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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
Americans wary of Iraq war
barbershop
Hair we go: But Americans fear a repeat of the Gulf War

People's Barbershop in Manassas, Virginia looks like a picture postcard out of 1950s America, and the hair styles look not to have changed much either with customers asking for flat tops and crew cuts.

And the barbers at People's continue the time-honoured tradition of barber chair small talk.

But today the talk was anything but small, with discussions about a possible war against Iraq.

John Aller asked for a flat top, as the television played excerpts of President Bush's speech.

barbers
Flat tops are the order of the day in Manassas
As he got a little taken off the side, he said that it only seemed a matter of time before the US went to war in Iraq.

He is all for taking on or rather taking out Saddam Hussein.

"I think we should go in and take care of the problem, which is Saddam Hussein, wipe him out. He's the root of the problem," he said.

He blames much of the turmoil in the Middle East on Saddam Hussein, but he does not want a repeat of the Gulf War.

"Instead of taking all of our troops over there, we should go in there and take care of Hussein, drop a bomb or whatever is easiest and quickest way to take care of him without a full-scale war," he said.

Unconvinced

President Bush's speech was said to be his attempt to explain to average Americans why Iraq posed a threat to the US that required urgent action.

His speech tried to anticipate many of the questions of the American public and members of Congress.

But with interviews on the streets on Manassas, it appeared that most people held opinions before the speech, opinions that have not been swayed and are not likely to be swayed by the president's arguments.

Loren did not listen to the speech, but preferred to read about it in the newspaper.

She is opposed to attacking Iraq because she does not want to see her husband, who serves in the Navy, sent to war.

She also has not heard any evidence that convinces her of the need for immediate action against Iraq.

Bush
President Bush: Bullish views left many unimpressed
And she echoed sentiments in a recent New York Times/CBS poll, saying she believes that President Bush should be more concerned about troubles at home.

"I personally think that he should focus on the economy," she said.

The New York Times poll showed that almost half of Americans fear that they or someone in their household will be out of a job in the next year.

And many of those polled said they worried that war against Iraq would weaken an already anaemic economy.

Gallup polls show that support for a ground invasion of Iraq has dropped from 71% last November to 53%, Dana Milbank reported in the Washington Post.

Congress looks ready to pass a resolution authorising force, but the public appears less than enthusiastic.

"The divergence in views between ordinary Americans and their elected representatives indicates the administration has done an uneven sales job - and one that Bush aides said last night's address was meant to remedy," Dana Milbank wrote.

Cost of inaction

Ron Zimmerman served for 30 years in the Navy. He is not eager to go to war.

"War is terrible. You just have to look at the Vietnam Memorial," he said. He volunteered to fight but was not sent to Vietnam.

But he added, "You have to look at your options," and he is concerned about the cost of inaction and drew parallels between Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler.

"What if the Allies would have said to Hitler enough is enough when he annexed the Sudetenland," he asked.

And he said that Saddam Hussein has proven himself a menace to his neighbours, his own people and even members of his own family.

He has gassed thousands of Kurds, was merciless during the war against Iran and has condemned dissenters in his own Baath party to death with a wave of his hand, Mr Zimmerman said.

And he sees Saddam Hussein as a threat to the United States, to US allies in Europe and to other countries in the Middle East.

He wants the US to give weapons inspectors a chance, but is sceptical that Saddam Hussein will allow unconditional access to inspectors.

"Can you trust him? Not really," he said. "Every single point he agreed to 10 years ago, he has reneged on."


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 VOTE RESULTS
Should the weapons inspectors go into Iraq now?

Yes
 79.51% 

No
 20.49% 

61425 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

08 Oct 02 | Americas
08 Oct 02 | Americas
08 Oct 02 | Americas
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