Dr. James Zogby Speaks in Des Moines

Article excerpt

During his March tour of Iowa, Dr. James Zogby, author, activist and founder/president of the Washington, DC-based Arab American Institute (AAI), spoke before a capacity audience in Waveland Hall at Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines on March 20.

"The winds of war are blowing," Zogby told more than a hundred listeners in a reference to the neoconservative campaign to foment war with Iran. "I think it's a little less likely than it was a couple of weeks ago. Some things have happened that have calmed things down, and that's a good thing, but nevertheless it's a danger that we will continue to face, and those who want war will not give up easily.

"There is a tragic irony in the war in Iraq that was supposed to secure an American century. That's what it was about. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) said that we needed to display American power, to establish American hegemony that would last us for the rest of the century," said Zogby.

What PNAC argued was needed to combat the perceived danger associated with an emerging multi-polar world order was an overwhelming display of American force. The tragic irony is that the war, which was supposed to establish the American century, in fact did the opposite, declared Zogby.

"It leftus weak. It leftus less respected. It leftour army in a shambles, and we see one of the byproducts of that in this terrible atrocity that occurred in Afghanistan just a short while ago. I mean, four tours of duty? What the hell is that all about?" asked the author of Arab Voices: What Arabs are Saying to Us and Why it Matters (available from AET's Middle East bookstore).

Zogby told his audience that his office in the nation's capital is in the same building as a legal services agency for veterans. When he moved into the building in 1985, the agency's clients were homeless, mentally disturbed, and drug-addicted veterans of the Vietnam War. Today they are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"These problems will be with us a long time," he lamented. These young men and women were sent to fight in wars we had no business being in because we did not understand what we were getting ourselves into. …