Americans hope for a quick end

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

Two war veterans sat at a Rhode Island tavern, raising their shots of whiskey up high, offering a toast as Iraqis awoke to falling American bombs.

''Here's to very few fatalities and a very quick victory,'' Ken Sullivan and Harry Church said from Art's Tavern in Portsmouth.

Other Americans had a different focus: that the country was making a mistake.

Email newsletter signup

''We'll win this, it's no contest … but the final outcome is not going to be a good one for us in the international community,'' said the Rev. Chet Guinn, a retired Methodist minister in Des Moines, Iowa.

Americans were glued to television sets showing the first moments of war Wednesday night. Some prayed, while others sobbed. There was a lot of anger directed at Saddam Hussein, and some at President Bush as well.

It's about time, some said. Applause and cheers rang out at bars and sporting events.

''I'm all for it,'' said Vince Diamonde of New York City, the place hardest hit by the Sept. 11 attacks. ''You had to live here to understand it. We lost everything you can imagine.''

A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll released Monday said the American public, by a 2-1 margin, generally supports military action against Iraq to remove Saddam, a slight increase from recent weeks. Opinion was evenly divided when people were asked about an attack without an attempt to gain U.N. backing.

''I hope it ends quickly,'' said Scott Casey, an Oklahoma City mortgage broker. ''I hope there aren't many lives lost and I hope that everyone understands that George W. Bush has done a good job by proving Saddam Hussein has been lying.''

Walter Christiansen, a Minneapolis resident, said the bombings would show potential terrorists the United States means business.

''This will put all those people on notice that we won't tolerate it,'' he said. ''I'm hopeful that this will be an action that will lead to long-term world peace.''

Others were worried about the country's reputation.

''I hope they made the right decision in what we are doing because in doing this, we're losing a lot of ties with other countries,'' said Meagan MacLeod, 22, as she waited to catch a bus in downtown Providence, R.I. ''I don't want a World War III.''

Honolulu resident Tim Rupright said President Bush's administration has been ''totally arrogant'' in dealing with Iraq.

''I think it's a mistake,'' he said. ''Certainly there are merits to the attack, but I think the way the Bush Administration is going about it is terribly wrong.''

Baltimore peace activist Max Obuszewski said many war opponents had accepted that violence was almost inevitable.

''Some of us were looking for that miracle, but we knew that George Bush wasn't going to listen to the progressive movement,'' he said.

In Hinesville, Ga., Julie Samples, the wife of a field artillery sergeant expressed the one wish everyone seemed to share: that the war end as soon as possible.

''I'm praying that God will just protect them and keep them safe and they'll just do their job and hurry home,'' she said.


EDITOR'S NOTE - Angie Wagner is the AP's Western regional writer, based in Las Vegas.