Former Senator Gary Hart kicked off a major University-sponsored lecture series last night, calling for a careful response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Colorado democrat urged a crowd in Battell Chapel Tuesday night to learn from the horrific events instead of focusing solely on retaliation. Several other speakers from inside and outside of the Yale community will speak on Sunday nights in Battell Chapel on related subjects throughout the semester.
For Hart, the attacks were a time for reflection.
“This is a time for us to look to ourselves, our imagination and cultural values,” Hart said.
He went on to say that an immediate, fearful response would make the United States even more vulnerable than it is now, and thereby help the terrorists to achieve the goals they set out to attain. Americans should instead be focused on changing their way of thinking and reducing the spread of terror around the world, he said.
“This is a time to broaden concensus against the fountain of terrorism,” Hart said.
He encouraged the United States to see this as an opportunity to open its doors to other foreign powers that the country has disputed with in the past, such as Russia. Hart also said that Russia’s past experiences would be instrumental in helping America fight this “new, unconventional style of warfare.”
“Any military response should be limited to special operations,” Hart said, “targeting and going directly after only who they want.”
There was a mixed response in the audience to Hart’s critical view of the government’s actions.
“Hart brought up a lot of good points in terms of both assessing the situation and what should be done about it,” said Loy Whitman, a New Haven artist. “However, I felt that — like the rest of us — he’s got a lot of questions himself. It is simply too early for us to expect much else from our leaders.”
Adrian Hong ’05 said, “there’s no replacement for preparedness” and that the only way for the United States to move forward is by improving national security.
Yale professors organizing the series said Hart was a natural choice to begin the lecture on terrorism.
Hart and former Senator Warren Rudman wrote an extensive report in the spring on national security entitled “Seeking A National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom.” The report warned specifically against, “a direct attack on American citizens, on American soil.”
The series will continue on Oct. 14, the Sunday after the tercentennial celebration. Speakers in the future are likely to discuss such topics as Islamic culture, modern intelligence and the morality of retaliatory action.
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