Debate team continues campus discussion on war in Iraq
The discussion on American military action in Iraq continued Wednesday night when the Bowdoin Debate team showcased their skills in an open debate in Morrell Lounge, Smith Union.
Organized in an ongoing effort by Bowdoin Student Government to create an open dialogue on campus concerning the recent events in Iraq, Professor Dov Waxman, of the government department, opened the night by pointing out what separated the debate team's discussion from others over the past few weeks. He said that it was important to "really consider both sides of the issue [in order] to encourage reasoned political discussion on campus." He also made sure to disclose that not all participants would be making arguments that agreed with their own personal opinions but that it is important to have the "ability to think and argue from a different point of view from one's own."
In front of a crowd numbering fewer than 20 students, debate team members Alli Rau '04 and Mark Krempley '06 argued for the government's actions while Dan Schuberth '06 and Fred Fedynyshyn '05 attempted to prove the validity of the anti-war argument. The event took the format of a standard debate beginning with arguments set forth by the pro-war side and followed by a rebuttal from its opposition. Each side then made one more argument before both presenting their conclusion.
In arguing for the government's actions Rau stated that three reasons: national and international security, humanitarian issues, and the failure of the United Nations, clearly presented sufficient reasoning for the United States to move forward militarily. During her speech Schuberth interjected with his side's views questioning why it was necessary that the United States take on this responsibility. Responding, Rau said the action was an act of "civil disobedience" that was absolutely necessary in the face of the threat that Iraq presented.
Fedynyshyn in his rebuttal of the pro-government arguments pointed out that there have yet to be any weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq and that although he is likely unstable, Saddam Hussein's mental well being is not a "real and legitimate threat." Regarding the argument put forth by the anti-war debaters that it is not right for the United States to impose democracy upon the Iraqi people, Krempley was quick to point out that without the intervention of France the United States would have likely lost its own war for independence.
To conclude the evening Professor Waxman and the debaters asked those in attendance to put aside their personal viewpoints and using only the arguments put forth at the event, to decide whether or not they agreed with the United States' actions in Iraq. In an overwhelming majority, the anti-war side emerged victorious.
Justin Kievits '06 positively summarized the event as he said it was,"very stimulating," while Sue Kim '05 was quick to point out that "debate is a great and important activity." Schuberth emphasized how important it is to consider both sides of the issue because it "helps fortify" one's own opinions. This was the final event in a long series of BSG sponsored activities over the past few weeks concerning the war in Iraq.