Students get harsh lesson in realpolitik

YOUNG people have been in the forefront of anti-war demonstrations since the war on Iraq was launched this week. ALISON WITHERS talked to students from Hadleigh High School about their feelings on the war.

YOUNG people have been in the forefront of anti-war demonstrations since the war on Iraq was launched this week. ALISON WITHERS talked to students from Hadleigh High School about their feelings on the war.

OF the six year 11 students we spoke to five were against the war and one supported it.

Nicola Riley and Sophie Chipperfield, both 16, summed up the general feeling of the antis: "We're against it on principle but the general feeling is that ideally no-one would want to go to war, even though we appreciate something has to be done about Saddam Hussein."

Anthony Barraclough, 16, said: "After the last report from the weapons inspectors I thought they would be given more time rather than go to war, especially when you heard that things had improved.


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"Bush has obviously wanted war for a long time but Britain didn't need to get involved at all. If they'd kept us out of it I don't think we'd be a target for terrorists."

All the students were dubious about the information that had been made available to the public.

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Sophie said: "You don't know really who to believe, there are so many people saying such different things. We've never really had an explanation of why it affects us so directly."

Rhiannon Parsons, 15, was even more sceptical: "It seems to me that Tony Blair's following Bush because it's convenient, because of the so-called special relationship. Blair's at least tried to justify it but I think there should have been some kind of referendum. It's very worrying that we have gone to war and very few people in this country wanted it. I think it's really about oil."

Nicola even had a kind word for the Prime Minister: "I feel sorry for Tony Blair. You can see the stress on his face and how desperate he is to get people to support him. You can tell he believes what he's saying."

Josh Panton, 15, however, was in no doubt that going to war was the right thing to do.

He said: "If we'd left it much longer Saddam would have had more time to put together the weapons he has plus more time to mobilise troops. I feel if we hadn't done anything about it now Saddam would have turned into another Hitler.

"World War Two happened because the League of Nations didn't deal with Hitler when they could have.

"I believe Saddam has been trying to take control of the Middle East."

But although even Josh was not entirely sure everything people were being told by the politicians was necessarily true, he said: "I feel that perhaps if we didn't do something Saddam would try another invasion. We can't prove he hasn't any weapons of mass destruction."

All the students said that the current crisis had changed their attitude towards news and politics and that they were more likely now to watch events locally and nationally more closely.

Anthony said he had started turning on the news to see what was going on, something he would not have done before.

Sophie said: "Politics are everywhere. You can't ignore it."

Despite the deeply-held views of the five who opposed the war, they all agreed the troops had to be supported now it had begun.

As Anthony said: "You have to ask whether the troops should be out there at all but you have to support them as individuals."

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