Peninsula activists voice concerns of war

Protesters debate opinions

Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2003

The can was open and worms were everywhere as war proponents and antiwar activists met again Saturday to debate their differing ideologies in front of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building on North Binkley Street in Soldotna.

"We're not trying to create conflict in the community and by no means do we not support our troops," said Karli Kay, one of the antiwar advocates whose husband currently serves in the U.S. Air Force. "But no one even knows what the war is about."

Her statement seemed to reflect the truth since nearly all of the two dozen protests had differing opinions as to what the U.S. was fighting for. Theories included domination for oil and natural resources, establishing political dominance and retribution for Sept. 11, 2001, just to name a few.

A lot of these theories had been in place for weeks, while protesters waited optimistically as United Nations' inspectors worked, diplomatic talks were ongoing and the U.N. had yet to find a resolution. Now the United States is at war, though, so the question many are asking is, "Where do we go from here?"

"It can only make the world view the U.S. more negatively now that we've moved forward without U.N. support," said Dan Funk.

Funk said he would like to see an immediate cease-fire and diplomatic talks resume but doubted the likelihood of that occurring.

"We are absolutely not pro-Saddam," said Dana Hallet, a Vietnam veteran and a father whose son-in-law is currently serving in the Gulf War.

"Saddam's a despotic leader, but my belief is the system of coercing him was working. Iraq was destroying missiles, inspectors were finding nothing -- we should have done more. What the U.S. has done instead is state sponsored terrorism, and violence begets violence," Hallet said.

Fellow protester Sherry Kasukonis agreed with Hallet. She's been demonstrating against the war every night from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Soldotna "Y" in addition to the Saturday protests.

"There are others who think the same way about the war, and we want them to know they're not alone," she said.

"I support the troops, but I don't support U.S. policy. I think the U.S. is scattering the seeds of destruction across the world, and I believe there will be a tremendous increase in terrorist activities as a result of this war."

Ed Martin Sr. came to defend U.S. policy. Martin is no stranger to conflict, having served in the Navy during the Korean War.

"I don't want war, and I don't know anyone who does, but there comes a time when a line must be drawn in the sand, and that time is now," he said.

Martin said he wanted the war to end as soon as possible and believed the way to do that was for there to be unity in supporting President George W. Bush.

"I believe this war is about stopping Saddam from spreading his will, his way of life and his culture throughout the world," said Martin. "The consequences of not standing up means our kids and grandkids could be subjected to what's being done over there."

Martin hashed out his point of view with the gathering of protesters, but the debate remained peaceful. Numerous aspects of the war were discussed and Martin stuck to his guns on each one.

As to why no weapons of mass destruction have yet been found or used by Iraq, Martin said he believed Saddam has the weapons but didn't have a chance to use them due to the efficiency in which the U.S. attacked.

Martin also defended Bush's decision to go to war without U.N. support.

"I believe the politics in the U.N. are the problem. (The U.N.) is not working based on what's right or wrong, but based on what's in it for them. They've been clouded to impotency," he said.

In regards to the growing number of casualties Martin said, "The civilians who have died, their blood is on Saddam's hands and not Bush's."

He also wasn't worried about opinions from the numerous countries opposing the war.

"The rest of the world will come on board when it's all over."

The protesters said they didn't mind Martin's appearance but said they weren't swayed by it either.

"It's good to have dialogue," said Hallet in regards to Martin's presence. "It's a good model of how the world can solve its differences."

Despite numerous conflicting opinions on how it should be done, but both groups agreed on one thing: the war should end quickly so troops can return home safely.

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