Visiting Coglate recently, Joy Gordon, author of Invisible War: the United States and Iraq Sanctions, laid bare an atrocity hiding in bureaucratic plain sight: after the 1991 bombing nearly flattened Iraq, the United States knowingly allowed economic sanctions to cause starvation, disease, poverty, and heightened rates of childhood mortality to the country’s people.

“By 1994, there was evidence that humanitarian damage in Iraq was off the charts, and yet the United Nations and other bodies did nothing to allow basic humanitarian goods to reach the Iraqi people,” she said.

By comparing hundreds of documents, Gordon, professor of philosophy at Fairfield University, was able to tie “particular sanctions to particular forms of suffering.” And despite food rationing and other proactive measures by the Iraqi government, she said, “Once a country is reduced from a modern industrial nation to a pre-industrialized state and kept in that condition, there is not that much that the state can do.”

Gordon delivered the fourth annual Schaehrer Memorial Lecture, sponsored by Colgate’s peace and conflict studies program. She also recorded a video Conversation on World Affairs with President Jeffrey Herbst and hosted a seminar for alumni, students, and faculty.

The lecture series is named in honor the late Pete Schaeher ‘65, a career educator and champion of civil rights, whose friends funded the lecture series and return every year to relive their college days and remember their friend.

“The provocative discussions we had were exactly what college is all about,” said Rick Stege ’65. “Our eyes were opened to different points of view as we tried to absorb the significance of current events and our courses at Colgate.”

View the full Conversation on World Affairs with Joy Gordon here, and look at the playlist for other episodes.