Mason Coproduces “The Cost of War: Sesno Reports”

Posted: October 4, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

The fourth installation of Sesno Reports—”The Cost of War”—will air Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. on WETA TV-26. The program, moderated by Frank Sesno, professor of public policy and communication, veteran journalist, and former CNN Washington bureau chief, was coproduced by WETA, George Mason’s School of Public Policy, and the College of Arts and Sciences. It is the first of three programs in the six-program series that will air nationally.

“The Cost of War,” taped last month, examines America’s global war on terrorism and the personal, military, diplomatic, and political costs associated with war. The discussion panel was made up of government and military officials, students, veterans, and two Hollywood actors.

“The level of interest in this topic is truly amazing,” says President Alan Merten. “I have had multiple opportunities to discuss the upcoming program. This program and series have afforded George Mason an unprecedented opportunity to bring attention to important topics.”

“In the post-9/11 world, all of us, in a very real and personal way, have had to deal with the effects and impact of war,” says Sesno, “The costs are complex and diverse. In this show, we delve deeper than the headlines and ask, as a nation, as a people, ‘Is the cost of war now the price of freedom?'”

Members of the panel lined up on opposite sides of the issue. Political perspective came from Sens. Jack Reed and Lindsay Graham, both military veterans and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Retired U.S. Army Gen. George Joulwan, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, took part, along with representatives from the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank, and the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan research and educational institute. Two veteran actors who have portrayed characters in war films during their careers, Chuck Norris and Mike Farrell, offered their views on Hollywood’s depiction of war.

Chuck Norris of Walker, Texas Ranger and Delta Force fame is a supporter of President George W. Bush and his Iraq policy. Norris doesn’t believe Hollywood glorifies war, even though he has starred as an action hero in more than one war film. He lost a brother during the Vietnam War and is sensitive to how war is portrayed. “I’ve done Vietnam movies, but I didn’t do it for glorification,” says the actor. “[I’m] hoping and praying that we will resolve this and get out of it very soon,” he says of the war in Iraq.

Unlike Norris, Mike Farrell is no fan of Bush or his war policies. A cofounder of Artists United-Win Without War and longtime humanitarian, Farrell believes cooperation with the United Nations would have been a better alternative than war. The two divergent opinions made for a lively on-air debate.

Topics on the next Sesno Reports are “America Drinks” and “Cancer Cures?” For more information, visit the WETA web site or the washingtonpost.com interactive web site.

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