Mark Alexander / March 7, 2003

Thunder on the Horizon

“Just two hours ago, Allied Air Forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq.” Oh, wait, that was President George Bush(41) on 16 January, 1991.

But last night, President George Bush(43) put Iraq and the UN on final notice: “The United Nations Security Council will receive an update from the chief weapons inspector [today]. The world needs him to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed, as required by Resolution 1441, or has it not? … The only acceptable outcome is the one already defined by a unanimous vote of the Security Council – total disarmament. … Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our people, and to all free people. … We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction. … I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons. … My job is to protect America, and that is exactly what I’m going to do. … I swore to protect and defend the Constitution; that’s what I swore to do. I put my hand on the Bible and took that oath, and that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

The President was asked why countries on the UN Security Council like France, Germany, Russia and China, who have been briefed with U.S. intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq, don’t concur with the urgent need to exercise a military option to remove Saddam? The answer is simple – because they are in the WMD sights of Saddam’s surrogates – and don’t want to be. Additionally, France, Russia and Germany have all but allied themselves with Iraq economically.

As for when the President will launch the military campaign to kill Saddam and his henchmen, he indicated that the U.S. will call for a UN Security Council vote early next week on resolution #18, and after those 15 votes are counted, Iraq’s appellate clock will run out. Of course, France’s Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has already given notice his nation will veto the measure: “We will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes resorting to force.” As that sage Will Rogers reminded us long ago, “The French couldn’t hate us any more unless we helped ‘em out in another war.”

Regardless of the outcome of that vote, the President clearly indicated we are going to take action. “I’m confident the American people understand that when it comes to our security, if we need to act, we will act, and we really don’t need United Nations approval to do so. …When it comes to our security, we really don’t need anybody’s permission.”

The U.S. has ordered two Iraqi attachés to depart the U.S. by midnight tonight, and the has requested some 60 countries to expel Iraqis suspected of being agents for Saddam Hussein, set to strike U.S. interests abroad in the event of war. (The State Department made similar requests on the eve of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.)

On Wednesday, President Bush convened his war cabinet to discuss the invasion of Iraq. Gen. Tommy Franks, overall commander of U.S. military forces poised for invasion, said the U.S. is now ready to strike: “If the president of the United States decides to undertake action, we are in a position to provide a military option.” Indeed, more than 4,000 U.S. and allied special forces soldiers, as well as CIA operatives, are already within the borders of Iraq.

And when George Bush steps to the podium to announce hostilities have commenced on the warfront with Iraq, expect a shock strategy that includes a 10-fold increase over the number munitions used in the opening days of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained: “If asked to go into conflict in Iraq, what you would like to do is have it be a short conflict. And the best way to do that would be to have such a shock on the system the Iraqi regime would have to assume early on that the end is inevitable.”

Last week, The Federalist wrote that despite troop strength of 210,000 – far less than the coalition’s 500,000 in 1991 – “Our forces are … backed by far more lethal weapons technology than we had in 1991.” Rear Adm. Matthew G. Moffit confirmed: “Back then [in the first Gulf War], approximately 90 percent of the ordnance that the Navy dropped was unguided. This time around over 90 percent of the ordnance we plan on dropping is precision.”

The air campaign will involve some 600 strike aircraft, including those from five carrier battle groups, that will deliver more than 3,000 precision-guided air and missile strikes in the first 48 hours of a war. There are also 30 ships and submarines armed with hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles to be unleashed in the early salvos.

Of course, war is still not inevitable. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reminded, “Saddam Hussein can prevent the use of force. To do so, he will have to disarm or leave.” But if war does come, Secretary Rumsfeld added, “The Iraqi regime will be gone, and Saddam Hussein would be removed from power.”

Estimates for the cost of the impending war with Iraq come in around $75 to $80 billion – still far less, as we have noted repeatedly, than the economic cost of one nuclear device being detonated in a U.S. urban center by Iraq’s al-Qa'ida proxies. Indeed, President Bush concurs: “The price of doing nothing exceeds the price of taking action.”

This week, even the Left of center Brookings Institution reports that “10,000 people could die in a successful attack on a U.S. chemical or nuclear power plant; a nuclear bomb detonated in a major U.S. city could claim the lives of 100,000 people,” and that a biological attack in a single U.S. city could cause $750 billion in economic damage, while chemical attacks in malls or movie theaters could cost the economy $250 billion. The study notes that a successful attack on the shipping industry could cost the economy a $1 trillion hit.

Quote of the week…

“A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America’s interest in security and America’s belief in liberty both lead in the same direction – to a free and peaceful Iraq.” –President George W. Bush

On cross-examination…

“Removing Saddam Hussein will require the U.S. to employ different tactics and resources from those used to vanquish al-Qa'ida. But fighting Saddam is not distinct from fighting the war on terror – and not just in the sense that Zarqawi and others operating with Saddam’s blessing. The greatest threat to the worldwide terror network is freedom. … A free Iraq could eventually lead to a free Iran and a free Saudi Arabia – and the dominoes could continue to fall from there. Free governments actively root out terrorists within their borders, but more importantly, free people think twice before signing up with terrorists because they have something no one wants to lose: freedom.” –Joel Mowbray

Open query…

“[W]hen people ask, 'What has Saddam done to us?’ I ask, what had the September 11 hijackers done to us before September 11?” –Friend of The Federalist Sen. Fred Thompson

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