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Votes

Ready For War?

Local residents cite concerns over loss of lives — American and Iraqi.

Marching in the No War on Iraq National March on Washington, D.C. will be Gina Faber's way to speak out.

"I don't approve of the preemptive strike that our administration is planning on Iraq. I feel if I don't speak out, then I'm approving what they're doing," said the Hamilton resident, who plans to take her 6-year-old daughter to the peace march. Her husband Joe Faber, treasurer of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun, will be out of town, otherwise he would go along, she said, adding that she knows of another three to four church members planning to attend. Faber, chairperson of the church's Social Action Committee, said the administration should seek sanction from the United Nations before striking on Iraq and the inspectors there should be given time to continue their work.

"I'm certain we can bring down Saddam Hussein by other methods than an open attack," said county Supervisor Charles Harris (D-Broad Run), who was drafted in the army in 1965 and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1992, when he moved to Ashburn. Harris served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and worked on 1,500 combat missions.

Harris mentioned containment and strong foreign policies and allegiances with other nations, or consensus, as methods the United States could use before considering war. "Having two years experience at war and being retired military, I think before we set on killing other human beings, putting our own citizens in harm's way both before and after the combat and during the nation rebuilding ... we need to be sure we have weighed all the alternatives and pursued them," he said. "I'm not sure we've done that as concerns Iraq."

DEL. RICHARD BLACK (R-32) said he wishes the United States would not go to war with Iraq. "It's my prayer we can head this thing off before we head to war. I don't want to see American boys die, and I don't want to see Iraqis die either," he said, adding that an estimated 500,000 people will be killed or injured if the war takes effect.

Black, a retired colonel who lives in Lowes Island, is the only wounded veteran in the General Assembly, he said. He was wounded by shrapnel during an attack across the Hoi An River during the Vietnam War, where he served as a pilot and infantry officer from 1966 to 1967. He served for a total of 32 years, retiring in 1994.

"This one is a little bit different," Black said about the potential war with Iraq. "In the past, we have always been on the defense, and in this case, we are taking preemptive action. I suppose it's defensive in nature, but I wish we could avoid doing it."

SO DOES Frank Owens, a retired lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force. "I hate to see us go to war anytime, but if we have to we have to. That's why we elect our leaders, to make these decisions," said the Ashburn resident. "It's dangerous, very, very dangerous and not something to be done lightly."

"I would hope all reasonable steps would be taken before a decision to go to war is made, including a completion of the weapons inspection and efforts by Iraqi's neighboring nations to convince Saddam Hussein to go into exile," said state Sen. William "Bill" Mims (R-33), who lives in Sterling. "If all of those efforts are unsuccessful and the President concludes that war is necessary to prevent Iraq from using its weapons of mass destruction, then I'll support the President's decision."

School Board member John Andrews (Broad Run) agreed. "If the inspectors find evidence, either Iraq has to get rid of it, or the President will decide," he said. "I have trust in the President, but I have difficulty with what I've read or heard of any specific violations. ... It begs the question why they haven't found anything if we know for sure they've done something."