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The Upper Cape Codder - Thursday, June 23, 2005
Forum is strongly anti-war
By Joe Burns/

Pragmatists, pacifists and activists engaged in dialogue and debate Saturday afternoon at the Morse Pond Middle School in Falmouth. The occasion was a regional forum on the Iraq war moderated by U. S. Rep. William Delahunt and attended by approximately 200 people, most if not all, opposed to the war.

Delahunt, who also served as a panelist for the 2 1/2-hour forum, was joined by Boston University Professor Andrew Bacevich, director for the Center for International Relations; and Husain Haqqani, a former adviser to Pakistan's prime minister and the author of "The New American Militarism." The message from all three was that the rationalization, implementation and continuation of the Iraq War is jeopardizing the security and credibility of the United States.

Bacevich quoted from a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan Congressional agency that determined that as a result of the war in Iraq "anti-Americanism is spreading, and deepening around the world ... weakening the United States' ability to align with other nations." It was a message that was delivered throughout the afternoon by all three speakers, who criticized the administration for calling the campaign an effort to bring democracy to the Middle East while it supports dictatorships in the region and elsewhere.

"We send mixed messages to the rest of the world when we talk about bringing democracy to the dark corners of this planet, where it doesn't exist ... and one of our partners in The Coalition of the Willing is Uzbekistan [which] is led by a Stalinist thug," said Delahunt. Delahunt pointed out that independent observers have recently accused the Uzbekistan government of massacring unarmed women and children last month in response to a protest by what the government describes as "Islamic fanatics." Delahunt said that The U.S. government's response to the charges was that "It's not an opportune time to probe into the massacre. "There is a lack of consistency when we speak of democracy but don't stand up for democracy. The world concludes we're hypocritical," Delahunt said.

Haqqani pointed out that unlike a conventional war, there is no country to defeat when fighting terrorism. "There won't be a settlement on the USS Missouri," Haqqani said, referring to the Japanese surrender at the close of WWII. "It can only be won by reducing the number of people willing to join the terrorist movement." This requires winning the hearts and minds of those who would otherwise be inclined to take up arms against us. Haqqani cited studies showing that the reserve [sic] is happening as a result of our Iraq invasion. He cited studies that showed that immediately after Sept. 11 support for the Unites States was high in predominately Muslim countries, but it plummeted rapidly at the start of the Iraq War. In Indonesia, for example, support went from 61 percent favorable to 16 percent, and in Nigeria there was a decline from 71 percent to 38 percent.

Their estimation of the Bush administration's policies was welcomed by the overwhelmingly anti-war audience as was Delahunt's observation that there has been a shift in the public's tolerance for the war. The audience, many of whom could very well have been part of the anti-war movement of the late '60s, were an outspoken and intelligent group whose views were often expressed with perception and passion. Among the most dramatic examples were comments from the audience by Nancy Lessin, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, who declared that because of the difficulty the military is having in meeting its recruitment quotas it is pressuring soldiers to re-enlist. She said that those not willing to re-enlist are being sent back to the front lines. Another dramatic moment came when Diane Turco of Harwich stood up to speak. Wearing a surgical glove painted red to represent blood. Turco asked all the taxpayers in the audience raise their hands, and immediately similarly clad hands shot up throughout the auditorium as Turco demanded an end to the war.

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