Blazer feet storm through D.C. streets

Oct. 4, 2002, midnight | By Josh Scannell | 18 years, 3 months ago

Junior Ben Austin has hopes and dreams. He sees a million people of all different backgrounds and ages marching in the streets, yelling chants, waving banners and singing protest songs. He sees Washington, D.C., filled with protesters all aiming to accomplish one goal: to stop the war in Iraq before it starts.

Austin co-chairs the "Committee to Oppose the War in Iraq," a newly formed organization operating within Blair's Students for Global Responsibility (SGR).  The committee's primary mission is to organize Blair students to attend a major rally in Washington, D.C., on Oct 26, "because we believe this war is a mistake," Austin says. "We're trying to show politicians that we're not going to go quietly."

Taking on the Axis of Evil

Over the past couple of months, the administration of President George W. Bush has been leaking plans to the press about a possible attack on Iraq. The goal of an American invasion of Iraq would be to topple dictator Saddam Hussein.  Of U.S. allies, only Britain has vocally supported Bush's plans.

The Bush administration claims Hussein is an immediate threat because he may possess weapons of mass destruction.

Newsweek reported on Aug 2 that the administration has presented three plans to bring down the Iraqi government.  The first plan entails a ground assault with as many as 250,000 troops, using a nearby country as a base. The second combines ground troops with air support, applying swift strikes against Baghdad and key command centers.  The final proposed assault entails sending in Special Forces to support current opposition forces.
Hell no, we won't go!

In an informal Silver Chips survey of 300 Blazers taken on Sept 23, 78 percent opposed military action in Iraq. SGR's committee hopes to rally Blazers to the anti-war effort.  Their immediate goal is to organize students to attend a protest organized by A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).

Sarah Sloan, director of A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Washington, D.C., organizing center, expects the rally to draw at least 10,000 people nationwide. According to Sloan, the movement against war in Iraq has support in every state. "Everyone's saying that wherever they go, they find people who are opposed to war," she says.

SGR is also planning a teach-in the SAC on Oct 24 with speakers from different walks of life to discuss consequences of an invasion of Iraq.

Sloan believes that the war would have a devastating effect on America.  Instead of "high-tech slaughter," as she calls the war, the government should use its money to meet the needs of the American people, she says.

Junior Sergio Garcia is worried that an invasion of Iraq would prompt Iraqi strikes against Israel, provoking an Israeli retaliation; this would cause the U.S. to lose support from Arab nations.

Two major Committee concerns with an invasion of Iraq are the massive amount of American casualties that could be incurred and the fact that it would amount to a preemptive strike.

Senior Spencer Lee is convinced that right now war is unnecessary and that consequences outweigh any potential gains. "Preemptive strikes will just lay the groundwork [for America] to label people as terrorists as an excuse to oust leaders," he speculates.

Social studies teacher George Vlasits, who sponsors SGR, concurs. He believes an invasion would cause turmoil in the Middle East and lead terrorist organizations to gain credibility in circles where they are currently not supported.

Whether or not the U.S. ends up invading Iraq, the members of the Blair Committee Against War in Iraq are going to fight involvement every step of the way. Vlasits is optimistic.  "There seems to be some major debate within the forces that generally influence foreign policy," he says.  "When there's a debate among the powers that be, the anti-war movement generally gains the most momentum."

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Josh Scannell. Josh Scannell is an 11th grader at Blair High School. He is a page editor on the Silver Chips staff. When not working, he enjoys listening to, reading about, watching and playing music. He also enjoys a good movie and hanging out with his friends. More »

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