Raymond Tanter, professor of political science at the University of Michigan, spoke about current U.S. foreign policy toward Iraq during a lecture in White Gravenor last Wednesday. The event, sponsored by College Republicans, drew an audience of approximately 30 students.

Tanter divided his 45-minute presentation into two parts, the first part focusing on the need to bring about what he called “rogue regime change” in Iraq, and the second part delineating the implications of such a regime change for the entire iddle East region.

Tanter began by laying out his argument for why a regime change in Iraq needs to be implemented immediately. He maintained that Iraq presents a “high threat” to the U.S. “Iraq has used chemical weapons in the past and can acquire a nuclear device within a year,” he said.

Second, he said that the U.S. is “not in the mood to be surprised again” as it was by the Sept. 11 attacks. “Saddam Hussein can provide nuclear weapons to Osama bin Laden,” Tanter said. “Some media pundits have argued that this is not likely since Saddam and bin Laden don’t like each other. However, both Saddam and bin Laden don’t like the U.S. In this case, the logic that prevails is that of `the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'”

Tanter then said that valid historical precedents exist for preemptive and preventive military action against a country, citing the Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956 and 1967. He argued that Israel attacked Egypt first to ensure that Egypt would not be able to attack Israel. “This worked out nicely for Israel,” he said. “The U.S. should therefore adopt the same strategy with regards to Iraq.”

Finally, Tanter said that there seems to be both a domestic and international consensus supporting a possible U.S. attack on Iraq. “No serious politician who wants to be elected will criticize the president for going after Saddam Hussein,” he stated. He cited the recent unanimous passing of a U.N. Security Council Resolution demanding that Iraq let arms inspectors in as evidence of a unified international will against Saddam.

Tanter then moved on to the second part of his presentation, where he speculated on the potential political effects of removing Saddam from the Middle East. “If you change the regime in Baghdad you will send shivers down [the] spine of other rogue states and plant the seeds of democratic peace in region,” he said. This will lead to stability in the region since “democracies don’t fight each other because people don’t like to get hurt,” he added.

“Rogue states fuel the flames of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” and their elimination is necessary for securing peace, he said. “Take down the risky countries and the rest will be tamed.”

Anticipating possible arguments questioning the necessity of attacking a Muslim country like Iraq during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Tanter said that the U.S. bombed Afghanistan last October during Ramadan, and the reaction in the uslim world was allegedly minimal. “The Muslim `street’ [a term used by the media and some scholars to denote Muslim popular opinion] does not exist. What exists is the uslim `basement’ where people from the `street’ get suppressed so they go underground and make bombs,” he said.

After his presentation, Tanter opened up the floor to questions from the audience. One student asked Tanter how he felt about the relationship of the United States with countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt. Tanter argued that this relationship grew out of the strategic necessities of Cold War era politics. “During the Cold War, the U.S. slept with dogs and woke up with fleas,” he said.

“The U.S. has to move away from supporting these so-called moderate regimes . Saudi Arabia isn’t a friendly country, neither is Egypt . 17 of the 19 hijackers of 9-11 were from these two countries,” he said. He then added that he would support ethnic profiling as a means to track potential attackers.

Finally, a third student asked Tanter to compare the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan last winter with a future U.S. campaign in Iraq. Tanter maintained that “Iraq will be easier than Afghanistan” since it has more “targetable assets.”

“All that you had to bomb in Afghanistan were caves,” he said. In addition, he said the U.S. is currently undertaking a campaign of psychological warfare by dropping leaflets over Iraq warning the Iraqi people that “if you fight, you die; if you give up, you live.”

In addition to teaching at Michigan, Tanter is also a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C., a conservative think-tank that is devoted to analyzing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and influencing it through scholarly research. In the past, he served on the National Security Council under the Regan administration.

College Republicans Communications Director David Benjamin (COL ’05) said, “the central goal of our organization in hosting tonight’s speaker was to represent another side of this issue that we feel has been under-represented on campus.” Benjamin is a HOYA staff writer.

He added that he felt that events like these were more educational than the events anti-war groups on campus have been holding, such as the recent die-in in Red Square. “Die-ins don’t teach anyone anything,” he said. “They just make the kids doing them feel important.”

Chairman of the College Republicans John Jett (SFS ’05) said that another motive for holding the event was to increase dialogue on campus. “Our organization is not pro-war. We are just in favor of keeping all options open,” he said.

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