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Campus forum: Chancellor Robert Berdahl

These are the introductory remarks delivered by Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl at a forum of UC Berkeley faculty experts convened at Zellerbach Hall on April 1, 2003, to discuss the war with Iraq.

Robert Berdahl
'Having an opinion, however, is not the same as having a closed mind. If we hear only ourselves, our dialogue is a monologue. It advances no ideas.'
—Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl
Good evening, everyone, and thank you for coming. Last night, as many of you know, the campus sponsored a war vigil, a spiritual and reflective “keeping of the watch.” We gathered to remember the plight of everyone caught in the combat zone, soldiers and civilians, Coalition and Iraqi, adult and children, all the sacred human lives touched by the war.

Tonight we move to the intellectual conversation. We have many experts with us tonight to consider aspects of the war situation.

A great deal of thought has gone into the events of last night and tonight, and into Berkeley’s ongoing dialogue on the war. I thank our special advisory committee for keeping us out in front on this. Thanks also to our hosts tonight, International and Area Studies and the Institute of International Studies.

This is part of our program to conduct a debate about the war. Our intent is to put as many ideas on the table as we can for an informed and thoughtful public discussion. This is a unique role universities can perform. Particularly here at Berkeley, the range of expertise we can bring to the discussion is broad and deep. With civility and tolerance and the protection of the liberties in the U.S., we can ask the hard questions even in the dark times.

Obviously we all have personal positions on this subject — as indeed do I, positions that I have expressed elsewhere.

Faculty experts
Read the story:
'UC Berkeley faculty analyze, criticize — and defend — Iraq war'

Watch the Webcast

Having an opinion, however, is not the same as having a closed mind. If we hear only ourselves, our dialogue is a monologue. It advances no ideas.

Some ask what is the importance of dialogue on this subject. We may already feel bombarded with information from multitudes of embedded reporters. But information is not wisdom. As you embed these reporters in the war, you may know LESS about the broad historical perspective, economic considerations, global implications and so forth. This is what we are here to discuss.

Political Science Professor David Leonard, dean of International and Area Studies, is moderator of our panel tonight. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1976 after serving on the faculties of universities in Nairobi and Tanzania. Over the years he has served as advisor to the United Nations Development Program, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development and others.

Q&A with audience
Read the complete remarks by:
Chancellor Berdahl
Nezar AlSayyad
Thomas G. Barnes
David D. Caron
Laura Nader
Steve Weber
Janet Yellen
David will introduce our seven panelists tonight. They will help us seek the answers to many important questions about this war.

Since I have the mic, I’m going to get my questions in first. Here are a few concerns I ponder and hope the panel will address:

  • Is this the first of many wars — a geopolitical move into controlling not only Iraq but other countries in the region too?
  • To what extent can peace in the Middle East be achieved without a Israel/Palestinian settlement?
  • To what extent will this war effort fuel more terrorism against Americans and others around the world?


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