Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I wonder how anybody can think there's a chance that we won't be fighting in Iraq - in particular, I'm thinking about Slate's Saddameter. What accounts for Saletan's view that there is a 3-5% (varies from day to day) chance of the US not going to war?

Some people say that the actions in the UN could force Bush to back down. But Bush has said he's willing to act without UN approval. With Powell on board, there's nobody left in the administration insisting on 'international' support for an attack (yes, I know that we have 'international support', I'm just mocking those who believe we need the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese in order to be truly 'international').

Others have predicted that Hussein, realizing that invasion was imminent, will actually produce the prohibited weapons and start the destruction process. But Bush has said that he fully expects Hussein to offer up some sacrifice at the 11th hour, in the hopes of averting an attack. With Bush having called Hussein a liar, I don't think there's anything that Hussein could do, in the short time frame that remains before an attack order is given, that would or could cause Bush to back away from his position. No matter what Hussein says or does, Bush will declare it insufficient - witness the back and forth over the missiles - and continue with the attack (UPDATE: as this CNN article confirms).

Maybe Hussein would go in the other direction and announce that he indeed had these weapons and intended to use them against US forces in the area as well as against US and Allied targets elsewhere in the world. But, who thinks that Bush would back down? I believe it would only add to his resolve, to his determination to separate Hussein from his weapons. It certainly would change the military approach, maybe delay it some time until the revised plans were in place, but derail them? Never.

Perhaps there are those who feel that some outside event could cause Bush to redirect his energies away from Iraq. It's possible, although I can't imagine what that could be - North Korea's antics aren't doing it, I don't see another major terrorist attack on the US doing it either. Since I can't imagine what that might be, I certainly can't set the odds of that (unknown) event happening.

Let's look at it from the perspective of what's driving Bush. He believes Hussein to be an imminent threat to our security and to the security of our allies elsewhere in the world. This is a heartfeld belief, not one that is easily changed. Bush is far more likely to consider others shortsided than to think that he was the one with the mixed up view. Bush has criticized Clinton's use of the speak loudly, carry a small stick approach. Bush ran as the anti-Clinton, so he isn't about to do anything that would be viewed as similar. He's sent 300,000 troops to the area. His advisors are all pretty much in favor of an attack - the disagreements seem to be over tactics, not objectives. And, Bush (and Rove) have to be aware that, were he to back down now, no matter how he prettied it up, he would be kissing away any chance of re-election. His supporters, backing an attack with poll numbers over 85%, would view his actions as a betrayal that worse than that of Bush I when he renounced his no tax pledge.

Sure seems like the only percentage of us not going to war is zero.

Maybe Hussein's death or exile could cause the 'attack' to be halted. Even if this were to happen, I still think we'd see US military forces in Iraq. We'd call it a forcible occupation, or something like that, rather than an invasion - but the results would be the same. We'd be in Iraq until we were sure that the WMDs were in fact destroyed and that Hussein wasn't being replaced by someone just as evil.