Volume 96, Issue 74
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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Ignorant armies: Sliding into war

By Anthony Lafratta
Gazette Staff

Gwynne Dyer, renowned military historian and journalist, whose columns are published in 45 countries, visited Western Friday afternoon and gave a speech at The Wave.

In his forthcoming book, entitled Ignorant Armies: Sliding into War in Iraq, Dyer tries to untangle the series of events which have sent the United States spiralling towards a possible war with Iraq.

"How did we get [to imminent war] from a standing start a year and half ago?" Dyer asked.

"It's surprising that only so few turn to extremism," Dyer said, adding the Arab world has turned into a disaster area in the past century.

According to Dyer, it makes logical sense within the devout Muslim framework for some to ask, "Why has God allowed such bad things to happen to us?" and reasonable for some to claim, "It is because we have turned away from God, abandoning our values for those of the West."

Dyer said al Qaeda uses terrorism in the hope that retaliation might mobilize Muslims to rise up against the West and result in a reversion to traditional values.

"But the U.S. didn't walk into the trap. I was astonished, but Bush had to whack somebody," Dyer said. He chose Afghanistan as his target, Dyer said, adding it was important to consider why Bush continued his crusade after the initial American success.

According to Dyer, Bush's popularity rating, which soared from 55 to 90 per cent after Sept. 11, could only last as long as the crisis, thus he had to round up the usual suspects to keep himself afloat for the mid-term elections. "So, [Bush] discovered a winning phrase to link Iraq to al Qaeda: the Axis of Evil," he added.

"Dyer's speech was well put together, making a very difficult political situation easy to understand," said Duane May, a masters candidate in geography.

"I think Dyer is well-informed, but I think that he did not respond to one topic that the public opinion of the whole world has been looking at, and that is oil. Perhaps he thought oil was going to be a non-dependable variable in his discourse," said Mireya Folch-Serra, a Western geopolitics professor. at Western.

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