Established in 1970, the Peace Studies Program (PSP) at Cornell University is an interdisciplinary program composed of courses in fields ranging from sociology to economics to government. These classes are designed to educate students about “the problems of war and peace, arms control and disarmament, and more generally, instances of collective violence.” Viewing the United States as an aggressive, militaristic nation, Cornell’s PSP strongly opposes America’s War on Terror. The Program hosts and sponsors workshops, lectures, symposia, and other special events with anti-war themes. It also holds a weekly seminar each Thursday afternoon, which is open to “anyone on campus or in the community.”
Students who enroll in Cornell’s PSP courses or attend PSP-sponsored “teach-ins” are exposed to anti-war messages such as Professor Chip Gagnon’s assertion that “there is absolutely no reason to take this [Bush] administration’s word on anything related to Iraq.” Students are also encouraged to do research on such organizations as the Project on Defense Alternatives, which states that “the national security strategy apparently endorsed under the Bush Doctrine — unilateralist diplomacy, preemptive military action, preventive war and regime change — has left America with fewer friends, manifold enemies, damaged credibility, and arguably less secure.”
The PSP preparatory course, Introduction to Peace Studies, purports to investigate the “sources of violent conflict and war and the alternatives to war,” as well as “genocide and ‘ethnic cleansing,’ the role of international law, just-war theory, transnational peace activism, peace-keeping, reconstruction and reconciliation, humanitarian interventions, and nonviolent movements for social change.” This course is taught by Matthew Evangelista, a Professor of Government and the Director of Cornell’s PSP. Evangelista has used his lectures and class “teach-ins” to condemn the Bush Administration and the War in Iraq. At one teach-in (entitled “Why War?”), Evangelista stated, “The inspections regime in Iraq, for all its flaws, was quite effective. They turned up a great deal and destroyed a great deal of weapons.” “To launch one war after another,” added Evangelista, “first Iran, then North Korea, then Pakistan and Colombia … suggests a future of wars without end, and it’s a very depressing future.”
Another PSP professor, Peter J. Katzenstein, also impugns the Bush administration on a regular basis — particularly with regard to its endorsement of the right to launch preemptive war. In an article titled “Iraq: Countdown to Disaster,” Katzenstein states, “Under the guise of the War on Terrorism, the Bush White House is prepared to substitute preemption for deterrence as the guide for United States foreign policy. This shift in strategic doctrine would legitimize war against any country that we do not like.” In 2002, the Peace Studies Program sponsored two visiting professors — Islah Jad of Birzeit University in the West Bank, and Yoav Peled of Tel Aviv University — to discuss with students the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. At this event, Professor Jad denounced the existence of Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands, condemned Israel’s anti-terrorism efforts, and likened the Israeli government to the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, asserting that Israel should rightfully be the next target in America’s War on Terror. (Jad is well known for sympathizing with Palestinian suicide bombers; in one article she states, “when an individual insists on deploying his or her own body [as a suicide bomber], a power is released that might be called a part of the ‘flesh against iron’ strategy.”) Meanwhile, Professor Peled attributed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the economic hardships and the resultant hopelessness of the former.
The Cornell Peace Studies Program was started with seed money from the Ford Foundation, and throughout its existence the Program has relied heavily on Ford grants that are allocated through an annual endowment. PSP has also received major financial support from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.