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Smaller Group of New Yorkers Hold Counter, Pro-War Rally - 2003-02-15

As tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of New York City Saturday to protest a possible war with Iraq, a much smaller group held a demonstration in support of the war. James Donahower was there.

Demonstators are chanting, "We gave peace a chance, We got 9-11", 9-11 meaning September 11, and they say their aim is to offer an alternative opinion to that of the many anti-war protesters marching nearby.

Richard Sawicki stood behind a wall of placards bearing the phrases, "good Americans support the commander-in-chief", "support U.S. troops abroad", and "this is Saddam's war." He says the anti-war demonstrators are missing the point.

"We have a powder keg in the Middle East that's going to blow up in our faces if we do not lead the international community in dealing with it," said Mr. Sawicki. "I'm here to support the President and the administration."

Mr. Sawicki was among more than 50 people on hand in support of a war to remove Saddam Hussein. A common theme that emerged in the group was anger at the lack of unanimous support for a war within the U.N. Security Council. One man held a placard saying, "France is intellectually ignorant". Another member declared the French violently anti-American, and announced she was boycotting French products.

But Paul Diperna, a nearby demonstrator, said international dissent within and without the United Nations Security Council is no cause for concern. "That doesn't concern me at all. I think the French and the Germans are pretty much irrelevant," he said. "They're not important. They don't do anything in the world now. If it wasn't for the French veto power in the Security Council, they'd be a nothing power. They'd be like Germany."

The group engaged in frequent shouting matches with members of the anti-war protest as they headed for various rally points.

The demonstration was organized by, a conservative group that supports the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.