01/11/07 — Residents agree, disagree with president about next steps in war against terrorism

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Residents agree, disagree with president about next steps in war against terrorism

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 11, 2007 2:09 PM

President George W. Bush apologized Wednesday in a primetime address for mistakes that have been made in Iraq and vowed to correct recent failures there with a new strategy more in line with victory.

Janice Thompson and other Wayne County residents were among those listening.

"He seemed more humble," the 59-year-old said. "I feel like he finally admitted to making mistakes and now we can move on."

But that doesn't make the next step any easier, she added. Bush's call to increase troop levels by the thousands concerned her.

"I agree that we need more soldiers over there to win this thing," Mrs. Thompson said. "It's still hard, though. Think about all those young men and women who might die."

Matt Hudson, 27, agrees, but is unhappy about the prospect of 20,000-plus more troops leaving the states for Iraq.

"I just don't like what this has become," he said. "If we were going to put all these guys over there, we should have done it from the beginning. It's not fair to sacrifice them to fix a big mistake."

Bryan Williams has a different perspective. The Goldsboro resident's son has been to Iraq twice.

"Look, my own son has gone, and he's just a boy," the 47-year-old said. "But you have to understand that these men and women chose to fight. They aren't afraid to die for America or for freedom somewhere else."

Williams said he was "smiling the whole time" Bush addressed the nation.

"It's about time," he said. "We just need to go finish this."

And from what Bush said, an end might, indeed, be in sight.

While the president was cautious not to make any guarantees or set time tables for the return of American forces from the region, he set a new tone on the matter -- urging Iraqi officials to take more control or risk losing the support of the American people.

"I felt a lot better about where we're going from here," 20-year-old Cameron Mills said today from a table at Bojangles on U.S. 70 East. "It really doesn't change how I feel about Iraq though. I always thought we should be there."

Goldsboro resident Melanie Royal, 22, didn't.

"Until I watched, I had lost a lot of faith in Bush," she said. "Everyone in my family voted for him, but now they say he hasn't been a very good president. Iraq just doesn't make sense when there are countries with nuclear weapons out there."

Others, like 36-year-old Lauren Henry, think the hundreds of billions already spent in Iraq was money wasted and that top officials on Capitol Hill could have done something "more in tune with America's needs" with that money.

"I didn't even bother watching Bush last night," the Princeton resident said. "You've still got people in New Orleans without a home. You have poor people all over the place. Why can't we win some here in our country before we spend our money on people halfway across the world?"

Williams had an easy answer to that question.

"We have a responsibility to the world," he said. "A lot of people don't see it like that, but I do. When you are free, you have a duty to spread that to other people. Ask the soldiers, they'll tell you."