Following President Bush’s speech Monday night advocating war with Iraq, many Harvard undergraduates and policy experts at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) said they remained largely unconvinced of the need to attack.
His speech comes during a week when Congress is debating a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq and the UN Security Council is considering its own resolution on Iraq. Mid-term elections are also a month away.
“Saddam Hussein must disarm himself—or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him,” Bush said in his nationally-televised speech to civic leaders in Cincinnati.
Many experts at the KSG said they were disappointed by Bush’s speech.
Sarah B. Sewall ’83, director of the Carr Center on Human Rights Policy Program, said Bush was not convincing.
“The president doesn’t understand this is a different international environment from that of which his father operated,” she said. “The repercussions of war are considered to be global and people have different attitudes about American leadership today.”
The main flaw with Bush’s plan is that there are other countries seeking to acquire nuclear and biological weapons, including ones that are against the United States, Sewall said.
“War is not a solution for it right now because it could be applied to a variety of different countries, which raises the questions of when you stop,” she said.
Dan Glickman, director of the Institute of Politics (IOP) and a former congressman, said military action will resolve the conflict but Bush’s speech was not what swayed him.
“It was a well-delivered speech, heavy on the rhetoric and fairly light on proof,” he said.
At Harvard, about 300 students, faculty and local activists gathered Monday in front of the Science Center at noon to protest a war against Iraq with a rally organized by the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice (HIPJ).
Timothy P. McCarthy ’93, a History and Literature lecturer who attended Monday’s protest, said he was disappointed with the speech.
He said many activists objected to a war because attacking Iraq would mean attacking a country full of innocent people, many of whom hate Saddam Hussein and even Bush.
“I’m far more concerned with what happens to Americans and Iraqis than with what happens to Bush and Saddam Hussein,” McCarthy said.
Despite the criticism from faculty, students had a range of responses to Bush’s speech.
“He laid out a very good, logical argument. Iraq doesn’t have to possess nuclear weapons to be a threat, they [already] have biological weapons,” Edward J. Walneck ’05 said.
However, Hasuk F. Song ’06 echoed the concerns of Glickman and Sewall, saying, “Bush is rushing into this. We’re not really prepared for this.”