Now that the United States is engaged in a war with Iraq, SHSU students and faculty sound off on what has occurred so far in the conflict.
U. S. Forces began Operation Iraqi Freedom last week, with a series of laser and satellite guided surgical strikes against military targets in Baghdad as part of the “Shock and Awe” campaign. The strikes coincided with the landing of U. S. Army and Marine Corps soldiers and British troops.
Meanwhile, citizens in America remain divided on the issue of the war.
Associate professor of political science William Carroll said it is unfortunate America has had to go to war, but the divisions among Americans are not as strong as some people may suggest.
“Polarizing may be too strong a word, but I think there is a strong resentment to the war,” Carroll said.
Carroll said the recent surge in support for the Bush administration is to be expected as support always rises for troops during a conflict, However, he said he is not sure if the support is for Bush himself or just the war effort.
“It may be that Bush was slowly but surely making the case that we were going to have to go ahead with just the British and without a new U.N. resolution,” Carroll said. “But opinion polls until very recently were still showing uncertainty about going to war without U.N. authorization and without allies.”
Carroll said he is also unsure of how successful and efficient the “Shock and Awe” campaign has been.
“I think that the resistance is stronger that they anticipated,” Carroll said. “I just don’t know about this ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign, I can’t say if it accomplished what they said it would.”
Many of the protests both nationwide and worldwide have brought to light the possibility of innocent civilians being killed. Carroll said that even with precision bombing, it is unlikely that any war can be raged without civilian casualties.
“I think that’s an impossibility,” Carroll said. “Saddam can be blamed partly if he places a bunker or weapons below a mosque or school.”
With the world closely scrutinizing America’s involvement in the war, Carroll said Bush would have to defend his actions once the war is over.
“If we can show that there were weapons of mass destruction, then we can justify our attack,” Carroll said. “We don’t remain as an occupying power; that will only give credence that we are only there to run things. How we handle things post-Saddam will be crucial.”
Since the U.S. originally helped arm Hussein for decades, Carroll said the country would have to look into the type of weapons regimes it supplies in the future. He added that while the U. S. itself has weapons of mass destruction, the Iraqi regime is “qualifiedly different” with how it would use such weapons. However, he said Americans still have the right to question who we help give access to weapons.
“I hope we’re able to rebuild whatever’s been damaged by this whole issue in NATO and the U.N. Security Council,” Carroll said. “I do not support unilateralist foreign policy. I want to see the U. S. as close as possible with NATO and our other allies in the U.N.”
Lt. Col. Alan Mooneyham said the SHSU ROTC continues to train future military officers in both peace and war times, and that he personally feels there is a price to freedom and that his organizations makes an indirect contribution toward that freedom.
“My entire career I’ve not been in conflict and I’ve not had to make that sacrifice,” Mooneyham said. “I’ve not had to make the sacrifice that they have, and they’re paying the price for all Americans to enjoy that freedom.”
Students on campus seem mostly in favor of the war, in support of the troops if not President Bush.
Junior Janay Wigley said that while she was not in favor of going to war, she decided to support the troops after they invaded Iraq.
“I might as well be for it,” Wigley said. “We’re at war, so you might as well support it.”
Wigley said Hussein had plenty of time to heed U.N. sanctions, and that if the U. S. does what it set out to then the war will yeild positive outcomes.
“If we’re able to do all or some of the things we’re aiming to do, then that will be good,” Wigley said.
Wigley also said she supports protests as long as they are lawful and don’t obstruct everyday life.
“I understand the need for protest, but those people who are blocking city streets are wasting their time,” Wigley said. “They’re not going to stop the war just because a few people don’t agree with it. Rather than protesting by burning flags, they should be doing proactive gestures such as a unity rally.”
Sophomore Genevieve Ybarra said she is neither for nor against the war as it is currently being fought, but that she does believe it may be just a war about oil.
“I kind of feel neutral about it,” Ybarra said. “Before we should have gone, we should have had more evidence for going to war. But because we kept saying there’s a deadline we had to go ahead and do it.
“To me, I guess I have to support Bush. I don’t think it’s necessarily about oil, and I have to support the president,” she said. ” I know a lot of people think this is about oil, but I feel Saddam is a very crazy man and we had to do something to stop him.”
Ybarra said it is best to avoid war, but following Sept. 11 the U. S. had to punish Hussein for his connection to terrorism.
“I felt like we had to take action,” Ybarra said. “But I feel we could have waited a little longer until we had evidence that he was connected to it.”
Senior Jennifer Carter said she realizes the costs of this conflict.
“I’m upset that we’ve lost soldiers, but I understand that they’re fighting for our freedoms,” Carter said.
Carter added that she supports protests of the war as long as anti-war activists still support the troops.
“The protesters who are singing ‘God Bless America’ are all right, but I disagree with the protesters who have anti-American views,” Carter said.
The SHSU Counseling Center is offering counseling services for students who are having fears and anxieties about the war.
nterim Director Pamela McManus said the center would offer counseling concerning the war on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to12 p.m. and Thursday 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for as long as counseling is needed. No appointments are necessary and walk-ins are welcome, Students who can’t come in at the appointed times can call and schedule a session at a more appropriate time. The Counseling Center can be reached at 294-1720.