For the second time in two weeks, a writer who has traveled to Iraq spoke at Kresge Auditorium calling for a change in U.S. foreign policy.
Christian Parenti, who contributes to the leftist magazine The Nation, lectured Tuesday on the war in Iraq and drew parallels to the rebuilding of New Orleans.
Parenti also offered strategies to rebuild both regions. His talk followed last week's appearance by freelance journalist Dahr Jamail, who told a packed crowd that conditions in Iraq are currently worse than they were under Saddam Hussein's regime.
Parenti said that the United States went to war with Iraq due to "the underlying structural necessities of the American empire." He said that the Bush administration is determined to obtain "as much power for the United States government on a planetary level as possible," an agenda in the best interest of specific politicians advocating corporate interests like oil.
Parenti said the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi freedom. He also alleged that the White House took advantage of America's fear after September 11 to convince them to support war.
As for parallels between Iraq and New Orleans, Parenti said that the current situations in both regions represent the failure of the Bush administration to respond properly to crises. According to Parenti, the administration's corporate interests have hampered the relief efforts in Iraq and New Orleans. Parenti said that both regions are still lacking law and order, electricity, and water. He attributed this to incompetence and the mismanagement of resources allocated for relief.
Parenti expressed the need for the Bush administration to shift its policies on both Iraq and New Orleans. He called on the government to immediately pull troops out of Iraq, admit defeat, pay reparations, and bring Iraq and its neighboring states to a peace conference so that they can discuss strategies for rebuilding the region and maintaining peace and stability.
Regarding New Orleans, Parenti suggested that the administration can alleviate the crisis by including all citizens of New Orleans in the rebuilding process, rather than allowing corporate interests to rebuild the city without consulting the public.
Event organizer Ben Kreider '05 of the Bowdoin Democratic Socialists praised the event as an opportunity for students to hear alternate viewpoints on the war.
"It is important for students to hear from someone who has been to Iraq several times what the actual conditions on the ground are like," Kreider said. "The White House and the Pentagon have done an excellent job of managing the information concerning the war to ensure that the public does not necessarily get the whole story."
This event was sponsored by the Bowdoin Democratic Socialists.