But students are divided on the issue of current U.S. troop levels
The majority of Blair students oppose the war with Iraq but remain divided on the issue of maintaining U.S. military presence in Iraq, according to an informal Silver Chips Online survey of 100 Blair students conducted during the weeks of November 2, 9 and 16. This data is released amid the recent news of Saddam Hussein's capture.
Eighty eight percent of Blair students oppose the war with Iraq, while 12 percent favor it. Junior Jessica Ekelund believes the U.S. was justified in invading Iraq because of September 11, 2001. "Terrorists had the guts to attack us on our own soil just because we support [different ideas]," she says. "It's not just something we can let go. I'm generally not all gung-ho for war. War should be used as a last resort, but peaceful actions aren't always enough, and you need force," she says.
Junior Hannah Schneider argues that the decision to invade Iraq was "a hasty action. I know the general American public wanted it, but it was a way to appease them. It was like a band aid."
A formal CNN/USA Today/Gallup Organization poll conducted from October 24 to 26 found that 54 percent of the American population favor the war while 43 percent of the public oppose it. Support for the war effort had previously been as high as 76 percent when the major fighting was underway earlier this year.
Eighty seven percent of Blazers disapprove of the way the U.S. has handled the situation with Iraq since the major fighting ended, while 13 approve. The national Gallup poll, on the other hand, found that 50 percent disapprove, and 47 percent approve. The current numbers have decreased in comparison to polls conducted a few weeks after Baghdad's fall in which approval ratings were 80 percent.
Blair students shared varying opinions when asked about the troops stationed in Iraq. Thirty seven percent support a decrease in troop levels; 33 percent support a complete withdrawal; 26 percent support maintaining current levels and four percent support an increase.
However, Schneider and Ekelund agree that the U.S. cannot abandon the Iraqi people after having attacked their country. "It'd be hypocritical: Let's kill you all, and then leave you," Schneider says bitterly.
Ekelund adds that removing troops from Iraq would show weakness in American resolve. "We already have enough criticism for sending in troops. We don't need more by withdrawing them. If we just leave, things will go back to the way they were. It would show that we're backing down. It is a sign of vulnerability," she emphasizes.
At the same time, Ekelund worries about sending in more troops and risking more American lives. Schneider acknowledges that many military casualties have occurred after major fighting ended but emphasizes the media's role in "hyping up" the situation. "The reason they publicize [American deaths] now is so people will stay patriotic," Schneider says.
The October Gallup poll, in comparison, noted that 57 percent of the population favor a reduction in the number of troops, 27 percent feel the levels should remain the same, 18 percent support complete withdrawal and 14 percent say more U.S. troops should be sent.
Finally, 68 percent of Blair students say the war with Iraq has made them feel less confident in Bush's ability to handle the country's other main problems, 28 percent say the war has made no difference in their opinion, and four percent say their confidence was boosted by the war. The Gallup poll stated that 40 percent of Americans say the war has made them less confident in Bush, 32 percent say it has made no difference in their views and 27 percent say they feel more confident.
Schneider and Ekelund disagree on their viewpoints of the President. Schneider emphasizes that Bush is "competent, but he has this 'me' complex where he feels he has to please his daddy's friends." She adds that Bush should have sought a more active role from the United Nations in supporting the war. "We asked the U.N. once [to support us], and they said, 'Let us think about it,' and Bush was like, 'No. Sorry. Bye.' He should have a) lobbied more for the war, b) made a real case about it to clarify [the situation] or c) worked more with the U.N. We're part of the U.N. not superior to it," Schneider feels.
Ekelund, however, feels more confident in Bush after his decisions regarding Iraq. "I had some doubts in his standpoints, but he's proved he can calmly handle crises." She agrees with Bush that the U.S. needs to rebuild the country but adds the U.N.'s support would be greatly appreciated in this task. "It would be helpful to have the U.N. to back us up on the reconstruction, but if the organization won't, well, we went in without them. We need to finish the job and rectify our actions."
Allison Elvove. Allison Elvove was a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2004-2005 school year. She wrote more than 70 articles while on the staff and supervised 40 student journalists, editing articles on a daily basis. During her time as editor, Silver Chips Online won the … More »