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July 15, 1984 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1984-07-15

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Page 6

C01ht fithtgan Datlg
Vol. XCIV, No. 24-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
LAST WEEK, a small convention of
prostitutes in San Francisco called for
the legalization of the world's oldest
profession. Not unexpectedly, their suggestion
- and their convention - were regarded as lit--
tle more than fodder for the sex columns of the
nation's tabloids.
And you thought the Victorian Age was dead
- it's alive and thriving in nearly every state..
It has successfully perpetuated the absurd
notion that the entire American social struc-
ture would crumble to the ground if citizens
could purchase sex from one another.
Nonsense. We live in a country where
citizens are automatically assumed to be
competent to elect their own leaders, choose
their own occupations, select their mates, and
accumulate vast amounts of capital - all
without the assistance of the state. Why
shouldn't they be allowed to exercise their
freedom to purchase or sell sexual services?
There is no legitimate state interest in
keeping prostitution illegal. Opponents of
legalization argue, variously, that prostitution
spreads disease, pollutes neighborhoods, and
frequently forces unwilling underage persons
into the trade. Each of those deleterious effec-
ts, however, is a direct result of prostitution's
underground status and could be controlled
much more easily if prostitution were legal.
Incidence of disease could easily be regulated
by the market and by government. Sex-
oriented businesses can be zoned into special
areas, and open, regulated prostitution is
much less likely to be infested with unwilling'
participants than underground prostitution.
But the basic argument against prostitution
- the argument which paralyzes any state
legislature which tries to legalize it - remains
the question of "morality." Thankfully, in the
50 years which have passed since the failure of
Prohibition, such attempts by government to
impose a moral code on individuals have been
beaten back. The time has come to do the
same thing with the prostitution statutes.
Unsigned editorials ap-
pearing on the left side
of this page represent d
majority opinion of the
Daily's Editorial Board.

Sunday, July 15, 1984 The Michigan Daily
As Gulf War continues,
the fight is for good press


By William Beeman
Reports from the Persian Gulf
constantly feature actual
disasters, or warn of disasters
just about to happen.
The recent Iraqi attack on the
Swiss oil-tanker, Tiburon, was
described as "the single biggest
shipping disaster in the Gulf sin-
ce the war started between Iran
and Iraq," by one shipping
spokesman. A few days later,
headlines told of an Iraqi claim
that it had struck five more un-
specified "naval targets." The
next day a Korean wasattacked,
and the next day a Cypriot
ON THE OTHER side, we read
repeatedly that Iran has some
400,000 troops poised on the raqi
border ready to launch a "final
attack" designed to deal a fatal
blow to the regime of Iraq's Sad-
dam Hussein.
These and similar stories, often
rendered in breathless prose,
make it seem that the Gulf War is
escalating. In fact, just the op-
posite is true-the Iran-Iraq con-
flict is not a very extensive one by
recent standards.
The Tiburon attack, while in-
deed tragic, resulted in eight
deaths and three injuries and the
loss of a ship-not a massive
disaster by current international
standards. Tankers destroyed by
Iraq still represent only a small
fraction of those plying Gulf
waters daily,tand the Iranian of-
fensive remains only a threat.
MOREOVER, Iran and Iraq
are not now moving to up the an-
te. Rather, both are engaged in
a careful balancingact, aimed at
preserving the benefits both
receive from having the war con-
tinue at its present level.
From the beginning, the prin-
cipal interest in the war has been
not the day-today events, but the
image of the final outcome. Both
sides have been playing the
"What if THEY won?" scenario
to excellent advantage.
So the strong, daily media
coverage-in which every missile
launched and every troop
movement is noted with
alarm-serves both sides well,
for both Iran and Iraq have pur-
poses other than military victory.
To complicate matters, Iraq is
playing for the bsnefit of an ex-
ternal audience of Arab and
Western states, and Iran for the
benefit of an internal audience.
IRAQ IS utterly dependent for
its survival on continued finan-
cial support from other Arab
states. Thus the Iraqis must por-
tray the was as a containment of
"disease-the disease being the
spred of a fanatic, fundamen-
talist Islam led by Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeine's wild-eyed
To achieve this goal, Iraq has
stated it must now bomb every
ship in sight of Iranian oil-

docking facilities-no matter
whose, since they "can't tell"
who they are bombing from the
air. Other nations in the region,
they explain apologetically, must
bear up under the hardship.
What is more, those other
nations must pay for the war it-
self or risk being overrun with
Islamic revolutionaries.
THE GULF nations may not
entirely believe this scenario, but
they have been frightened enough
by the possibility to cough up
some $37 billion. Iraq is doing
very well with this money, by all
accounts-consumer goods
abound in the cities, and the ex-
ternal cash is floating the
economy very well.
U.S. business also benefits-the
Bechtel Corp. is constructing a
new pipeline to Aqaba in Jordan,
bypassing the Gulf altogether.
The government of Iran, in
turn, is utterly dependent on the
war to preserve internal popular
support. It must therefore por-
tray the war to its own citizens as
a struggle of good against evil,
with a strong message of revenge
for Iraq's original attack.
Ayatollah Khomeine in a recent
speech ruled out all talk of peace
as support of the enemy.
THOUGH MANY in Iran have
doubts about the war, support for
the overall effort is virtually
The war also has allowed the
Iranian government to establish
industrial, economic, and trade
policies which might have met in-
ternal opposition in non-war
times. For example, Iran is
reportedly on the verge of being
able to repair all of its tanks and
other large armaments from
domestic metal fabrication plan-
ts. It already can manufacture all
its own small arms.
Once it is understood that Iran
and Iraq measure their war ef-
forts in terms of preserving
essential support, it becomes
easier to see the logic of their
future actions.

Iraq needs, above all, to keep
the conflict alive in the public
eye. Realistically, shutting down
the huge Kharg Island oil ter-
minal with air strikes is a virtual
impossibility. Nevertheless, the
Iraqis continue random sniping.
IF THE IRAQIS strike too of-
ten, insurance rates will go so
high they will alienate the inter-
national community, particularly
other Arab oil shippers. But
limited strikes have definite
benefits - they gain the Saudis and
Kuwaitis new levels of arms sup-
port from abroad and keep the
cash flowing to Baghdad.
Iran has a different set of
problems. With so many troops
massed on the border with Iraq,
it must decide if and when to
strike. There is presently hot in-
ternal debate among military
and political leaders about
whether such a strike is feasible.
If the offensive is launched, it
must be a noticeable success. If
many soldiers are killed and no a-
ppreciable gains are made, the
effort will backfire by decreasing
public ethusiasm for the
war-and, by extension, for
Iran's political leaders, already
troubled by low voter turnout in
parliamentary elections this
Iran thus must keep the war hot
enough to fan the flames of
national pride, but not make it so
hot the public will begin to grum-
ble. This may be why Iranian of-
ficials went to the unusual length
(for them) of entering a United
Nations-sponsored agreement to
limit shelling of civilian targets.
It is not clear how long this kind
of conflict can continue before
the costs and bodies pile up so
high that the strategies begin to
backfire. But it does seem clear
at this point that no onenwants to
bring the war to an end badly
enough to take any decisive
Beeman wrote this article
for Pacific News Service.


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