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Dubya’s Triumph: What Can Stop Him Now?

David Miller Online.

Dubya’s Triumph: What Can Stop Him Now?

With the Republican victories in the Mid-Term elections and the new U.N. Security Council's resolution calling on Iraq to allow weapons inspectors back into the country, President George W. Bush is riding high and immediately talking tough. Mr. Bush clearly views these successes as giving him a mandate to press ahead with the War on Terrorism and his ultimate goal of ousting Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush has already warned the American people that his administration will enforce the United Nations resolutions if necessary and immediately put Iraq on notice. Iraq may be a regime that is out of control, but the question that also arises is whether there are any checks and balances on Mr. Bush?

Iraq has long been a thorn in the side of the United States. It has often been said that the 1991 Gulf War was left unresolved. By allowing Saddam’s government to remain in power the US and its coalition allies did not conclude the conflict as successfully as they could have. The coalition evicted the Iraqis from Kuwait however the debate has continued as to whether the allies should have pressed onto Baghdad. The UN Security Council resolutions did not call for this to happen and this is the excuse the Americans have presented for halting the war when they did. The real reason was that they lacked the will to march on Baghdad and feared the repercussions from their Arab partners. Instead, they encouraged the local minorities to rise while offering nothing other than moral support. By taking this option that was nothing more than a cop-out, the US allowed Saddam to crush these revolts ruthlessly and they created a myriad of problems that have lasted over a decade.

Where the father failed, the son has picked up the torch. President Bush junior has made Iraq and the removal of Saddam his number one priority and has been making noises about invasion and war ever since he stepped into the Oval Office. September Eleven and the subsequent War on Terror gave impetus to that drive and now the UN has presented the administration with the licence it requires. It would seem that President Bush junior has the will to go to Baghdad that his father lacked. The problem with this picture is that the United Nations has been rendered useless despite passing the resolution last week. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said that the United States reserves the right to act unilaterally if the US believes Iraq is not complying. In an interview given at the weekend Mr. Card warned that the UN can meet and discuss any issue but at the end of the day it does not matter. The United States does not need the UN’s permission to undertake a military strike. In other words, welcome to the world as defined by Mr. Bush.

If the United States, along with Britain, launches an attack on Iraq then the attack is likely to take the form of a blitzkrieg. This is something that has been a feature of warfare since the Second World War and has developed and intensified with technology. The most recent examples of this include Yugoslavia, Operation Desert Fox and Afghanistan. The time the ferocious air assault that is reported to include satellite-guided smart bombs and cruise missiles will be combined with over two hundred thousand ground troops. The Iraqi command and control structure will be the first target along with the Republican Guard and any identifiable chemical or biological capability. It is the possibility of WMD attack that poses the greatest threat to any attack.

Is there anything that can stop Mr. Bush ordering an attack on Iraq? First of all, Iraq could comply with all UN demands and allow the inspectors free and unrestricted access to all areas and military sites. This has often been a major sticking point in previous operations and if inspectors have been allowed free movement, the Iraqis have often moved material and equipment to other sites. A game of cat and mouse has developed. However should this not be the case now and the UN personnel are able to carry out their work then there is no pretext for a US led attack.

The second deterrent to war is any lack of will on the part of the US. So far the US had talked tough and there has been a steady build up of firepower in the Persian Gulf region but as yet the crunch time has not arrived. Each time there has been a last minute climb-down by the Iraqis or the US has felt the need to give diplomacy more time. If these new inspections do not produce results then time has run out. Either the US has the will to go to war as it says it does or else Saddam will survive. Even if Mr. Bush hesitates, with people such as Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and Tony Blair behind him, he is likely to find the will to go to war.

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