Students Express Uncertainty about "War on Terrorism"
By Ryan Bardsley
The U.S. has long been involved in various conflicts around the world, mostly foreign disputes that almost never directly affect its citizens, but at this moment, our situation is very different. Rarely in recent years has there been a tragedy of this magnitude in our country that has affected and influenced the opinion of so many American people. Some consider the U.S. government's "War on Terrorism" to be a justified retaliation effort, while others believe this is a mistake, only inviting more aggression against the U.S. Here at SAIC, students and faculty I spoke with offered varying opinions on this situation and spoke with uncertainty about a proper solution. However, one thing has been made clear by most of the community, that the current war is a mistake.
SAIC student Andy Morner said, "How do you stop an enemy [terrorism] that does not exist? Bomb any country in which terrorists hide? I don't think so." And many here at SAIC would agree with this freshman's sentiment. They see this bombing effort as something that will only justify more attacks on the U.S., that this war will only escalate the amount of violence. Some students feel that Afghanistan is not the target, and bombing them is not the solution. "Innocent people always die in these [U.S.] attacks," said one student. However, most of the students who spoke out against the war did not have any solutions for bringing the guilty parties to justice. Some offered vague suggestions that involved U.S./U.N. joint efforts through intelligence gathering, but none seemed to actually have a solid solution for capturing Osama bin Laden without going to war.
Still, not all students at SAIC are against this war. Students that are in support of the war, expressed anger, not directly at Afghanistan but rather at the whole situation. They are angry at the parties responsible for the World Trade Center disaster and feel that any means necessary should be used to capture those responsible. Two students felt that if the U.S. does nothing in Afghanistan, "[T]he Taliban and Osama bin Laden will continue to harm Americans."
A lack of opinion and uncertainty concerning how people think the U.S. should proceed could be the result of poor media coverage or possibly the amount of secrecy surrounding this war. Students expressed feeling overwhelmed due to the fact that this has been the top headline in all news and media coverage and the topic of many discussions in classes. Students that could not say whether or not they approved or disagreed with the war all mentioned that war is a last resort and that it is not something that they really want.
One teacher I spoke with who does not support the war expressed sorrow for the people of Afghanistan as well as the victims of the World Trade Center disaster. He felt that, because the U.S. has had such a bad history in the Middle East, the only way to stop terrorists is to eliminate any reason they have for committing acts of terror upon the U.S. "Discussions and forums that explore 'questionable' U.S. involvement in the Middle East should take place...If we were able to change some of our own actions and make up for some mistakes, we might find that people in that region change their minds about the U.S."
Students and teachers expressed disapproval but felt that this response was an almost natural American response. "Based on our history and past involvement in other countries, is it any surprise that America responded this way?" asked one student.