Law professors debate war with Iraq

By on April 10, 2003

Students, faculty and guests gathered in the Grand Courtroom at the Quinnipiac University Law School to witness two professors debate about the war in Iraq. Professor Stephen Gilles argued his reasoning why going to war was a good idea. Professor Stephen Latham argued against going to war.

A member of Quinnipiac’s Peace Alliance Law Society, the organization that sponsored the event, began the debate. Addressing the audience, he stated that 70 percent of people in the United States support the war, while 25 to 30 percent oppose it.

Many people feel it is wrong to debate the war, he said. The United States troops are already fighting for the United States and we, as citizens, he said, should support them. Some feel a good war should be fought, he said, while a bad war should be stopped.

According to those involved in the debate, the question still remains: Is this war justified?

According to Professor Gilles, Saddam Hussein wants to be a dictator and dominate the country of Iraq and most of the Middle East. Saddam wants to control the oil in the Middle East, destroy Israel and weaken the countries in the west, the United States and Britain.

Gilles said that Saddam would attain these goals by using force. In reality, would Saddam achieve his goals?

He probably would achieve these goals if the United States did not use force, said Gilles. The United States should contain Saddam because he is a man that will never give up. He has already lied and cheated the United Nations inspectors.

Professor Gilles also addressed the issue that although September 11, 2001 and Al-Qaeda are not related, this could potentially be harmful to the United States. It is noted that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are rivals. Yet, they are fighting for the same cause, which is their hatred for America, Gilles said.

People believe Saddam will give access to Bin Laden of his scientists and their knowledge to build deadly weapons. The only way to protect the United States now and for future threats was by going to war, said Gilles.

“The only road to peace runs through Bagdad,” said Gilles.

Professor Stephen Latham’s counter-argument was that “the war is illegal under international law.”

According to article 51, the United Nations allows nations to fight if they are doing it under self-defense. While Iraq did not attack the United States, future threats were posed to the United States. Yet, Latham argues, that nothing had been done for the United States to attack Iraq with force.

Actions in self-defense under the international law are supposed to be proportional in threat. In this case it was not, Latham said.

There are many ways that the United States is justifying to the United Nations that the United States is acting in self-defense, said Latham, so they appear to not be doing something illegal.

One way the United States is trying to do this is to tie the war with Iraq to the event that happened on September 11. The two events have nothing to do with one another. Al-Qaeda attacked the United States, not Iraq, he said.

Many people are wondering what is next, said Latham. After the United States gets rid of the current regime, what regime will take its place? It could be one that favors our interests or it could not.

Latham said that it would have been beneficial if the United Nations inspectors could have inspected longer and further. His antiwar antics are based on his opinion that it would create a new threat to the United States by convincing the Arab world the United States is bad.

Latham said that they would look at the United States as doing “what it wants,” thus creating more terrorist action toward the United States.


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