Visiting group on campus advocates peaceful Iraqi resolution; stresses a non-violent U.S. interaction

By Paul Williams
October 17, 2002

Chris Jones

The message was clear: the United States should not go to war against Iraq. On Friday, Oct. 11, people who had different views on Iraq and how to deal with the situation came to the same conclusion.

Campus Ministry welcomed the “Mirror of Truth” bus tour, which is associated with the Voices in the Wilderness project, a Catholic peace organization. Their presence on the campus was evident as a vibrant old school bus, painted colorfully with messages of peace were scattered on the outside of the bus, parked in the Founder’s Hall parking lot.

G. Simon Harak, a Jesuit and an advocate for peace in the Middle East, began by telling the audience in Founder’s Hall room 202 that the members of the tour believed in nonviolence as a means of dealing with the Iraqi crisis. Harak said, “I have been to Iraq three times. In one year there, 500,000 children who are under the age of five, die. Most of it is due to an offensive action.” The United States and its allies have placed an embargo on food and medical supplies entering Iraq. He emphasized his point by saying, “Five hundred thousand is only the number of children under five, not the 7-year-olds, or the 9-year-olds, not the people with diabetes or heart disease.”

The group presented a video with their views and the views of the opposition. Scott Ritter, former marine and former United Nations chief weapons inspector, supports the position of not attacking Iraq. “I was in war. I would be in war again because I love my country and I would die for it,” Ritter said. “However, war with Iraq is not right. The Bush administration would have you believe that the weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq, so Iraq could make new weapons of mass destruction. This is not the case. Weapons inspectors left Iraq because they broke an agreement that only four weapons inspectors would inspect one place, not 16, which was the amount of inspectors that showed up to a political site, not a place for making weapons.”

Sanctions were then placed on Iraq after the weapons inspectors left Iraq, which would control the sales and distribution of Iraqi oil. Harak said, “Ninety-five percent of Iraq’s economy is based solely on oil. The sale of oil there has made a better life for the people there, including a free education from elementary school to college.”

Ceylon Mooney, of Voices in the Wilderness, said, “You can look around everywhere and see oil-made products. From the oil that made the ink on this shirt, to the cars and the bus in the parking lot, everything was somehow made from oil. If the U.S. can regulate the Iraqi oil like it wants to, the inspectors will not return because then the sanctions will be lifted.”

After the presentation, the group moved to the Grace Hall boardroom to have a round-table discussion. Dr. James Hedtke, chairperson of history and political science, would be the group’s opposition. Hedtke had two main differences in terms of ideology. “I look at the situation from the perspective of self interest; I don’t look through the same moral lense as they do. I also believe that since Sadam Hussein did the crimes, he and his people will have to do the time. When a leader of a country does something wrong, the people of that country are affected.”

Harak reiterated a lot of what he said during the presentation, but he elaborated and added more to an audience that had more questions. Dr. Anthony Tomasco, chairperson of psychology, asked, “Of the 500,000 deaths, were any attributed to Sadam?”

Harak said, “My friend, Daniel Holiday, who worked in Iraq, said about 30 percent of the 500,000 deaths were due to Hussein.” However, Harak passed around a newspaper with an Iraqi mother holding her dead child in her arms. “According to U.N. statistics this happens 160 times a day, everyday for the past 12 years. Right now there is a siege against Iraq. A siege is the oldest from of total war, where a government is supposed to surrender or give in because of human suffering. The suffering never stopped after the Gulf War. Twenty-three million in Iraq have died, and Sadam is still there.”

Dr. Mary Laver, the coordinator of community outreach and partnerships, asked, “What are the conclusions about Iraq?”

Harak handed the question to Hedtke, wanting to know what his conclusions were on the Iraq crisis. Hedtke accepted and answered the question. ” I devised my David Letterman-like list last night for this,” Hedtke jokingly said. First, the inspectors have to have a chance to get back into Iraq and work for a peaceful resolution. Second, there is no nuclear threat from Iraq and also there is no way that Iraq could use chemical or biological weapons against the U.S. Third, there is no link between al-Qaeda and Iraq, the Bush terrorist links are old and in the past. Fourth, a preemptive attack is very dangerous; it puts our relationship with allies in jeopardy and opens ourselves to a preemptive attack. Fifth, we would be adding more fuel to the Israeli-Palestinian fire. Six, a war should not be George W. Bush’s personal revenge. Finally, I think the economy will suffer in the long run.”

The group on the bus tour was stunned with astonishment. Harak said, “I don’t think I have ever heard it put more clearly than that.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Paul Williams

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap