Americans Somber as Bush Delivers Ultimatum

Law student Jeffrey Usman stood at a bar in Nashville, watched as President Bush delivered his ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and said he agreed that, after a dozen years of diplomacy, the time for military action has arrived.

"At this point, it's sort of become a necessity," the 24-year-old Republican from Smiths, Ala., said Monday night. "If you believe that Saddam is developing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and would use them against the U.S., then it becomes an act of self-defense."

But Lindsay Patross, 23, a Democrat from Pittsburgh who watched the speech while working out at a gym, still believes war with Iraq is not the answer.

"I think the administration has done a pretty good job of spinning, but I don't have a lot of confidence that I've gotten what's really going on here," said Patross, a recent Cornell University graduate who majored in American studies.

Bush's speech to the nation capped a tumultuous day that began with the United States, Britain and Spain withdrawing their U.N. resolution on Iraq, unable to convince a majority of the Security Council of the need for war.

The American public generally supports Bush's plan to invade Iraq to oust Saddam, according to a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll out Monday. The survey found that 57 percent think the president has made a convincing case about the need for military action against Iraq.

Opinion was almost evenly divided when people were questioned about an attack without an attempt to gain U.N. support.

Some of those differences were reflected among those who watched Bush give his televised ultimatum from the White House.

In Deaborn, Mich., home to one of the nation's largest populations of Arab-Americans, Casey Mahbuba, an Iraqi native who came to the United States in 1992, was eager to see the end of Saddam.

"We don't care what happens to him," Mahbuba said. "We don't care if he disappears. We don't care if he dies. I just want to wake up in the morning and have there be no Saddam Hussein."

In San Diego, Navy Chief Scott Law, who returned from duty aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in December, said the United States must stand up to the threat posed by the Iraqi dictator.

"If you could go back in time, when Adolf Hitler was a junior partner to Mussolini, could we have done something about it?" he asked. "If we could have done something, we should have done something. You face him now or wait."

At Chad's bar in Billings, Mont., Jim Newton, 59, who described himself as an independent, said he supports war with Iraq, but believes the United States waited too long to act.

"They've given Saddam too much time to gear up, to hunker down," Newton said. "I'm a little apprehensive that he might have something up his sleeve for a pre-emptive strike."

Ron Cobb, 50, a trucker from Oklahoma City, said he didn't believe the nation had to resort to war. He watched Bush's speech while eating dinner at a motel restaurant next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton, Ohio.

"I still think containment was working," said Cobb, a Democrat and Navy veteran. "I firmly believe that when you are talking about sacrificing American lives that you exhaust all the other possibilities."

Jenny Jirschele, a 26-year-old human resources recruiter who was having a drink at the University of Wisconsin-Madison student union, also expressed doubts about a military invasion.

"His problem is with Saddam Hussein and not Iraq as a country," she said of Bush. "He hasn't convinced me we have to go to war with a whole country when it's just about one man."