Leipzig students share insights about 2005 Baker Peace Conference
April 27, 2005
By Emily Mullins
Fifteen students from Leipzig, Germany, attended the 2005 Baker Peace Conference on April 21-22 as part of their weeklong stay at Ohio University. The students' attendance served as additional research toward their examination of the relationship between Germany and the United States after Sept. 11 using political, scientific and media sources. Three of these students, Alexander Eckardt, Sebastian Richter and Malte Ackerstaff, shared their insights about this event, providing an outside, international opinion.
A general consensus from the students was most of the panelists focused on the past rather than the future.
"Most of the speakers only talked about what went wrong. There was little talk about what America should do to improve relations with the Islamic world," Richter said.
Along with this, the students noticed that many of the possible solutions offered were military-based and lacked communication. They felt that instead of military actions, the solutions should be aimed at improving the economic situations of these Middle Eastern countries.
"I feel there needs to be more exchange and conversation to understand each other," Ackerstaff said.
Another concern the students expressed dealt with the lack of proof of the weapons of mass destruction, an issue greatly emphasized in German newspapers.
"(David) Kay said the idea of weapons of mass destruction was based on one single source. The government needed a reason for fighting but did not prove the reason," Eckardt said.
They felt this was a deceitful action toward the American public, intended to convince them to support the war effort.
The students felt many of the lectures, such as the keynote address given by James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, presented this issue in a too simplistic manner. Similarly, Reuel Marc Gerecht, former Middle East specialist at the CIA, seemed concerned with only America's involvement in this global problem.
"I remember thinking, this is just too simple. The speech was missing the respect to other nations," Eckardt said.
However, other speakers, like Graham E. Fuller, former CIA National Intelligence Officer, analyzed the problem from multiple perspectives, and retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy gave hopeful prospects for the future. They felt this demonstrated that America is aware that it needs to consider its image in the world.
"It was nice to see a working democracy of different people with different views," Ackerstaff said.
Emily Mullins is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.