Recently, it was brought to my attention that there are faculty on our campus who feel that our student activists are naA_ve and do not understand the situation of the United States involvement in Iraq. Moreover, some feel that the student activists are unfairly attacking military recruiters on campus.
I would like to state here that I am in full support of our many students who are dedicating their time to struggle for social justice. From the numerous discussions that I have had with the student activists, I have discovered that many have a strong understanding of the situation in Iraq. To begin, they fully comprehend that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is illegal.
Based on this fact, our student activists are passionately and compassionately taking time out of their busy schedules to protect our soldiers from further harm. The students are able to separate the policies of the Bush administration from the individual soldiers who serve bravely in our military. It must be clearly understood that the students are not attacking the soldiers, whom they understand are pieces within a bigger system. The elite within this system are currently using our brothers and sisters, who are soldiers, to achieve their political and economic goals. In the meantime, people suffer and people die. Therefore, our students want our soldiers to return home to prevent more soldiers and their families from becoming victims of the unjust occupation of Iraq. The students also demand an end to the needless killing of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, many of whom are women and children.
Since the human toll in any war is immense, war should be used as a last option. In the case of Iraq, the United States was not in any imminent danger of attack. In fact, the United States violated international law by attacking a sovereign nation that in no way threatened our nation. This preemptive strike, as we call it, was illegal under international law. In fact, every day that goes by, it is becoming clearer that we went to war under false pretexts. For example, there were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no yellow-cake uranium moving from Niger to Iraq. And, there was no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The excuse of bad information leading to the invasion of Iraq is just wrong. Evidence is now surfacing that exposes this lie.
For example, the United Nations’ weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Scott Ritter had made it clear that they had found no weapons of mass destruction before the attack. Joseph Wilson, [a former] ambassador, wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times explaining that there was no yellow-
cake uranium moving from Niger to Iraq. And, documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency dated February 2002 describe the improbability of Saddam’s secular regime colluding with Islamic
In order to justify the occupation of Iraq, the new argument is to bring democracy to Iraq. To this claim I ask, “Who gives us the right to impose our will on other sovereign nations?” If we delve into our history, we will find that there have been instances where our nation has used our brave men in the military not to set up democracies abroad, but to overthrow democratically elected governments to install extreme dictators to protect United States’ corporate interests. A classic example of this was when the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, was overthrown in 1954 to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company.
The other argument to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq basically states that Saddam Hussein needed to be removed because of human rights violations. If this is true, then why did we sit back and watch him commit atrocities on his people while supporting him with weapons during the Iran-Iraq conflict? Why didn’t we intervene immediately when Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in the early 1980s? Moreover, if our mission is to overthrow undemocratic regimes, why haven’t we attacked other repressive regimes such as North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia?
In conclusion, I am inspired to see our students carefully studying history and staying current on recent events. Moreover, I admire their courage and willingness to be participants in the democratic process. I hope that they continue to practice their First Amendment right to free speech, and in this way inspire others of various political ideologies to no longer be apathetic about current issues and take part in creating and maintaining a true democracy.
Richard T. Kamei
Acting Chair of Sociology