- Political science professor at Dayton University
- Says that he “would like to see a truth commission investigate the United States’ support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.”
- Has called for an investigation of Iraq’s gassing of Kurds during Iran-Iraq War, because “the United States gave the Iraqis the principal agents on which to build chemical weapons”
Mark Ensalaco is an associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton, whose faculty he joined in 1989. He also directs the university's International Studies and Human Rights Studies programs. Ensalaco earned his M.T.S. in Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School in 1984, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the State University of New York in 1991.
Much of Ensalaco's teaching before 9/11 centered on Latin America. But following the attacks, he focused his efforts heavily on a class called "Political Violence," and on a seminar course titled "Human Rights and Terror." Of the former, Ensalaco said, "I'd like our students to understand the historical context of the attitudes that caused the attacks. If the students understand the complexities involved, perhaps they'll avoid the conception that all people of Islam or all Arabs are terrorists."
In the "Human Rights and Terror" course, students are challenged to write a "War on Terror Rulebook," and are asked to consider such issues as prisoner-interrogation techniques. "We don't avoid controversy," says Ensalaco. "We're asking ourselves some tough questions. This university encourages frank discussion about all kinds of issues."
In this same course, Ensalaco assigns students Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam & the Future of America. This screed was penned by an anonymous author who is described as a "senior U.S. civil servant with nearly two decades of experience in the U.S. intelligence community's work on Afghanistan and South Asia." The author explains that Osama bin Laden's overriding personality traits are not unlike those of many revered American heroes: "I … will use several analogies from … Anglo-American history that are meant to show that bin Laden's character, religious certainty, moral absolutism, military ferocity, integrity, and all-or-nothing goals are not much different from those of individuals whom we in the United States have long identified and honored as religious, political, or military heroes, men such as John Brown, John Bunyan, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine."
Professor Ensalaco has also taught a course titled “Imperialism,” in which the United States is portrayed as a nation ever in quest of expanding its “empire” across the earth. The course's reading list lacks such standard texts as Kenneth Waltz’s Theory of International Politics (1979), and John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson’s Africa and the Victorians: The Official Mind of Imperialism (1963). These books are the foundation of most of the important scholarly discussions in the study of historical imperialisms undertaken during the past forty years. Neither does the course reading list include even the basic textbook on imperial expansion by Michael Doyle: Empires (1986).
Among the texts that are assigned for Ensalaco’s "Imperialism" course is The Edward Said Reader, which contains representative writings by a Professor of English and Comparative Literature. Said was a onetime member of the Palestinian National Council who regarded Yasser Arafat’s embrace of the Oslo peace accords as a “betrayal” of the Palestinians, and who characterized the post-9/11 American War on Terror as an unwarranted aggression “against something unilaterally labeled as terrorism by Bush and his advisors.”
Professor Ensalaco also assigns his classes The Poisonwood Bible by the novelist and essayist Barbara Kingsolver. In the words of Publishers Weekly, this book gives readers a “view of an exploited country [Congo] crushed by the heel of colonialism and then ruthlessly manipulated by a bastion of democracy [the United States]. . . .” According to Kingsolver, “[T]he American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder.”
Outside the classroom, Ensalaco has publicly expressed his belief that the Iraq War is a distraction from, rather than an extension of, the real War on Terrorism. “We know that Saddam Hussein did not have direct relation to the September 11 attack,” he says. “... The deception here is amazing.” He has also cited the July 2005 terrorist bombings in London as evidence that the War in Iraq has probably “made the world less safe.”
Ensalaco says that he "would like to see a truth commission investigate the United States' support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war." He has also called for an investigation of Iraq's gassing of the Kurds during that war, because "the United States gave the Iraqis the principal agents on which to build chemical weapons."
Ensalaco is a frequent public speaker on issues of human rights, political violence, Latin American politics and U.S.-Latin American Relations. He has published articles in the Journal of Latin American Studies, Armed Forces and Society, and Human Rights Quarterly. He authored the 1999 book Chile Under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth, and the 2005 book Children's Human Rights: Progress and Challenges for Children Worldwide (co-authored with Linda Majka).
Portions of this profile are adapted from the article "Channeling Churchill at the University of Dayton," written by Thomas Ryan and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on April 19, 2005.