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Student Strike

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So, the Stony Brook coalition against war is at it again. They want to (as part of a national student strike) hold a "teach-in" to protest the upcoming war. I don't think it's much of a strike when held during campus life time, when undergraduate classes are forbidden from being scheduled. But, I guess that's why I'm too busy learning to participate in a student strike.

Anyway, I thought I would look at their rationale for cutting class, and address it point-by-point.

The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC) calls upon students on campuses across the United States to join us in a one-day student strike on March 5th, 2003.

I call upon students to attend class and study hard that day.

As students and youth, our futures will be shaped by the actions that the Bush administration takes today.

This is quite true. How the elected leadership of the United States behaves will affect all of our lives for years to come. If we allow the social forces that support terror to flourish in the Arab world, we'll be victimized by an increasing number of terror attacks.

On the other hand, if we act to bring freedom and democracy to the middle east, we stand a chance of ending this. We'll be able to live in freedom and safety, and so will everyone else.

A US attack on Iraq will inevitably:

  • Endanger the lives of US servicemen and women

This is true, and this is one of the better arguments against the war. But, I think this war is necessary, as I don't think Saddam Hussein will go away. I think an attack soon, while Saddam is still weak, will be better than one later, after he has developed nuclear weapons.

In this case, the dangers of war are outweighed by the dangers of inaction.

  • Increase the suffering of the Iraqi people while slaughtering thousands of innocent people

In a recent National Review Online article, Assos Hardi, an Iraqi journalist is quoted as saying: "How many people do you think will die if America attacks Saddam? It will probably be less that the number of people he kills in a single month."

The Iraqi people are already suffering under the rule of Saddam. A US-led attack would probably kill more in the short term, especially since Saddam uses civilians as human shields. The US will try to minimize casualties. But Saddam has killed over 200,000 since the end of the Gulf War. To end the suffering of the Iraqi people, that needs to be stopped.

  • Encourage terror attacks against the US around the world and at home

I'd rather have terrorist attacks now, on our timetable, then later on theirs. That being said, I'm not sure if this is true. There wasn't a wave of terror associated with the Afghanistan campaign. I don't think the terrorists are capable of that many attacks, and so I think that an attack associated with an Iraq war is simply an attack that doesn't occur later.

I also think that it's worth accepting some risk now to drive the risk in the future down to zero.

  • Be used as an excuse to erode civil liberties

Who's using the upcoming war as an excuse? I'm not a big fan of the Patriot acts, but I haven't seen Iraq used as a justification. People flying airplanes into skyscrapers seems to be the most frequently given reason, and that's not something that allowing Saddam to stay in power will change.

  • Divert resources from education and social services

Over the past few weeks, people have been complaining that the President's budget doesn't include the cost of a war. I don't think that if we were to decide against liberating the Iraqi people, the money would be instead spent on other things. I'd expect it to simply disappear, with no money being borrowed to pay for the war.

  • Subvert historical precedent and international law

What historical precedent? The failure of the League of Nations? The appeasement of Germany before World War II? We want to learn from history, not repeat it.

What international law? The US position is backed by more than a dozen UN security council resolutions. If those have meaning, then international law is on our side. If not, then international law is a farce to be ignored.

As students and youth, the future of this country, we are disturbed by the lack of attention paid to the real needs of Americans, especially education. Financial aid opportunities and family income are rapidly losing ground to the rising cost of higher education. Low-income families are facing decreasing access to education. Student debt is increasing. All while the US military budget steadily increases (12% from 2000 to 2002.


Between 2001 and 2003, the amount of money spent on education, employment, and social services increased from 57 billion to 86 billion dollars, an increase of over 50%. In the same time period, the military budget increased by only 23%. This is while the US has been fighting a war.

We say NO! to this war of terror to increase American power and take control of strategic oil supplies.

In America, you can say whatever you want. I'd rather increase American power than that of Saddam, and I'd rather give the oil supplies to the Iraqi people then to leave them in the hands of a man that will use their wealth to build palaces and weapons, rather than buying food for his own people.

But that's just my opinion. In America, we're free to disagree. Unlike Iraq.

Update: Jared comments.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-03-03 10:32

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