When Warren Haffar envisions war in Iraq, it's not a pretty pictureespecially for the country's children.
"If bombs are flying and troops are marching in, it's a terrible experience for kids," says the director of the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. "They might lose their parents. They might lose their house. They might lose their school. They might lose their friends. War is such a horrible option."
A 10-year-old is carried by her father during an anti-war rally in downtown San Francisco on February 16.
(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Wide World)
Like Haffar, many Americans oppose military action against Iraq, and they're taking their message to the streets. Last month, tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out at protests in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. This past weekend, massive crowds once again flooded cities across the U.S. with their "No War" signs and chants of peace. David Smith-Ferri was in Chicago.
"I'm against the war because it will harm innocent Iraqi civilians, and it will cost a great deal of money that could be used in the U.S. for education, health care, and public housing," says the co-coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness, an organization that opposes economic sanctions and war against Iraq.
Smith-Ferri admits he also worries about the safety of his fellow citizens, fearing that war will provoke terrorists to launch another attack on the United States.
"Terrorists are extremists," he says. "They are looking to sell their point of view and their methods to other people. If we invade Iraq and a lot of people are killed there, it's going to create more and more anger, and it will be easier for terrorists to recruit. That's the breeding ground for terrorism."
With war weighing heavily on the minds of people around the world, anti-war protests have stretched beyond American borders. Demonstrators have staged rallies in Italy, Germany, Australia, and France, as well as Japan, South Africa, and Egypt. Even in Britain, America's closest ally, an estimated 750,000 people attended last weekend's rally in London, England.
Despite worldwide protests, public support in the U.S. for war appears to be on the rise, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. In the wake of Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations and President Bush's State of the Union address, 63 percent of Americans now say they support an invasion of Iraq, with UN backing. Haffar, however, is not one of them.
"War is the least desirable outcome," he says. "We pay our diplomats to keep us out of war. If we go to war, that means we've failed. Peaceful efforts are the best way to resolve problems."