Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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U.S. pushing Iraqi war?

By Emmet Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

The State of the Union Address delivered by United States President George W. Bush Tuesday night was met with a variety of reactions from experts in the Western community, although most say they expect a war in Iraq and agree that Canada needs to make its position more clear.

"[There were] not really a lot of surprises," said Donald Abelson, a political science professor at Western, noting Bush's goal was to reassure Americans about the economy and lay the groundwork for a war with Iraq. "There's no doubt in my mind that the U.S. administration is heading to war with Iraq."

Abelson said the war's implications for Canada will be based upon what position the Canadian government takes, adding Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appears to favour multilateral action. "Should the U.S. decide to go ahead, it will look to Canada for support."

Huron University College political science professor Paul Nesbitt-Larking said Bush was the most articulate and passionate when he spoke about Iraq.

"I think Mr. Bush preached well to the converted and ineffectively to the people who need to be converted," Nesbitt-Larking said, adding he felt Bush used bombastic and clichéd language. "He touched upon the issues that he needed to sufficiently."

"If the Middle East is destabilized, the consequences for the entire international community are enormous," Nesbitt-Larking said.

"Canada finds itself in a challenging position," he explained, adding Canada is normally supportive of the U.S., but supports the United Nations too, creating tension. "That tension is expressed in the very deliberate ambiguity of the [Canadian] government."

Dennis Hudecki, a philosophy professor at Brescia University College, said he felt the speech was effective. "I thought the speech was [particularly] effective for gathering support for the war," he said, adding everyone who watched the address wanted to hear about Iraq.

Hudecki noted Bush did not point out all the difficulties that would be part of such a war, such as ensuring a peaceful transition to a new government in Iraq, while noting that questions surrounding the justification for war still remain.

"Canada couldn't be playing it worse," Hudecki said.

"For good or for bad, [if] Bush makes a more effective justification, it makes Canada look worse," he said. "I don't understand what [Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's] doing."

King's College political science professor William McKercher said he thought the speech was highly effective, adding it was what a lot of Americans wanted to hear.

"The United States are going to know who their friends are in a pinch," McKercher said, adding Chrétien has not made Canada's position clear.


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