Flak over Iraq

Following the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Bush administration launched Operation Iraqi Freedom and began sending American troops into Iraq on March 20, 2003. In May of that same year, when no weapons of mass destruction materialized, some believe President Bush just came back with a new plan: The United States redefined the goal of invasion as regime change. Now it has been four years and billions of dollars, and some ask, for what? As 2006 began, it was estimated that 2,172 U.S. soldiers and more than 30,892 Iraqi civilians had been killed, according to the international politics textbook “World Politics Trend and Transformation,” by Charles W. Kegley Jr., and those numbers are growing. Some students and faculty, along with others around the country, including a percentage of Congress, are beginning to question U.S. presence in Iraq. Some wonder if it isn’t time to just throw in the towel.

On Jan. 25, TCU hosted a Searchlight Symposium on the subject of a just war. Several professors including Nadia Lahutsky, associate professor of religion, and Eric Cox, assistant professor of political science, spoke their opinions on the matter as TCU students eagerly listened and asked questions.

At the symposium, Cox talked about the United Nations’ lack of support for the war. He stated that it was not legal for the United States to invade Iraq, according to the U.N. Charter, and that it was not out of self-defense. He said at this point, Bush is at historic levels of unpopularity.

Manochehr Dorraj, professor of political science, shares similar beliefs.

Dorraj teaches several courses at TCU, including an introductory course to politics and an International Politics class among others. He said he thinks this war is tragic and a major mistake on the part of the Bush administration, as it is taxing for the American and Iraqi people alike.

“There are so many unintended consequences – we are trying to solve a political problem militarily,” Dorraj said. “The presence of American troops in the postcolonial era as an occupying force is an element that feeds the insurgency.”

Jennifer Moore, a senior nursing major, believes that the government started out with good intentions, mainly freedom for the Iraqi people. However, she questions the definition of that said freedom.

“I can hardly believe that anyone’s interpretation of freedom is American troops on every street corner and living in fear of death on a daily basis,” Moore said. “Force and fighting just don’t seem to be working anymore. I think it’s high time to re-evaluate the course of action.”

Ryan Ferguson, a senior political science major, has a slightly different reasoning for his opposition.

“I don’t like the war because, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we entered the war under false pretenses,” Ferguson said. “I don’t like the war because I am unsure that the good we’re doing over there is enough to outweigh the consequences.”

“Perhaps the reason that makes me not like the war the most is that I have friends over there whom I really care about, and I don’t want them to die because of one administration’s pride,” he said.

Alison Lewis, a sophomore political science major, said she disagrees with where the war is now, but not necessarily the ideology behind it.

She said she consents that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator who needed to be removed from power but believes there may have been other more peaceful routes to consider.

Landon Cox, a freshman political science major, said he realized his views may seem decidedly liberal compared to other students’ opinions but feels the war may have been “a last ditch effort of a declining hegemon in order to retain and exert its influence.”

He said he is not in favor of any of Bush’s new plans for the war either.

“I don’t feel that Bush’s surge plan will work since increasing the focus on militarization would only make the conflict worse, and we can’t just withdraw our troops since they’re a sort of peacekeeping unit,” Cox said. “I believe a new approach is needed, one that recognizes the need for diplomacy but also knows how to settle conflicts of political violence, an approach that I feel the U.S. can offer with the right strategy and leadership.”

Not all TCU students are in opposition to the war.

“Even though we have been in Iraq a lot longer than maybe anyone could have predicted, and even though a lot of lives have been lost, I feel it is important that we are over there as long as it takes to secure our safety,” said Kendall Harlan, a freshman advertising/public relations major.

Jenna Harris, a freshman biology major, feels this is no excuse. She said even if one has no thoughts on the war, in a political sense, that it is still necessary to be concerned about fellow Americans.

“I am not entirely sure how I feel about the war; I have mixed feelings, but I do support our soldiers,” Harris said.

“I think that it is sad that they are over in Iraq fighting and dying, and for the most part, it seems people don’t even care anymore.