Accessibility links

Americans Welcome News of Saddam's Sons Deaths - 2003-07-23

Most Americans are welcoming news that Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, are dead. The elimination of the two brothers is also a welcome bit of good news for the Bush administration, which has been facing increasing criticism over its Iraq policy.

Harold Whitis, a graduate student from Waco, Texas, sits in a cafeteria before a day of sightseeing in the nation's capital. He says he was excited to learn that Saddam Hussein's sons had been eliminated.

"I thought it was great. As far as trying to help the Iraqi people, I think that finding those two and killing them was a very good thing. I am just sorry that Saddam was not with them," he said.

On the steps of the Smithsonian's Air and Space museum, Michigan schoolteacher Nancy Williams agrees. She says the deaths of Saddam's sons are the best news she has heard out of Iraq in several months.

"If this decreases any resistance to American peacekeeping [in Iraq], then it is a good thing," she said. "My biggest concern is our servicemen over there and what we can do to secure their safety. It makes me nervous and sad that they are being picked off (killed one by one) daily, so I am hoping that this will put things on a path to a more peaceful Iraq. But I do not know if it will."

An Iranian immigrant who identifies himself as Anooshiravan says the killing of Saddam's sons constitutes only a partial victory in Iraq.

"If we could at some point get rid of Saddam Hussein himself, that would remove the threat factor that is a pervasive issue among the Iraqi people. By eliminating his two sons and himself, we will have achieved what we set out to do [in Iraq], he said.

At the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Director Andrew Kohut says a substantial majority of Americans continue to back President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq. But, he adds, public opinion surveys show a significant erosion in the numbers of Americans who believe that the U.S. led effort to bring peace and democracy to Iraq is going well. Mr. Kohut says, for most Americans, the death of Saddam's sons is a welcome respite from a steady diet of reports about U.S. casualties.

"It is certainly a ray of sunshine in what has been a pretty bleak picture. The American public wants to see the United States help rebuild Iraq and make it a stable, safe democracy as best it can be," he said. "On the other hand, they want to some milestones as to how long it is going to take and some sense that we are moving in the right direction. And certainly getting rid of these two guys (Saddam's sons) presents one achievement, but I think the most important thing for maintaining public support is stopping the steady 'drip drip' of American casualties."

For his part, graduate student Harold Whitis says Americans will have to be patient if they want to see positive results in Iraq. He says the United States can play a helpful role by rooting out elements of the former Iraqi regime. But he adds that, ultimately, it is the Iraqi people who bear responsibility for their country's destiny.

"I think it depends on the Iraqi people, how quickly this actually gets wrapped up and they [Iraqis] get back control of their country and get on with their lives. We [the United States] were not formed in 100 days. We went through a lot of battles and a lot of strife to get to where we are. So, I think it will take a long, long time before they get squared away [the situation in Iraq improves]," he said.

Harold Whitis says he supported President Bush's decision to go to war and continues to support the U.S. led effort in Iraq.