March 2, 2007April 6, 2007Meeting Report

March 18, 2007

William Dorman

American Foreign Policy

Dr. William DormanOn the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Iraq conflict, HAGSA had the privilege of hearing from Dr. William Dorman, an award winning CSU Sacramento professor. His classes include the journalism course, Mass Media and Critical Thinking, the government course, American Foreign Policy, and War, Peace and the Mass Media, a crossover course between the two disciplines he has taught since 1970. He is an Associate of the Center for War, Peace and the News Media at New York University.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Dorman has authored numerous essays, articles and book chapters, co-written the book, The U.S. Press and Iran: Foreign Policy and the Journalism of Deference, with Dr. Mansour Farhang, and has traveled world-wide for speaking engagements.

Such breadth of knowledge is rare. The engaging and sometimes witty manner in which Dr. Dorman delivered his presentation is possibly equally rare. Dr. Dorman covered topics that ranged from the Roman Empire to Lebanon, all shedding light on the Iraq conflict specifically and United States foreign policy under President Bush in general. Although he likened the events to date to unleashing a virus that will most likely just have to run its course, Dr. Dorman tempered this with a prediction that the Bush doctrine would not last a full day beyond his Presidency.

In addition to the primary focus of the presentation, Dr. Dorman also spoke about the role of youth, especially students in putting societal pressure on governmental figures. He made a couple of observations on this front. He pointed out that we cannot guess when the populace, including students, will decide to get involved in the political discussion the way they did in the 1960s. He also pointed out that the period leading to the 60s civil rights and anti-war protests was not exactly a period in which children received heavy doses of foreign affairs education. The thing that was very different between that time and now was the draft. Dr. Dorman echoed the sentiment of Rep. Charles Rangel in supporting reinstatement of the draft. He pointed out that the war becomes a very personal issue to all young Americans when a draft is in place.

The second half of the presentation consisted of an extensive Q&A session with the roughly 35 attendees, a hearty round of applause and the traditional HAGSA coffee mug presentation. The large turnout speaks well of local humanists in light of the quote on Dr. Dorman’s CSUS website home page:

A citizen incapable of informed political judgments or lacking the courage to dissent is no citizen at all—but merely a subject.

Report prepared by Brian Jones

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