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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Professors hold teach-in against the war in the Iraq

An estimated 50 students and faculty turned out to discuss military action in the Middle East at the Coalition to Oppose War in Iraq's Teach-In Wednesday night. The event was an attempt to educate members of the Tufts community on the issue, and speakers advocated anti-war action on campus

Students and faculty members made presentations about the impending war and fielded questions. The informal atmosphere prompted a sustained dialogue between speakers and the audience.

Professors briefly lectured on topics including the history of US relations with Iraq, the nuclear capabilities of Iraq, the projected cost of a war, and the general economics of wars.

Students spoke from their personal experiences while in Iraq and also while in the US. Iraqi-American senior Rana Abdul-Aziz discussed the country's economic situation and the negative effects of war and sanctions. She pointed to a commercial currently airing in Iraq that discourages residents from eating road kill as an example of the country's economic conditions.

Abdul-Aziz is uneasy speaking about conditions within the country, however, because she does not want "to paint a picture of a population of victims."

She also stressed the distinction between the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people. "The Iraqi government does not speak for these people," Abdul-Aziz said.

Student Sadaf Gulamali, a Pakistani-American, spoke about the prejudice she has encountered as a Muslim living in the United States. Islam is perceived by many Americans as a "monolithic and inflexible" faith, she said, and Muslims are seen as "a backward people that cannot live within modern society."

"Instead of a war on Iraq, we should spend some money on a war on ignorance," Gulamali said.

The allegation of the US government's dishonesty toward its citizens was a recurring theme throughout the presentations. Physics professor Gary Goldstein dismantled the administration's argument that Iraq is a nuclear threat. "They don't have enriched uranium, they don't have plutonium _ they can't make a nuclear bomb," he said. "The big lie, repeated often and loudly, becomes 'common knowledge.'"

Iraq might be capable of sending non-nuclear weapons to countries within a 650-mile radius from itself, but no farther, Goldstein said. Although countries such as Pakistan, India, and Israel all have nuclear weapons, he said, the US does not seem interested in waging war against them.

The US has historically been hypocritical in dealing with the Middle East, history Professor Gary Leupp said as he spoke on role of oil in the conflict. "Oilmen like President Bush covet oil and the geopolitical power that comes with controlling the oil supply," he said.

Professor Frank Ackerman, from the Global Development and Environmental Institution, discussed the possible economic motives for waging a war. "You run a war, you get people employed," he said. "This war fits seamlessly into a conservative strategy for managing the economy."

The looming war will cost about $80 billion, Ackerman estimated. "Some sense that this was a very effective strategy for the last election," he said, alluding to possible political motives surrounding the decision to go to war.

The American people can effectively oppose the war, senio Erin Dwyer said. "We have to make this as costly [to the government] as possible _ socially, politically, economically." She characterized war opposition as "a growing movement," and was encouraged by the quarter of a million people at the recent anti-war rally in Washington, DC.

Coalition member Eva Skillicorn said she and other Teach-In organizers had hoped "to draw people who maybe haven't made up their minds yet, and to educate them and help them mobilize." She was disappointed at the attendance, which she attributed to minimal and late publicity. But there were "definitely people here who we hadn't seen before [at Coalition events]," she said.