News



      DATE=02/20/98
      TYPE=U-S U-S OPINION ROUNDUP
    NUMBER=6-10584
     TITLE=IRAQI DEBATE AT OHIO STATE
    BYLINE=ANDREW N. GUTHRIE
 TELEPHONE=619-3335
  DATELINE=WASHINGTON
    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS

CONTENT=

INTRO:  THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL ARENA IN COLUMBUS, 
OHIO, HAS BEEN THE SCENE OF A LOT OF WILD AND TUMULTUOUS BEHAVIOR
BECAUSE OF THE FAMED "BUCKEYES" (OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY NICKNAME) 
BASKETBALL FORTUNES.  BUT THE ARENA HAS NEVER BEFORE BEEN THE 
SCENE OF A WILD AND TUMULTUOUS   FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE LIKE THE 
ONE THAT TOOK PLACE ON WEDNESDAY AS THREE TOP CLINTON 
ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS TRIED TO EXPLAIN AND DEFEND THE NATION'S
POLICY TOWARD IRAQ.  

JOINING US NOW WITH SOME EDITORIAL REACTION TO THE NOISY AND 
OFTEN CONFRONTATIONAL SESSION IS ____________________ WITH 
TODAY'S U-S OPINION ROUNDUP.

TEXT:  THE IDEA WAS TO HAVE SECRETARIES MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, 
RICHARD COHEN AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER SANDY BERGER VISIT 
SOME COLLEGE CAMPUSES TO EXPLAIN TO STUDENTS AND TOWNSPEOPLE 
ALIKE WHY THE PRESIDENT BELIEVES AN ATTACK ON IRAQ MAY BE 
NECESSARY.  WHAT NO ONE EXPECTED WAS THE HOSTILE REACTION AND 
OFTEN PENETRATING QUESTIONS FROM A SMALL CLUSTER OF ANTI-WAR 
PROTESTERS, QUESTIONS WHICH REMINDED MANY PEOPLE OF THE 
CONTENTIOUS DEBATE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES IN THE 1960S OVER THE WAR 
IN VIETNAM.  ALTHOUGH THE MAJORITY OF THE AUDIENCE WAS POLITE, 
AND APPEARED EITHER NEUTRAL, OR IN FAVOR OF AN ATTACK, IF ALL 
ELSE FAILS, IT WAS THE VOCAL ANTI-WAR MINORITY THAT MADE 
NEWSPAPER AND TELEVISION HEADLINES.  THE DEBATE WAS BROADCAST 
LIVE BY CABLE NEWS NETWORK [CNN], AND IN LONDON, "THE GUARDIAN" 
WENT SO FAR AS TO CALL IT A "SELF-INFLICTED PUBLIC RELATIONS 
DISASTER [THAT] .... WILL UNDOUBTEDLY BE USED TO EMBARRASS THE 
ADMINISTRATION AT HOME AND ABROAD ... 

WE BEGIN OUR SAMPLING OF REACTION FROM THE U-S PRESS AT THE 
SOURCE, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, WITH THIS EDITORIAL FROM THE 
UNIVERSITY DAILY PAPER "THE LANTERN."

VOICE:   DISRUPTIONS ASIDE, WHAT SECRETARY OF STATE ALBRIGHT, 
         SECRETARY OF DEFENSE COHEN AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER
         ... BERGER PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC MAY AS WELL NOT HAVE 
         BEEN SAID AT ALL.  THERE WAS NO NEW INFORMATION GIVEN, 
         NO DIRECT ANSWERS PROFFERED.  CONSEQUENTLY, THERE WAS NO
         REASON FOR ANYONE IN ST. JOHN ARENA, OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN
         THE WORLD, TO FEEL ANY MORE COMFORTABLE WITH THE IDEA OF
         MILITARY INTERVENTION FOLLOWING THE TOWN MEETING THAN 
         BEFORE IT BEGAN.  ON MONDAY WE USED THE WORDS 
         'INCOHERENT' AND 'DISCONNECTED' TO EXPLAIN THE 
         ADMINISTRATION'S POLICY TOWARD IRAQ.  .....FOLLOWING 
         WEDNESDAY'S RATHER LACKLUSTER PERFORMANCE BY [SECRETARY]
         ALBRIGHT AND COMPANY, WE'D LIKE TO ADD TWO MORE.  VAGUE 
         AND EVASIVE.  

