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Talk of the town

January 31, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

Talk of the town

Diplomatic efforts should continue to avoid a war with Iraq, but military force by the United States and its allies might be the only answer to settling the crisis in the Middle East.

That was the opinion of the majority of about 20 Tri-State area residents who were asked Saturday if the United States should again go to war with Iraq.

"I feel just because they are not cooperating is not good enough reason (for war)," said Darlene M. Weister, 43, standing in the parking lot of the Maddex Square shopping center in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

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While the Kearneysville, W.Va., resident said it does appear the crisis is getting worse and "approaching that direction," others were more direct.

"I think we should definitely bomb them. I would turn the place into a piece of glass. I would nuke them," said Ed Cantner, 55 of Hagerstown, as he dried off his car at the Maugans Avenue Car Wash.

Cantner said that makes more sense than a ground war because Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has had several years to assemble weapons of mass destruction, such as germ warfare, that could be used against troops.

"He's had ample time to build up a stockpile," he said.

A few feet away, 25-year-old Navy enlisted man Mark Taylor was cleaning his truck and agreed that military force seems to be the only message Hussein listens to.

"America should take a stand and say we're not going to let some terrorist think he can control the world," said Taylor, who lives in Williamsport.

Taylor and others said air strikes were preferable to a ground war, where more American lives would be at risk, but at least some type of military action seems likely.

"I think we need to do something to keep Saddam from making biological weapons and things like that. If that's the only way, that's the only way," said James Smith, 36 of Greencastle, Pa., in front of Kline's Grocery in Shady Grove, Pa.

The showdown between Iraq and the United States stems from Hussein's refusal to allow United Nations weapons inspectors unrestricted access to all parts of his country.

In downtown Martinsburg, W.Va., 23-year-old Michele Toms said it is foolish to think Hussein is going to back down to U.S. demands now, so war seems inevitable.

"No one likes to go to war, but there might be no other choice," she said.

Folding clothes in a coin-operated laundry in Williamsport, Jodi Rhodes, 30, was coming to the same conclusion.

"Apparently everything else doesn't work anyway, so OK," said Rhodes, who lives in the town.

"We need to put them in their place, but we should have done that the last time around," said Sandy Miner, 26, of Boonsboro, who was also at the laundry.

Like Miner, most interviewed expressed frustration over the fact that neither Hussein nor his weapons-making ability were eliminated in the Persian Gulf war seven years ago.

"It's not worth killing troops and getting people hurt if you don't get him," said Charles Elliott, 52, of Leetown, W.Va.

Standing with Elliott in front of the Shepherdstown Food Lion, Ray Tarmon agreed.

"It's just a waste of time, people and energy. What's the use of killing all our people? We should have gotten him the last time," said Tarmon, 42, of Sharpsburg.

In front of the Super Thrift grocery story in Waynesboro, Pa., local resident Ken Piper said he opposes military action at any time.

"I don't think anybody should die in a war. The only person who should decide that (people should die) should be the Lord," he said.

Only a few people interviewed said they believed American intervention in the matter is part of a political strategy to pull President Bill Clinton out of the recent alleged White House sex scandal.

"This was going on before the scandal started," Taylor said.

"I think that (scandal) doesn't have anything to do with it," Weister said.

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