Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Speaker discusses U.S. policy in war against terrorism

A robust, firm military strategy is needed to dismantle terrorist organizations, a former chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee told about 150 students, faculty and Evanston residents in Harris Hall’s Accenture Forum on Thursday night as part of the annual Leopold Lectureship.

But Lee H. Hamilton was quick to point out during his speech on the current challenges of U.S. foreign policy that “it is impossible to eliminate terrorism.”

Hamilton, who is the current director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, emphasized the need for a global coalition against terrorism to incorporate moderate Arab states, a challenging task.

One potential problem is whether Arab states will ask the United States to support them instead of Israel, Hamilton said. Nations also may try to “piggyback” onto the coalition, joining the alliance for ulterior motives.

Hamilton cited Pakistan and Russia as examples, suggesting that Pakistan might join the coalition to help it receive loans from the International Monetary Fund and that Russia could join hoping to gain U.S. support for Russia’s ongoing troubles in Chechnya.

Drawing from his experience on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Hamilton said U.S. vulnerability comes from spying on nations instead of terrorist groups and relying on high-tech methods instead of human intelligence.

Hamilton also explained his view of the reasons behind terrorists’ animosity toward the United States. He mentioned the perception of the United States as being hypocritical for supporting authoritarian regimes yet constantly preaching democracy. Moreover, the Arab fundamentalists resent U.S. support for Israel, he said.

“Freedom is the shining vision of America,” Hamilton said. “We must not let it erode. We have to take this day of tragedy and turn it into victory.”

The former Democratic representative from Indiana drew parallels between the current war against terrorism and the Cold War, saying that this war not only involves the military, but also diplomats, postal workers and bankers.

This will be a long, tough war against the Taliban, Hamilton said, calling the Taliban regime a “very patient opponent.”

Hamilton praised President Bush’s role in the “defining moment” of his presidency. Bush not only has brushed aside partisanship but has reached out to Russia and China, Hamilton said.

Medill sophomore Brian Yeado agreed with Hamilton’s view of the president’s performance thus far and said he enjoyed the speech because of the speaker’s point of view.

“President Bush is doing the right thing to protect this country,” Yeado said. “The congressman’s experiences on the committee allowed me to hear from a Washington perspective.”

But Brian Miller, a Weinberg sophomore, disagreed with Hamilton’s views on Bush.

“He has not truly been challenged,” Miller said. “His challenge is to be a diplomat. Until then, I question his ability.”

Tom Buess, a Northwestern alumnus, agreed with Hamilton’s assertion that building a strong coalition is a necessary but difficult task.

“This coalition will hold temporarily,” Buess said. “Then it will reform and some people will drop out.”

Medill sophomore Samuel King said he found Hamilton’s perspective unique among many campus speakers on similar topics.

“His speech was very informative in the sense that the decisions he made in his committee 10 years ago are decisions that are still being made today, ” King said.

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Speaker discusses U.S. policy in war against terrorism