East-West forum explores
alternatives to war
against Saddam

By Rod Antone

About 100 people at a forum at the East-West Center on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus last night heard alternatives to taking Iraq by force.

Proposed solutions ranged from removing economic sanctions and indicting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by way of a U.N. tribunal, to using what was called "extended deterrence" -- using the threat of force.

"Extended deterrence is hard, it is long and it is expensive, and the outcome is terribly uncertain," warned guest speaker Richard Baker, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer and special assistant to the East-West Center president. "Nevertheless, I believe that would be a more desirable way to go."

The discussion panel -- titled "Iraq Crisis: What Are the Alternatives?" -- was held at the Hawaii Imin International Conference Center and included a question-and-answer period from the public.

The five-speaker panel included Baker; retired Gen. David Bramlett, of U.S. Army Forces Command; Farideh Farhi, UH adjunct professor of political science; Brien Hallett, UH assistant professor at the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace; and Majid Tehranian, director of the university's Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.

"Wars are motivated by two things," said Tehranian, "resources and greed."

"Would President Bush invade Iraq if Iraq had grown broccoli?" he asked.

Bramlett asked the crowd to consider three questions when deciding whether war is justified against Iraq: Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? Can terrorists gain access to these weapons? And will these terrorists use or attempt to use these weapons against the United States or its interests overseas?

"Ask yourself to what degree can you answer yes to those three questions," Bramlett said. "Assessing the situation we face now, we must include force as an immediate and necessary option. ... Time, frankly, is not on our side."

Others argued that the clock has been ticking since Sept. 11, 2001, and that the terrorist attacks then provided the president with an excuse, not a reason, to wage a war that began when his father was in the White House.

"It's all a red herring," said Hallett. "It creates confusion."

"The only way I can make sense of the last year or two ... is to go back to Sept. 10 (2001) and figure out what the geopolitical problem was then."

Farhi said a ground war would hurt the Iraqi people more than it would Saddam, and suggested going after him by way of a U.N. tribunal because of his crimes against basic human rights.

Otherwise, she warned, advocating a regime change does not give the present regime an incentive to get rid of all its weapons.

"While toppling Saddam might be a good policy, one cannot expect him to make it easier by disarming," she said.

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