From: [Gary Sick]
Yesterday there was a "teach-in" at Columbia on the Iraq war. Several students have expressed surprise that it was so one-sided, a "political rally" as one put it.
It was. In the tradition of the 1960s and the anti-war movement, which was before the time of most CU students, there were lots of "teach-ins" at universities, which was a euphemism for an anti-war rally.
If you want more actual discussion of issues, a more dispassionate approach that is focused on information rather than emotion, there are alternatives.
Yesterday, before going to the teach-in and speaking myself, I attended two events of a quite different nature.
The Middle East Institute had one of its regular brown bag luncheons 1230-1400 in our conference room, 1118 in SIA, with Rachel Bronson. Rachel is a former CU student, now Director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a "reluctant hawk" who concluded that the only solution to the Iraq issue is military force. She spoke for half an hour about her concerns that the Bush administration has handled the situation very badly and thereby damaged what was an intellectually respectable case. There was a full hour of questions and answers -- very thoughtful, full of information, and not at all the kind of passionate rhetoric we heard last night.
At 5 yesterday was a speech by Nemir Kirdar, an expatriate Iraqi businessman, who argued that Iran cannot rid itself of Saddam and that the Iraqi people are quite capable of dealing with the aftermath of an invasion that he welcomed. Many in the audience asked probing, skeptical questions and may have gone away unpersuaded. But it is a legitimate point
of view from someone who was born and raised in Baghdad.
Both of these have been announced on this web site, and a lot of additional information is available on the MEI website at: http://sipa.columbia.edu/REGIONAL/mei/index.shtml
Check it out. It has more information than you might expect.
Undergraduates are most welcome to cross Amsterdam Ave and see what is happening at SIPA. For those who are really interested, there are sources of information and expertise that go beyond the level of the teach-in.
Tell your friends to sign up for the MEI listserv. Just contact Amjad at the "return-to" address above to get on the list.
Director, Middle East Institute