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by The Federalists Sunday, Mar. 02, 2003 at 3:09 PM

"National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman." --John Adams

The prosecution of our war against Jihadistan closed ranks on the Iraqi front this week, in preparation for the "regime change" necessary to eliminate Iraq as a primary source of weapons of mass destruction to asymmetric Jihadi proxies like those in al-Qa'ida terrorist cells slumbering in U.S. urban centers.

Meanwhile, the UN was still prosecuting its debate (read "diversion") over what to do about Saddam's unwillingness to give up his WMD stocks, in preparation for UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix's report March 7. Using the shenanigans to buy additional time to get essential U.S., British and allied military resources in place on Iraq's northern border with Turkey, Secretary of State Colin Powell continued playing along ostensibly to gain 9 of the 15 UN Security Council votes on resolution #18, while simultaneously prevailing upon Russia and China not to exercise their veto, and forcing France to register its support or lone veto.

France has proved itself the most adamant opponent to war with Iraq, with its desire to undermine U.S. influence abroad, collect billions of unpaid Iraqi IOUs, profit from existing oil contracts with Iraq once sanctions are lifted, and appease its own 6 million Muslim residents -- 10% of France's population.

Russia, like France, has much at stake in Iraq, with billion in unpaid foreign debt. All the same, Russia's interests should be seen as much a strategic concern as an economic one, as the nation tries to re-attain its status as a world power amid economically, politically and socially unstable times. ...Which may explain Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's statement that Russia stands ready to veto the U.S.-British resolution -- if necessary to preserve "international stability."

China, on the other hand, has no significant strategic interest in the Middle East, and cannot become fully integrated into world markets without the support of the U.S. China is far more concerned about a North Korean regime that has seemingly slipped out from under its control than it is about Iraq, and, we estimate, will likely not veto the U.S. measure on Iraq.

The UN-believable debate over farcical resolutions in the shadow of overwhelming evidence of Iraqi noncompliance with UN Resolution 1441 (passed unanimously, as you recall, by the Security Council last November) left President George W. Bush with few words for the UN: "We expect the Security Council to honor its word by insisting that Saddam disarm."

Of course, for his part, Saddam was still full of -- words. Hosted by Leftmedia talkinghead Dan Rather, CBS "aided and abetted the enemy" by airing an interview with this avowed adversary of the United States, giving him a platform to advance his propaganda in households across America. (Apparently, CNN, after taking it on the chin for its traitorous interview with Osama bin Laden after 9-11, did not bid on this one.)

Regarding Saddam's "scorched earth" tactics -- his willingness to burn his own oil fields and destroy his own infrastructure rather than leave it intact when he is deposed -- he said, "Iraq does not destroy its wealth and it does not destroy its dams." We'll see -- soon. Regarding his willingness to capitulate, Saddam told Rather, "Whoever decides to forsake his not true to the principles." (We think there is a lesson somewhere in those words for Rather.) And Saddam challenged President Bush to a debate in front of the world: "I am ready to conduct a direct dialogue -- a debate -- with your president." (We propose a duel instead!)

But Saddam's time is up. Make no mistake, despite all the 24-hour news cycle chatter about "this deadline for destroying that," the "regime change" policy is in the driver's seat and it is the only way to ensure that Iraq's WMD stocks do not find their way to our shores. The latest round of Saddam's cat-and-mouse game involves his al Samoud 2 missiles, which he promises to destroy. But the game is over as Secretary Powell made clear: "With respect to the missiles, it doesn't change our view of the situation in the slightest. Those missiles were prohibited in the first place. They should have been destroyed long ago."

Operation Enduring Freedom ("Operation Let's Roll" as it is known around our shop) now has 210,000 troops ready to choke this tyrant regime and liberate 22 million Iraqis -- liberation that has other Middle East tyrants very concerned for their own regimes. There is, in fact, the possibility of a "domino effect" created by the fall of Iraq, as noted by President Bush: "A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations of the region."

Of course, 210,000 seems light compared to the 500,000 coalition forces in the desert for 1991's brief engagement. However, Iraq has less than half the hardware and forces it fielded in 1991, and our forces are better trained and backed by far more lethal weapons technology than we had in 1991. It is possible that this engagement could be similar in length and complexity to that in Afghanistan -- we certainly pray it will not be a protracted engagement for the sake of our forces, their families, and the Iraqi people. The wild card, of course, is Saddam's willingness to use his WMD stocks, and the length of time necessary to roll Iraq's RepGuard in a siege of Baghdad.

There is still a significant probability (though not certainty) that hostilities with Iraq will commence in the 72 hour window on either side of 0200 Iraq local time, 02 March, the first tactical window for an assault. (Yes, we are now in that window.) One factor currently delaying action is the intelligence estimate concerning Saddam's willingness to capitulate and, as we have suggested previously, head for Tehran, Tripoli or Algiers. But we think he will not leave until hostilities have commenced.

This is the last call for "human shields" to take up positions in Baghdad. Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Jackson, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon, Ed Asner, Rabbi Michael Lerner, et. al, time is short! And please take Jimmy Carter and Jackie Chirac with you!

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