Students Discuss Situation In Iraq at CommServ Office Event

Offering their unique perspectives on how the American government should resolve the crisis in Iraq, four Phillips Academy students spoke at a Monday forum sponsored by the Center for Global Justice in conjunction with the Community Service Office. Interim Director of the Community Service Office Mike Koehler ’94 opened the forum by providing a brief introduction of the recently opened Center for Global Justice. Mr. Koehler emphasized that the Center does not have a specific political orientation, as it embraces a range of student opinion. The first student to speak at the forum was Brian Karfunkel ’03, who emphasized patience in times of crisis. Karfunkel argued that the United Nations’ weapons inspectors should be allowed to continue their work in Iraq before any military action is taken. Karfunkel compared any United States attack on Iraq to a situation in a courtroom in which the defendant is found guilty without any trial. He said, “The [United Nations] inspections have not failed; in fact, they have only just begun. This situation is not an issue of war and peace. … We must give the UN a chance to do its job.” Karfunkel further reasoned that the U.S. should wait until there is hard evidence that the Iraqis possess chemical or biological weapons before attacking the country. He concluded, “The UN has not failed, and only it can justify war on Iraq.” The second student presenter was Bob Yamartino ’03, who argued for unilateral action by the American government. He focused his presentation on explaining justice, stating, “No one can absolutely pinpoint what justice is.” Yamartino then narrowed the controversy down to two groups: those for “Domestic Justice” and those for “International Justice.” He defined “Domestic Justice” as the American government’s obligation to its citizens. According to Yamartino, the citizens of the U.S. are entitled to defense from foreign threats as taxpayers. “Sadaam Hussein clearly poses a threat, and inaction in Iraq will simply postpone this threat,” he said. He also broached the subject of oil, addressing accusations that the American government wanted to attack Iraq solely for the purposes of oil prices. Yamartino feels that although this statement is false, oil will be a deciding factor in the situation with Iraq. Yamartino then addressed “International Justice,” stating his view that the U.S. has an obligation to remove oppressive tyrants from the world political stage. He mentioned the evil doings of Sadaam Hussein in the past, as well as the dictator’s supposed links to various terrorist groups. Yamartino closed his presentation by stating, “It is imperative to the security of our country and the Middle Easter region to remove Sadaam.” Zach Cafritz ’03 then proposed entering Iraq multilaterally with the support of the UN. “[The U.S.] cannot be seen as a nation which ignores the UN,” he said. Like Yamartino, Cafritz also spoke about justice. “We all know what is just and what is unjust. Sadaam Hussein’s regime is extremely unjust,” Cafritz said. Cafritz emphasized that the U.S. must go into Iraq, but only with the support of the UN. He argued that the U.S. must be supported by its allies in the UN or an attack on Iraq will be unjust. He noted, “Pacifism is simply a byword for inaction.” Cafritz completed his remarks, stating, “We cannot just consider justice toward the Iraqi people, we must consider justice toward the American people. We must go in [to Iraq] multilaterally.” Following Cafritz’s presentation, Laurie Ignacio ’04 spoke on the use of diplomacy and peaceful solutions for solving the problems in Iraq. Ignacio drew her views from a pacifist standpoint, stating, “We must better our policing of [Sadaam Hussein], his regime, and the development of the weapons [in Iraq].” She also spoke of Hussein’s “crimes against humanity,” noting that despite Iraq’s poor human rights record, few countries are in favor of military action against Iraq. The CommServ Office’s Center for Global Justice opened in the basement of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) in January. The resource collection provides students with access to videos, books, periodicals, and other materials pertaining to issues of social equality.