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March marks the four-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. More than 3,400 U.S. troops have been killed to date, and President Bush plans to send 20,000 additional soldiers to Iraq to help defeat the insurgents and stabilize the country.

How do you feel the U.S. government has handled the war?

“Well, I’ve always felt that the war in Iraq was not justified in any way whatsoever. To make matters worse, we have really been unable to deal with the problems that have arisen in Iraq. We originally went for weapons of mass destruction, but then changed our minds and toppled Saddam Hussein. And then, we decided to rebuild Iraq. This sort of mission can really take a toll on our principles and ideals.”
Adam Large, 17, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (S.O.C.E.S.)
“In the beginning of the war it seemed like they handled it well,  but it’s gotten more out of control. There have been too many people killed and too many families on both sides hurt. I disagree with the idea of sending more troops in because why send more of the future of our country to war and basically [to] die.”
Zeno Robinson, 13, Webster MS
“I think because it was rushed so rapidly, it has made it hard to implement any plans that would bring about real improvement in Iraq, and that is very evident today. I think we have far-fetched optimism for the future. I don’t think they’ve handled it as a war. In wars you go in and have a purpose and try to take care of it, but they aren’t trying to take care of anything, they’re trying to sort things out while making more problems. The deaths of the soldiers aren’t equaling any progress, so therefore the government is doing a bad job.”
Kent Williams, 18, West Valley Christian Jr./Sr. HS
“I don’t necessarily agree with the actions that the U.S. has made. But hopefully they’re making the best ones. I just hope that the soldiers come home safely. But I do think that they need to be over there to keep the peace.”
Adriana Padilla, 17, Santa Monica HS
“Well, the U.S. government initially entered the war for noble intentions, and the American public supported it. I don’t blame [the U.S. government] for not being able to predict the difficulties we now encounter, but I believe that the Iraqi people should stand on their own two feet.”
Winston Feng, 16, Walnut HS
“I think that the war has been worth it. Our troops in Iraq are actually helping. If we leave now, the war will get worse. I think that the main reason we should be there is oil. If Al Qaeda takes over, it will eventually lead to terrorist attacks in the United States.”
Lucas Neumann, 13, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies
“I don’t think that the U.S. government has handled it the way that they should have. They shouldn’t have gotten involved at all. I think President Bush was just finishing what Daddy didn’t. He should have just left Iraq alone.”
Dominique Fuster, 16, Glendale HS
“I think the way they have handled the war is wrong because the idea was to stop Iraq from making nuclear weapons that could be used in the future against the United States. But they haven’t found anything yet. There are soldiers there that are being killed by terrorist groups and as more time passes by, more soldiers are killed.”
Nancy Hernandez, 15, High-Tech HS (Lake Balboa)

“I think the war has been handled very terribly. Every decision that was made was probably a mistake in some way.”
Rachel Reid, 17, Santa Monica HS

“The war in Iraq has been completely pointless. We should never have gone to war four years ago in the first place. I don’t think the troop surge Bush is proposing will work, and rather than increasing troops, we should be reducing the number of troops. We should let the Iraqi people run their own government.”
Sarah Hightower, 13, L.A.C.E.S.
“I really don’t follow the war too much, but I wouldn’t want to be one of those 20,000 troops. It’s not like they [the Iraqi people] attacked us, so I don’t know why we needed to go there and start a problem then fix it. I like it when the recruiters give free stuff, but I doubt if anyone really wants to risk their life for a cause they don’t really believe in. I wouldn’t.”
Chris Gunawan, 16, Walnut HS
"I think we should have just done our job and set the country back on its feet and then left them alone. Our soldiers have stayed in Iraq for far too long and it’s not only upsetting the people of Iraq, it’s also upsetting the families of the soldiers who have not seen their loved for a very long time."
Irina Hermoso, 16, High-Tech HS
"I don’t really believe that the government has handled the situation in Iraq to the best of its abilities. I think that a lot has happened over four years that really need to be taken into consideration. The people in Iraq are literally in the midst of a civil war, while we have reports of another dead American soldier on a continuous basis. We can’t keep on this route without making some change to what the government is currently doing over in Iraq."
Emily Harake, 17, High-Tech HS
"I think that the United States has been poor in taking control of the situation. They have said that they would be pulling out of the war soon, but they kept pushing it back and back, and now there seems to be no plan for the removal of our troops, and the end to the deaths of our soldiers."
Todd Rosenblatt, 16, High-Tech HS
"The government could have handled the war better, if they would have done a good job we wouldn’t have so many troops dying."
William Morris, 16, High-Tech HS

How do you feel about the military recruiting
on high school campuses?

