On Thursday night at Cemex Auditorium, the Ethics & War series resumed with a conversation with Lawrence Wright, the author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and The Road to 9/11. Wright was joined on stage by English faculty member Tobias Wolf and Marsha Crenshaw from CISAC.
Wright discussed his experience as a teacher at the American University in Cairo in the early 1970’s and the implications of the Arab Spring.
“The sacrifice that’s going on is unbelievable and unappreciated,” said Wright of the revolutionary protests going on in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, amongst others. He noted that 840 people have already died in Cairo and that more than 6,000 have been killed in Syrian protests. Wright compared the Arab struggle for political liberties to America’s own civil rights movement.
“It was a generation that changed America,” he explained. “I think it takes a generational commitment. This may be that generation.”
Wright expressed pessimism about the prospects for peace in the region.
He noted that US relations with Pakistan have soured after the killing of Bin Laden and the accidental killing of two dozen Pakistani soldiers by a US drone.
Wright said that a recent trip to Israel was discouraging because, “When I visited it seemed like I had a greater desire for peace then they [Israelis] do.” During the Q&A session, a member of the crowd disputed Wrights’s claim, suggesting that Israelis quench peace, but are unsure of its plausibility.
Wright finished the night by pointing out that America has lost a good deal of innocence since 9/11. He recalled touring the air traffic control tower in Dallas as a fifteen year old- during a different era of American history. Wright pointed out that although Osama has been eliminated, the Patriot Act is still in place.
The larger than life figure who originally drew America’s attention to the Middle East is dead. But after a night with Lawrence Wright, it is apparent that the region will be a focus of foreign policy discussion for years to come.