Iraq war focus of local debate

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rick Hocks, English professor at William Woods University, was host, moderator and opposing viewpoint in a debate with U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., Monday night in Fulton.

"I'm hoping to raise consciousness and awareness of the issues," Hocks said. "I've noticed that a lot of people like myself -- hundreds of people that I meet -- are just totally plugged into this issue and understand it inside and out. But a dramatic number of people are pretty much oblivious."

Hocks said he hoped to provide a historical perspective and question the government's motives while Hulshof provided a Washington perspective and insights that are thus far unknown.

"I guess I am not surprised or shocked that we've lost more lives now than when we were handling the war properly... April has been the bloodiest month of the war..." Hocks said.

Hulshof said it is necessary to look at the conflict in its entirety and not look at parts of it. He said U.S. forces have made significant advancements that too often go unrecognized, including the possibility for civilized government to exist in Iraq for the first time in 30 years.

"I'm not here to be party partisan, but are we consistent in our criticisms? I didn't see people chastising President Clinton during the Kosovo conflict," Hulshof said.

Fulton resident Warren Hollrah said he hopes people remember the United States was attacked just three years ago.

"I wish I would have stood up and reminded people to remember. I just hope people do not have a short-term memory, and they remember Sept. 11," Hollrah said.

Hocks agreed that Sept. 11 was a horrific event but "it brought home what other countries see regularly, every time our missiles hit civilians, they are going through 9/11 in their own way."

Although Hocks believes the war is unjustified, he sees some good from it.

"When Saddam's two sons were killed, there was no sorrow in my heart for the death of those two monsters, so good did come and maybe some more will come in the future," Hocks said.

Hulshof also understands his opponents' point of view.

"Intelligence did have some failures in some cases, but they also got it right," Hulshsof said.

Westminister senior Ben Young said he is a strong political activist and couldn't miss the event.

"I am opposed to the war, but I agree with a few things Hulshof had to say," Young said.

This isn't the first time Hocks and Hulshof have gotten together at William Woods University to discuss Iraq. In November 2002, shortly after Hulshof and the majority of congress voted to extend war powers to President Bush, Hocks invited Hulshof to a similar event titled, "Imminent Military Engagement with Iraq."

This time around, a crowd of more than 100 students, faculty, and community members asked questions of the pair for nearly two hours in Dulany Auditorium.

"My goal is to make this like a town meeting, to allow everyone to express their views," Hocks said.

Hollrah said it was good to hear all sides giving all in attendance a chance to think and digest what they heard.

"It is good to disagree, there is no easy answer," Hollrah said.

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