"I think they shouldn’t be going to campuses. They lie to student to get them to recruit, and I generally don’t like them.”
Rachel Reid, 17, Santa Monica HS

"I think that recruiters going to schools is both good and bad. If it is a college, I think that they are out of place. If they are going to high schools, then I think that it is good because they are giving a way to help pay for college."
Todd Rosenblatt, 16, High-Tech HS

"I’m fine with recruiters coming to school. If students want to enlist in the army after high school, it’s really none of my business."
Irina Hermoso, 16, High-Tech HS

"Recruiters shouldn’t come to schools. If students wanted to join the military after they graduated they would sign up, the recruiters don’t need to go to them."
William Morris, 16, High-Tech HS

"I think it is absolutely ridiculous to have army and military recruiters come to schools to attract and propagate the armed forces to underage (usually underprivileged) kids. The United States is a country that prides itself on equal opportunities and a well-educated society. Recruiting kids who society deems as ‘not having a chance in the real world’ and sending them to get killed overseas is undermining that core principle of education for all."
Emily Harake, 17, High-Tech HS

"I think that it is not right. I think they shouldn’t come to school trying to recruit people when really going to the Army or Navy might not be the right choice. It’s also kinda in a way forcing themselves upon us."
Nancy Hernandez, 15, High-Tech HS

"I don’t mind that the recruiters come to school because I think that it is a good idea to serve in the army."
Patricia Gomez, 16, High-Tech HS

“I think that it gives opportunities to kids but I think it’s a waste of time because I hardly see anybody going to their booths.”
Charles Do, 18, Glendale HS

“If people want to get recruited, they can go and do it by themselves.”
Dominique Fuster, 16, Glendale HS

Do you agree or disagree with Bush
sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq?

“I’m not really sure if it will help. I don’t really understand why he’s sending them there in the first place. I don’t know what they’re going to do or why they’re going. But I’ve never agreed with the war.”
Rachael Reid, 17, Santa Monica HS

“I don’t think its necessary to send over that many troops. I think that we only need to send over a few thousand. It just that this war has affected so many people, for so long, that something needs to happen. Something needs to change.”
Adriana Padilla, 17, Santa Monica HS

"Because of our bad choices, we do have to support the people who are in there already. It’s unfortunate that we have to put more lives at stake. My thoughts on it: don’t keep them in there for long."
Kent Williams, 18, West Valley Christian Jr./Sr. HS

"Honestly, I just can’t agree with sending more troops into Iraq when we aren’t properly equipping the soldiers that are already there. It’s sending more sons and daughters to die off without a chance to defend themselves. Meanwhile, we have soldiers in Afghanistan, needing our help, and we’re not even focusing on the problems with actual terrorism over there."
Adam Large, 17, S.O.C.E.S.

"I really don’t agree, mainly because they haven’t really done much other than kill people and cause damage."
Vanessa Hermoso, 17, High-Tech HS

"I completely disagree with Bush sending that many troops to Iraq. There shouldn’t be that many troops in Iraq in the first place, and if anything, he should be pulling out 20,000 troops, not putting in that many more."
Todd Rosenblatt, 16, High-Tech HS

"I disagree with Bush sending more troops to Iraq because he’s just prolonging our stay. We don’t need to send in more troops just so they could be killed."
Irina Hermoso, 16, High-Tech HS

"I disagree. Instead of putting more troops in, we should slowly pull more troops out."
William Morris, 16, High-Tech HS

"I do not agree with President Bush sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq. The Iraqi people are killing each other left and right and taking down American soldiers in the process. We’ve created a big enough mess of things already. Let’s bring the troops back home and use them for a real military threat."
Emily Harake, 17, High-Tech HS

"I don’t agree because what more can 20,000 soldiers do when we have already soldiers there doing nothing of any use that I see. It would in a way taking more troops there be saying that we are here to invade to the innocent people of Iraq who have nothing to do with the nuclear weapons. It is also in a way implying that they are there to take over instead of preventing the terrorist from their nuclear research and such."
Nancy Hernandez, 15, High-Tech HS

"I disagree. What did people do to deserve this? Our president shouldn’t let us die, it’s like murder."
Charles Do, 18, Glendale HS

"I disagree because it’s not fair to those who don’t want to go."
Dominique Fuster, 17, Glendale HS

Photos and quotes gathered by Christina Badalian, 17, Glendale HS; Jennifer Carcamo, 17, High-Tech HS (Lake Balboa); Chris Lee, 17, Walnut HS; Selina MacLaren, 17, West Valley Christian Jr./Sr. HS; Lily McGarr, 17, Santa Monica HS; Chelsea McNay, 14, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies; Sammie Richards, 15, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies; Malik Smith-Thompson, 13, Webster MS.