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2002-12-05

Students Confront New School University President Bob Kerrey Over His Role in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and Demand Resignation

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The war hawks in Washington are ratcheting up their campaign to build public support for its war on Iraq. At a time when polls suggest a decline in public enthusiasm for a war on Iraq, a new group has formed.

It’s called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. And its goal is to replace the government of Iraq with one more in keeping with US geopolitical interests‹by any means necessary.

The group has close ties to vice president Dick Cheney, war secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the next Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott. Its members include former secretary of state George Schultz, Senator John McCain, and former senator Bob Kerrey.

Jim Lobe writes in this month’s Foreign Policy in Focus Report that the Committee’s president is Randy Scheunemann, Lott’s former chief national-security adviser who last year worked in Rumsfeld’s office as a consultant on Iraq policy.

The chairman of the new Committee, Bruce Jackson, is a former vice president of Lockheed Martin who chaired the Republican Party Platform’s subcommittee for National Security and Foreign Policy when Bush ran for president in 2000. Jackson also served as chairman of the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, which spearheaded a so-called "citizen’s" campaign to persuade Congress to ratify NATO’s eastward expansion in 1998. Jackson resigned from Lockheed earlier this year to, in his words, "pursue democracy building projects full-time."

Lobe continues, the new Committee on Iraq appears to be a spin-off from the Project for a New American Century, a front group consisting mainly of neoconservative Jews and heavy-hitters from the Christian Right whose public recommendations on fighting President George W. Bush’s "war against terrorism" and alignment with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the second intifada have anticipated to a remarkable degree the administration’s policy course.

Committee member and former senator Bob Kerrey has publicly called for "regime change" in Iraq. But he wears more than one hat. Kerrey is also the president of New School University in New York.

Students at the New School are furious that their president is using his position as university president to publicly support a war they feel misrepresents the values and traditions of their school.

The New School University, formerly known as the New School for Social Research, was founded on the pacifist principles of Charles Beard and James Harvey Robinson. They left Columbia University when Columbia fired two other professors because they opposed the entry of the U.S. into WWI.

Just two weeks ago, the students called for a meeting with their university president. When Kerrey did not respond, the students stormed into his office and demanded that a public forum be held. Students claimed that Kerrey lost his temper and cursed at them, but finally agreed to the forum.

The public forum at the New School University was held yesterday.

Students representatives Colin Walsh and Ann Kirkham debated Bob Kerrey and called for his resignation. Kerrey was also joined by Mustapha Tlili of the World Policy Institute who spoke in his defense. At the forum, each panel member was allowed eight minutes to make their speech. University president and former senator Bob Kerrey spoke first.

Tape:

  • Public forum at New School University, 12/04/02, with New School University President and former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute Mustapha Tlili, graduate student of political science Anne Kirkham, and undergraduate student Colin Walsh.

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