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Area residents react to Iraq attack

December 17, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY and SCOTT BUTKIs

Some area residents praised President Clinton's decision to launch air strikes against Iraq Wednesday, but some also questioned the president's motives.

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"Bill Clinton should resign, but Saddam Hussein needs to be eliminated," said Hagerstown resident Tony Bowers, who was watching news reports of the bombing from the Grille at Park Circle.

The United States and Great Britain said they launched a coordinated attack against targets in Iraq in response to Saddam Hussein's continued defiance of U.N. weapons inspectors.

Some people said the United States should have taken military action months ago.

Natalie Friton, of Hagerstown, said bombing was the right decision but one that should have been made three years earlier.

"It was quite a surprise," she said.

Many of those questioned said the aim of the strikes should be to take out Saddam.

"I agree 100 percent. Get rid of the man. Get him out of there," said Pat Harris, who was visiting from Pittsburgh.

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Harris said Clinton might have decided to go ahead with the attack to divert attention from the looming impeachment vote in the House of Representatives.

He said that Clinton launched missile strikes at targets in Afghanistan and in the Sudan earlier this summer when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was in full swing. Those strikes came after the Aug. 7 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

"There's a precedent being set here. There's a pattern," Harris said.

Over at the Broad Axe Restaurant and Bar, patrons were glancing at the television screen while contemplating the attack.

"Good. Do it," Dave Nigh, of Hagerstown, said. "We should have finished it when President Bush was in."

Nigh's mother, Shirley Nigh, of Clear Spring, said she supports the bombing even though she thinks Clinton's record makes U.S. action less credible.

"I definitely think it was a long time coming. However, I also think it's too much of a coincidence he has done it now when he's in the middle of impeachment hearings," she said. "He's just an opportunist."

Several people defended Clinton.

"I think it's a necessity. That son of a bugger (Saddam) is a snake," said Phil Spriggs, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., who was at The Corner Pub, where his son works. "You've got to cut off the snake's head before you can do anything."

Not everyone supported the strikes on Baghdad.

"It is terrible," said Alicia Nicewarmer, who was shopping at Long Meadow Shopping Center. It is wrong to attack the people when it is Saddam causing the problems, she said.

Even some who favored Wednesday's action sounded pessimistic about the chances of resolving the dispute with Saddam.

"After we're done, he's going to go back to his same old games," said Jim Malott, of Hagerstown.

Jim McConnell, of Hagerstown, said he wishes a peaceable option were available.

"I think it's sad that force is the only means that we have," he said.

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