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View Full Version : Fighting On Is the Only Option, Americans Say



SnakebyteXX
12-22-2004, 07:47 AM
By KIRK JOHNSON

Published: December 22, 2004


DENVER, Dec. 21 - Americans across the country expressed anguish about the devastating attack on a United States military base in Iraq on Tuesday. But it was the question of where the nation should go from here that produced the biggest sigh from Dallas Spear, an oil and gas industry worker from Denver.

"I would never have gone there from the beginning, but that's beside the point now," Mr. Spear said, his jaw clenched. "We upset the apple cart and now there's pretty much no choice. We have to proceed."

Mr. Spear's sentiment was echoed in interviews in shopping malls, offices, sidewalks and homes on a day when the news from Iraq was bleak. With 14 American service members killed and dozens injured, it was apparently the worst one-day death toll for American forces since United States forces defeated Saddam Hussein's regime in spring 2003.

Many people said they were dispirited or angry, but many expressed equal unhappiness about seeing a lack of options.

Whether one supported or opposed the invasion has become irrelevant, many said - there is only the road ahead now, with few signs to guide the way.

One soldier who has been to Iraq and is soon to go back said he believes the war itself has changed, and that guerrilla attacks like the one in the northern Iraq city of Mosul on Tuesday have constricted the view on the ground about how to proceed.

"When we went to war there was a clear-cut enemy," said Specialist Richard P. Basilio, 27, of Philadelphia, who leaves for Iraq after the holidays for a 12- to 18-month deployment as an Army computer technician. It will be his third tour to the Middle East and his second to Iraq. "Now the rules have totally changed. You don't know what's going on," he added. "You just have no idea who's your friend and who's your enemy."

Mr. Basilio's mother, Janet Bellows of Daytona Beach, Fla., said the bombing in Mosul, combined with the prospect of her son's departure, have left her "absolutely devastated."

"It's like watching your son playing in traffic, and there's nothing you can do," Ms. Bellows said. "You can't reach him."

Polls show that many Americans were deeply concerned about the course of the war even before Tuesday's attack. Out of 1,002 Americans surveyed last Friday and Saturday by the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 47 percent said, when asked how the United States had handled Iraq during the past year, that things had gotten worse. Twenty percent said the situation had improved and 32 percent said it was about the same.

Some people said that polls themselves were part of the problem.

Charlie Eubanks, a cotton farmer and lawyer from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, said he supported President Bush but had been lukewarm about going to war. Now, he said there was no choice but to fight on, and that reports on opinion polls were only "aiding and abetting" the enemy by making opponents think the American will is weak.

"We've got to hang in there and get it done," Mr. Eubanks said.

Some people said that part of what they struggle with is how to square the ongoing violence with their beliefs about human nature and decency.

"How to deal with the rebels and the insurgency - I don't know. But I believe that people are inherently good and rational," said Traci Sillick, a financial adviser from Broomfield, Colo. Ms. Sillick said she thought the nation should protect the soldiers, give them a clear mission, and then help the Iraqi people as best it can.

"I still don't see any good coming from this," she said. "I'm saddened and angered."

Mike Lepis, 30, a small-business owner from Portland, Ore., on a visit to Atlanta, said the bombing reinforced the distinction in his mind between the troops fighting the war and the war itself. "I don't agree with the war, but I support the troops," Mr. Lepis said. "It leads me to believe we have less control when we can't guarantee their safety. It's particularly unsettling when you hear about violence in areas that are supposed to be secure

Carolyn Jolly, 50, a civilian employee of the Army in Fort Lee, Va., said the attack did not change her opinion that American forces should be in Iraq. But she is equally firm in her belief that they should get out as soon as possible. And she is worried.

"I think we should stay through the elections," Ms. Jolly said. "I support the president's plan up to there. But if we're going to focus on Iraq without support of other nations, I see the violence increasing. I can't see a democratic Iraq. So what are we doing there?"

And while some said the attack reinforced their belief that the Bush administration had failed in its goals, others found it hard to place blame.

Stan Joynes, a real estate lawyer and developer in Richmond, Va., said the administration was not upfront about what would be required in Iraq. But maybe, he added, the administration did not know either.

"We know now we weren't getting the whole picture," he said. "I don't think they knew the whole picture."

One military veteran, Bob Mayo, 73, who served in the Air Force from 1949 to 1957, said that increasing violence in Iraq was just a sign of desperation by the nation's enemies.

"It tells me that they are worried that they are going to lose," said Mr. Mayo, of Newcastle, Colo. "They are just trying to make it as painful as possible and they don't care how they do it."

Mr. Mayo said he would not characterize the situation in Iraq as getting worse. "There is no worse in war," he said. "War is the worst thing that can happen."

Another military veteran who has become active in opposing the war said the message of Tuesday's attack was not desperation, but greater organization by the insurgents.

"It's just like Vietnam: the longer we stay there, the more anti-American sentiment will be drummed up, the more organized the insurgency becomes," said Mike Hoffman of Iraq Veterans Against the War and a former Marine lance corporal who was in Iraq from March to early May 2003. "Unfortunately, the longer we stick around, the more we're likely to see attacks like this."


Link (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/22/national/22react.html?hp&ex=1103778000&en=297b346cd31658fb& ei=5094&partner=homepage)

Gayle in MD
12-22-2004, 11:17 AM
I feel the same as many of those quoted in this article. My heart is breaking for those families who will recieve devastating news right before Christmas.

War should always be the last resort, and particularly in these times.

Invading another country in order to impose our kind of government, and our ideology in the hope of some utopian result was particularly unrealistic given the many fractions of warring Iraqis in that country.

We should all pray for the poor families who will be dealing this Christmas with broken hearts.

Gayle in Md.