INSIDE Chico State
0 September 25, 2003
Volume 34 Number 2
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
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CAPE Forum Decries U.S. Failures as Global Partner

Lamenting the loss of the global goodwill accorded the United States after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a panel of political science and economics professors painted a harsh portrait of U.S. global leadership and foreign policy on the second anniversary of the event.

"We have utterly wasted the goodwill of 9/11," declared political scientist Jim Jacob at the forum "America as Global Partner?" sponsored by the Center for Applied and Professional Ethics (CAPE). "We have become the focus of hostility and/or contempt for much of the world," he added.

Jacob blamed a combination of isolationism and anti-intellectualism for the shift in the world's perception of the United States. Isolationism was evidenced immediately after President Bush's inauguration, he said, when he began to unravel U.S. global cooperation. Jacob cited the U.S. opposition to the Kyoto convention on global warming, the nuclear test ban treaty, and the International Criminal Court, among other issues.

Jacob supported his charge of anti-intellectualism with the Bush administration's marginalization of Colin Powell and the Powell Doctrine. In Jacob's opinion, the Iraq war did not meet the doctrine's conditions: military action should be a last resort and only if there is a clear risk to national security; there must be strong public support; and there must be a clear exit strategy. However, Jacob did support the end of Saddam Hussein's regime. "There was evil in Iraq," he said. "We can rejoice in the overthrow of that regime without approving of the way the U.S. went about it."

Bill Stewart, Political Science, baldly stated, "Our foreign policy is based on killing people." He cited United States interference in Chile, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, just to assure "cheap labor and cheap resources." He emphasized, however, that it's not "we" who make these policies -- "not you and me and most American people" -- but the U.S. president and his administration.

Michael Perelman, Economics, concurred that the United States uses "heavy-handed efforts to manipulate foreign affairs." He said that the United States "has befriended tyrants and dictators" and "has a long record of overthrowing governments with inconvenient policies, sometimes covertly, now more openly." The reason, he said, is economics. It is a matter of "U.S. power fending off potential economic rivals, showing competitors it would be foolish to confront the U.S."

Tom LeBlanc, Graduate, International, and Sponsored Programs, offered a more positive view of the United States as a global partner. He urged more development and humanitarian assistance in health, education, agriculture, and trade. "I believe that we want to help other people live a better life," he stated. However, the United States needs to cooperate more with the world, he said. "Bush is doing too much on his own."

Jacob seconded and strengthened that opinion, saying that the United States "must avoid the temptation of unilateralism, isolationism, and arrogance" and return to working with the UN, NATO, and the nongovernmental organizations. "We may be the world's only superpower," he said, "but we are not the only country in the world."

Student response to such a severe assessment of their country's position in the global community included the plea: "What should we do? We feel helpless." LeBlanc's response was unequivocal: "Join the Peace Corps." Jacob urged, "Vote in 2004." Stewart advocated changing the electoral system. Perelman encouraged students to organize: "So many things are wrong in the world that it's easy to find three issues to organize around."

CAPE promotes ethical reflection about issues of concern within and outside the university. For information about other events in the fall 2003 series, contact CAPE Director Andrew Flescher, x5534.

Francine Gair

 

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