War And Tragedy Vie For American Attention

Wednesday, February 5th Secretary of State Collin Powell is expected to provide new evidence, Suddam Hussein’s “smoking gun”, concerning the dangers of Iraq. His statement will be meant to convince the United Nations Security Council, and more importantly the American people, of the necessity of going to war with Iraq. The Bush administration needs the public’s support, and therefore needs the public’s attention, when Powell reiterates the reasons for war with Iraq and states the new-found dangers. This week America was supposed to be focused on Gulf War II, but Saturday’s devastating loss of the space shuttle Columbia has stolen the spotlight. The consciousness of America ever-guided by the media has now turned away from the Iraqi problem and towards the mourning of the seven lost astronauts. Newsweek’s Howard Fineman suggested that America’s emotional attention span is directed at what the media presents them. Currently, as can be seen by every headline on NYTimes.com, the Columbia tragedy is leading America’s concerns. On the Sunday morning talk shows several pundits expressed that the Bush administration will have a hard time pushing the war agenda while the nation is in mourning. America has been reminded of the great pain felt by the loss of heroes. With the knowledge that a war could bring much greater loss of life and elite individuals, America might become more skeptical of the war. In a survey asking, “Is it appropriate for President Bush to continue with the war agenda while the nation is in mourning over the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster?” UVM students responded with mixed opinions–36% Yes, 55% No, 9% Not well enough informed. The war effort is considered, “entirely inappropriate,” according to one UVM sophomore. This view reflects many of the “No” votes, who believe a continuation of the war effort can not be “morally” reasoned. “I don’t agree with the war effort, but [the Columbia disaster] is no reason to postpone the war,” thought a female UVM first-year.UVM junior Raja Reddy stated that, “whether or not [the continued war effort] is appropriate or not is hard to say, but it would seem to be good politics for George Bush to wait before taking any drastic actions.” It seems that Bush will go ahead with the current plans to send Colin Powell to the United Nations to present the evidence against Iraq. Reportedly he will have pictures of Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Bush has ordered all flags at federal buildings and sites to be at half-mast until then. Two highly charged emotional events will be vying for the country’s attention. “We are happy that it broke up,” Iraqi government employee Abdul Jabbar al-Quraishi said. “God wants to show that his might is greater than the Americans. They have encroached on our country. God is avenging us,” he said.