Reprint: ‘The Cost of War’ Conference at Liverpool Hope U. June 17-19

For those of you who only read on the weekdays, this is from Friday:

Announcing an important peace conference in the UK at Liverpool Hope University: The Cost of War Conference Programme June 17 to 19 2009.

I’m giving a keynote on Weds. 17. See below for the program.


This conference counts the costs of war. These have never before been assembled in such full scope, across so many disciplines, or from so many perspectives. Still less have they been effectively communicated to the international community.

The costs are especially vivid in the Middle East, as the Wednesday programme illustrates but as Thursday morning’session makes clear they also strongly affect governments, military command structures, and individual soldiers. Invariably, as Thursday afternoon’s session illustrates, they are ineffectively remembered and have not tended to guide future government policy or action effectively.

As the Friday morning session illustrates, in conclusion to the conference, the costs do not simply add they multiply, as individual costs exacerbate each other in a vicious circle that can yield outcomes as unpredictable as they are explosive.


Early Registration at the following rates closes on June 3:

Any half day, including tea and light refreshments L 25

The full day Thursday, including lunch and theatre L 50
Friday through 1300, including lunch (not workshop) L 35
One of the 3 hour workshops on Friday afternoon L 35

Entire conference, including theatre and 3 hour workshop L 125

Lodging is available, but separately priced contact Mr. Brown, below.

Register with Mr. Colin Brown:
Telephone 44-(0)151-291-3516, or
Email brownc a_t_ hope d_o_t_ ac d_o_t_ uk

Conference Programme:

War in the Middle East: From Ground Level

Wednesday Afternoon: 17 June, 1230 to 1700

This session emphasizes accounts from persons inside the tumult gripping the Middle East. Here the community remembers, and speaks on behalf of, millions of dead, displaced, and grieving persons whose losses are the legacy of these wars.

Conference Keynote Address: The Long Lasting Damage to World Peace.
Juan Cole, PhD. University of Michigan, USA

Fluent in Arabic and Farsi, with long experience in residence in the Middle East, Professor Cole is a well known scholar of Middle Eastern history, religion, and politics. His web log Informed Comment,, is appreciated as a major influence in changing American public opinion about the war in Iraq. His recent book Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East depicts that failed Western invasion of the Arab world with unstated but unmistakable parallels to the US/UK invasion of Iraq. His newest book, Engaging the Muslim World, was published in April 2009 to wide critical acclaim.
Cont’d (click below or on “comments”)

Keynote Address in the Arts: The Full Costs of War: Images, Visions, Words, and Representations.
*Jean Said Makdisi. Lebanese Republic.

Born in Jerusalem, sister of the late Edward Said, and long time university lecturer in Beirut, Jean Makdisi is acclaimed worldwide for intensely beautiful literary work. In describing the continuing human distress in the Middle East, she combines personal experience of life in cities under sustained air and artillery bombardment with deep professional skill. Her Beirut Fragments: A War Memoir has been widely praised as a timeless portrayal of the horror that civilians in war zones experience, and her Teta, Mother, and Me: Three Generations of Arab Women has been equally widely celebrated as a winsome portrait of life and culture across the generations of Middle East conflict.

Plenary Lecture: What Has Happened to Our Children?
Anic&eacutee El-Amine Merhi, Docteur en Psychologie, Psychanalyste. Lebanese Republic.

A practicing clinician in the Lebanon, Dr. El-Amine Merhi was closely engaged with families in the south of Lebanon during the 2006 conflict with Israel, including the invasion and bombardment of southern Lebanon. She describes, as only a sensitive clinician and participant observer can, the acute and chronic mental health impact on families, including unique harms inflicted on children and adolescents. The latter she also sets in the context of what she terms the inter-social cleavage that develops in subsequent months and years. Dr. El-Amin Merhi will deliver her entire address in Arabic, with real-time translation into English from the podium.

Plenary Lecture: Cost to Iraq’s Heritage, and the World’Heritage.
Lamia Al-Gailani Werr, Ph.D. University College, London.

A native of Iraq and a distinguished field archaeologist there, Dr. Al-Gailani Werr has become a leading advocate of the community’stake in culturally significant archaeological and cultural relics from the past four millennia of civilization in Iraq. She explains the impact of their destruction, not only to present day Iraqi culture but to worldwide Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and cultural history generally. She is the author of major books and papers over three decades, and a pivotal contributor to the 2006 The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq edited by Joanne Bajjaly.

