As the administration prepares for war with Iraq, a new mantra has emerged
in the campaign to win the hearts and minds of Americans and, in effect, put Saddam
Hussein on notice.
"America speaks with one voice," says President Bush.
In Washington, Bush, having been empowered by both houses of Congress to use
force, seems to face very little opposition on Iraq.
On the streets of America, nothing could be further from the truth.
Across the nation, in city after city, ABCNEWS found voices of opposition,
and many of them were from military towns.
"I am not convinced President Bush has yet made the case," said Miles Harvey,
a San Diego retiree. San Diego is home port to the Navy's Pacific Fleet, which
directly employs more than 100,000 people.
Anti-war protestors are not convinced that Bush has successfully made his case
for attacking Iraq. (ABCNEWS.com)
"We have to be convinced that there is a credible threat from Iraq and that's
what I haven't seen," said Harvey.
Algene Miller, a Vietnam War veteran, said he was worried about potential
"You can't have a war without them," he said. "I know, I've been there."
On the other side of the country, in Charleston, S.C. home to The
Citadel military college and Charleston Air Force Base there is also opposition,
especially from those who remember U.S. forces becoming bogged down in Vietnam
while losing support back home.
"If the president could show a clear and present danger I would support action
against Iraq, but I don't support it without any evidence, " said Robert Rhame,
a retired businessman who served in Vietnam.
"To me, our economy is far more important than removing Saddam Hussein from
power," he said.
Skepticism Over Presidents Motives
In the Central Plains states, there is concern about the prospect of the United
Staets going to war alone.
At a coffee shop in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood, homemaker Christa
Rogers said unilateral action would be a mistake. "I think we have to go with
other people, other countries, I don't think we can take this on, on our own,"
Her friend Cathy Roper agreed. "It all seems too fast," Roper added. "We need
to do something, but it seems like it's really being shoved onto everybody, it
seems too fast."
In addition to concern over timing and unilateral pre-emptive action, people
question the president's motives. Many people told ABCNEWS they thought it was
a "diversion from the faltering economy."
Debra Cassens, a businesswoman from San Diego, said it was about revenge.
"Bush is trying to settle a score that began with his father," she said referring
to the failed Iraqi assassination attempt on the president's father following
the Persian Gulf War.
John Schneider, also from San Diego, said, "I think the president wants to
take action to enhance his own position.
"The war powers resolution was timed to benefit those running for election
this November," Schneider said.
Although organized demonstrations have yet to produce large crowds, there
have been several protests. In Los Angeles, 3,000 people gathered outside the
federal building this month and chanted "no war," while a group of American Indians
staged a peace dance nearby.
In Portland, Ore., approximately 6,000 people recently crowded the narrow
streets to march and be heard while about 10,000 people gathered in New York City's
Central Park to oppose war plans.
"What concerns me," said Rhame, the retired Vietnam War vet, "is what we do
over there could bring more terror to the United States."
Denver resident Cassens agreed. "We need to build some bridges with the Muslim
world, not make things worse," she said.
Contrary to what the president says, when it comes to war, Americans do not
speak with one voice. A national day of protest has been scheduled for Oct. 26.
Copyright © 2002 ABC News Internet Ventures