Associate professor at Kent State University’s Center for Applied Conflict Management
Condemns America’s “imperial policies in a globalized economy”
“It is not just Saddam Hussein whose actions threaten UN credibility. George W. Bush may be the greater long-term threat.”
Patrick Coy is a professor of political science at Kent State University’s Center for Applied Conflict Management, one of America’s oldest forums for the study of “conflict resolution.” As is common in this field of study, the courses offered through the Center display a marked hostility toward free-market capitalism; they eschew scholarship for modish exercises in identity politics like “Gender Studies”; and they encourage students to view conflict through the lens of leftwing pacifist orthodoxy.
The main influence on Coy’s brand of radical politics is the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). Coy is particularly impressed by Gramsci’s notion of “hegemony,” which is defined by Gramsci as the means by which society’s ruling class compels the oppressed classes to submit to its authority. Coy has made this neo-Marxist theorizing the guiding theme of his approach to “conflict resolution.”
Coy’s reaction to the U.S.-led war against Iraq is a case in point. In keeping with his previous pronouncements on martial matters—Coy has declared against every American military campaign in recent history—he opposed the war. Writing in the November 2003 issue of the quarterly leftist journal Peace Review, he lamented the “United States’ placement as the world’s lone military superpower” and raged against its “imperial policies in a globalized economy.”
In the same piece, Coy opined that the War on Terror was but a spurious scheme aimed at “rallying support for a policy of a permanent war economy, aggressive military retaliation, preemptive attacks abroad and civil liberty suppression at home.”
In an October 2002 column for the Catholic Reporter, Coy lashed out at President Bush’s appearance, one month earlier, before the United Nations. Although the President had sought only to enforce the UN sanctions against Iraq—and thereby to affirm the UN’s credibility—Coy interpreted this to be a bully’s show of force. So much so, in fact, that he wrote: “It is not just Saddam Hussein whose actions threaten UN credibility. George W. Bush may be the greater long-term threat.” Coy further argued that any attempt by the United States to hold Saddam accountable for his innumerable violations of international law was tantamount to the “exploitation” of a weaker power by a stronger one.
In the same column, Coy wrote: “Conflict resolution theory and practice show us that ultimatums issued in multiparty forums typically reveal two things: severe power imbalances between the two parties, which is what the ultimatum is designed by the more powerful to exploit; and a corresponding lack of openness and good will on the part of the party that has thrown down the gauntlet. Both are on display here.” The crux of Coy’s theory was this: Because United States was the more “powerful” party, its motives were more suspect than those of one of the world’s leading human rights abusers, Iraq.
Coy is not shy about recruiting students to his patently political cause. For instance, in August 2004 he received a grant for $110,460 from the National Science Foundation for a research project called “Harnessing and Challenging Hegemony During Three Wars: The U.S. Peace Movement, 1990-2004.” Teaming up with two other radical professors, Gregory Maney and Lynne Woehrle, Coy investigated ways to expand the anti-war movement in the United States, or, as the project’s mission statement put it, to “highlight cultural obstacles to generating mass dissent as well as the strategic choices and dilemmas facing activists in responding to these obstacles.” The presiding deity of the project was, as the mission statement acknowledged, Antonio Gramsci. Several Kent State students worked as research assistants on the project, on the premise that they would be exposed to the “broader study of social movements, conflicts, and social change.”
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