February 7, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Game Over

Saddam Hussein has had more lives than a teenage Nintendo addict playing the Legend of Zelda. But now, as President Bush said yesterday, "the game is over." Indeed, if I can be allowed to mix metaphors, the kettle has started shaking and might boil over at any moment.

I won't rehash the momentous developments of the past couple of days—Secretary Powell's address to the U.N. Security Council, the reaction and analysis of that address, still more military deployments—but things appear to be very close to a point of no return. Media coverage is nearing a pre-Gulf War intensity. Military assets deployed in the Gulf region have also neared (if not reached) Gulf War levels. Turkey is poised to grant the U.S. permission to use its military bases in a war against Iraq. This weekend's trip to Baghdad will almost certainly be the last for U.N. inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei.

The other night, commentator Bill O'Reilly predicted that Saddam Hussein won't be in power six weeks from now. I have to say I agree with him. We'll probably be at war with Iraq before the end of the month, and I doubt it'll last much longer than it did in 1991. Unfortunately, it might be more costly this time.

Denying the existence of chemical and biological weapons for the last 12 years has given Hussein plenty of time to continue their development. While he has repeated his denials over and over, intelligence released yesterday asserted that he recently authorized his field commanders to use chemical weapons in any impending conflict that may erupt in the near future. While it's true we prepared for chemical and biological attack during the Gulf War 12 years ago, the use of such weapons somehow seems much more likely in a post-9/11 world. I hope I'm wrong.

My biggest concern all along with regard to a war against Iraq has been the possibility (or the likelihood) that such a conflict would greatly increase—not decrease—the chance of terrorist acts against the U.S. at home and abroad. Many Muslims and other Middle Eastern peoples seem to already have an antagonistic view of the U.S. and its perceived hegemony. If we take the bold step of invading Iraq and removing Hussein from power, we'll only reinforce that perception of domination.

While I may agree with many of the reasons for invading Iraq, such agreement does little to allay these concerns. In fact, my fears were confirmed yesterday when the State Department issued a worldwide warning, stating that "U.S. citizens and interests are at a heightened risk of terrorist attacks." In the long run, removing Saddam Hussein from power would probably reduce the overall risk of terrorism, but it could get pretty ugly before then.


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Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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2/6: The Eagle Never Landed
2/5: Pope: Potter No Problem
2/4: Time for Another Rewrite
2/3: A Matter of Opinions
2/2: Suicidal Bravado
2/1: Godspeed, Columbia

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