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Residents divided on support of war

February 10, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ and GREGORY T. SIMMONS

andrews@herald-mail.com

gregs@herald-mail.com

Three days after Secretary of State Colin Powell stated the United States' case for a war against Iraq to the U.N. Security Council, a sample of Tri-State residents were on opposite ends of the issue.

Some said they support a war. Others said they don't.

No one said they had changed their mind based on the evidence Powell presented Wednesday. Several people knew little or nothing about what Powell said.

Matt Houghton and Steven Enswiler, both of Inwood, W.Va., were among the exceptions. Houghton, 16, and Enswiler, 16, were familiar with Powell's speech, but they disagreed over the right thing to do.

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Houghton said the evidence was "pretty incriminating" and justifies war.

Enswiler disagreed.

"We're rushing way too fast after the threats of al-Qaeda," he said. "I still think we need to allow the U.N. (inspectors) time."

Powell showed the Security Council satellite photographs, statements from informants and taped conversations from senior Iraqis, all of which he said shows that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is building and hiding an arsenal of forbidden weapons.

Chad Yontz, 28, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he was convinced by Powell's argument.

"Colin Powell I could trust," he said.

"Saddam, he's just crafty," Yontz said. "We've got to take him out sooner than later."

Louis Short, 69, of Martinsburg, said the United States' proof is "nothing substantial."

Short, who served in Korea and Vietnam, said the United States used the wrong strategy the first time it tried to eliminate the Iraqi leader.

"We should have cut the Red Guards off," he said, referring to Saddam's elite armed forces.

"I'm just not a big war fan. Period," said Maria Corbett, 42, of Hagerstown. "There's enough stuff going on in the world."

Terry Smith, 42, of Franklin County, Pa., doesn't know what to think.

"It's just too tough an issue," he said. "The world is in a mess. You don't know what's next."

Steven McDaniel, 47, of Hagerstown, said he doesn't agree with the war effort and he has a personal reason to worry.

He said his daughter has been stationed in Afghanistan for six months. She's not allowed to say much, other than "she's not happy," McDaniel said.

Jackie Dodds, 66, of Hagerstown, favors going to war. People her age may understand better, she said.

"I think the older generation (will be convinced)," Dodds said. "The younger generation won't. They haven't paid attention the last 12 years. You have to know the history of Iraq."

Asked about Powell's speech, Bernadine Morris, 68, of Hagerstown, said, "I think there should be some action because they're fooling around too much, and they're taking advantage of us. ... We're prolonging."

Andres Ramirez, 23, who is living at Fort Ritchie, said the news has swayed him as well. Iraq "also made a terrorist attack," he said, and it's the United States' right to wage war.

But "it depends on [Iraq)," he said. "If they're attacking us, we should attack them."

Jim Nye, who was passing through Hagerstown, felt differently.

"No, I don't (support the war). Well, because to me, I felt ... it's more like a personal vendetta between Bush and Saddam Hussein," said Nye, 60, of Owings Mills, Md.

Robert Boyer said he's not fully convinced.

"Not yet. I'm not convinced yet that we've done everything we can or know everything," said Boyer, 61, of Middletown, Md.

Amy Socks, 33, said she wasn't sure what the solution should be.

"I try not to watch the news. ... It's depressing. ... We take it one day at a time. We can't predict the future."

Others were staunchly opposed.

"No, I don't, because I don't believe in going to war," said Sheena Van Allen, 18, of Hagerstown.

Kelly Mentzer, 24, of Waynesboro, Pa., had a homemade "No War on Iraq" poster in the rear window of her car.

"I don't support war on anyone, but specifically, I don't think it's right that we're going to own a country, because that's going to be the outcome ... the oil, too," Mentzer said.

Several voiced strong support for the war.

"I'm for it anyway, but the speech kind of sealed the envelope even though they called it treachery," John Carter, 54, of Hagerstown, said. "I just believe it's time that someone took a stand ... that someone did something to protect our kids."

"Attack 'em. They're bad," said Keith Wagaman, 36, of Waynesboro. "I hate 'em that way - what they did to New York.

"Korea wants to bomb us? We'll wipe 'em off the map, too."

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