Professors examine Iraqi threat at forum

Ben Burke

The current situation with Iraq is “like pumping air into a tire until it’s so pumped up it may explode and many people could get hurt,” said Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science.

Schmidt said Iraq has had 11 years to comply with the United Nations’ demands for arms inspections and its insistence that Saddam Hussein not play games, yet the country’s leader has refused.

“He’s had 11 years; how many more chances do you get?” Schmidt said. “We can’t just sit around here and not do anything.”

Schmidt said after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have become worried about other countries.

Schmidt said one reason Iraq has been seen as such a threat is other potentially dangerous nations, like North Korea, have been more cooperative with U.N. inspections and communication.

The big debate now is whether the Bush administration has information proving Iraq is a threat, and then what to do concerning Iraq and when to do it, Schmidt said.

Schmidt said it is a heated debate because some people want to act with military action and some want to attempt arms inspections again.

Schmidt said in order for there to be effective inspections, inspectors should go in armed and unannounced and “not take any crap.”

He said past inspections did not work because they were announced and the Iraqis were given enough time to dispose of or hide all incriminating evidence.

Schmidt said, “either Saddam allows inspections or we’ll have to go in and do the jobs ourselves.”

In a forum Tuesday night at the M-Shop in the Memorial Union addressing the tension with Iraq, Joel Moses, professor of political science, said weapons of mass destruction are a reality and if not dealt with they will have a devastating effect.

“The legitimacy of the United Nations is at stake,” Schmidt said at the forum, and if the resolutions are not complied with it will leave it open for other nations and leaders to commit crimes such as genocide.

The problem is how much the United States is currently supported by the United Nations and the rest of the international community.

James McCormick, professor and chair of Political Science Department, also at the forum Tuesday night, said, “Nobody in the world supports us except for [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair.”

McCormick said the United States has a habit of imposing American principles on other places in the world.

Schmidt said the real issue is not the need for oil. If it were, the United States would not have the embargo against Iraq for trade years ago.

Schmidt said maybe the United States does not have the right set of principles and the United States should practice its own principles without other nations having to adopt them.

Moses said tomorrow the U.S. Senate will be discussing the issue further and by next week it would be debated in the House of Representatives.


View digital video clips of the forum