The Catholic Leader visited Clairvaux MacKillop College at Upper Mt Gravatt in Brisbane to talk to some of the students.
‘You could be on a desert island and still know about the war on Iraq,’ said Ashlea Tighe, a Year 11 student.
Ashlea agreed that Saddam Hussein was an ‘evil dictator’ and it was right to remove his regime from power, but she disagreed with war as a method to remove it.
‘There’s so many sides you can take because it’s been blown out on the television 50 times over, exactly like September 11,’ she said.
‘But Saddam Hussein hasn’t changed, he’s been like this for the last 20 years and it’s a bit sad that everything’s happening right now because America needed something like September 11 to kick this off.
‘You can’t just go in there, bomb their cities and expect them to greet a completely new system of government from the West with open arms.’
Year 10 student Andrew Splenter said he didn’t think the war on Iraq was right, but to stop Saddam Hussein’s regime the action ‘justified it’.
Year 12 student Kirby Tanzer said she agreed with the war ‘simply because I believe that if they weren’t doing anything then something worse would have happened’.
‘So I think you are better off doing something than nothing at all but no one wants to see anyone die.
‘War’s a last resort and if they have to use it then they have done it for a reason.’
Year 10 student Maria Law said she didn’t agree with the war.
‘I think that Saddam Hussein and the President (George W. Bush) should sort it out among themselves and we shouldn’t have to lose lives.’
Year 11 student Alma Grabrel, whose family came from Sudan to Australia as refugees, said she agreed with the war because ‘if Saddam Hussein was not stopped he would have killed more people with his weapons of mass destruction, like the weapons he has actually tested in my country’.
Year 12 student Dean Bowen said if you had a loved one in the army going to war then of course you wouldn’t want a war going on because he/she might not return, but if we’re going to protect our way of life then it’s just becoming a case of kill or be killed.
‘One minute you’re on a high and you turn on the TV and the World Trade Centre is in flames, so we’ve got to put a stop to it.’
The students said they had been getting their information about the war from newspapers and television.
After school they watched the news on television. Their friends were doing the same.
Curiously none said they were using the Internet to gather information.
‘It’s almost like watching a war movie at the moment,’ Dean said.
‘It’s like candy for the paparazzi,’ Kirby said.
‘They show you every single camera’s point of view and it’s hard to decipher what’s real and what’s just propaganda,’ she said.
But Ashlea said she believes there will be less war crimes committed by the US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ because of the television coverage.
‘In Vietnam, that picture of the little girl running naked and burnt, as soon as you see that picture you go, ‘oh my God’. Well America has to be very careful this time about that (committing war crimes).’
Student protesters didn’t get the backing of most of the group.
Andrew said the time for protesting was gone.
Once the war started the protests should have stopped, he said.
Dean went a step further.
‘They are just trouble-makers, out for a good time. They didn’t even know what they were protesting about some of them,’ Dean said.
‘The most you can do is pray for the soldiers instead of protesting and saying bring them back home.’
The group said they worried that Australia might become a target for terrorists.
‘They targeted Australians in the Bali attack because I think maybe they were trying to frighten us in that way,’ Dean said.
‘They could bomb us at any time and we wouldn’t be ready for it.’
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.