Optinions from aspiring soldiers divided on Iraq | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Optinions from aspiring soldiers divided on Iraq

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Luis Gomez and Thomas Sanders believe the United States should follow the heed of international weapons inspectors and wait. Erika Aguilar said we should commence hurling bombs tomorrow.

The three 17-year-old seniors in South Tahoe High School’s Naval Junior ROTC program expressed their opinions on the escalating war drumbeat led by President Bush.

Gomez has his eyes set on enlisting in the Marine Corps early next year. He expects to be taking off for the Middle East a month before 2005 arrives. He has a handful of friends fighting overseas — two in Afghanistan, one in the Middle East and one at an undisclosed location. He wants a piece of the action.

Despite his thirst for combat, Gomez thinks Bush is acting with an abundance of haste and not enough patience.

“What Bush is doing is bad leadership because he wants to go at it and good leadership is to wait for the U.N. to ally with Bush,” Gomez said.

“I think Bush is jumping the gun and not allowing the inspectors to finish their inspection.”

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Gomez said if the United States decides to invade Iraq without the support from the United Nations or various European allies, he will still support his country and fight.

But if the decision comes to war with Iraq without international backing, Gomez said the situation could turn into another Vietnam or lead to a devastating World War III.

Because of his asthma, Thomas Sanders, 17, can’t enlist in the armed forces but plans to work for the CIA. He holds the same position as Gomez.

“As far as going to war with Iraq, I think Bush is being kind of stupid,” Sanders said.

“We’re going in there without a cause. It’s what we think and not what we know.”

Instead of sending troops abroad, Sanders believes the U.S. should focus on domestic issues such as the economy, unemployment and increasing defense mechanisms. He has no qualms with the federal government having increased access in surveillance measures — the opposite position of his parents.

“I have nothing to hide. I’m not a terrorist,” he said.

Aguilar is also planning to enlist in the Marines. She plans to join after graduation. Her area of interest is military police.

With the suspected arsenal of chemical and biological weapons Iraq is stockpiling in violation of U.N. regulations, Aguilar believes the United States should strike early, as soon as tomorrow.

“It’s better dying from a gunshot wound than having your lungs melted,” she said.

Lt. Cmdr. Matt Williams teaches the elective class along with Senior Chief Petty Officer Darwin Sharpe, a retired Navy SEAL. The class focuses on leadership, community involvement and military protocol such as correct uniform appearance.

Williams said he briefly touched upon Iraq during the week. He showed Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation last week to the United Nations which attempted to sway representatives that war with Iraq is necessary.

Williams, who was an attorney in the Navy, filled the blackboard as Powell listed evidence so he could later answer questions from students. Williams was unsure of the validity of war with Iraq until Powell’s case swayed him.

He said the burden is not on the United States or U.N. Security Council to show proof of Iraq’s noncompliance. The burden, he said, is on Iraq.

“They have not met that burden,” Williams said.

— E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com