Conflict in Iraq approaching climax, panelists agree



Three history and political science professors warned that the nation should be prepared for an impending war with Iraq and examined possible courses of action the United States could take at a panel discussion Wednesday afternoon.

Diplomat-in-residence Charles Hill and political science professors Jean Krasno and Ellen Lust-Okar participated in a small panel discussion sponsored by Yale Friends of Israel. And though the professors disagreed at particular points during the discussion, each conceded that the standoffs with both Iraq and North Korea are approaching climax.

The talk, which assumed the form of a question-and-answer session after opening remarks, provided a brief sketch of the Middle East’s past, present, and future.

Describing the present moment as an “international time of crisis,” Hill said certain international political situations call for war — and the standoff with Iraq might be such a situation.

“The stakes are enormous,” he said. “It’s hard, bar-knuckles bargaining in the corridors — [and] it’s time to get it over with.”

Lust-Okar, while refusing to concede war is necessary, said she thinks the Bush administration has decided to go to war and that the American people are ready for it. “Is it politically feasible to pull back at this point? I’d say no,” Lust-Okar said. “My hunch at the moment is that there will be a war.”

Analyzing the situation, Krasno said the United States can take two courses of action to deal with Iraq: inspections or war. Paraphrasing former President Jimmy Carter, Krasno said war should be the last alternative.

“Deterrence and containment can work,” she said. “War or no war, those inspectors have to be there — [We] have to let them do their work.”

Krasno, who serves as executive director for the Academic Council on the U.N. System, said the international community must address the problems Hussein poses, even if not by going to war. She said the ceasefire that ended the Gulf War required Iraq to disarm.

“I do believe Saddam Hussein still possesses some of the weapons from the Gulf War,” Krasno said.

Lust-Okar agreed with her colleagues that Hussein should be overthrown, but said she hopes his regime will go with him.

The professors also addressed why the U.S. is finding itself hard-pressed to build international support for war with Iraq.

Lust-Okar said that while Russia, France and Germany recognize the value of going to war with Iraq, they are reacting to “U.S. hegemony.”

Directing the discussion to Israel, some students asked how the Iraqi-American standoff would affect the nation.

Hill said Iraq is interested in constructing a military regime capable of destroying Israel. The other panelists agreed.

“There’s a great potential for attacks against Israel by Iraq,” Lust-Okar said.

Comments