Faculty speakers dissect U.S. military’s response

Camilla Leikvoll

The retaliatory aerial bombings of Afghanistan were inevitable after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, faculty speakers said Thursday at a panel discussion of this week’s military strikes.

About 60 students attended the three-professor discussion, “Constructing a U.S. Response: Challenges and Opportunities,” which discussed the nation’s answer to the terrorist attacks.

Associated Student Government President Jordan Heinz mediated the discussion between Assoc. Prof. William Reno and Asst. Prof. Karen Alter of the political science department, and Asst. Prof. Gueorgui Derluguian from the sociology and international studies departments during the 90-minute panel in McCormick Auditorium.

Derluguian said the United States acted admirably in light of the intense pressure the country faced following the attacks.

But Alter said the bombings were fueled greatly by public opinion, which pressured the Bush administration to act quickly.

In the long term, however, the American people’s desire for retribution may prove detrimental to international interests, Alter added.

The three professors agreed that they were skeptical of an extreme military response such as a worldwide war on terrorism.

They said bomb raids on other countries in the Middle East or Southeast Asia suspected of either supporting or holding terrorists would fail to strike at the root of the problem.

Extensive military action would be ineffective in such a hostile region because it would only strain the fragile relationship between the United States and the Middle East, Reno said.

Heinz concluded the discussion, saying that Northwestern students have not lashed out following the Sept. 11 attacks and Afghanistan bombings.

The NU community has taken precautions to prevent any catastrophes from occurring on campus during this time, according to panelists and students in the audience.

Many students said they shared most of the professors’ views regarding the recent military actions against Afghanistan.

Weinberg sophomore David Edelstein said he thought the speakers “had good, rational opinions,” but added that he believed the professors may have avoided certain issues so as not to offend Muslim students.

Mischa Gaus, a Medill senior, said the United States should have tried to take further diplomatic measures before taking military action that could result in the loss of civilian lives.

Alter argued that the bombings on Afghanistan “are not helping anything (because they are) a momentary honeymoon” in the wake of greater disagreements waiting to explode.

She said the United States should recognize that “there will always be an endless supply of terrorists.”