Middle East studies in the News
Speaker blasts Iraq war policy
by Ravenn Moore
Rashid Khalidi rendered a candid lecture on the war in Iraq to Earlham College students Wednesday.
"No electricity, no fuel, no medicine, now sewage," Khalidi said about the plight facing Iraqis. "The country is in a state of anarchy and chaos."
Khalidi, a Middle East historian, said he does not think democracy or concern for human rights was the cause of the war, because American diplomats would not have dealt with deposed dictator Saddam Hussein in the past.
Khalidi said oil was a reason for the war, because President George W. Bush's administration is no stranger to the oil business. However, Khalidi believes the primary factor was strategic -- to create a change with how the United States relates to the world.
"Iraq was easy prey, but the (Bush administration's) lies fell apart," Khalidi said. "Iraq was governed by one of the worst administrations in the world, but there are problems with the government in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and (other places, too)."
Khalidi, an Arab Studies professor at Columbia University, said the Bush administration failed to get expert advice from those who knew Middle East history before embarking on a lose-lose situation.
"(The United States) should leave, how and when is the problem," he said. "It's either quick and painful or slow and much more painful.
"The situation is not going to be good. but the United States staying there will exacerbate the situation. The Iraqis are going to have to figure this out."
The bitterness between different Iraqi communities has intensified since the U.S.-led war. Artifacts of early civilizations have been stolen and destroyed, issues previously nonexistent have emerged and a civil war is possible, Khalidi said.
Earlham freshman Rachel John said Khalidi gave students a vista on Middle East issues previously concealed by American intelligence.
"Almost all people speak on U.S. foreign policy, but we get so little press from the Middle East," John said. "(His lecture) puts into perspective how horrible U.S. actions are in the Middle East compared to European colonialism."
Khalidi said the United States is trying to reconfigure the Middle East with Western standards in an effort that Britain and France discovered long ago could not be pursued "without paying an exorbitant price."
"He was very objectionable, balanced, not biased," Earlham freshman Bilal Elmawla said. "He provided us with proof, facts, quotes and citations -- that's the best thing."
Khulood Kittaneh, Arabic professor at Earlham, said Khalidi gave students -- especially American students -- credible information proving how most U.S. reports on the war in Iraq are tantalized.
"Generally, we always talk with emotion, and we don't tend to use years and facts," Kittaneh said. "I think Americans are more rational, so they (need to) hear facts historically everyone around the world trusts."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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