Students express opinions on Iraq situation

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In at least one morning-eyed Moffat County High School classroom, Iraq ranked somewhere behind Wednesday's lesson on taxation and after-school Nintendo.

Still, a good number of Liane Davis-Kling's third-hour American government students are thinking about the perceived rights and wrongs associated with the United States' potential military strike against Saddam Hussein's regime and the whole fuss' meaning in their Moffat County lives.

From jocular "Nuke 'em" suggestions, to those wishing for restraint and expressing worry to some extent students said they are paying attention.

"We don't want them to send biological weapons over here and get us all infected," said Sammy Johnson, a 17-year-old junior.

"Exterminate them while we can," he added, saying he would personally join the potential fight if called.

More students said that President George W. Bush needs the backing of friends, or at least part-time friends and allies, before troops are ordered to battle.

"If we have foreign support from France and Russia and those kinds of countries, then, yeah, we should go in and do what we need to do," said Boe Boling, 16.

"If the United Nations doesn't get behind us, then we're in big trouble," he said.

International support or not, Boling sees Hussein as a legitimate threat.

"If they're not letting us in there to let us see what they've got, they might have something that could threaten us," Boling said. "If they're going to stop keeping treaties, then we need to do something about it."

Some students said Iraq continues to be discussed at home, while several said they had family members serving in the armed forces.

However, while saying they recognize Saddam's possible threat to the United States, other students said the country should proceed cautiously.

Several students wondered that, if attacked, Iraq or another country in that region might be more inclined to support terror attacks against America.

"I think it's an all-around scary situation," said Jenna Stiefel, a 16-year-old junior. "I think as Americans we want to get revenge. We have to remember there are Americans over there fighting for us."

Stephanie Nbrandneier, a German exchange student who has been in Craig for about two months, has her own concerns. While saying she is not up to date regarding the situation with Iraq, the U.S. shouldn't be too quick for war.

"There are a lot of other countries," Nbrandneier said of potential U.S. enemies either possessing or pursuing weapons of mass destruction.

"If there are problems, they could try to solve it but I don't think (Bush) has to play war."

If not war, then what?

"Good question," said the Munich native, laughing.

An opinion poll, published by the Denver Post Tuesday, suggested that residents of Colorado are more concerned about a possible war on Iraq than any issues appearing on ballots in the Nov. 5 general election.

The poll, reportedly based on 500 interviews conducted last week, shows war sentiment divided; 48 percent of respondents said they favor attacking Iraq, even with free access to inspect the country's weapons facilities. Forty percent opposed an attack with unfettered inspections, while 11 percent declined to answer or said they were undecided.

In the universe of several teenagers, many who may have been just starting kindergarten during 1991's Desert Storm, Iraq on Wednesday seemed a distant worry and just the subject of television talking heads and news blurbs.

"As a high school student, it has been here forever and I don't feel anything is going to change," said Amanda Wooten, 18. "I'm getting sick of listening to it."

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com

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