Almost every day, the President says that time is running out for Saddam, and for the U.N. to take steps to deal with him. The opening shots of military action that will remove Saddam Hussein are only weeks away. Orders have been issued to the final group of military units Gen. Tommy Franks will use. The Civilian Reserve Air Fleet -- CRAF -- has been activated to help move them. Messrs. Powell and Rumsfeld have thrown the gauntlet down before the U.N. and NATO, and our Saudi pals are saying they'll throw the U.S. military out of their country after the campaign is over.
Last week, both the 101st Airborne Division and the USS Kitty Hawk were ordered to the Persian Gulf. CRAF -- civilian airliners and cargo aircraft -- will be flying hundreds of missions in the next few weeks, moving troops and materials to join the thousands of men and masses of equipment already there. The Navy will soon have four carrier battle groups in the area. If they hadn't already run out of water, there'd be a fifth on the way.
The 101st will join the other Army and Marine units to bring the deployed ground forces to a strength considerably larger than necessary to do the job. General Franks, apparently having won the internal Pentagon battle to go heavy instead of light, will have a total force of about 200,000 troops under his command. There is a near-total deployment of special operations forces from the U.S., Britain and Australia. These troops will move, in the first hours of the campaign, to destroy or capture the missiles and aircraft that Saddam may try to use to deliver weapons of mass destruction against our troop concentrations, and against Israeli cities.
The spec ops guys will have an even tougher job in trying to stop Saddam from setting Iraq's oil fields on fire. Saddam has already positioned his troops to do that, and will threaten to set the fires -- or even light a few -- in a last gasp to pressure our "allies" to stop us. Even then, he is more likely to believe that our "allies" will stop us short of Baghdad like they did in 1991. Which means he'll stay and try to ride out the Second Gulf War. If we don't kill him, his own troops will.
On Friday, Hans Blix and Mohamed El-Baradei will give another report to the U.N. Security Council, and again ask that inspections be given more time. Last weekend, in their talk with the Iraqis, they received more documents and were encouraged to believe the Iraqis will cooperate. Kofi Annan warned us against squandering "the legitimacy" of our cause if we move without U.N. permission, as if the U.N. could change the facts and deal with the threats posed by Saddam Hussein's regime merely by talking about them. And Hans baby -- who must be reading from a script written by Franz Kafka -- told the Iraqis that they should pass a law prohibiting WMD.
If only that were the worst of it. After Blix presents his report of Friday, the French-German Axis of Weasels plans to offer a new U.N. resolution to triple the number of inspectors and send U.N. "peacekeeping" troops to accompany them. Yesterday, the French and the Germans -- standing skirt-to-skirt with the Belgians -- blocked our request for NATO AWACS aircraft and Patriot anti-missile batteries to deploy to protect Turkey from Saddam's aircraft and missiles. (The Belgians are a nation of French wannabes. Last year, they were terribly angry when press photos revealed that their army was routinely parading with toy guns. Toy country, toy army, toy guns.) Turkey is a reliable, valuable NATO member, and deserves the protection. Preventing NATO from moving key assets to defend Turkey is indefensible, despicable, craven, French.
If only Rudyard Kipling were here to write of these times. The irony is delicious. Two of the most troublesome and least valuable members of the Western community of nations are about to cause the demise of both NATO and the U.N. only to preserve the flow of shekels from their Iraq trade. France and Germany will bear a very heavy responsibility to the world for what they do this week. Chirac and Schroeder will go down in history on the same page with Vidkun Quisling. Neville Chamberlain was a far better man. Mistaken and naïve, but not corrupt. Without these quisling nations, we will go about implementing our war plan and by St. Patty's Day, Iraq will be free.
From now on, our actions need to create confusion about intentions and timing. We can still achieve tactical surprise, and should pull out all the stops to do so. Forget the Boy Scout code. Dubya shouldn't lie, but he can avoid the truth. And there are many others who should do it for him. Some low-level Defense or State Department official should announce that military action will be taken, and that all civilians -- including Hans and his Blixies -- should get out of the way. We can then wait for days or weeks before we attack, sending out false messages all the while. The President should go on television to announce the beginning of the action hours after it starts.
Because we cannot now avoid war, we can and will succeed quickly. Mr. Bush must define success in the war, or others will do so in terms that ensure failure. Madeleine the Short proclaimed that if we don't capture Saddam or have proof of his death, we will not have succeeded. Nonsense. Ending the WMD threat by disarming Iraq, liberating the Iraqi people, and maintaining Iraq as a whole, free and independent nation are our immediate goals. Success means that, and nothing else. But success in Iraq is only the beginning.
The Saudi problem is ripening for solution. The Saudis are the bankers and mentors of terror. If they demand that our military leave, so be it. They will try to sugar-coat it by saying that our departure is necessary so that they can then take on the radical Islamists who threaten their fragile regime. But that, like so much else the Saudis say, will be a lie. They will never oppose the radical Islamists because they themselves -- the House of Saud and its retainers -- are some of the radical Islamists who they would have us believe are their adversaries.
After the Iraq campaign, when freedom and democracy have taken root there, the Saudis will fear the spread of freedom across their own borders. We must encourage just that. The Saudis are no more likely to stop supporting terror than Saddam is to peacefully give up his WMD. They will have to be dealt with as the enemy they are. The sooner we face that fact, the safer the lives of our children and grandchildren will be. Saddam delendus est.