Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Students greet Chabot with war questions



By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DELHI TOWNSHIP - Forget about education or the economy. Students at Delhi Middle School wanted their congressman to talk about the impending war with Iraq.

Hours before President Bush addressed the nation, Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati was peppered with war questions during a visit Monday to the 640-student middle school.

"The kids clearly have been thinking about the same issues that all Americans are thinking about right now," Chabot said.

"In some ways, it's too bad that our kids have to be facing such an important issue as war.

"One would prefer that we were talking more about how to make our education system better, how to get the economy moving again, how to put people back to work."

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Delhi Middle School students wanted to know:

Are we going to war?

"I hope we don't have to go to war. ... I do support the president in taking military action if he feels it's necessary," Chabot said. "There's still a chance it might be avoided, but it's a very slim chance."

Why don't we wait until we have more allies with us?

Chabot told the students that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke the agreement he made after the Persian Gulf War to get rid of chemical and biological weapons. And, he said, the United States is vulnerable because Saddam could convey those weapons to terrorists.

"Why can't we wait any longer? We know he has these weapons still, and we're afraid he is going to use them against our people. ... We're not safe anymore."

Why don't the French support us?

"The French have always been somewhat difficult to deal with, diplomatically," Chabot said. France isn't as powerful as it once was, Chabot said, and leading the countries that are against the United States on this issue gives France some power.

If we attack Iraq, will they attack us?

"We're in a different world now, not only in Washington, which could be a target, but any city could be a target nowadays of terrorism. ... Even Cincinnati could be, so we all have to be vigilant. We all have to make sure we do everything we can to prevent the terrorists from being successful."

Following Chabot's visit, students talked about a possible war.

"I don't think we should go to war right away," said Ethan Perry, 11, a sixth-grader. "I think we need to give (Saddam) some chances, even though he's not listening, because a lot of people could get killed if we do go to war."

Austin Tyler, 12, a seventh-grader, said, "I'm kind of against it, but with it, because my uncle is over there. I want Saddam Hussein unarmed, but I don't want them to lose their lives just to try to unarm him."

E-mail ckranz@enquirer.com.

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