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Students aired views on the eve of combat

March 20, 2003

By Kirsten Rockwood

Months of peace talks and strategies were eclipsed Wednesday night when President Bush announced the beginning of operations to disarm Iraq by force. Although conflict in the Middle East has been an omnipresent thought on the minds of Americans in the past year and a half, in the afternoon hours before Bush's announcement, students debated whether ultimatum for Saddam to leave was fair and if war would be the best decision.

According to CNN's Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans supported President Bush's ultimatum and said 'they believe he did all he could to resolve the crisis diplomatically.' Thirty percent disapproved.

Baylor student opinions were mixed Wednesday afternoon, as some rallied for peace while others prepared to join troops in Iraq.

A group of students met at Fountain Mall Wednesday at noon to pray for peace. Observer Patrick Evans, a Houston senior, said he's against the war.

'I still think there's a possibility of another solution,' Evans said. 'I have faith that if Christians sought the face of God, fasted and prayed, that God could change the course of history and bring peace.'

Lauren Peterson, a Denver senior, said her dissent was based on the need for more global support.

'I feel like we're rushing into things,' Peterson said. 'Bush needs the support from other countries. We didn't do this the right way.'

Abby Binder, a Freeburg, Ill. freshman, said she believes Bush is justified in going to war.

'We gave Saddam every opportunity,' she said. 'We're not only protecting our own safety but that of the rest of the world. Everyone always depends on us to protect them.'

Although a common concern of students was elevated gas prices, students spoke of Saddam's brutality as a justification for war and stressed the United States' duty to protect the Iraqi citizens.

'Historically, he's a danger to his own people,' Michael Dyer, a Clear Lake sophomore, said. 'We are morally culpable for the murder and death of thousands of people both in and out of Iraq.'

Preparing for commission upon graduation, Los Fresnos senior Joseph Keillor, said, 'I share President Bush's view that if 12 years of diplomacy has not disarmed Iraq, then it is the duty of the U.S. military to take military action in defense of American and global security interests.'

Keillor said he believes the fighting will be over before he is deployed, but he said he is prepared to work for years to come in rebuilding a liberated Iraq.

Although Dharmpal Vansadia, a Port Arthur senior and president of Baylor Democrats, supports the American troops in Iraq, he said there is no democracy without the voice of dissent, and sometimes the steps the president takes are not the best for the country.

'This isn't the attitude of nation building,' Vansadia said. 'There are people in the world who hate us more then they love life. There are two ways to solve terrorism. We can kill all terrorists, or we can create an environment where those terrorists don't need to be terrorists.'