Students speak out on lasting Iraq war

Emily Banks

Sunday marked three years since the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and while thoughts on the war vary, it hasn’t escaped people’s minds.

In a news conference Tuesday, President George W. Bush said victory will be achieved in Iraq, but it will be under the leadership of a new president, suggesting that American troops will remain in Iraq through at least 2008. Students across campus share varying views of the war after the first three years.

Political science sophomore Bethany Dorobiala said the three-year mark only shows how important the United States’ mission is.

“To secure peace in Iraq is incredibly important,” said Dorobiala, the deputy vice chairwoman of the metro area for Minnesota College Republicans. “I absolutely want our troops home, but not until we have fulfilled the mission. It’s the future of our security at stake.”

ROTC member Tracy Buettner said most of her thoughts lie with the troops.

“I can be walking down the street and pass a flag and start thinking about it,” the sociology senior said. “I’m really proud of everyone who’s gone over there Ö I’m kind of looking forward to being able to take part in that.”

Buettner said she keeps in contact with people she knows who are serving in Iraq and has helped at Comfort for Courage events, providing support for soldiers by sending care packages.

“I hope everyone can find a way to be proud of the people going overseas,” she said.

Political science professor Ronald Krebs said people are thinking about the war a great deal, but they are thinking about it differently than they used to.

“People started off extremely supportive as they generally do, but as the prospect of victory seems ever more distant, people’s views of the war have correspondingly turned more negative,” he said.

Krebs said the fact that victory does not appear to be imminent and possibly unachievable has played a major role in people’s opinions. He said the war clearly has gone on longer than people were led to expect.

“The Bush administration insisted that we would be greeted with rose petals, that they would be hailed as liberators,” he said. “That is clearly not the case.”

When Bush was re-elected in 2004, people had confidence in his foreign policies and that he could provide protection from terrorists, he said.

Krebs said Hurricane Katrina showed the weaknesses of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security – the same agencies that would respond to a domestic terrorist attack.

“Katrina clearly indicated that very little progress had been made,” he said.

First-year student Ayah Helmy said her opinion of the war has changed since it began.

“We’ve reached a point where more and more people are asking, What are we doing there? Ö even people who supported it before,” she said.

Helmy said she was in “full Bush mode” after the 2000 presidential election. The Islamic Society of North America endorsed Bush in an announcement in the 2000 election when he was promising to help Muslims, Helmy said.

But she said she now feels betrayed by him, because instead of helping Muslims he is killing them in Iraq.

Jess McIntosh, deputy communications director for the Minnesota DFL Party, said the three-year anniversary of the war is a “sobering mark.”

“We were told three years ago that we’d be liberators and find weapons of mass destruction,” she said. “National security needs to be based on telling the truth to our troops, allies and the American public.”

The war in Iraq and the handling of Hurricane Katrina exhibited a lack of planning and leadership, she said.

Krebs said the Bush administration prepared Americans to understand that the war against terror will be a constant battle, but “they did not prepare Americans to think that the war in Iraq would be a never-ending war.”