Contacted immediately after the president's speech, readers of The Daily Astorian were split.
Some thought Bush made a clear case for a pre-emptive strike. Others were wary and skeptical.
"I do not think war is the answer, but I give total and complete support to our troops," commented Judy Sivley of Warrenton. "No matter what Mr. Bush says, I always get the feeling he is just trying to finish what his daddy started."
Her comments came as members of a new Daily Astorian Internet readers' group were asked, "After hearing the president Monday night, are you more reassured or less reassured about his tough stance on Iraq, and why? Did President Bush make a compelling case for war? If so, please explain."
Their comments in this story are edited for length and clarity. For the full texts of readers' replies, log on to The Daily Astorian's Web site at www.dailyastorian.com
Reader Dick Thompson of Astoria said the speech was compelling, but said the 48-hour deadline was a problem. "Rather, he should have said 'get the hell out now or suffer the consequences.' If the world leaders would have done this to Hitler in the 1930s, we would not have had to lose so many lives in World War ll."
Rick Baumann, a reader who lives in Salem, also strongly believes that President Bush and his advisors made a good case. "The current Iraqi regime continues to be a threat to Middle East regional stability, as well to world peace. Saddam Hussein has flouted 17 U.N. resolutions calling for him to disarm since the end of hostilities at the end of the Gulf War. Every time a new resolution comes up, the Iraqi government feigns cooperation to appease the U.N.
"Saddam has murdered thousands of his own people, many with chemical weapons. He continues to use the proceeds from oil sales, which are supposed to be going to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people, to build palaces for himself and his cronies.
He said U.S. opposition to action in Iraq is small. In Astoria a few weeks ago, 300 people protested. "Three hundred out of a countywide population of 36,000 leads to a very small percentage (8/10ths of 1 percent). Most of the United States have been in support of the president from the beginning. While no sane being wants war, most believe in their duly elected officials. Many believe that the only reason our president wants to go to war is for oil. Here's a little economic lesson. After Iraq is liberated and starts producing oil at pre-invasion levels, the supply of oil will rise dramatically and the price will plummet. To say that any president of the United States would intentionally send our troops into combat for the sake of money is just downright asinine."
Judy Myers of Warrenton noted Bush's action seemed inevitable. "I believe that the president's agenda has been set from the beginning and would not change no matter whatever else happened. I have always believed and will continue to believe that America should never make 'the first strike.' The damage to our international reputation will be irreparable."
Reader Fred Gates of Carlsbad, Calif., agreed. He described Bush's speech as "chilling in its single-minded drive to flex his might."
"Justifying his actions, Mr. Bush said, regarding his reasons to invade Iraq, 'The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundred of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other.' The key word here is 'Could.' Remember it. He went on, 'Before the day of horror can come, before it is to late to act, this danger will be removed.' Remember the word 'before.' And finally, 'The United States of America has sovereign authority to use force in assuring it' s own national security.' In justifying his reasons to attack Iraq, the president has established a philosophy that if a country 'could' possibly attack, strike that country 'before' a possible attack. Future security demands it.
"Following that pronouncement, we now live in a world where any country can attack any other country if it feels that country could possible attack it sometime. And since the United States is the biggest, strongest country and perhaps the world's newest bully, we're justified. Actually, there' s nothing new here. Not only countries but people act this way to get their will accomplished. And while we may well be justified in this case, what happens when other countries use this pretext to attack other countries? We've opened the floodgates for any other country to use our justifications for aggression."
In contrast, Philip Morrill of Astoria was supportive of the president. "Our fight is not with the people of Iraq, but with the leader of Iraq who has worked to establish himself as a demagogue, not caring at all about the Iraqi people, but only what will help him reach his goal of re-establishing the Babylonian kingdom with himself as king. He is not a Muslim leader, but has joined their ranks to get them on his side for his purposes. Unfortunately he has brain-washed most the citizens of Iraq into thinking he is looking our for their good.
"My hope is that the conflict will be even shorter than the last one, and that Hussein can removed from power with a minimum of loss of life for the Iraqi people. ... I normally would count myself more of the pacifist side, however, when we are dealing with a madman, we must do what is necessary to stop him or many more lives will be lost."
Another subscriber, Fred Thaller of Salt Lake City, suggested other issues should have higher priority. "I would feel better if Bush took the same strong position with all the world's dictators. Kim of North Korea presents a much greater threat to us than Saddam. There are 15 to 20 dictators in the world who are greater threats to their own people than Saddam is to his.
"Why can't the United States have a fair, but firm, foreign policy that never waivers with the political winds - one that isn't subject to every political whim? Perhaps, if we based our policies on truth, fairness and equality, instead of self-interest, we would gain more respect around the world. We need to give more people in other countries a chance for informed democracy. We need to stop supporting dictators of any stripe just to further our own often misguided goals. There has to be a better way to remove dictators, like Saddam, than causing great harm to the people of Iraq and our own soldiers."
Jaeson Koszarsky, another Internet subscriber who lives in Pennsylvania, asked: "Why is war the only solution that the Bush regime can offer? When a superior military force attacks a weaker force, how does the weaker defend itself or counter attack? ... Bush's agenda of global pre-emptive strikes, leadership changes, and forced democracy will result in bloodshed on a global scale. Hatred breeds hatred. Bush can ask for God's blessings on one hand and with the other disregard the teachings of what he supposedly holds in high regard. He lacks the wisdom and guidance of a leader. His present course of action is probably the biggest threat to global peace."
This is the first time The Daily Astorian has solicited immediate reader responses through the new Internet group. Suggestions are welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org