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Opponents debate their views during war discussion at YSU



Published: Sat, February 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



One panelist suggested tighter policies in Iraq as an alternative to war.

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Dr. Keith Lepak said he hopes for a short war in Iraq -- one that ends with a box.

He envisions an armored car with a white flag waving.

"And Iraqi generals get out with a big box," Lepak said. "And in the box are three heads."

Lepak, associate professor of political science at Youngstown State University, was referring to the heads of Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein and his like-minded sons.

Supporting a war in Iraq, Lepak faced off against opponents of war during the "A War for 'Peace' or 'Oil'?: America, Iraq and the World" panel and public discussion at YSU on Wednesday. The event was sponsored by YSU's Protestant and Catholic Campus Ministries, the Peace Conflict Studies Program and the Department of Political Science.

Protecting interests

The United States, besides a self-interest, protects a global interest in the oil fields of Iraq, Lepak said, one in which the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iran have an interest.

Calling Saddam a man possessing dangerous agents and "an apocalyptic mentality," Lepak also pointed to Iraq's terror against its own people as well as Shiite Muslims and Kurds, a likely connection to recent chemical agents that killed a police officer in Great Britain, and an undoubted business connection to Al-Qaida terrorists.

Lepak's views brought disagreement from other panelists as well as spectators.

Dr. Mustansir Mir, professor of Islamic studies, shook his head, saying his colleague's arguments are "weak." Why, he asked, does the United States not go after other tyrants that head neighboring Middle East nations?

Chris Frangos, a senior political science major, said many refer to him as a "dreamer," but he's still hoping that there is an alternative to force in a world where all religions are based on peaceful prophets.

"Why was it so easy for Jesus to turn the other cheek?" he asked. "Why can't we turn the other cheek?"

What else was said

Other panelists and highlights of what they said:

* Student Jacob Harver of the Youngstown Student Peace Action Network said the Bush administration lacks a "smoking gun" or adequate evidence that Iraq controls weapons of mass destruction. He also pointed to the hypocrisy of the United States' argument that Iraq has violated international law. America, he said, has its own weapons of mass destruction, has used nuclear weapons and has caused the deaths of 300 Iraqi civilians with bombing in no-fly zones and 1.5 million more by blocking trade and bombing water treatment facilities.

* Dr. Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, professor of philosophy and religious studies and director of YSU's Dr. James Dale Ethics Center, said a war will undoubtedly cause civilian deaths, as civilians accounted for 15 percent of casualties in World War I, 48 percent in World War II, 84 percent in Korea and 90 percent in Vietnam.

* Thomas Sabatini, YSU history instructor, discussed Secretary of State Colin Powell's appearance Wednesday before the United Nations and the uncomfortable body language of U.N. delegates. He hypothesized that they were likely comparing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and violation of international laws with the U.S. weapons and past violations in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and other nations.

* Dr. David Porter, associate professor of political science, suggested other options, including an increased policy of containment that tightens sanctions and blockades and maintains a policy of "mutual assured destruction."




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