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Released October 1, 2004

SOUTHERN MISS, BRITISH DEBATERS ARGUE
JUSTIFICATION OF IRAQ WAR

HATTIESBURG - In the war in Iraq, the United States has no stronger ally than Great Britain. But on the issue of whether the invasion was justified, our "cousins across the pond" went head-to-head Thursday with their American counterparts in a debate held at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Two members of the British Debate Team, Rob Marrs of the University of Glasgow and Aneurin "Nie" Brewer of Bristol University, argued successfully against the invasion of Iraq, saying that it was unjustified and "broke international law." Defending the invasion were Southern Miss debaters Amanda Brown, 22, of Hattiesburg, Chris Lawrence, 35, of Biloxi, and Jill Silcio, 22, of Slidell, La.

According to a vote from the audience following the debate, the British debaters made quick work of their challengers, walking off with a 102-16 victory. The stop at Southern Miss was one in a string of dates on a 14-state tour that took the duo to both coasts, including Miami, the site of the first presidential debate.

Marrs said his team has argued many questions during their tour, and they don't know what debate issue has been selected or which side they'll be defending until they arrive on the host campus. Marrs said that if his team had been required to defend the Iraq invasion, he thinks the outcome would have been the same.

"You've got to be prepared to win on either side," said Marrs, 22. "Actually, Southern Miss was a very good team, especially considering it was their first time to debate in front of a live audience. In fact, they're probably one of the best teams we've faced in the States."

Fashioned after British debates, which are often spirited and boisterous, the contest allowed teams to challenge each other during their presentations. This led to some of the debate's lighter moments, bringing laughter to the packed house.

Lawrence pointed out that the debate was not a "planned policy debate," but a "values debate."

"Values debates are more spirited and emotional than planned policy debates. You use a more cutting style," Lawrence said. "I think we left a lot on the table, as far as the issues go."

Harriet Hanson, an exchange student from England, attended the debate and said afterwards that she thought her compatriots won.

"This was very informative because before today I didn't know a lot about the war," Hanson. "I thought it was lively and entertaining, and it was nice to hear some British accents."

Stephen Snell, a junior political science major from Jackson, voted for the British Debate Team, saying he agreed "with all their major points."

"They disproved every point the U.S. team had. There is no question they won," Snell said.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Speech Communication, the Honors College, and the British Studies Program.

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November 23, 2004 9:23 AM