While the U.S. government deliberates over a potential war with Iraq and Yale prepares for a strike, North Korea may be furtively relaunching its nuclear weapons program.
Ironically, many Yale students and professors reported a lack of discussion about the situation in the Korean peninsula. But professors said students’ outward reactions merely belie the deep concern in the Yale community — students are internally mulling over the North Korean situation as it unravels.
“The media and the Bush administration have directed the discussion away from North Korea in many ways,” American studies and history professor Matthew Jacobson said. “That’s probably the reason Yale students aren’t talking so much about it.”
Although Yale students are keeping mum, Jacobson said they are nonetheless watchful and concerned.
“They’re taking stuff in,” he said.
The cautious attitude at Yale reflects a attentiveness that has pervaded the campus since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Jacobson said.
Many Yale students, reflecting on the phenomenon, said Iraq has largely been the focus of their attention.
“I definitely would say more people are concerned with Iraq than with North Korea,” Adam Robinson ’06 said. “But they don’t know what to do about it and don’t know what to discuss.”
The heightened sense of urgency in international affairs has also led to feelings of disbelief among students.
“It’s shocking,” said Eojin Lee ’05, president of Korean American Students at Yale. “Both [American and North Korean] sides make sense in their own way. I can’t support either side completely.”
As students and professors reflect on the portentous mood on campus, professors in the History and Political Science departments are grappling with the issues dominating discourse in the international community.
Diplomat-in-residence Charles Hill said North Korea is using its nuclear capabilities to extort — among other things — money from the United States. America’s foreign policy during the 1990s left North Korea with few options, he said.
“North Korea is what we don’t want Iraq to become,” Hill said. “They are trying to extract food and fuel and money by threatening us — they’ll continue to go as far as they can until they get that response.”