Area residents speak out on war

March 19, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

As a U.S.-led war with Iraq drew closer Tuesday, Tri-State area residents discussed their opinions of President Bush's ultimatum to Saddam Hussein.

"Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing," Bush said Monday night in a national address.

"I think it's long overdue. ... It should have been done back when the trouble started," said Krista Cline, 34, of Hagerstown, who was shopping Tuesday afternoon at Valley Mall in Halfway.


Cline said she's already seeing effects of the impending military action. She said her boyfriend's father recently shipped out to the Middle East and her son "worries about putting plastic in the window."

Lloyd O'Neil, 52, of Hagerstown said he protested the Vietnam War, but this is different.

"I think we should have gone in two months ago," O'Neil said. "We should get rid of (Saddam) and just keep going until we get everyone. It's a whole different ball game."

O'Neil said he believed the Iraqis "definitely have weapons of mass destruction. ... Can you imagine what they could do with the atomic bomb?"

Deryl Dice, 26, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he was convinced that Saddam supports terrorism "and that he will support terrorism in the future."

"I feel that it needs to be done. ... I agree with it," Dice said.

"I think it's a situation we gotta be in. I don't think (we) want to let a person like that get any weapon he can get his hands on," said Mark Allen, 40, of Hagerstown. "Personally, I like (Bush's) warning last night: 48 hours, get out of town."

Bev Boyer, 43, of Charles Town, W.Va., said she was apprehensive about war.

Boyer said she was concerned about her future son-in-law, who is a member of the Air National Guard. She also said she was not convinced Saddam has the weapons U.S. officials claim he has.

"I don't feel good about it," said Boyer of the possibility of war. "I hate to see bloodshed."

Stanley Baker said President Bush was right to issue the ultimatum to Saddam because he has been given enough opportunities to comply with U.S. demands.

"He (Bush) was very serious and didn't seem like he is messing around anymore," said Baker, 18, of Fayetteville, Pa. "I think the deadline is fair. He's given them all this time and they haven't done anything for us."

Baker said Bush's reference to "thugs and killers" stood out. "He's right. That's all they are," he said.

Joe McElroy, 45, who was working behind the counter at Silver Streak Cafe in Hagerstown, said he thought the deadline "is right in that it gives them their last chance."

"I have a lot of mixed feelings about it," said Christina Chaney, 26, of Hagerstown.

"I wasn't too thrilled about us going to war at first, but I think he gave him an ample amount of time. ... I think the 48 hours - and before that ... there was time enough," Chaney said.

Chambersburg, Pa., residents Billy Wolfe and Summer Robinson said they support Bush's ultimatum.

"I think it was a good idea. I think he might do something if we don't act," said Wolfe, 25. "I don't want to lose what we've got."

Robinson, 19, said if the United States doesn't act the country would be at risk of attack from Iraq.

"I think they should kill the dude. (Saddam) wants to start war here," Robinson said.

James Hutton, 20, of Ranson, W.Va., suggested it might be too soon for military action.

"This disarmament thing was working for a while. I just think he (Bush) should have given that more time," Hutton said.

Jessica Meyers, 23, of Hagerstown, who was styling hair at a Hagerstown salon Tuesday, said she didn't watch Bush's televised address.

"I don't even want to know . ... If we're going to war, I'd rather not know and let stuff happen," Meyers said.

"I'm against the war," said Jacqueline Gillespie, 57, of Boonsboro. But, she said, "I don't think I'm against the war as much as what's going to happen after the war," such as the possibility of occupying Iraq and installing a government, "especially when our economy is in the sack."

But Gillespie said she felt that war was inevitable now, although she wasn't sure what to do about it.

"I think the whole thing has us all perplexed," she said.

Staff writers Stacey Danzuso and Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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