Georgetown College Republicans and Democrats traded political barbs in a spirited debate last night over whether or not the Iraq War has made the United States safer.

Republicans Jady Hsin (COL ’07), Katherine Boyle (COL ’08) and Csaba Rusznak (SFS ’07) argued the affirmative while Democrats Scott Zumwalt (COL ’06), Yashreeka Huq (SFS ’07) and Keenan Steiner (SFS ’07) argued against. Democrat Brett Clements (COL ’07) and Republican Jay Ennis (SFS ’07) moderated the debate.

Much of the debate focused on the potential threat posed by Saddam Hussein and the impact of the Iraq invasion on the war on terror.

Republicans discussed Hussein’s ties to terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and Hezbollah and his willingness to use chemical and biological weapons.

Hsin cited Hussein’s pledge to support the families of Palestinian suicide bombers that killed Israelis, eliciting anger from one side of the room and applause from other during when he said that Democrats ridicule and minimize the threat that Hussein had posed.

“They laugh with contempt and scorn at what we know is true,” he said.

Democrats called into question Hussein’s connection to al-Qaeda and portrayed the Iraq invasion as a diversion from the real threats of the war on terror.

“Saddam Hussein did not attack us on Sept. 11 – Osama bin Laden did,” Huq said. “Granted the fall of Saddam Hussein did benefit the citizens of Iraq, we still have not found Osama bin Laden.”

An audience member noted that Syria has more advanced chemical and biological weapons than Iraq and openly funds terrorist activities. He asked if the Republicans would advocate invading Syria or any other countries that possess weapons of mass destruction and have links to terrorism.

Rusznak replied that he would.

Democrats emphasized the damage that was done to American prestige when the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq without the support of the U.N. Security Council and given the vehement opposition of nations such as France, Germany and Russia.

Republicans responded, referencing the approximately 30 states in the Coalition of the Willing that supported the invasion from its start.

“What nations were not part of that coalition?” Hsin asked. “Three: France, Germany and Russia.”

Democrats then asked about the composition of that coalition. Ninety percent of the troops involved in ground combat in Iraq were from the United States, they said.

“Great Britain provided around 8,000 troops, then came a couple of countries with 2,000, then there were a bunch of countries like Togo,” Zumwalt said.

Zumwalt also mentioned that among that coalition were undemocratic nations like Uzbekistan.

“If you want to fight for democracy in Iraq, why do you have a country like Uzbekistan that advocates terror as part of that coalition,” he said.

The panelists also discussed the significance of public opinion concerning the war.

“Popular opinion does not necessarily coincide with the proper course of action,” Hsin said.

He said that in the years prior to the U.S. entrance into World Wars I and II, popular opinion was strongly opposed to war, yet few people today question whether or not the U.S. should have fought in those wars.

Loyal partisans attended the debate, which filled the room in St. Mary’s Hall.

Alex Andrus (COL ’06), chief-of-staff for the College Republicans, came away disappointed.

“It would have been a very interesting exchange if the two sides had spoken to each other rather than to their bases until their closing addresses,” he said. “No one came to the debate tonight with an open mind.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.