Students’ eyes were on President Bush last night as he delivered his final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime. Reactions to the address ranged from relief and support to doubt and uncertainty.
LSA junior Angela Montagna, who watched with about 50 other students in the Michigan Union, said she objected to further waiting for war. “I think the 48 hours thing is a silly request. (President Bush) knows it’s not going to happen,” she said. “If (he is) going to take action, I think he should stop waiting and just do it.”
LSA sophomore Jim Kelly and Engineering sophomore Ankit Patel questioned the timing of the ultimatum. “Everything else in the Bush administration is going wrong,” Patel said, noting business scandals like Enron and the fact that America still has not caught Osama bin Laden. He said that President Bush “needs something to divert the attention of the American public, and I don’t think he knows what he’s getting into.”
Kelly said he felt Bush could have been more diplomatic early on, but that French threats to veto any war resolution on the U.N. Security Council made it impossible to continue diplomatic efforts.
“I have really mixed feelings – it seems like Saddam Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction, but it troubles me that we’re going without U.N. support. It just seems like we decided to go to war first and justified it later,” Kelly said.
LSA junior Adam Dancy said he was surprised that Bush scaled back his original 72-hour grace period to just 48 hours. “I don’t think (Bush) really expects Saddam to go anywhere. It’s a last ditch effort for Saddam to be exiled,” he said. “Since it was going to happen anyway, it’s just that much more humane of Bush to warn (citizens).”
Kelly said he was surprised at Bush’s message to the Iraqi people. “I was surprised that he made such an effort to reach out to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi military,” he said. “It just seems like we’ve been in such a rush to war that I was surprised he would make such considerations.”
RC sophomore Emily Kearns, an Anti-War Action! member, said she took Bush’s message to the Iraqi citizens with a grain of salt. “I don’t think that he really cares about the Iraqi people,” she said.
She added that nothing in the speech caught her off guard. “It didn’t really seem like he was saying anything new,” she said. “It’s kind of depressing that this is what it’s come to – that (President Bush) isn’t going to take into account what people around the world think.”
Editor in Chief of the Michigan Review James Justin Wilson said he supports Bush. He reacted to Bush’s message to the Iraqi people. “The Iraqis are the innocent victims of this conflict,” he said. “The U.S. is not going after Iraqi civilians.” Wilson added that during the first Gulf War, Saddam put childcare facilities on top of military installations as human shields.