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Teach-In Tackles Threat of War

Education: Many of the 300 attending the Valley College event oppose a U.S.-led attack against Iraq.


The message coming out of a Wednesday teach-in discussion at Valley College on the possible use of U.S. military force against Iraq was unmistakably clear: War is not the answer.

About 300 students and faculty members gathered on the Valley Glen campus for a wide-ranging discussion on the Bush administration's effort to win foreign and domestic support for its plan to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and to force the removal of suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Leon Marzillier, president of the college's faculty association, convened the teach-in to give students and faculty members the opportunity to discuss the prospect of another war in the Persian Gulf and its potential impact on the nation and world. He was joined on the panel by history teacher Farrell Broslowsky and Associated Student Union President Samy Kbushyan.

By the end of the 90-minute session, however, it was clear that all of the panelists as well as several audience members were strongly opposed to a U.S.-led military strike.

"Ten years ago, when we were worried about the prospects of war in the Persian Gulf ... we were concerned about the fallout from that war," Broslowsky said. "I think that is what we are facing right now." Broslowsky challenged the audience to question elected officials about the timing and reasons for an attack on Iraq.

"What is the rationale for going to war now? What is the underlying policy? What is the potential fallout from this war? Why just before an election do we have to go to war?" Broslowsky asked. "On no level do I see a convincing case that this country should go to war now or in the foreseeable month ahead."

Marzillier, who said he was speaking for himself and not for faculty members, said the Bush administration was using a potential war with Iraq to divert attention from such domestic issues as corporate scandals, unemployment, health care, education and a flagging economy.

"It's oil, it's personal and it's a shield to take our focus off failed domestic policies," Marzillier said. "The pipedream that we can get rid of Saddam and bring democracy to Iraq is just that--a pipedream."

Student Glen Burns, a supporter of Bush's plan, said military intervention could prevent Hussein from building an arsenal of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. "I don't like war," he said, "but I believe we have to do something, and do it soon."

Another student, Cecil Ingram, said he was concerned about casualties. "Guess who's going to be on the front lines if we go to war?" he asked. "It's not going to be the Bush family, the Cheney family or the Condoleezza Rice family. It's going to be brown and black and poor whites who will be fighting for something they don't understand."

Karapet Torossian, treasurer of the Associated Student Union, tried to inject humor into the discussion by explaining why he didn't want the draft to be reinstated. "I don't want to go to Canada, because it's cold," he said.

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