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USM forum focuses on impact of terrorism

By Staff
Special to The Star
Sept. 28, 2001
HATTIESBURG  The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could have long-term effects on America's civil liberties, foreign policy and economy, according to a panel of experts addressing the issue in a forum at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The forum, sponsored by the Southern Miss Political Science Department and the American Political Science Association, included six faculty and staff members from the school representing various areas of expertise. More than 100 people attended the event, which was held in Stout Hall on the USM campus.
Tom Lansford, a Southern Miss political science professor at the school's Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, said the fight against terrorism gives President George W. Bush a chance to advance democracy and freedom around the world.
Other forum panelists included Lt. Col. Marshall Fyte of the USM ROTC program; Greg Eells, director of the University Counseling Center; and USM professors Kate Greene, Will Watson, Mark Klinedinst and Doug Chambers.
Fyte said the only way to prevent similar terrorist events from happening again is to defeat the will of those perpetrating such acts. "Until we can defeat their will, you can pretty well bet that terrorist attacks will continue."
Asked about the possibility of re-starting a military draft to beef-up American armed forces, Fyte said it would take an act of Congress to reinstate the draft, which would immediately affect males age 18-25. He said the last military draft concluded in the early 1970s during the Vietnam War.
Greene, a Southern Miss political science professor and moderator of the forum, expressed concern that the civil rights of citizens could be undermined in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
Terrorism legislation currently being studied by Congress could, if enacted, lead to the expansion of the use of wiretapping and changes in other policies, including indefinite detention of immigrants. "This could be applied to common criminals," she said.
She also warned that efforts to stop racial profiling by law enforcement could be undermined if American citizens of certain ethnic backgrounds are targeted. "If we loosen up restrictions, this will be a problem," she said.
Klinedinst, an economics professor, said many experts have concluded that the country is already experiencing an economic recession since the events of Sept. 11. Since the attack, Klinedinst said that nearly 100,000 layoffs have occurred in the U.S. airline industry, automobile sales were down 40 percent the week after the attack and other economic indicators point to further economic decline.
Some economists, he added, have advocated a potent economic relief package to alleviate the situation including tax cuts, lower interest rates and increases in unemployment benefits.
But to help fight terrorism, improving the lives of people in other parts of the world could help close the economic gap between rich and poor nations, he said.

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