Keynote Address in Human Costs: Public Health Outcomes of the War in Iraq.
Naeema Al-Gasseer, PhD. World Health Organization Representative for Iraq.

A native of Bahrain, Dr. Al-Gasseer has broad experience in field work and scholarly documentation of public health impacts in war zones. She currently directs a staff of over 100 persons, addressing physical and mental health consequences that have befallen Iraq. In addition to her scholarly reputation for publications on public health realities in Iraq (most recently in the March 2009 issue of World Psychiatry, on mental health epidemiological findings from Iraq), Dr. Al-Gasseer has gained wide respect for resolute devotion to empirical facts and for astonishing courage in travelling to needy communities all over Iraq despite severe dangers and threats.

Commentary: Professor Ron Geaves, Ph.D. Liverpool Hope University.

Professor Geaves is renowned as one of the UK’most distinguished interpreters of historic and developing trends in Muslim life. He will comment from his wide experience in the Middle East, South Asia, and the UK, on harms inflicted on Muslim communities worldwide, by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

International Law and Accountability: Can the Centre Hold?

Thursday Morning: 18 June, 900 to 1200

Panel: Bj&oumlrn M&uumlller-Wille, PhD &amp Edward Flint Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Lt. Colonel Laura Klein United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps. Karim Makdisi, PhD, American University of Beirut.
Dr.s M&uumlller-Wille and Flint are well published experts on intelligence and on duties of soldiers under the Geneva Conventions Lieutenant Colonel Klein from the US Army JAG, is on assignment with the British Military Operational Law Branch Dr. Makdisi is an international relations scholar on threats to international law from events in the Middle East. This panel reviews the status of international law today.

Panel: Ross McGarry &amp Neil Ferguson, Liverpool Hope University, and Stuart Griffith, journalist and photographer of British war veterans.
The panel focuses on individual soldiers. Mr. McGarry is completing the first Ph.D. thesis from the Desmond Tutu Centre, of which Neil Ferguson Academic Director. Mr. McGarry was a British soldier in Kuwait he now has a major series of case studies on recently returned British veterans, including their views on military law and command. Stuart Griffith will comment from his familiar photographic series on British veterans. The impact on combatants is further addressed as Dr. Ferguson compares McGarry’findings to his own field research on both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland–which sets the transition for the last panel on civil wars.

Panel: Elizabeth Harris, PhD. Liverpool Hope University.
Mikako Nishimuko, Institute of Education, University of London.

This panel turns to severe but little noticed costs of civil wars, focusing on the general destruction in Sri Lanka (Harris) and the public education setback in Sierra Leone (Nishimuko). Dr. Harris was a resident of Sri Lanka, did her postgraduate work there, and returns frequently. Ms. Nishimuko is soon to present her extensive field research in Sierra Leone as her Ph.D. thesis. Both have developed detailed and rich perspectives on the wide ranging harms inflicted in these civil wars.

Author’s Poetry Reading: The Gossamer Wall

Thursday Afternoon: June 18, 1300 to 1400

Reading by Micheal O’Siadhail. Poet. Ireland.
One of Ireland’leading poets, Micheal O’Siadhail will deliver extended readings from his famous The Gossamer Wall: Poems in Witness to the Holocaust and from selected other poems. As Patsy McGarry of The Irish Times put it: &quotThe book is an exceptional achievement, evidence of the poet’wounded fascination before such human evil and testifying to a painstaking labour of something akin to outraged love for all those who suffered.&quot

Memory and Anticipation

Thursday Afternoon: 18 June, 1430 to 1730

From World War I to present, this session details literary memories of past wars, anticipations of future wars, and feelings of incapacity to deal with present wars.

Plenary Lecture: No Man’s Landscape: Literary Representations of Western Front. William Blazek, PhD, and *Terry Phillips, PhD. Hope University.

Literary representations of landscapes from World War 1 evoke emotions that range from terror to unexpected calm. From long work on this literature, Drs. Blazek and Phillips show that war’devastations seem to create irrepressible drives to impose order that simplifies, but can also distort, memory of that war’s harms and horrors.

Plenary Lecture: The Great Day To Come, and its Inexpressible Violence: Tradition, ‘modern warfare’ and violence in French military anticipation on the eve of WWI and WWII. Olivier Cosson, Ph.D. Universit&eacute Catholique de l’Ouest. Angers, France.

