Thursday, March 20, 2003

Voices from the Tristate

Leaders react to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Rabbi Michael Zedek

"All other options have been exhausted," said Rabbi Michael Zedek, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The rabbi said there are about 20,000 Jews in Greater Cincinnati.

"If we're serious about the danger and if we're serious about the requirements of disarmament that the Iraqi regime has ignored for 12 years, yes, he's exhausted those options. (But) will the world be safer because of this action? I don't know.

"That is the great gamble."

Dr. Inayat Malik

"We at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati are greatly concerned at the start of war on Iraq and disappointed at the failure of diplomacy to achieve a peaceful resolution within the time frame specified by the president," said Dr. Inayat Malik, an Indian Hill resident who is president of the center in West Chester.

"We are quite concerned about the safety of our troops. At the same time we are deeply sympathetic to the long-suffering civilians in Iraq who have faced decades of hardship and oppression. We are praying for a quick end to the war with the least possible loss of human life."

"The (roughly 15,000) Muslims in the area are like all other Americans that are going to be affected by the anxiety that comes from being involved in an armed conflict," Malik said.

U.S. Sen. George Voinovich

"The military action that we had hoped and prayed to avoid is upon us," said U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"It is our responsibility to finish the job begun by the U.N. and end the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction," the senator said in a statement.

Patrick Schmalle

"I'm nervous,'' said Patrick Schmalle, as he sat in his living room in Cleves with his wife, Vicki, watching the first sketchy reports of narrowly targeted airstrikes in Baghdad.

Mr. Schmalle has reason to be nervous - his 19-year-old son Michael and Michael's best friend, Dale Thomas of Cleves, are in Kuwait with the Army's 1st Armored Division, poised for the ground invasion of Iraq. A second son, 22-year-old Patrick Schmalle, is at Fort Hood, Texas; he was to have been deployed to Turkey but his status is now on hold.

"All I have done all day long is watch the news,'' Mr. Schmalle said. "I really didn't expect this tonight. I really thought it was a day or two away. Now all we can do is hope that it is quick."

Allison Clary

"I think a lot of people are feeling pretty helpless right now," said Allison Clary, a senior psychology and criminal justice major at Xavier University. She gathered with students and Xavier faculty to discuss the new war.

"We're talking a lot of the people of Iraq," said the Terre Haute, Ind., native. "We certainly don't see it as a liberation of the people. A lot of people are deeply saddened and I think that's where I am right now."

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell

"President Bush and our troops have my strong support," said U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "Saddam Hussein is a ruthless dictator... He remains a threat to the region and the world, and he must be removed from power."

"The people of Kentucky understand the importance of this just mission for the future security of our great nation," he said in a statement.

Pat Moeller

After Wednesday night's annual dinner for the Lane Public Library in Hamilton, nearly 30 people gathered at Bleachers Lounge inside the Hamiltonian Inn. Loud conversations and laughter halted immediately when President Bush appeared on TV screens.

"You could've heard a pin drop," said Pat Moeller, a trustee for the Friends of Lane Public Library. "I've got to admit that I've never felt this much anxiety in my life. I'm not sure this is going to be like when we overwhelmed (Iraq) in the desert back in 1991. Because of new technology, they might have something that could come back at us. It's just very, very scary."

Tim Rodenberg, Jr.

"I'm not going to sleep tonight. I'm looking for news that Saddam Hussein is gone," said Clermont County Sheriff A.J. "Tim" Rodenberg Jr.

The sheriff's son, Niq, is a Marine with a helicopter and was stationed somewhere in Kuwait.

"The time for political debate is over. Let get it done," said Rodenberg, who had wanted more information about the threat against America. "I have no reservations now. The quicker it's over, the better."

The former Marine, who leads a department where a handful of employees are reservists or National Guardsmen now on active duty, went Wednesday night with his family to a planned prayer service at the Vineyard Church in Milford.

"Prayer certainly helps," he said.

U.S. Rep. Rob Portman

"We simply cannot allow Saddam Hussein to defy the international community and continue to develop and hide weapons of mass destruction. I wish this conflict could have been avoided, but I believe it will ultimately make our world safer. My thoughts and prayers are with our brave men and women in our armed forces and their families. Our nation is proud of them, and indebted to them.''

U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas

"Congress was updated earlier today ... It was obvious the attack was imminent. I've been a little taken aback by the attack tonight," said U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Richwood.

The Bush administration "called an audible on this target of opportunity tonight," he said.

Howard Wilkinson, William Weathers, Susan Vela

'I'll see you all when it's over,' Marine e-mails from the desert
Cheers, sadness in Tristate greet airstrikes
New intelligence contributed to decision to start air strikes
War 101: Conflict is center stage in some classrooms
Local Iraqi-American feels the glares
Churches, members often split on war
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