Forum discusses foreign dangers
Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff gathered in Smith Union on Friday, February 21 to listen to "A Bowdoin Forum on International Affairs." The Forum, a question-and-answer session with a panel of Professors and students, addressed current U.S. foreign policy issues relating to North Korea and Iraq.
Melanie Keene '03, an editor of the Bowdoin Forum, organized the event in collaboration with her fellow staff members. According to Keene, "The mission [of the Bowdoin Forum] is to create a better understanding of international affairs in the student body." Bowdoin students, Keene observed, have an interest in world affairs, and would appreciate listening to expert and student perspectives on major issues. In response to her observations, Keene decided to organize the panel so students, faculty, and staff could exchange ideas in a civil and topical dialogue. According to Keene, "[the Bowdoin Forum] wanted a structured discussion, and an informative one."
The Forum staff approached Professors Lance Guo, Dov Waxman, and Christopher Potholm of the Government Department to speak as part of the panel. Keene felt that these faculty members would provide the greatest contributions, given their fields of expertise. Professor Potholm studies and teaches on conflict resolution and war, Professor Guo specializes in East Asian Politics, and Professor Waxman specializes in Middle-Eastern Affairs. The Forum staff also approached Todd Buell '03 of The Bowdoin Patriot and Drew Coffin of The Disorient to provide both a conservative and liberal student voice, respectively.
Several questions at the forum pertained to the world's growing opposition to war against Iraq and the Bush Administration's response. What could be the potential consequences, for example, of disregarding France and Germany's anti-war stance?
Waxman suggested that the Bush Administration was "its own worst enemy," with its "don't give a damn" attitude toward international resistance to an armed conflict with Iraq. Such a disregard of international opposition to U.S. foreign policy could completely alienate America from its most important allies. Potholm, however, supported the President's strong anti-Iraq stance, stating that in a post- 9/11 world, "It is better [for the United States] to be feared than loved."
Other questions were raised as to the affordability of war, the Bush Administration's commitment to rebuilding the Iraqi government, and whether control of Middle Eastern oil is the main incentive for war.
The response from the Bowdoin community to the panel was enthusiastic. According to panelist Buell, "The forum gave the Bowdoin Community the chance to come together and hear multiple perspectives on pressing topics of national and international concern. As a participant, I found it to be an engaging and educational experience, and judging from the turnout and the reaction, I think the majority of attendees found it to be so as well."