Residents share mixed reactions to war

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Between coffee sips and quick sandwich bites at McDonald's, Randy Kline, 60, thumbed through the morning papers' war whispers and President Bush's final warning for Saddam Hussein.

Kline, a Vietnam-era Navy man, sees a need for pre-emptive war. Alone if need be.

"The United Nations has made so many resolutions that Saddam has thrown back in our face," Kline said. "As long as they allow him to play these games, he's going to."

Patty Thompson, 50, said Bush's words did little to relieve her mixed-emotions.

"I don't know," said Thompson. "It all seems so strange ... we keep saying 'if you don't do this' ... it loses meaning if you don't back up the threat."

Thompson leaves Friday to visit family in Washington D.C., as authorities have raised concerns over terrorist reprisals at home.

At a nearby table, Earl Camp and J.D. Smith mused on Bush's performance Monday and couldn't agree on the coming conflict.

"I think he's just wrong," said Camp, 83. "He's going to lose a lot of those boys' lives for nothing."

Smith, 60, said the diplomatic route and United Nations should have been abandoned long ago.

"It doesn't have any teeth," Smith said. "We need to finish what we started 10 years ago."

Meanwhile, early morning walkers paced up and down Centennial Mall with war on their minds.

Lola Oberhansly, 60, said she supported Bush and heard little new from him Monday.

"There are some worries, but you really can't do anything about it," Oberhansly said.

Helen E. Knez, 61, said the breakdown of diplomacy was among her biggest concerns.

"I'd feel a little easier if we had more nations behind us," Knez said. "But I also feel the president is right and Saddam cannot be allowed to get away with this.

"This is a time for prayer for this nation."

Knez and Oberhansly were walking past the offices of U.S. Army recruiter Sgt. Scott Boeger, who was about to start his workday.

"He was stern and to the point," Boeger said of Bush. "It's nice to know we have someone who is willing to stand up for what he believes."

Boeger, a veteran of the first Gulf War and the elder Bush's invasion of Panama as part of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne, said the nation's armed forces are up to the job. With or without the United Nations' backing.

"It has shown its own irrelevance," said Boeger. "They're not the ones who got attacked."

Assessing the pending war in Iraq over his cup of coffee this morning at Serendipity in Craig, Gulf War Veteran Mark McAndrew said if he could be a soldier in Iraq right now, he would.

"I think it was a good speech," McAndrew said of Bush's ultimatum to Iraq in his address to the world Monday night. "If we don't do something, he (Saddam) will use those weapons against us."

As a member of the military, McAndrew said he's had training with some of the weapons of concern in Iraq.

"Those chemical and biological weapons are bad news," he said.

Any action taken in Iraq would not be premature, McAndrew said.

Iraq has had plenty of time to comply with the wishes of the United States and United Nations, he said.

"We've given him 12 years and there have been several resolutions for him to disarm," he said. "But he won't. That's his song and dance. We've bent over backwards for him."

If action is taken in Iraq, McAndrew said he is confident it will be taken care of fast.

The United States should just do it, because it has a responsibility to do so, he said.

"Being that we're the only remaining superpower, we have to take the lead," he said. "There's a difference between imperialists and leaders. We're leaders, not imperialists."

He believes the skepticism and disapproval that exists now will not in the future.

"History will prove we've done the right thing," he said.

Craig resident Connie Kuenning, who also watched Bush's speech Monday, said she had mixed emotions while eating breakfast this morning at the Golden Cavvy in downtown Craig.

"I agree with him (Bush) to a point," she said. "I don't know if it's the way we need to handle this. But it's hard when you know we have boys over there ready to fight. How can you not support it?"

Kuenning said that despite her opposition to any kind of war, it might be the only option in the current situation with Iraq.

"We've tried just about everything," she said. "I'm not sure if there's anything else we can do. I don't like war. I don't think anyone does. But it's something we need to take a look at after 9/11. I think Saddam is involved with Osama. We have to take one or the other out."

While she has no family members in the military, she worries that could change in a conflict with Iraq.

"I think it will be long and drawn out," she said. "And I have a fear of my 16-year-old grandson going into the military."

But Kuenning offered an analogy of how she viewed the United States' relationship with Saddam.

"It's like disciplining your children," she said. "If you keep telling them 'no' over and over and over, and don't do anything, eventually they're not going to do anything you say."

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

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