Calling themselves the "Foothill Coalition to Oppose the War," more than 400 students and friends gathered Feb.11, in the student union dining hall, to hear speakers discuss a U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The event was organized by Foothill's speech and debate team, with faculty speakers taking part in a question-and-answer period. The overwhelming opinion was that a war with Iraq was ill founded.
Using a formal parliamentary debate style, student Keegan Patterson spoke for the government, basing his argument on safety, democracy and the economy.
"Invading Iraq will make the world a safer place if we take action now. The people are oppressed in this part of the world, and democracy will flourish after the war," Patterson said. "Assuming control of Iraq will provide a positive effect on the U.S. economy by getting control of the oil fields and stabilizing gas prices."
As the leader of the opposition, student Van Roo received applause for his position when he took the podium.
"The evidence is shaky. No weapons have been found, and all it does is activate the terrorists," Roo said. "America is a militarist country, and we can't successfully promote democracy."
Roo asked, "Is it beneficial that innocent civilians will be killed so we can have cheaper gas?" He added that people around the world are developing an anti-American sentiment.
Roo said the consensus is that President Bush has long argued a U.S. invasion of Iraq is urgent and inevitable. But instead of gaining support for an attack, Bush is fighting an uphill battle against public opinion increasingly opposed to war.
Student Francesca Lattanzi, a speaker for the government position, reiterated that the main point is to make the world a safer place. "We have to take short-term risks for long-term safety," she said.
Debra Sun, speaking for the opposition, said that entering Iraq could bring on World War III. The risk would be terrible.
The opposition also maintained that Iraq's neighbors consider the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation of Palestine to be the chief threat to peace in the region, not Iraq. And no one has produced convincing evidence linking Iraq to al-Qaida.
Meredith Heiser, Foothill College political science professor, said in the long run the issue is much larger than Iraq. "Being against a war is not the answer, because problems in the region would remain," she said. "Iraq is just one example of a lot of issues."
Heiser commented that while the United States has armed, European nations have disarmed -- and that is a problem, along with the issue of North Korea, which is also unique.
"We don't have to act now, but in the next six to eight months we will," Heifer said. "Just being anti-war is not a position. I support the intervention, but in a larger package."
The Foothill Coalition to Oppose the War organized the anti-war effort with a 30-member student, staff and faculty group. At the entrance to the dining hall was a table for people to sign up with the coalition. There were additional tables displaying the group's anti-war position, as well as a contingent of "Raging Grannies" presenting an older anti-war view.