Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Ordinary Americans Are Burdened with Anxiety

Over the past week or more since the United States started the war against Iraq, US civilians have focused their attention on the warfare while their hearts "are changing like 15 buckets in a well".


The Number of US Soldiers Casualties in Recent Year Wars
A few days ago, US President George W. Bush traveled a long way to the central headquarters in Florida to deliver a speech there, with the aim of boosting the morale of US troops and telling the American people that "it is too early" to talk about the end of the war, and so it is necessary to have adequate psychological preparation.

Bush's remark dealt specifically with the mindsets of ordinary American people. Over the past week or more since the United States started the war against Iraq, US civilians have focused their attention on the warfare while their hearts "are changing like 15 buckets in a well".

First, they have fear after the event. As the war just started, the US military made a great whoop about and displayed the power of its modernized weapons and enormously exaggerated its strength that US troops would use powerful force to "shock and awe" the enemy and bring about "prompt military decision" and that the war would end with "zero casualty" of US troops.

US news media also echoed this by exaggeration, many ordinary people therefore took this to be true, thinking that "overthrowing Saddam Hussein" is as easy as treading an ant to death, and that the Iraq war could be ended in a couple of days. At that time, many Americans even ceased talking about the war, instead, they discussed more about what benefit would be brought to the United States after the war. As a result, on the first day after the start of the war, the stock market saw a rapid rise.

However, after a few days, especially the past two days, "Saddam who survived the bombing is still exerting determined efforts", US endeavor to "take Baghdad directly" was blocked and casualties were increasing everyday, take what the Pentagon earlier proved alone, more than 20 US soldiers have been killed, seven have been missing and another seven captured.

According to reports from foreign news agencies, more than 100 American soldiers have died, people were "shocked" to see the captives and the bodies of the deceased shown on TV program. The families of those deaths and captives, in particular, were seen with tears running down their faces and choking with sob. Parents of the deaths felt as if a knife were being twisted in their hearts, they earnestly requested President Bush to call off battles at an early date, so as to avoid the recurrence of more tragedies; the hearts of the family members of the captives were torn with worries, they "requested President Bush to try to find ways at once to free US soldiers from endurance of hardships and let them come home safe and sound as soon as possible".

Holding the photos of the deceased in their hands, some family members of the dead were so grieved that they were about not to live, they charged Bush with starting the war, but not his son and daughter were sent to their doom. These scenes of event have haunted family members of all personnel participating in the war with fear. Some family members say that they have been unable to sleep all night over the past week since the start of the war, and are afraid that military men would come at daytime to ring the doorbell (report news about somebody's death).

For most American civilians, they are as if waking from a dream. They said surprisingly "it turns out that our strength is actually not so strong". That is the latest reaction of many people who follow the warfare closely. A person named Kent in Wisconsin said: I didn't expect that we would lose so many people, it seems that our strength is not so strong as originally estimated. Someone named Jilander in Chicago said: Now we will no longer believe those high-sounding words uttered before the start of the war, the US troops really make one feel worry. A nurse in California said: "The war situation is worse than what I've imagined". The fact that US troops suffered setbacks has caused a fall in the stock market.

A latest poll has also reflected the reversal of the Americans' feelings and views along with change in the war situation, the index of confidence in America's easy winning victory has dropped from last Friday's 71 percent to 38 percent. People who have returned to realities have long before given up their illusion about a "prompt military decision", they have begun to worry about how long the war will go on, how many more casualties US troops will still have to suffer and how much the taxpayers will have to pay out of their own pockets.

Second, they are more worried about terrorist attacks. In order to launch the war against Iraq, the US government has tried its utmost to convince the American people that in order to thoroughly combat terrorism and ensure US security, it is imperative to launch pre-emptive military attacks on those terrorists who have obtained and been using weapons of mass destruction or those countries which support terrorists, only by doing so is it possible to dispel worry about homes in the rear. This set of "theories" or reasons has indeed won the support of some conservative forces.

However, since the start of the war, many Americans have come to see that it is not easy to cope with Saddam, furthermore, Saddam has long before said that their battles with the Americans would be carried out in any places around the world, either on the ground, in the air or in the waters. Many anti-war people say the US government's practice is very stupid. They add that you strike someone a blow, the latter return you a kick, but the government even fails to understand this simplest truth. Such being the case, many people are worried that the war will cast more terrorist shadows on the United States and bring much more terror.

Ordinary Americans have become even more nervous since the outbreak of the Iraq

War plus the escalation of emergency signals of all-American defense against terrorist attacks. Every household is busy "making preparations against war and natural disasters", fearing that terrorists would put poison in water. All households have water reserves enough at least for three days; and they store solid food for at least three days, they have prepared some electric torches and candles for use in time when power supply is cut off; they guard against terrorists' attacks with biochemical weapons, many people have bought gas masks, more families have bought adhesive strips for sealing doors and windows. It is reported that someone in New York was suffocated because he feared the attack of poisonous gas and so tightly sealed his home too early with adhesive strips before the arrival of poison gas. At present, Americans seldom go on a long journey, especially they do not want to travel abroad, the war has made them feel that nowhere is safe in the world.

Third, they fear the war would drag on, and the economy would go from bad to worse. Before the start of the war, the US economy was already in the doldrums, employment faced difficulties, oil price was rising, transportation cost increased, and ordinary people were hard up. At first there was a saying that everything would go well after the war, oil price would come down and the economy would recover. But as things stand now, they feel the war will go on, oil price remains high, unemployment rate is still very high, what is more, consumers' confidence index in March is lower than what it was in February.

The economy is originally bad, deficit is on the increase, but the expense of war is increasing every day, the blast of one bomb means throwing away thousands upon thousands of US dollars. People are now worried, whether the economy will turn for the better is still open to question. The crux of the matter at present is whether or not Iraq will be like Somali or the previous Vietnam, if it will, then the trouble will be greater.

The war has made ordinary Americans feel more and more uneasy.

By People's Daily Online

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