Two Centre students find "common ground" with students from the Middle East in co-published articles
RELEASED: July 20, 2006
DANVILLE, KY—Two Centre College students from Louisville have joined with students from the Middle East to co-author articles published in Common Ground News Service, an organization that seeks to "promote constructive perspectives and encourage dialogue about current Middle East issues and the relationship between the West and the Arab/Muslim world."
Brian Grieb, a rising senior, and 2006 graduate Stephanie Rowe, both wrote pieces as part of the Politics of the Middle East class taught by Nayef Samhat, Hower Associate Professor of Government and International Studies.
Explains Samhat: "One component of the class is that our students participate in weekly real-time Web-based dialogues with students in the Middle East. We brought these discussions into our classroom as a way to widen their understanding and experience of the Middle East and to acquire a very different understanding of the region than that portrayed here in the media. Our students also develop bonds of friendship with students from the Middle East that can and do extend beyond the academic term." The online discussions, Samhat adds, are facilitated by a Massachusetts-based organization called Soliya.
Grieb co-wrote "Nuclear Iran: deterrence as a peaceful end," with Abdulaziz Al-Mejel, a student at the American University of Kuwait. In their essay, Grieb and Al-Mejel argue against confronting Iran militarily or with sanctions, and advise diplomacy instead. Even if Iran does succeed in becoming a nuclear state, the authors say, the overwhelming superiority of the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Israel would present an effective deterrent to any Iranian first use of such weapons.
[L]ogic would dictate that if given a choice between certain catastrophe and the possibility of one, we should first take steps to avoid the former. It is unlikely that the entire Iranian regime, including the military, would opt for collective suicide. Thus, this is the only foreseeable way to avoid military conflict in the Middle East and a potential global economic depression. Ultimately, to retain peace we must put our faith in nuclear deterrence. It may even be that a new status quo will open up new roads toward dialogue and negotiation not visible in the current crisis.
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"I learned a great deal from the program," says Grieb. "It helped me to understand the problems in the Middle East from multiple perspectives, and to be sensitive to them." Grieb characterizes the collaboration as "difficult" but well worth it. "Not only were we on opposite sides of the world, but we each held unique understandings and perspectives of the situation. In the end we found the common ground and worked together to write the article."
Rowe, who will attend the George Washington School of Political Management in the fall, wrote her piece, "A wave of democracy?" together with Bassem El Sharouney, a student at The American University in Cairo. In their essay, the students take issue with the Bush administration's equation of elections in the Middle East with democracy as well as its "policy of military intervention if the leadership of Middle Eastern countries is not to the United States’ liking." They examine the shortcomings of Egypt's recent multi-party elections, and assert that such elections demonstrate that "[d]emocracy may someday come to Egypt and its neighbours, but impatience and intimidation will not hasten the process or ensure just and sustainable reform."
Click here to read the entire article.
According to its Web site, Soliya is an organization whose mission is to "develop a new generation of leaders with the cross-cultural knowledge, communications skills, and international connections to create a more informed, peaceful and just global society."
Common Ground News is a non-profit initiative of Search for Common Ground, an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), headquartered in Washington and Brussels, "whose mission is to transform the way the world deals with conflict—away from adversarial confrontation towards cooperative solutions."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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