on several aspects on the conduct of the war but focused mainly on the use of torture by the U.S. government and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a deliberate policy, which he called “a perfect recipe for tyranny.”
“No senior officials have been held accountable for their crimes,” Winston said. “The government has launched a deliberate cover-up, blaming the acts of torture on the faults of a few bad apples.”
According to Winston, both Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush took part in creating a “veil of secrecy.”
Winston said the U.S. government has been “exercising unchecked and unaccountable power in its war on terrorism.”
“What you see when you review these documents in a consistent pattern to torture and abuse detainees to gain intelligence,” Winston said.
Lowi said that after two years of war we cannot say the Iraqis are better off and we cannot say that American troops are coming home any time soon. She said we can say Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and Hussein and al-Qaeda were not directly linked.
According to Lowi, there is no real democracy and Iraq is not more stable. Lowi said, “The short-term changes in Iraq are highly-unsettling.”
Later in her speech, Lowi called Iraq a “failed state” with “no law and order” and in the middle of “civil war.” Lowi said, “Iraq is a deeply fractionalized society and only opposition to foreign intervention keeps it together.”
In his presentation, called “Name the System,” Dawley attempted to name the practice of frequent intervention in international affairs by the United States over the course of history.
He named it the “American Empire” and said the War in Iraq is about that empire. “It’s not about democracy and it never was,” he said. “It’s not about any of the other lies told by the Bush administration.”
He said it is not about oil either, although it may have something to do with the “politics of oil.” The war, Dawley said, is “about breaking down barriers and the privatization of the Iraqi state.”
After the professors spoke, attendees were given time to ask the panelists questions, many of which sparked heated debates between the participants. Questions included: Why has torture been allowed to take place? Why does half of the U.S. population support this war when the rest of the world is against it? Why didn’t John Kerry’s campaign differ significantly from Bush’s?
Matt Richman, PSA member and moderator of the event, said more people showed up than he expected. He said he counted some 55 students in the audience, a number which he said demonstrates that, compared to two years ago, there is more interest and “more openness to discuss the war because things have gone so poorly.”