Students Force ex-Bush Official 'War Criminal' to Withdraw as Commencement Speaker

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Leftist students at Swarthmore College, dissatisfied with their commencement speaker’s connection to the Bush administration, persuaded him to withdraw as speaker.

Robert Zoellick served as deputy secretary of state under President Bush in 2005, and is known for strongly backing the Iraq War. These views put him at odds with Swarthmore’s Quaker roots, said some students.

At a meeting last week, one student called Zoellick a “war criminal” who did not share “Swarthmore values.”

The student, identified as “Will L.” in a comment on an online article about the controversy, drew attention to the fact that Zoellick would be receiving an honorary degree: “I, and many others, are opposed to Zoellick’s honorary degree for a number of reasons. His tenure at the World Bank and as U.S. Trade Representative are among them. So is his time in the private sector, when he worked at Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae — two institutions that would later become infamous for their role in the 2008 financial collapse. So is his role in helping build an ideological foundation for the Iraq War. His whole career has been built on one morally dubious enterprise after another.”

In response, Zoellick decided not speak at commencement, and said that he would refuse the honorary degree.

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