The U.S. war on terrorism was roundly decried Tuesday by the speakers at a North Carolina State University roundtable discussion on the war. The discussion was sponsored by the N.C. State Women’s Center, the Academic Study of Religion Club and Engineers Without Borders.
Panelists were Akram Khater, an associate professor of history at NC State; Patrick O’Neill, a hospitality worker and career activist; and Stan Goff, former Special Forces soldier and professional anti-government protester.
Khater led the discussion. “What we are doing right now is completely counterproductive,” he said, calling the campaign in Afghanistan a “nightmare” where “we will have another Vietnam.”
O’Neill challenged the audience to ask “What would Jesus do” and said, “Unless you can picture Jesus in the cockpit of an F-16, I don’t think Christians can support this violence.”
“Every war the US has started in the last 50 years was against people of color,” O’Neill remarked, conveniently ignoring the last two conflicts in Bosnia and Yugoslavia.
Goff, whose comments on an earlier panel at UNC-Chapel Hill caused public outcry, said “We would have invaded Afghanistan whether or not September 11 had happened
“I have seen no evidence linking Osama Bin Laden to the attacks,” Goff said. He suggested that the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington could have been a plot by the U.S. government to justify the war.
Khater quickly dismissed the notion that Bin Laden had nothing to do with the attacks, noting that bin Laden’s statements following the attacks as much as took credit for the them. “Our government is not united in how to respond to the crisis,” Khater said. He stated that if the U.S. government had planned the attacks as Goff suggested, then there would have already been a plan in place for how to respond.
Goff said that the reason for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan could be summed up in one word: “Oil.” Goff said that our interest in Afghanistan is based on our desire to build a pipeline through Afghanistan to pump oil from the Aral Sea to the Indian Ocean. (The plan Goff referred to was considered several years ago but quickly dismissed by virtual all experts because of the inherent instability of the country.)
“By 2008, Saudi Arabia will control 50 percent of the world’s extractable oil,” Goff said before forecasting “a collapse of global capitalism.” When questioned about the tripling of known oil reserves in the last 20 years, Goff quickly dismissed the found oil as “economically non-extractable.”
Khater dismissed Goff’s explanation as “simplistic,” remarking how critics usually respond to problems in the Middle East by exclaiming “It’s the oil,” when the issue becomes too complicated to explain.
“The CIA needs the heroin from Afghanistan to fund its global operations,” Goff proffered. He claimed that the CIA controlled the global drug trade and received its funding for “Black Ops” from the profits of selling “crack cocaine on the streets of L.A.”
Panelists disagreed over whether, in Goff’s words, “The United States created the Taliban.” Khater pointed out that the Taliban was formed by the Pakistani military intelligence with some support from Saudi Arabia. Goff responded that these countries would not have acted without U.S. approval.
Panelist O’Neill lamented that “85 percent of the population are blindly following our leaders into war.” An audience member responded, “The reason nobody is supporting you is that you do not offer any real alternative action. All you do is whine about how horrible it is to fight a war.”