50th Edition, Global Education

South students respond to the Persian Gulf Crisis

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Jennifer Heyman,
Volume 30
December 21, 1990

Before August 2, 1990, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was only a topic for World History students at South. But the world has changed tremendously in the last year, and out of the birthplace of Western Civilization comes a new enemy. Students at South are not talking about Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, but about Saddam Hussein and the Persian Gulf Crisis.
Opinions at Newton South have proven to be a microcosm of national opinion. The views expressed run the gamut from absolute isolationism, to favoring cautious negotiation, to advocating immediate confrontation. While there is no consensus, clearly the topic is on everyone’s mind.
History teacher Cary Holmes is distressed by our nation’s reasons for getting involved in the Mideast. “If this is being done just for oil and protecting the government’s selfish interests, then these are shallow reasons. I’d like to think this is being done for moral values,” he said.
Holmes hopes that the situation will be resolved peacefully. “I’d like to see the nations of the world work together, but that takes a lot of patience, and patience is in short supply in a media-saturated society such as ours.”
Foreign language department head Claire Jackson agrees with Holmes’ contention that the United States’ foreign policy in the Mideast should be based on patience.
“What has become clear to me is that while Saddam Hussein is mad, he is also incredibly ingenious and intelligent. It seems to me that he has strategized each step of this confict in such a way that is has been difficult for Americans to achieve consensus on the issue of patience versus non-patience. I hope we’re patient,” Jackson said.
Senior Stephanie White’s desire to see this situation settled without our country going to war stems from reasons close to home. “I have a cousin who is in the Gulf, so of course I want the situation to resolve peacefully,” White said.
Music teacher Gordon Duckel is not only opposed to war, but opposed  to the build up of American troops. “Basically I don’t think we have any business there. I’m not sure the United States is the preserver of the universe.”
Duckel is opposed to the United States’ involvement for economic reasons as well. “We’re spending billions of dollars a month [on Desert Shield] while people are starving to death on the streets,” he said.
Holmes, however, does not consider the Middle East crisis anything to laugh at. “It is a tragedy because we could not prevent this incedent before it occurred. There was nothing any country could do until after it had happened. No one could read Saddam Hussein’s mind,” she said.
History teacher Dr. Edward Jackson believes the U.S. could have been more prepared for Hussein’s invasion of Iraq even without the ability to read minds. “Why didn’t our intelligence know what was going on? Why were we unprepared? Why didn’t we listen to the Israelis?…[They] have been warning us about Hussein for years,” Jackson said.
Duckel also believes that this crisis may been prevented had the United States been more responsible in the past. “I feel the United States should have done something in the seventies about the oil crisis. If American cars ran thirty miles per gallon of gas, we wouldn’t need foreign oil,” Duckel said. “I haven’t been able to figure out why, other than greed, the U.S. never worked to produce quality cars with better gas mileage.”
Junior Anne Kimball pins much of the blame for the Gulf situation on President George Bush. “I think Bush is being much too hawkish about the whole thing. We should try to be as non-aggressive as possible and monitor the reactions of the other European nations [who are] our allies.”
Sophomore Christopher Riely is also dissatisfied with the way Bush has handled the situation. “I think Bush has to take a firm stand on the matter for the U.S. to gain anything. He’s drifted from an aggressive position to a conservative position,” Riely said. “I think Bush is attempting to warn Hussein that if he doesn’t compromise, we will declare war. If we do conduct war, it should be succinct and orderly, unlike the mess we had when Bush was trying to capture Noriega.”
English teacher Ernest Chamberlain advises more aggressive tactics in the Mideast. “I’m usually not a war-monger, but I think we should get it over with. It’s a matter of practicality. We have all those people over there,” Chamberlain said. He does not believe that Iraqis pose a real threat to the American troops. “I don’t think they’re real fighters.
Senior Evan Pisick agrees:  “I believe that we should just go over there and bomb Iraq. What’s the point of having troops over there if they aren’t going to do anything? This way we can bring the troops home for Christmas.”

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