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November 14, 2002

Students packed a San Francisco State theater Wednesday afternoon to hear two Middle East experts argue against U.S. military action in Iraq.

James H. Noyes, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for defense, and Ayad al-Qazzaz, a Middle East expert at CSU Sacramento, said that war against Iraq would likely generate a plethora of complicated and dangerous problems -- a humanitarian crisis and factional fighting inside Iraq, regional instability, and increased popularity of radical Islam.

As an alternative to war, Noyes urged continued pressure on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein through weapons inspections and enforcement of no-fly zones. Al-Qazzaz, who predicted that war would cause grave suffering among the Iraqi people, recommended negotiation.

"I'll negotiate with the devil if it means saving lives," al-Qazzaz told the overflow crowd in the International Relations Briefing Theater in the HSS building.

Noyes, a researcher fellow at the Hoover Institution, said Iraqis would rejoice the toppling of Saddam Hussein. But once the euphoria subsided, the country would be thrown into disarray.

"There is, I'm afraid, going to be some revenge activity, some quasi civil war. Who's going to settle the disputes?" he asked.

The United States would be blamed for everything that went wrong during the long period of rebuilding that would follow a U.S. victory and anti-American hostility would become even more intense, Noyes said.

Al-Qazzaz said war would strengthen the appeal of popular Islam and result in more terrorist attacks against America. Already, he said, much of the Arab world is convinced that the Bush administration's war against terror is a poorly disguised war again Islam.

While President Bush tells the American people that he wants to get rid of Saddam Hussein because he is a terrorist threat, the real reasons behind a war would be U.S. desire to exert control over the Middle East, al-Qazzaz said.

Also speaking Wednesday were three of San Francisco State's most knowledgeable experts on terrorism and the Middle East -- David Fischer, the University's ambassador-in-residence; Dwight Simpson, who has taught courses on the Middle East for many years; and Maziar Behrooz, one of SFSU's two new Middle East scholars.

The event was part of SFSU's Year of Constructive Civil Discourse, which promotes the civil use of free speech on campus and understanding of complex issues facing the campus community.

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Last modified November 14, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs