Steamboat Springs The impending war in Iraq is hanging heavy on the minds of high school students right now. As 17-year-olds, about to graduate from high school, it will be their friends, boyfriends and maybe themselves who will take up arms.
At the forefront of their conversation is fear of a possible draft. They compared their experience to the lives of their parents during Vietnam.
"They say, 'The youth of today don't know anything. They don't have any life experience,' but they didn't either before Vietnam,'" Teen Style member Lia Kozatch said.
On Feb. 5, four Teen Style members -- Kozatch, Greg Packer (known to the world as "Dirty Harry"), Dorian Geldmeier and Kelly Ascher -- met in the Steamboat Pilot & Today offices to share their thoughts.
"The country has it in its head that we are going to go to war," Ascher said, "but it's not the citizens deciding. It's the government."
At first, students expressed concern about the possibility of war, but as conversation progressed, they all admitted that even though war has not been declared, it seems inevitable.
"I agree with what we are doing," Geldmeier said. "We'll regret it if we don't take action. It's like with Sept. 11. It could have been prevented. People don't want to go to war, but if something bad happens and the evidence was there, they will be mad."
Packer was more concerned that the United States may try to solve all of its problems at once by fighting wars on two fronts -- Iraq and North Korea.
With two wars on the horizon, what he saw was an inevitable draft.
"That's scary," Packer said. "I'm turning 17."
Kozatch agreed that the draft would affect everyone her age, including her friends.
She has heard stories her entire life from members of her parents' generation about the Vietnam War, she said.
"My dad was
in college during Vietnam," she said. "He didn't have to go, but his uncle went and he's never been the same. They lived with it the rest of their lives. This war will change my generation."
She heard stories, she said, of how many people in that generation lost friends -- either because they didn't go or because they did.
Geldmeier said he didn't think losses in a war with Iraq would be as great as in Vietnam, largely because of the current era of military technology.
"I don't think it will be as drastic," he said. "I don't think it will affect America as much. There will be a low American death toll."
Kozatch said there may not be many American deaths, but the death toll in Iraq will undoubtedly be high.
"For the last 10 years, Iraq has never been able to get back on their feet," she said. "I'm not so concerned about Americans as I am about Iraqis in their villages just trying to survive."
"They should not have to die for oil or for foreign policy," Kozatch added. "There will be a lot of civilian casualties and I'm pretty sure that Hussein doesn't care as long as he is safe."
All present agreed that Saddam was a tyrant.
"Could he possibly have more enemies?" Packer said. "What does he have to lose if he does one more thing? He can't make anymore people mad."
"Just think, Hussein was re-elected by 100 percent of the vote," Kozatch said. "Those people are afraid."
But who will rule Iraq if the United States overthrows Saddam?
"America can't just go in there and start ruling," Kozatch said. "I think the moral of the story from the first Gulf War is 'Think ahead.'"