Teach-in highlights U.N. role in Iraq crisis

When it comes to the current crisis in Iraq, says Doug Jones, coordinator of UNCA’s honors program, “It seems like what we hear a lot of is the American perspective, and we hear the administration’s perspective, but I don’t think our media is doing as good a job covering the multilateral or international perspective, which is best represented by the role the United Nations is playing.”

Accordingly, the WNC United Nations Association is sponsoring “The U.S., the U.N. and Iraq: Unraveling a World Crisis.” The free teach-in happens Saturday, Feb. 8, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Laurel Forum in UNCA’s Karpen Hall.

The event is designed to promote community dialogue on the situation in Iraq by considering the relationships among these three entities, as well as the United Nations’ role in this crisis.

“It’s really not intended to take any sort of political slant,” notes Jones, who’s helping organize the event. “It’s more intended to give people the opportunity to come together and learn about the particulars of the U.N.’s role.”

The first part of the teach-in will consider the relationships among the three main players, how the crisis got to the present point, and the efforts that are under way to resolve it.

The second part will explain the nuts and bolts of the U.N. inspections, as well as other measures meant to encourage Iraqi compliance. Participants will then consider the situation from a variety of viewpoints, including how (and perhaps why) the U.S. is shaping, influencing and even obstructing that process.

Event facilitators include UNCA professors Linda Cornett and Mark Gibney, as well as Jack Fobes of the WNC United Nations Association.

The event represents an impromptu response to the current crisis, notes Jones. “We wanted to put this together before any military action — if military action is taken — proceeds. … We see this as a unique point to examine [the crisis] more objectively — before the bombs start to fall, as it were.”

For more information, contact Jones at 251-6607 or

— Lisa Watters

Secrets of an international theater ensemble

Aquila Theatre Company’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest began in New York, moved on to London, and after hitting several other global theatrical hot spots, has now made its way to Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre.

The acclaimed company’s talented cast of British and American actors bring their trademark theatrical style (described as “a disciplined ensemble approach to classical texts designed to free the spirit of the original” in the show’s press release) to the local stage with performances of Earnest Feb.7-8 at 8 p.m.

They’ll also share their tricks of the trade with interested members of the public in a Feb. 8 master class in Diana Wortham Theatre.

The “Physical Theater” master class is recommended for college-level students and adults. Participants will learn how to develop a cooperative style of acting that optimizes the text as a whole. Using various vocal and movement exercises, they’ll explore the physical resources that Aquila uses to create its own imaginative style.

The class runs from 2:30-4 p.m.; the fee is $10, and the registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 7.

For more information, check out Aquila’s Web site (, or contact Rae Geoffrey at 257-4544, ext. 307.

— Larisa Harrill

Lecture series spotlights U.S. foreign policy

This year’s edition of the World Affairs Council of WNC’s Great Decisions lecture series features a host of timely topics, notes council President Ned Cabaniss.

The series, which runs through March 10, will address U.S. policy on various important issues and toward individual, strategic nations.

The weekly lectures are presented Mondays in UNCA’s Owen Conference Center, starting at 7:30 p.m. Each lecture is repeated four times: at Highland Farms in Black Mountain at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays; at the First Congregational Church in Hendersonville at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays; in Brevard College’s Goodson-McLarty Building at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays; and at Isothermal Community College in Tryon at 2 p.m. on Thursdays.

Admission to each talk is $5 for adults (free to students). A ticket for the entire series is $15 for individuals, $25 for couples; a briefing book is available for $15. Donations are also welcome. “The fees for the lectures don’t quite cover the costs of running this entire series, so we’re always grateful for contributions,” notes Cabaniss.

Great Decisions kicked off with a Feb. 3 talk on “Women and Human Rights” by history Professor Phyllis Smith of Mars Hill College.

On Feb. 10 another historian, Professor Bill Forstchen of Montreat College, will speak on “Afghanistan,” considering the fledgling government’s ability to rebuild the country vs. the possibility that it will fall victim to the internal conflicts that precipitated the long-running civil war.

“This second lecture will … take a look at how U.S. policy is working out and the chances that country has of rebuilding itself and rebuilding a strong democratic government,” says Cabaniss.

On Feb. 17, Elmoiz Abunura, director of African studies and professor of political science at UNCA, will discuss the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. In light of America’s strategic and economic interests in the Middle East, Abunura will consider how the U.S.-Saudi relationship might be affected by the war on terrorism and a possible war with Iraq.

This lecture “ought to allow us the opportunity to discuss U.S. interests in the region — and if we’re at war by that time, give us a forum for discussing what’s going on, as will the following lecture,” notes Cabaniss.

On Feb. 24, UNCA political science Professor Linda Cornett will speak on “Unilateralism vs. Multilateralism” as the future direction of U.S. foreign policy in the areas of diplomacy, development and security.

The March 3 lecture will focus on Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. Professor Bonny Ibawoh of the UNCA department of political science will discuss the effects of religious conflicts, regional tensions and oil production on this emerging democracy.

And finally, on March 10, retired Foreign Service officer (and former World Affairs Council president) Sarah-Ann Smith will consider how China’s internal political transition and the changing international environment will affect that country’s cooperative/competitive relationship with the U.S.

Cabaniss, who took over as president last August, is a retired army colonel in military intelligence with a specialty in Soviet affairs. A linguist, he also taught Russian at West Point.

Cabaniss says he was drawn to working with the council by “a desire to remain current in international affairs and to contribute to the education of people living in the area and to … a conversation about important international issues.”

The World Affairs Council of WNC is an independent organization based at UNCA. Affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (headquartered in Washington, D.C.), the group aims to promote international understanding by helping WNC residents become more aware of the relationship between local concerns and global issues.

For more information, call the World Affairs Council at 251-6797, ext. 3828, or visit their Web site (

— Lisa Watters

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