Having served in Vietnam, Michael Moravan, 59, has seen the face of war first hand.
At age 24, Moravan was an officer stationed in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive and experienced the reality of city warfare. In 1996, he discovered he was terminally ill with Agent Orange induced chronic lympphocytic leukemia.
Moravan’s experience with the effects of war drives his need to educate others about what he feels are unjust wars.
“If you don’t understand history, you’ll relive it,” he said.
Moravan predicts the war in Iraq will be much like what he witnessed in Vietnam.
“All I can say is it’s going to probably be similar to Vietnam,” he said. “It will be a very difficult war like Vietnam, where we couldn’t tell the combatants.”
Moravan compares this war to the situation in Vietnam rather than the gulf war because he feels the Iraqi people will defend their city.
“My view is that the Iraqi solders will become guerillas in their own cities to defend their regime,” he said.
To Moravan, any war fought before all peaceful means of solution have been exhausted is an unjust war.
“I feel it’s an unjust war, I believe the U.S. is making a big mistake,” he said. “We should have continued to use the U.N. Inspectors.”
Moravan also fears a war in Iraq will incite retaliation by terrorists around the world.
Despite his disproval of the war in Iraq, Moravan said he isn’t against all wars. He said he supported the last gulf war because Iraq had invaded Kuwait, and was for the war in Afghanistan because the al-Qaida were in control of Afghanistan.
But because he feels there is no concrete linkage between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11 he is against this war.
“(Saddam) is a wicked person. He is cruel to his own people, but lots of dictators are like that,” he said. “It is important to distinguish why you’re doing this, Bush never showed a linkage between Sadam and 9/11.”
Jose Gonzales served in the Navy for 28 years. During the cold war, one of his duties was to shadow Russian fleets out of Cuba and into Mediterranean waters.
Having sailed to many developing countries, Gonzales said it was sad to see the way many people lived.
Gonzales compares the war in Iraq to other wars, which deal with suppressed citizens and said those governments dictate what the people do and there is no alternative or freedom.
“In Iraq, Saddam Hussein rules with an iron fist and eliminates freedoms.”
He said we are there to help the people of Iraq and to overturn an army that shoots civilians.
“Can you imagine if the U.S. killed protesters of the war,” he said. “At least we have the freedom to stand and protest the war. We live in a great country.”
Gonzales predicts this war to be lengthy and costly but necessary.
“I’m sure it will take years to get out of there, but freedom comes at a cost,” he said. “I’m proud we have a president willing to make that decision. It’s defiantly a tough decision.”
He also predicts a greater cost, the cost of life.
“We’re going to lose lives,” he said. “There’s nothing glorifying about war, but if the U.S. doesn’t help, who will?”
Lieutenant Colonel Jackson Self is a military science professor at CSU, and is a Veteran of the Gulf War of 1991 in Iraq and Operation Just Cause in Panama. He compares the War on Iraq to the Gulf War, because of the sense of urgency from the public to finish the war quickly.
“The public has pushed an unreasonable goal on the military to finish the war quickly,” he said.
The reality is past wars such as Vietnam and World War One and Two lasted for several years, Self said.
“Previous wars take months or years, we’ve come to expect that can be done,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but the American public has come to expect rapid closure.”