The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Thus spake Kissinger

These United States
 Thus spake Kissinger
Thus spake Kissinger

Thus spake Kissinger

By the time you read this, it will be more than a week after the appearance of one of the 20th century’s most destructive American policy makers at our fair campus. It was marked by a moderate protest attended by two of our own. It is because I was with them in spirit that I decided to get my body down to the actual event for about four and a half hours of intense discussion.

Fortunately I managed to score a ticket to this standing room only affair from Moumita Rahman of Amnesty International, whose simulated jail will be coming to the flagpole again next week. I did not manage to get my hands on a program, however, so if proper credit is not given to those who brought a war criminal to speak to us on ethics, I apologize.

But like I said, it was nearly five hours long, and the “good doktor” didn’t speak for all of that time. Charles Curran, a decent fellow, got the ball rolling with a theological perspective on the war in Afghanistan, warning us from the excesses of previous wars. He was followed by Albert Pierce, who asserted the need to observe both strategy and ethics. His idea of a five-front war includes the kind of economic and political restrictions on freedom that Kissinger himself would be subject to under equal justice. Both speakers believed that if things continue as they are, we will have achieved victory for both security and morality. When I asked Mr. Pierce if he felt that the civilian deaths we are being allowed to know about with current restrictions on the press fall under this definition of a moral victory, he returned to earlier remarks asserting that so long as those deaths were not deliberate, then we’re doing just fine. I suppose Afghan moderates must agree with our ethics when we expect “I didn’t mean to” to be an adequate apology.

The second panel was introduced by Professor James Hollifield, one of the best educators SMU has to offer, and included Stephen Krasner and Joseph Nye. Nye is the current dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the author of several books on international relations that are informed by his own experiences in the State Department. Krasner is currently active in the State Department, a former student of Nye’s, and a complete bastard. On the one hand, he believes that our strategic missile technology is allowing us to make more precise strikes without civilian casualties. On the other, he believes that our long-range strike capabilities make arguments for avoiding those casualties “incoherent” and untenable. Further choice quotes from him include “News has to be managed,” so you’ll excuse me if this journalist prefers to manage Krasner out of the discourse. Nye didn’t back down from attacking Krasner’s own position with evidence gleaned from history and current events, but like the rest of the speakers, he believes our response has been proportionate. He went so far as to include the possibility of future threats (Read: Afghan children) to our security as justification for the strikes.

Each Q&A that followed panels were charged with informed curiosity. One student even managed to catch Nye off his guard with a question involving the necessity of dissent and its relationship to the doctrine of Just War. It was hard to find a student there who wasn’t doing his school proud on that day, with the remote exception of the gentleman who sat near me for the keynote address in his nice suit and nametag doing a crossword puzzle while Kissinger spoke.

Of course Kissinger himself had not done much even during those last few hours, let alone the last 40 years, to merit the kind of respect he was accorded. During the last panel discussion, he picked his nose as Father J. Bryan Hehir bravely defended the precedents set by figures like Christ and Gandhi for peaceful change. No one really wanted to hear the priest remind them how little we’ve changed since the world got its first hearty helping of genocide all throughout the 20th century.

As for Kissinger himself, he feels that statesmen must act “as if they were right,” without any guarantee that they are. How he reconciles this with his hero Prince Metternich’s belief in using “patience as a weapon” I’ll never know. He defends the use of overwhelming force as one of many tools to achieve every objective on your list. I typically associate being a statesman with the art of compromise, not unilateral demands from the world for those things you want. Unless you’re a terrorist, of course.

According to him, we can only know in hindsight whether statesmen have done the right thing. In his case, we cannot know that or learn from it since his documents have been sealed by the Supreme Court until 30 years after his death. Between him and Krasner, there was a lot of talk about returning to a political model of the world exemplified by England and Rome, with America the seat of all power. Forget sovereignty, they say, let’s have eagle standards and gladiators.

After the keynote, he dismissed a question that connected exactly that kind of imperialism as the source of all these “failed states” that we’re so angry with. My own question, pointedly asking whether collective security can be achieved without a system of equal justice, was also dismissed with some embarrassed mumblings about Bush’s talent for building coalitions. He knows he would be subject to charges under any kind of equal-justice measures. His movements both within and outside these United States suggest as much, considering his refusal to attend an engagement at UT-Austin when its protest proved much larger than our own.

He had a great deal to say, most of which I’ve had to unfairly abbreviate. Neither can I list every reason for my distrust of this criminal, having already tried in an earlier column. Besides, when put through the ringer of what we know of his history, we can dismiss much of his address in the same way he chose to deal with our questions.

That and I believe I must use a portion of my column this week to apologize for something said last week. Though I stand behind my comments on Skilling, I unfairly and unjustly included all of the Beta house in my sweeping judgment. I’ve been exposed to some genuinely honorable elements within that house recently that do not deserve the kind of smear I leveled against them, and I chose to make this apology on my own without their suggestion or encouragement. They and the rest of you can still reach me at (214)-768-5314 or [email protected] to talk about these and other concerns.

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