As part of a three-day national security forum on campus, UT Chancellor William McRaven said at a talk Friday that the US should prioritize fighting terrorists.
McRaven, who previously served as commander of the United States Special Operations Command and is credited with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in April 2011, said he believes it is important for the American people to prioritize the issue of fighting Islamic extremists, who he described as uncivilized.
“I believe that they bring people in because they realize they can kill, they can rape with impunity, they can torture, they can do these barbaric things in the name of Islam,” McRaven said.
McRaven said, in response to an audience member’s question, that he does not speak for the University, and that he has First Amendment rights to speak about the issue.
McRaven’s comments come a week after the Paris terrorist attacks that killed 129 citizens and wounded 352 people. Following the attacks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, along with 30 other governors, announced they would refuse to allow Syrian refugees to come to their states, according to CNN.
“Each governor of each state has got to weigh the pros and cons of the state,” McRaven said. “These are refugees, and I realize that there’s always the potential for bad actors in the immigrants coming over. I think there are ways to take a look at that and make sure to eliminate that problem.”
McRaven said states must be careful handling this because of problems that could occur in Europe, such as potential border issues and instability of the euro, could impact trade and diplomatic relationships with the U.S.
Many strategies put into effect after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 still exist today, McRaven said.
“Ours is a strategy of direct and continuous action against terrorist groups, the cumulative effect of which will politically disrupt, degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist organizations,” McRaven said. “By striking constantly and ensuring terrorists have no place to hide, we will compress their scope and reduce the capability of the organizations.”
William Inboden, executive director of the Clements Center for National Security and associate professor of Public Affairs, said other ways to keep this conversation going include educating students who are interested in a
career in national security.
Prior to McRaven’s speech, members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee protested inside the ballroom before McRaven spoke, calling the chancellor a murderer and chanting, “On trial, not on campus.”
The group received a warning for their disruption and was told if it continued, they would be removed. The committee left the premises after receiving the warning.
Seth Uzeman, committee member and mathematics, economics and Plan II junior, said events like this on a university space show that academic centers can become instruments of war.
“We’ll be protesting every event until centers like the Strauss Center [for International Security and Law] and the Clements Center, which are institutes of safecraft, but they are really institutes of war craft, are gone from campus,” Uzeman said.