In an attempt to provide open dialogue on the war in Iraq and its aftermath, a panel of five UW-Madison faculty members addressed an overcrowded room of inquiring students and community members Monday.
David Morgan, professor of history and chair of the Middle East Studies program at UW-Madison, opened with a brief synopsis on the history of Iraq from its emergence in 1920 as a British invention, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the collapse of its minority rule last week.
In hopes of offering insight surrounding the impact of the war Michael Barnett, a professor of political science and director of the international studies major, said there will definitely be an impact on regional relations. He also said this marks the beginning of social rebellion followed by reform.
"Iraq will become the poster child for American occupation," Barnett said.
Two panel members focused on the media's representation of the war including the basic aims and fallacies of American media as well as the extreme differences between American media and Al Jazeera coverage.
Moneera al-Ghadeer, a professor of African languages and literature, outlined differences in war coverage. While American media hide the human face and repress bad images, al-Ghader provided a moving example of Al Jazeera's drive to provoke anger and challenge power with a disturbing, graphic news broadcast in which a severely wounded child is interviewed.
"[American] viewers will indulge in the phantasm that this war is not war," Ghadeer said.
Journalism and mass communication Professor Jack Mitchell explained the American media's pull to remain fair and balanced in their opinions while appealing to the American audience. Mitchell also highlighted new media developments including the addition of embedded troops and recent allegations of American media corporations attacking each other amidst war coverage.
Some students said they filled seats hoping to gain a better understanding of the war and stray from what they call biased and repetitive media coverage.
"I am trying to get a more varied perspective of the aftermath of the war," UW-Madison sophomore Jon Randolph said.
Surprised and frustrated by the lack of discussion on campus in past weeks, Reem Hilal, a UW-Madison graduate student, attended the forum to support necessary open dialogue on the war in Iraq.
"There was nobody talking about [the war] and it was very disturbing," Hilal said.
Following the hour-long panel discussion, audience members divided into breakout sessions of their choice in which faculty members gave further instruction and answered questions on a variety of topics including Turkish-Kurdish relations and the nature of protest and silence