Dr. Cosson, a specialist in the cultural history of French wars, reviews the mental anticipations of World Wars I and II, the de-colonization wars of that century, and the lead-up to Iraq, to find a distinctive attitude toward memory of prior harsh costs.

Plenary Lecture: A European Nation: Post-War Visions for the Future among German V&oumllkisch Writers after 1945. Guy Tourlamain, PhD. Hope University.

Dr. Tourlamain is a scholar of the relation of German history and literature. He finds that the v&oumllkisch writers in West Germany retained strong feelings of German nationalism throughout the 20th century: while they rejected Nazi war crimes after the defeats of 1945, they continue a strong Euro-German racially exclusive identity.

Plenary Lecture: The Poetics of the Iraqi War: Between Discursive Conflicts and Diasporic Discourse. Otared Haidar, Ph.D. Oxford University.

A Syrian native and specialist in Arabic literature, Dr. Haidar finds Iraqi writers since the early 1990’to be &ldquo falling in a complete silence, or shattered between feelings of guilt and confusion . . . complaining of the inadequacy of language to speak about the shocking experience of the mass death and the prolonged war.&rdquo Viewing Iraqi writers historically as leaders of Arab literature, she now fears an adverse long term impact on cultural and political institutions in the Arab world. Her The Prose Poem and the Journal Shi&rsquor is recognized as a major force for affirming and appreciating Arab literature, inside and outside the Arab community.

Thursday Evening: 18 June, 1800 to 1830

Invitation to Conference Attendees: The drama Narrating Gaza. Written and performed by Claire Breslin, Nicole Clark, Anna Karran, Jessica Neale, and Claire Sanderson&mdashall to graduate July 2009 from Liverpool Hope University.

Reaping the Whirlwind: War’Explosive Mathematics

Friday Morning: 19 June, 0900 to 1230

This session widens the focus to include diverse costs and the &ldquovicious circle&rdquo ways in which they can combine to yield outcomes far worse than the sum of the separate costs. Models describing such outcomes resemble those for destructive events like cyclones or landslides current calculations of &pound4 Trillion to &pound6 Trillion of costs to US and UK taxpayers from current wars may therefore be severe underestimates.

Plenary Lecture: Genetic damage to the children of soldiers and civilians. George Gericke, MD. Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa.

Professor Gericke is a paediatrician and geneticist with long clinical and research experience. To that he adds his meticulous review of a century of genetic evidence on the surprising ways in which the genetic legacy to future generations can be altered by the environment of war&mdashaddressing also risks, difficult to sort out, faced by offspring of the survivors of wars and of traumas such as the Holocaust.

Plenary Lecture: Shifting the Burden of the Clean-up in War Zones. Brian Rappert, PhD, University of Exeter, and Richard Moyes, Landmine Action.

Costs include casualties from unexploded munitions, degraded infrastructure and land, and long-term impairment of productivity. Dr. Rappert is well known as an analyst of international arms treaties Mr. Moyes, as a forceful advocate for recognition of the costs of conflict to civilian populations.

Plenary Lecture: Complex Interactions of Religion, Human Rights, and War. *Olusegun Simeon Ilesanmi, PhD, JD. Wake Forest University, USA.

Dr. Ilesanmi will explain how stresses in one of the above areas exacerbate distress in the others. He is a native of Nigeria with many publications in human rights, war crimes, international law, and the inter-relation of religion and politics in Africa. He is a fellow of the Yale University/Pew Project on Christian-Muslim Relations.

Plenary Lecture, commentary, and concluding remarks on the overall session:

Persecution and Murder of Christians, Jews, Other Religious Minorities, and Academics in Iraq. Samir Rihani, Ph.D. Research Fellow, University of Liverpool Visiting Research Fellow, Lancaster University.

A native of Iraq, Dr. Rihani has served as a civil engineer and economic development specialist there and in a number of leadership positions in Liverpool. With careful attention to the empirical evidence, Dr. Rihani has documented a prolonged pattern of intimidation, expulsion, and violence&mdashnot only against religious minorities but also against professionals in many disciplines regardless of their religious or political identities. Dr. Rihani will also comment throughout the Friday morning session from the perspective of his Complex Systems Theory and Development Practice&mdasha mathematically modern and readily understandable account of how complex factors interact to produce unexpected outcomes in society.

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