Last quarter, the UCSB Legislative Council passed a resolution in opposition of war against Iraq with an overwhelming majority; however, two weeks ago, the same council passed a resolution in support of the troops with the same success without reinstating our position on the war. However, I am not writing this article just to express our views on the war or to show our gratitude toward our men and women in service. I am writing as a representative of the student body to open up the debate on this issue so that we can constructively express our views on an issue that might be one of the most important issues facing our world during our time here at UCSB.
Although the events that have occurred over the past few weeks with the swift success in capturing Baghdad and the fall of the Hussein regime could change doubters of this war into supporters, I still think there are larger problems that need to be address. I am especially concerned with issues on further terrorist attacks and national security. It seems like we are all rallying around the triumph of this war and forgetting about the initial objective, which was to deter terrorism and to destroy the threat of Iraq in using weapons of mass destruction against us. I was also wondering how the president plans to fight terrorism by invading and occupying a country in a region that already hates American intrusion?
It seems that the war would only anger the Arab world more and lead to more possible retaliations by terrorist groups. Currently, Abu Dhabi TV, quoting official Iraqi sources, reported that 1,252 Iraqi civilians have been killed and 5,103 wounded. Although these numbers are not reliable, we can definitely see the toll of damage that the U.S. and British coalition has done on the Iraqi people. While the media has shown Iraqis celebrating their liberation and the fall of the Hussein regime, it does not account for the lawlessness and disorder that the Iraqi people now face. Valuable historical artifacts has been looted and the continued presence of American troops inside Iraq will only lead to further humiliation of the Iraqi nation and the possibility of retaliation and attacks by Iraqis against Americans.
I also want to stress the importance of the U.S. to bear full responsibility in rebuilding Iraq and to provide it with stability and order; it is also important that the Iraqi people reestablish a strong national identity and to maintain sovereignty over their own land. The U.S. once spent billions of dollars rebuilding aggressor nations such as Germany and Japan – nations which provoked the U.S. first. It would be irresponsible and unfair to the Iraqi people if the U.S. doesn’t act the same on Iraq, since it was the U.S. that initiated this war.
I will end by addressing my deep appreciation for our troops for putting their lives on their line to protect us. May those brave souls return home soon so they can reunite with their families and loved ones. Finally, I thank everyone who came out to the forum on Monday, which addressed issues including post-war Iraq and U.S. foreign policy.
Edward Yan is an on-campus representative on the Legislative Council and a senior political science major.