The group's nine officers, each of whom specializes in a specific part of the world, began the event by presenting information on reactions from their areas of expertise.
Tom Fritzsche '03, who focuses on North America, characterized the American response as composed of "two basic divisions": security issues and military strategy. He explained that the government has been vague about its plans but suggested that one point of contention may be a 1970s executive order banning assassinations of political leaders. Regardless of whether the order is overturned, Fritzsche said, "[The U.S.] might target Osama bin Laden anyway and ignore that, because I don't know if anyone would object."
Several of the panelists emphasized the show of support from foreign leaders, many of whom have pledged medical aid. "Even Fidel Castro is behind us on this one," said Penelope Van Tuyl '03, who covers South American affairs for FPF.
Brad Tytel '02, who deals with South Asian affairs, addressed the possibility of a "long, protracted and very violent conflict if we were to get involved with Afghanistan." He warned that the situation is dire, with potential ally Pakistan "trying to walk this delicate tightrope" between supporting the U.S. and appeasing neighboring Afghanistan, which is harboring bin Laden and unlikely to turn him over to the United States.
Kari Frame '02, dealing with Mid-East/North African affairs, spoke on reaction in the Middle East and stressed the dichotomy between official response to the attacks and popular sentiment regarding American policies in the area. "Nobody wants to be associated with this attack," Frame said, explaining the immediate outpouring of sympathy from government officials in the Middle East. "Iraq remains the only state that has come out and said, 'You had it coming to you.'"
Frame emphasized that citizens in the region largely share this anti-U.S. attitude, regarding the attacks as "a comeuppance that is perhaps rightly deserved."
This topic of American foreign policy previous to the attacks took center stage in the open discussion following the panel. As student participants debated the likelihood of various motivations for an attack such as last Tuesday's, U.S. sanctions in Iraq and American policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came under fire. Some also condemned America's imperialist attitude and its role in foreign policy. "The true religion of the West is capitalism," said Julius Nanna '04, who focuses on African Affairs for FPF. "Globalization is synonymous with Americanization."
Ryan Senser '02E echoed this point. "The main arrogance that we have is that we can do whatever we want with impunity," he said, asserting that what guides American policy is "never the interest in American life, let alone the lives of others around the world."
Students weighed possible options in terms of U.S. response to the attacks, some calling for peace, some suggesting varying measures of retribution, and some expressing their dissatisfaction with available alternatives. Mike Simmons '05 offered a word of advice in light of the debate, saying, "I think [the attacks] should show all of us how much we know about nothing."