April 07, 2004

War and Peace

I attended the Stockdale Lecture at the University of San Diego last evening. First time I've been gone.

Joe Galloway was the invited lecturer this year. You may remember his name from the book We Were Soldiers Once, and Young" which became a major motion picture with Mel Gibson et al a few years back. Galloway, now 62, is the senior military writer for Knight Ridder, and is based in Washington, DC.

I was unprepared for the evening's lecture being attended by hundreds of ROTC students from UCSD, USD, SDSU, and Point Loma Nazarene, plus many decorated military officers and dignitaries. Luckily about a third of the audience was like me, just folks from the local San Diego area.

Forgot how funny university administrators can be in terms of protocol. There were five handcarved wooden chairs on the stage, each chair fit for royalty. Each chair was there for one of the persons involved in opening or closing the lecture ceremony. First, we had the VP/Provost, who introduced everyone and then introduced the President of the University of San Diego, a woman who was sitting in her chair, her left elbow on the chair's armrest, her forearm extended upwards to hold up her head as if she was bored. She came to the podium, made some brief remarks, including marveling at the ROTC students in front of her, noting how they were all great scholars, great athletes, working on "improving the human condition, and learning about national security." Um, ok.

The President then introduced Dr. Larry Hinman, head of USD's Ethics Institute, who made his own brief remarks before he introduced Joe Galloway hiimself.

Galloway's lecture was simple and to the point, briefer than I expected. In two words: War sucks.

"I hate war," Galloway told the audience. "I know war as intimately as anyone can, and I hate it." He was born a few weeks before the strike on Pearl Harbor, and was five years old before he met his father or any of his uncles (they were all off to war). His entire life, he says, has been "wrapped up in America's wars."

He defined war as the result of "failed political and diplomatic leadership."

He was all for fighting the war on terror, however, he expected it will be with us for a long time: "We will be fighting the war on terror possibly as long as the lifetime of the youngest person in this audience."

As for the Iraq situation, he had nothing positive to say: "We have clutched the tar baby to our bosom." Like so many others, his argument is basically that Iraq is a sideshow and has nothing to do with ending terrorism, and everything to do with promulgating it.

During the Question-and-Answer segment after the lecture, he was asked what he would be the first thing he would do if he were elected President this November. He said, "Develop an exit strategy for Iraq." He said the past two or three days "are frightening in the extreme."

I should add that an underlying theme of his entire talk was the importance of education: educating everyone, not just American kids, but kids worldwide. As long as there is hunger and hopelessness there will be no peace in the world, he argues, and education is key to ending hunger and hopelessness. Posted by brian at April 7, 2004 02:10 PM

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