TEXT:  AND HOW ABOUT REACTION FROM THE TOWN SURROUNDING THAT HUGE
CENTRAL OHIO CAMPUS.  "THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH" SAYS THE "SHARP 
QUESTIONS SHOW [THAT] AMERICANS ARE TUNED IN" TO THE CRISIS, 
PERHAPS MORE THAN THE ADMINISTRATION MAY HAVE THOUGHT. 

VOICE:   THE FOREIGN POLICY TOWN HALL .... MIGHT HAVE APPEARED TO
         BE PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY AT ITS BEST.  CERTAINLY, 
         CITIZENS OF MOST NATIONS CAN ONLY DREAM OF BEING ABLE TO
         OPENLY CHALLENGE TOP GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.  ..... THE 
         FORUM WAS HIGHLY CHARGED THEATER.  SOME MEMBERS OF THE 
         AUDIENCE ASKED PARTICULARLY SHARP AND CHALLENGING 
         QUESTIONS, SHOWING THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE CLOSELY 
         TUNED TO THIS INTERNATIONAL CRISIS.  SOME QUESTIONS CUT 
         TO THE BONE [GOT TO THE CORE OF THE ISSUE INVOLVED]: 
         WHAT RIGHT DOES THE UNITED STATES HAVE TO GO TO WAR 
         AGAINST IRAQ?  WOULD A MILITARY ACTION BE ENDED TOO 
         SOON, AS THE LAST ONE WAS?  DO WE CARE ABOUT THE HUMAN 
         SHIELDS THAT SADDAM, HUSSEIN WILL PLACE AROUND TARGETS? 
         ...... DIFFICULT QUESTIONS ALL, BUT WELL-HANDLED BY 
         SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, DEFENSE SECRETARY
         WILLIAM ... COHEN AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY 
         BERGER ..... THE ONLY BLOTS ON THE FORUM WERE CATCALLS 
         [DERISIVE SHOUTS] BY A SMALL GROUP OF HECKLERS WHO TOOK 
         IT UPON THEMSELVES TO PREVENT OTHERS FROM HEARING ABOUT 
         A GRAVE ISSUE AND ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT IT.    

TEXT:    STILL IN THE MIDWEST, "THE DETROIT NEWS" IS UPSET, 
SUGGESTING THAT "FOREIGN POLICY AIN'T OPRAH [A REFERENCE TO A 
POPULAR, NATIONAL TELEVISION DISCUSSION PROGRAM HOSTED BY OPRAH 
WINFREY.]  "THE NEWS" CONTINUES:

VOICE:   FOREIGN POLICY REQUIRES REAL LEADERSHIP, NOT WARM FUZZY 
         FEELINGS AND 'DIALOGUE.'  IF PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON 
         REALLY WANTED PUBLIC INPUT, HE SHOULD HAVE DEMANDED THAT
         CONGRESS DEBATE A RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT BEFORE IT 
         ADJOURNED FOR ITS MID-WINTER BREAK.  INSTEAD HE LET THE 
         REPUBLICAN-LED CONGRESS GET OUT OF TOWN WITHOUT TAKING A
         CLEAR POSITION ON THE ISSUE.  MR. CLINTON THOUGHT HE 
         COULD GO AROUND CONGRESS TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, BUT THE
         EPISODE IN COLUMBUS ... SHOWED A PRESIDENT WITH AN 
         UNCHARACTERISTICALLY TIN [IN THIS CASE "DEAF"] EAR FOR 
         PUBLIC OPINION.  ALTHOUGH A UNIVERSITY TOWN ISN'T 
         NECESSARILY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COUNTRY, IT'S CLEAR 
         THE PUBLIC IS BEGINNING TO FOCUS ON THE POSSIBILITY OF 
         WAR -- AND NOT SURPRISINGLY, IT'S DEEPLY AMBIVALENT.

