WMU News

U.S. government tapping WMU physics professor's knowledge of Iraq

March 28, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- The gravity of world events has thrust Emanuel Kamber, a professor of physics at Western Michigan University, into a new dimension.

More accustomed to giving classroom lectures on the science of matter and energy, the Iraqi exile has been called upon by the U.S. Department of State to help lay the groundwork for post-war Iraq. A member and deputy chairman of the Iraq National Council, Kamber has been helping the U.S. government plan for rebuilding Iraq since last June.

His state department activities have taken him around the world, including trips to Great Britain, Italy and in early March to Washington D.C., where he was part of a group that met with Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. On March 3, he was also part of a panel presentation at the American Enterprise Institute on the topic of "Constitutional Issues and Federalism: Ethnicity and Justice in Post-Saddam Iraq."
At the same time, Kamber's work has made him a source for such leading media outlets as the British Broadcasting Service and the Boston Globe.

An Assyrian Christian--an Iraqi ethnic group numbering about 2 million--Kamber says it is vital that Iraq build a constitutional government that recognizes civil rights and equality for all citizens.

"What we hope for is an Iraqi government that is based on the rule of law," Kamber says. "I think that's very important. We don't want another general controlling Iraq. We don't want to have another military dictatorship."

Born in Iraq, Kamber has not returned to his homeland since 1980. He says many people in Iraq support removing Saddam Hussein from power, by force if necessary.

"I think the Americans are really there to disarm Iraq," Kamber says. "I don't believe it's about oil. It's about disarming Iraq and bringing peace to the region."

A key to rebuilding the country quickly will be minimizing the impact of the current war, both on Iraq's infrastructure and its people, Kamber says.

"We call on the coalition forces to make every effort to minimize civilian casualties and damage to the infrastructure during the operation," he says. "That is very important, because when you go to rebuild Iraq, it will be much easier if there is a little damage, but not that much. If you destroy the power stations and bridges and every-thing else, then it will be much harder and take much longer to stabilize the country."

Kamber says high-ranking U.S. government officials have assured him and other opposition members that damage from the war will be contained as much as possible.
But, Kamber adds, much of the war's final impact depends on what Hussein does to his own country.

"We don't know what Saddam is going to do," he says. "We don't know if he is going to fire his chemical and biological weapons on coalition forces or even his own people. Or he may hold the Iraqi people in Baghdad as hostages with him. There are all these rumors, but nobody can predict what Saddam Hussein is going to do."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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