LONDON-Although I have noticed many differences between England and Colorado since I arrived here two weeks ago to study abroad – I’ve almost been run over a couple of times because I looked the wrong way when crossing the street, a bottle of Budweiser costs more here than a pint of Guinness from the tap, and people sat in traffic for 5 hours because of 2 inches of snow – I have noticed one striking similarity: a strong contingent against a war in Iraq.
The two nations leading the pressure on Saddam Hussein have seen a number of protests against a possible war over the last couple of weeks. Washington, D.C. recently was host to an anti-war protest that was the largest protest of any kind there since Vietnam. Similar protests have occurred here in London. This past weekend I even saw one in the Welsh coastal town of Swansea, where my roommate from CSU is studying abroad.
The possibility of war definitely seems to be a topic of discussion around Parliament and the people in Britain.
When the dean of students here at Middlesex University came and spoke to the new international students during orientation last week, he wore a pin advocating a stop to the war. This man wore a suit like Dr. Evil’s and told us how Germans were tortured at the campus we were at during WWII. I thought if Dr. Evil is against the war, then it may be a little more than quasi-evil.
In a recent poll by the Sunday Telegraph here in London, only 24 percent of those polled said British Prime Minister Tony Blair had convinced them Saddam was dangerous enough to warrant action.
The U.N. Security Council recently heard the first report by Hans Blix, head of the weapons inspectors. The stated that Saddam has not been complying with total disarmament and Iraq still has chemical and biological weapons, but that a nuclear program has yet to be found.
I am just hoping that the U.S. and U.K. are very careful and listen to their own people before deciding to go to war. I don’t recall a time when there was such opposition to a war before it even occurred. I cannot say the possible war is wrong, because hopefully it will be avoided and Saddam has killed thousands of his own people and is a threat. However, if the decision is made for it to occur, the U.S. and Britain need their allies.
France recently joined Germany in opposition to military action in Iraq, and U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld upset many people in Europe when he said he thought Germany and France represented “old Europe.” These types of comments are not making the U.S. any more popular.
So far, I think the U.S. and Britain are doing a good job. Bush and Blair recently said they would wait until the next report from Blix to see if Iraq starts complying before making any decision about an attack. It seems to me from what I’ve seen that Blair genuinely believes stopping Hussein before something terrible happens it is the right and moral thing to do. I sometimes get the feeling, however, that Bush wants war no matter the results of the weapons inspections. I hope I’m wrong.
As one of my friends in the Air Force ROTC at CSU reminded me last semester, I will be fully behind our men and women in the armed forces if they are ordered to go into Iraq and remove Saddam. I think the people that spit on American soldiers during Vietnam disgraced our country and I am very appreciative to those in the armed forces. However, just because I am supportive of the armed forces, I may not always be supportive of the decision to put them in harm’s way.
From what I gather here in Britain, many feel the same way.
Vince is a junior technical journalism and political science double major. He is currently studying abroad at Middlesex University in north London. E-mail him comments at Vblaser17@aol.com