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    Panelists Discuss US Involvement in Iraq

    How do Americans perceive the war in Iraq? Do they understand the purpose of United States government in Iraq and its implications? These questions, as well as other issues were addressed by a panel of four academics gathered on March 28.

    According to Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University, there is a civil war that is taking place in Iraq and the US military is supplying these destructive weapons. ‘The United States is producing the big time damage.’

    Eduardo Mendieta, a Professor of Philosophy at SBU, continued this train of thought when he explained that Iraqi’s cannot afford the expensive guns and explosives that ‘crumble cities.’ ‘The United States is not interested in preserving history and leaving peace,’ said Professor Mendieta.

    The panel explained to the audience that there are many paths a country may take to avoid war and that the US did not bother with any of these steps. ‘You have to have a just cause’ and ‘It is immoral to engage in war if there is a small probability of success,’ said Mendieta. In addition, the Bush administration also violated international laws by going to war by their inhumane torturing of prisoners.

    ‘Torture is not only a crime against humanity but a crime in war,’ said Mendieta. Since the Bush administration has been breaking the International laws of war, future American soldiers may face extremely violent war situations.

    The panel also explained that in the 1950s, the CIA began a study to figure out the best human torture methods and in the 1970s, these practices were taught to the American military. ‘We develop these practices at home, deploy them abroad and they come back to bite,’ said Brady Heiner, a Philosophy graduate student.

    Men who were taught to torture in a war came back home with this knowledge, continued Heiner. ‘If information extracted by means of torture becomes admissible and normalized in criminal courts’hellip;we’ll find ourselves in a much more direr situation than we are.’

    Another panelist, Zaid Alrawy, came to America in 2004 as a participant for Department of Anthropology. As a native of Iraq, he has witnessed a portion of the war. He added with, ‘I’m an example of that society.’

    War is never a black and white affair as false perceptions are easily made. According to Alrawy, while he was in Iraq, he had a horrible perception of the American soldiers, and assumed that this was an accurate example of all Americans. However, this opinion changed when he came to the US. Despite this change in perceptions, Alrawy is adamant in his belief that the US government is not making things better in Iraq.

    ‘Saddam was bad but he provided people with security and freedom,’ said Alrawy. ‘Now we can’t go out of our house.” Instances of American actions that made lasting impressions on him were when American soldiers bombed the electricity stations and stopped communications among Iraqis. ‘The normal life that everybody wish for we don’t have right now.’

    The panelists ended the lecture with this resounding belief. The US involvement in Iraq was not based on humanitarian hopes but rather of profit.’ Alrawy said, ‘It’s not about democracy and freedom, it’s about oil,’ and ‘Religion is used as an excuse to have control.’ The panelists were adamant when the said, if the soldiers pull out the civil war will continue but with out such great loss of life as there is now.

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