                           /// OPT ///

TEXT:  PICKING UP ON THE CRITICISM OF CONGRESS FOR FAILING TO 
HOLD A FORMAL DEBATE ON SUCH AN IMPORTANT ISSUE, IN CONTRAST TO 
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN LONDON, WHICH DID, "USA TODAY" NOTES:

VOICE:   INSTEAD OF LEADING BY THOUGHTFUL EXAMPLE, SUCH AS THE 
         SERIOUS DEBATE WHICH PRECEDED OPERATION DESERT STORM IN 
         1991, CONGRESS ABANDONED THE FIELD TO THE RAVINGS OF 
         TV'S TALKING HEADS, RADIO CALL-INS AND EVENTS LIKE THE 
         RAUCOUS 'TOWN HALL' WEDNESDAY IN COLUMBUS, OHIO.  
         INSTEAD OF CONFRONTING THE QUESTION OF PUTTING U-S LIVES
         AT RISK TO ENFORCE THE WEAPONS BAN SADDAM AGREED TO, 
         CONGRESS IS OFF ON ANOTHER RECESS .....

TEXT:  NOW TO THE SOUTHWEST, WHERE "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS" SAYS
WHOEVER IN THE ADMINISTRATION  THOUGHT UP THIS TOWN HALL MEETING 
IDEA MAY BE IN FOR A DIFFICULT TIME AHEAD.

VOICE:   A NEW ENDANGERED SPECIES AROSE IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK: 
         CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS WHO THOUGHT A ... TOWN 
         HALL MEETING AT OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY ... WAS A GOOD 
         IDEA.  STUDENT CHANTING AND ANGRY SPEAKERS MADE IT HARD 
         FOR THE PRESIDENT'S TOP THREE FOREIGN POLICY OFFICIALS 
         TO OUTLINE AMERICA'S POSITION ..... THE DECISION TO TAKE
         THE DEBATE OVER THIS SITUATION TO AMERICA'S HEARTLAND 
         THROUGH TOWN HALL MEETINGS IN OHIO, TENNESSEE AND SOUTH 
         CAROLINA WAS CERTAINLY RISKY.  BUT THE PRESIDENT 
         DESERVES CREDIT FOR CREATING A FORUM WHERE THE PUBLIC 
         COULD DEBATE THIS CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE. 

TEXT:  IN NEW YORK CITY,  "THE DAILY NEWS" HAD THIS COMMENT ABOUT
THE DEBATE AT OHIO STATE:  

VOICE:   FOR A BUNCH OF BABY BOOMERS WHO GREW UP IN  -- AND 
         PARTICIPATED IN  --  THE ANTI-VIETNAM WAR MOVEMENT, THE 
         WHITE HOUSE GENIUSES DIDN'T LEARN MUCH.  MUST BE 
         LONG-TERM MEMORY LOSS.  HOW ELSE TO EXPLAIN THE DECISION
         TO ROAD-TEST THEIR WAR PLANS  .... AT OHIO STATE 
         UNIVERSITY?  SURELY THEY REMEMBER THAT COLLEGE STUDENTS 
         WERE THE LEADERS OF THE ANTI-WAR EFFORTS 30 YEARS AGO 
         AND TRADITIONALLY ARE THE LAST TO SUPPORT WARS.

TEXT:  THAT CONCLUDES A SAMPLING OF EDITORIAL COMMENT ON THE TOWN
HALL MEETING EARLIER THIS WEEK AT OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY IN 
COLUMBUS.

NEB/ANG/KL 

20-Feb-98 1:56 PM EST (1856 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.