Brigham Young University students were almost radical Wednesday afternoon - maybe almost as radical as during the infamous pillow fight near Deseret Towers a few years ago.

But this time no police were called out and the outburst of opinion centered around a more serious subject: U.S. presence in the Middle East.At noon each Wednesday, BYU's Student Service Association sponsors a "Soapbox," giving students a chance to express feelings on anything.

Wednesday they advocated war, they advocated peace, and everyone cheered.

James Mortensen, a junior from Washington, D.C., said students need to understand the background and the issues before they take a stand.

"But take a moral stand," he said. "In my opinion, it may be better to shed some blood now in order to save blood later."

Mortensen said he believes this may be more than a war just for oil, it may be a war for people, too.

There were cheers, but not everyone agreed.

One student, Matt Stannard, said the Progressive Student Union is a coalition of BYU students from all walks of life and ideologies, all sharing a desire to avoid war.

He and other students believe the solution is diplomacy, he said. "We must talk and write letters; we can combat this."

James Snyder, also from the Progressive Student Union, whose members carried a "No blood for oil" sign, said the troops should be brought home.

There is no reason for the United States to be in the Persian Gulf, Snyder said. "We have made no attempts to negotiate diplomatically."

As more people cheered, some BYU professors appeared to feel the issue was important enough to get involved.

Donna Lee Bowen, a professor in the political science department and an expert in the Middle East, said she felt some things needed to be said.

"I think we are mistaken to pass this conflict off as an oil problem," she said. "There is much more to it than that."

Bowen told the crowd in the Memorial Lounge in BYU's Wilkinson Center that if a war starts in the Middle East, it could spark a series of conflicts that could last for 50 years.

"We are opening a Pandora's box," she said.

Another political science professor, Eric Hyer, complimented the speakers on their knowledge and thoughts and told them President Bush does not have the power to create a war alone.

That power is left to Congress, he said. "The Founding Fathers made the system work that way because they knew just one man could not make that decision."

Bowen reminded them that they could do something about the situation.

"Think about it," she said. "Write your congressman and make your position known."