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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Concerns about war evoke mixed emotions in Toledo

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As neighbors, friends, and loved ones pick up their bags and leave for a possible war, average citizens are finding themselves affected as never before.

Yesterday, numerous people shared their feelings for and against a war. No one praised the thought of armed conflict nor showed any support or sympathy for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Many, though, differed on how big a threat Saddam really poses and what the United States and the world should do about him.

The possible war has evoked strong emotions for Theresa Morrow, 46, of Toledo.

Her 25-year-old son is in the Army and currently in the Persian Gulf. His wife also serves in the armed forces. Mrs. Morrow's husband is a longtime Army veteran who is in the United States but could be sent overseas at a moment's notice.

“My son can't tell me where he is right now,” said Mrs. Morrow, as she walked out of Thackeray's Books at the Westgate Village Shopping Center. “I'm very nervous. We don't need this war. This is all about revenge from the first war. The country we need to pay attention to is North Korea. I'm afraid they will sneak up on us like Japan did in World War II and we won't be prepared.”

Vic Rattay, 75, of Toledo, strolled by the shops at Westgate. He said he knows the United States will have to deal with Saddam sooner or later, but didn't believe taking him out now would make the country or the world any safer.

“I don't think it will make things any better,” Mr. Rattay said. “You still have other guys like [Osama bin Laden] out there. [Saddam] is not even one of the top guys out there. He's just another screwball.”

Other shoppers, like Joan Layne, 53, of Toledo, said she believed President Bush had run out of options. Mrs. Layne said she recently returned from Italy, where she didn't notice any rude behavior toward Americans, but an overall concern about the world's future safety.

“The [United Nations] had failed to enforce its resolutions,” Mrs. Layne said. “There seems to be no other way.”

In downtown Toledo during the lunch hour yesterday, Amanda Lee, 29, said she had mixed emotions about the war. She said she wants to support President Bush, but is not convinced about the use of force.

“I think the President needs to do what he has to do, but I'm not sure what he's doing is right,” Ms. Lee said outside Madison's Restaurant in the Spitzer Building. “I think I would have felt a lot better if we had [United Nations] approval. At least then, we would have had someone behind us.”

Paul Stutz, 77, of Toledo, said he stood behind President Bush, regardless of the situation. Mr. Stutz, who was walking downtown, said his experience as a World War II veteran makes his decision easier.

“I wasn't sure about World War II, but I signed up anyway under Roosevelt and it turned out after the war that he was right,” Mr. Stutz said. “War is a terrible thing, but I don't think our President is a dummy. I think Saddam has to go.”

Numerous students at the University of Toledo, though, said they felt more time should have been given for diplomacy.

Tamam Baiz, 23, a junior biology and chemistry major and a Lebanese-American from Royal Oak, Mich., said she does not support Saddam, but does not believe war will help the region.

“There has to be another way to get him other than war,” Ms. Baiz said. “I think he should be removed, but not by war.”

Sitting on a couch on the Student Union's second floor, Mike Kunar, 19, a freshman from Akron majoring in business, said the United States fears the unknown with Iraq and more time and inspections are needed before war.

“I just think you need more time before you send someone off to die,” Mr. Kunar said. “I support our troops and I still support our President, but war is the very last option.”

Katie Archer, 21, a junior special-education major from Akron, said her roommate recently dropped out of school to take care of family in Georgia. Miss Archer said her roommate's mother was in the military and called into service.

“People are leaving schools and jobs and no one knows if they will ever be able to come back,” said Miss Archer, who was watching television with her friend Drielle Wright, 19, also of Akron.

“I don't think this war is justified at all,” Miss Wright said. “Saddam has had these weapons for a long time. How has he become such a threat all of a sudden? I don't think he was a big threat then and I don't think he is now.”



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