Locals watch Bush's Iraq address with interest

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Saddam Hussein is like the little kid who keeps kicking the big kid in the shins, said Mike Frank, economics professor at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig.

"One day that big kid is going to turn around and punch the little kid," he said.

Like many U.S. residents curious if United States officials would authorize military force in Iraq, Frank watched with interest Monday as President George W. Bush tried to rally the nation's support during a speech in Cincinnati.

The night before Congress was scheduled to begin debate on giving the president authority to use military force in Iraq, Bush in a televised address to the nation tried to send a message of the danger of Saddam.

The president talked about Saddam's chemical and potential nuclear weapon capabilities, outlined atrocities that have been committed by military officials under Saddam's command and said that United States aircraft have been fired upon more than 700 times by Iraqi weapons.

"He was like a salesman out there pitching his cause," Frank said. "He put a sense of fear in the American public's heart."

Bush also said war in Iraq would not detract from the war on terrorism, but said military action in Iraq is "crucial" in that fight.

Charlie Watkins, Vietnam veteran and commander of Craig's V.F.W. Post 4265, said he agreed that U.S. military forces must take action.

"I think we definitely need to fight terrorism," he said. "We have not done that. We can sit and watch while he develops a nuclear bomb. If we do that, it's too late."

Watkins said he thought U.S. residents underestimated the power Saddam has to impact their everyday lives.

"Some people say he cannot hurt us," he said. "But those biological and chemical agents can be brought in very easily."

The U.S. soldier faces a much different challenge than he faced in the guerilla war he fought in Vietnam, Watkins said.

Terrorism wars are fought in the streets, Watkins said. But he added that he was confident in the current administration's ability to fight a terrorism war.

"We can do this alone but it would help to have the support of the United Nation countries," he said. "But we've got the right guys in there that can put this thing together."

Frank said while he believes Saddam needs to be ousted, he wonders what will happen if the United States is successful in that objective.

"The man's crazy," he said. "But if you get him out, what are you going to put in his place?"

But the fact that Saddam is in cooperation with the same terrorists that struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, scares Frank.

"You know it and I know it," he said. "They're planning something again. I think the U.S. should take whatever drastic measures they need to get these guys."

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