Panel to discuss Vietnam and Iraq wars

To provide historical perspective on what happened more than three decades ago and what is going on now in the Middle East, a Bates College panel consisting of a Vietnam veteran, a Vietnamese student from Hanoi, a Republican Party student activist, and a former member of Congress and Reagan arms control official will debate the differences and similarities between the Vietnam War and the current conflict in Iraq.

Sponsored by the Department of History, the discussion will start at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Campus Avenue.  The public is invited to attend free of charge

Leading the session will be Chris Beam, Trang Nguyen, Oliver Wolf and David Emery.

The current conflict in Iraq invites comparisons with the Vietnam War, says Beam.  “Numerous commentators on the Iraq war routinely refer to Vietnam to drive home their points, and the 2004 presidential candidates are engaged in a ‘battle of biographies’ over their respective military records during that divisive struggle,” Beam says.

A veteran of the Vietnam War and a native of Brunswick, Beam served in the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970.  He is the Bates College archivist and a lecturer in history, who teaches a course on the Vietnam War.

Trang Nguyen is from Hanoi.  A Bates sophomore who plans to major in economics, she attended two years of high school in the United States and transferred to Bates from St. Norbert College in Wisconsin.

Oliver Wolf, a Bates junior, is a political science major with a double concentration in U.S. political processes and international studies. He is president of the Bates College Republicans and vice chair of the Maine College Republicans, in which he helped build statewide membership to 19 chapters with more than 1,300 members since September 2003. Originally from Pittsburgh, Wolf is currently an active volunteer with the Maine Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign.

David Emery represented Maine’s First Congressional District from 1975 to 1983, service that included a stint on the House Armed Services Committee. In June 1983 President Reagan appointed him deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, a position he held until June 1988.  He is president and owner of Scientific Marketing, a public opinion consulting firm, and resides in Tenants Harbor with his wife, Carol, and son, Albert.

Each commentator will offer his or her perspectives on both conflicts. The panel will then invite the audience to participate in a general discussion.

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