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Local seniors ambivalent about war
March 21st, 2003
There are cultures in which leaders consult with community elders before embarking on matters of great importance, including, of course, war.
If President George W. Bush had visited Chai Point Senior Living Apartment Complex and listened to an informal discussion with residents, perhaps he might not have made his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein Monday evening, which was set to expire at press time.
This is not a war of ethics. This is a war of money, power and oil, said Ateret Cohn on Tuesday. Why should my son die for that? I wouldnt send my children to war.
Id rather send my sons to Israel to defend Israel but not to save the world. I feel sorry for George Bush; hes caught. Hes not that bright a man, Cohn added.
Tempers ran high as some 20 residents met in the Chai Point library to discuss issues surrounding the war. At one point, the discussion became so heated one resident rose in frustration and left the room.
Yet many of the seniors expressed ambivalence and fear about the war.
On the one hand, said Bertha Arne, if we can stop a monster from doing so much damage, the war is worthwhile, a position that national polls taken by the Washington Post and ABC News Monday evening showed was shared by seven out of ten Americans.
On the other hand, she said, its the aftermath thats the problem, a position likewise held by half of the nation.
Moreover, added Arne, I think Israel will get the brunt of it.
Bush is asking for 90 billion [dollars] right now. You can imagine our great-great-grandchildren will be paying for the war because were still paying for [the Vietnam War,] said resident Sadie Weiner.
Jay Balin, who was at Chai Point visiting his mother, joined the discussion. The question is, he said, What are the choices? If you dont get Hussein out, over time he will do even greater damage.
Though I think the president did a terrible job enlisting support for the war, he said one thing that resonated on Monday night: To wait for the other guy to hit first is suicide. I agree with that.
Still, feelings against the war and criticism of Bush pulsed through the room. Now Bush has no choice [about the war] said Weiner.
But whether he did the right thing depends on what you call a just war, she explained. If youve been attacked, its a just war. But we havent been attacked.
Eugene Bingenheimer agreed: Bush is just obsessed by that war. You could see it during the State of the Union address. When he spoke about domestic issues, it was like he was reading a laundry list. But when he talked about the war, his whole face lit up.
Furthermore, Bingenheimer added, [Saddam Hussein] is not a terrorist. Hes a no-good bum, but hes not the one who carried out the terrorist attack in New York. I try not to see it or listen to it because, when I do, I get mad.
Most of the seniors involved in the discussion experienced World War II, either in the United States or in Europe, and their experiences shape their feelings about a possible war with Iraq.
Ethel Scklore explained, I think this is the scariest war weve ever had and I go back to 1918. Now you have the chemicals and all the bombs.
Bingenheimer added, As bad as World War II was, it was a conventional war, before the end. It was shooting and blowing up things. It was nothing like what we have today.
It used to be the ocean protected us. Now youre not safe anywhere. Theres never been anything like this in the history of the world, he said.
One woman agreed, Its going to be a terrific, terrific kind of war.
To that, many of the residents could only murmur their assent.