[This story was updated on 03.20.03 at 6:49 p.m. ET.]
It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or member of the working class, everyone feels affected by the war in Iraq, and many people are starting to weigh in with opinions.
Among people voting in MTVNews.com’s polls, 60 percent either strongly support or somewhat support the action, while 37 percent are either strongly opposed or somewhat opposed to the war.
“War is never a first option — it is our last option,” 20-year-old Katie of Lubbock, Texas, wrote in an e-mail to MTV. “The U.S. had been diplomatic for 12 years. How much longer were we supposed to wait?”
Jen of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, insisted that if the United States sees a potential threat, it should not let it linger. “Personally, I would rather take care of this now than leave it to our children to suffer with,” the 23-year-old wrote. “Few may support war, but we all support freedom.”
“I ask war protesters to get off their high horses and take a good look at the atrocities and the undignified deaths of Kurds and Iraqis that Saddam Hussein is responsible for,” 17-year-old Dana, who is half Kurdish and lives in London, wrote. “Before I did research on the feelings of the Iraqi people, I was against this war. Now I believe that Iraqis would rather die trying for freedom than at the hand of Saddam’s persecution and torture.”
Brad Arnold, like his 3 Doors Down bandmates, has been outspoken in his support of the soldiers, but he doesn’t want to see mass destruction. “I have all the confidence in the world in our troops,” he said. “Nobody wants war, short of someone who’s insane. We all know what war brings, and that’s what we’re gonna try to minimalize. We don’t want any loss of life, we just want an evil man gone.”
South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, who has spoken out against the Bush administration in the past, said the U.S. should be united in its support of the troops. “I think today and for the foreseeable future it’s important for us to be unified,” he told MTV News on Thursday. “I think it’s critical that we have the opportunity to speak out. We ought to encourage the noise of democracy and public debate. [But] there’s a time and a place; today is a time for unity.”
Others refuse to remain silent about their distrust of Bush’s decision making, and some even allege he’s on a power trip.
“With the unimaginable levels of economic, cultural and military weight that the United States has, there must come humility and restraint,” U2 frontman Bono declared. “I’m all for President Bush trying to scare the sh– out of Saddam Hussein, but you have to bring along the rest of the world. … People need to understand what this is about, and I support them all the way to the point where they go to war without the United Nations behind them. That is a mistake, because that looks like the U.S. doesn’t need to explain itself, and I think it does.”
While Bono wants to hear from the government, Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden said those in power should be listening to the people.
“I wish the protests would get acknowledged,” he said Thursday on “TRL.” “I’m the biggest patriot there is. I’m behind America 100 percent. My friends are over there as troops and I’m behind them 100 percent. But the way our government is supposed to work is they are supposed to acknowledge [the protests]. The president hasn’t shown anything to me that [Iraq] definitely has nuclear missiles pointed at us.”
“This is really the first time in America’s history where there’s been such a huge and growing anti-war movement prior to a war starting,” Audioslave’s Tom Morello told MTV News just a few hours after the U.S. struck Iraq. “I think you’re gonna see it get much bigger now that Bush has declared war. The thing that people realize is this is not America’s war. This is George Bush’s war.
“I just now saw Bush’s speech on TV, and frankly it was really appalling. He said we will not live at the mercy of a regime that will threaten a world’s peace. Well, that is something I can definitely agree with, and a lot of Americans believe it is George Bush’s administration which is the regime right now that’s threatening world peace.”
Morello is not alone in believing that the president has misused his authority.
“I’m totally against the war in Iraq,” P. Diddy declared on “TRL.” Diddy, who’s working on plans to collaborate on an anti-war song, was onstage in Miami Wednesday night when the U.S. launched its initial “decapitation strike.” “I’ve been praying that this day wouldn’t happen. My prayers go out to the innocent lives being lost in Iraq. We have it good; they’re not invading America. It seems everything was not done to avoid this war.”
“I’m not feeling this at all,” 34-year-old Pedro Torres of New York insisted Thursday morning while walking to work in Times Square. “It’s a money thing. Why can’t they leave well enough alone? When is enough enough?”
Torres has a brother, a cousin and two uncles fighting in the U.S. military. “God forbid I have to bury any of them for what I feel is nonsense,” Torres continued. “My mom is going crazy. She already lost a son in Desert Storm. You have a lot of good people that are going to give their lives for nothing. It’s senseless to me. It’s pointless.”
“Sometimes I think that we see war as a virtual thing, and we even get to believe that bombs fall on top of cardboard cutouts, and they don’t,” singer Shakira said. “They kill real people, real children, real mothers. I think that the leaders know the answer to the conflict, it’s just sometimes they don’t want to use those solutions because they just want to continue playing their little game of power.”
Regardless of people’s opinions on whether or not the war is justified, people are unanimous in saying they don’t want to see many casualties. For 19-year-old Mohammed, an Iraqi student at the University of Baghdad, the war has already hit too close to home.
“I received a call from my mother, whose house was next to where Bush struck our beautiful city,” he said. “Her 85-year-old mother had a heart attack from the noise and shock. Innocent people are dying, and for what? I am deeply saddened.”
“My father is in Kuwait on his second combat mission,” 18-year-old Samantha of Woodlawn, Tennessee, wrote. “With this war actually happening, it’s overwhelming. My family is in pieces. I feel like everything is out of control.”
“You hear about war in other countries, but you never think it could happen to you,” 14-year-old Sarah from Barboursville, West Virginia, wrote. “I can’t swallow the fact that it is truly happening, that people are really dying out there.”
“I was praying Saddam would step down, if not for him, for his people,” Fat Joe explained on “TRL.” “I was hoping the war would never take place. TV is almost like a reality series going on. People are dying. … We caught a little glimpse on September 11, but we don’t understand what they go through.”
Joe, like everyone else, hopes we don’t have any more attacks in the U.S., but he said he’s not sure it won’t happen. “The reality is there might be some terrorist acts. Terrorism has no limitations. It’s just super scary, and nobody really knows what could happen.”
“It’s a matter of [living in] safety now,” Grammy nominee John Mayer said of the war. “It’s not a matter of comfort. I think that that’s a new thing for people to get use to.”
Method Man said people cannot be too scared and should carry on with business as usual. “How you fight [the threat of terrorism]? You live your life, that’s how you fight it. That’s the best thing that came out of the terrorist thing [on September 11]. The president said just keep on living your life. That was the best jewel right there.”
If U.S. military efforts are successful, Russell Simmons, who has been involved in the anti-war campaign, said he hopes President Bush makes good on his promise to liberate Iraq. “I pray we show the world a better face,” he said. “I hope we put someone better [than Hussein] in place.”