RelPhil Students at All-School Meeting Debate Possibility of War with Iraq

Debating about the United States’s current position on Iraq, students from the Philosophy and Religion Department’s Nonviolence in Theory and Practice class addressed members of the Phillips Academy community at Wednesday’s All-School Meeting. The debate was presented in a point-counterpoint format, as six students discussed the positive aspects of going to war with Iraq, while the other six presented an argument for a peaceful settlement. According to Instructor in Philosophy and Religion Diane Moore, who teaches the “Nonviolence” class, the debate was meant to be “a thoughtful, informed and civil discourse.” She expressed her hope that the debate would inspire thoughtful dialogue and would allow students to hear arguments from both sides of the spectrum. Students in Dr. Moore’s class who participated in the debate were randomly assigned to either the “pro-war” or “anti-war” sides and wrote a research paper on their respective topics. The pro-war team commenced the debate by stating that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the U.S. because he is an irrational and dangerous dictator who kills many of his own people. Team members stated that Iraq and Hussein have no credibility because they have pursued weaponry which was supposed to be unavailable to them after a post-Gulf War agreement with the United Nations. The anti-war group then countered that there is insufficient evidence to prove that Hussein has nuclear weapons. The group disputed the statement that Hussein is “irrational,” noting that he actually always has his own best interests in mind. Continuing on to a new point, pro-war team member Stephanie Kim ’03 asserted, “Hussein treats people unfairly and it is our obligation as the beacon of democracy to liberate Iraqi people from oppression.” She stated that the people of Iraq want a new political systembut are unable to effect such a change. Kim cited a parallel between our society and that of the Iraqis by comparing the Iraqi situation to the American Revolution, when the French aided our forefathers in their battle against the British oppressors. In response to Kim’s statement, anti-war debater Tari Isham ’03 responded, “We are speaking for the voiceless.” Isham spoke about Western arrogance in such matters and pointed to the fact that the U.S. once supported Hussein and has an unfavorable record in establishing democracy. Isham also questioned American concern over Iraq when other countries such a North Korea are also rumored to have weapons of mass destruction.