Teachers debate war on Iraq

Oct. 24, 2002, midnight | By Branden Buehler | 21 years, 1 month ago

Computer science teacher Dennis Heidler and US history teacher George Vlasits debated the issue of "war on Iraq" on Wednesday, October 23.

The debate was organized by new Blair club Republicans United, which is sponsored by Heidler, who took a pro-war stance in the debate. Vlasits, sponsor of Students for Global Responsibility, argued against war on Iraq.

The debate began at 3:15 in a packed room 314. The debate used a format that featured seven-minute opening statements from both speakers, three-minute rebuttals and a question-answer period.

Heidler started the debate by telling the audience he wanted to change their perspective on the issue. In his opening remarks he said that he did not encourage war without international support, but that he felt Iraq is a threat that might need to be eliminated. Heidler said that Saddam Hussein is a "scholar of Stalin" and that "Saddam dreams of a world in which the United States does not exist."

Vlasits said the United States should not engage in war with Iraq. He cited a lack of clear evidence connecting Iraq with terrorism, the lack of direct threat Iraq poses to the United States, the violation of the preemptive doctrine an invasion would cause, and the infringement of sovereignty that a regime change would result in as major reasons the United States should not go to war with Iraq.

In his rebuttal, Vlasits stated that a former UN chief weapon inspector for Iraq, Scott Ritter, claimed that weapons of mass destruction from Iraq were not a problem. Vlasits also said that Ritter asserted that Iraq lacked the infrastructure and facilities to develop serious weapons of mass destruction.

Heidler refuted Vlasits' contention that Iraq is not a threat. Heidler presented arguments that Ritter "is on the payroll of Iraq" and that the only way the United States can be completely knowledgeable of the threat Iraq presents is to be granted completely unrestricted weapons inspections.

The remaining portion of the debate was used to field questions from the audience. There was time for 11 questions, which ranged from queries about what the debaters thought about UN approval to parallels with the Cold War.

Both teachers agreed the debate was successful. Vlasits said that he was glad "most of the issues and ideas got out" and thought "people asked excellent questions."

Heidler also thought the output of ideas added a lot to the debate. "I believe that no matter what your viewpoint was, you got to clearly see the other viewpoint," he said.

Junior Gordon Su, co-founder of Republicans United, also considered the debate to be successful. "There was a huge turnout and I think that people got a rare opportunity to see both sides presented on the war on Iraq."

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Branden Buehler. Branden Buehler is a senior in the magnet program. When he is not doing schoolwork, work for Silver Chips Online, or swimming for the Blair swim team, he could possibly be found playing foosball or playing his guitar and recording songs in a futile attempt … More »

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