Meanwhile, Barry Crimmins writes of my item from this morning on the Washington Post piece: "Dan, I don't understand.The US is now supposed to bomb the populace of Iraq if this story is accurate? Why?" My answer: I don't think we need to bomb Iraqi civilians, and I hope to God that we don't.
Assuming the Post story is accurate -- and I'm not prepared to assume anything yet -- it's still hard to imagine that Iraq has any significant war-fighting capability left after more than a decade of sanctions, no-fly zones, and steady bombings by the US and Britain.
I have no first-hand understanding of military matters, but since our armed forces will be fighting in our name, and since I haven't given up on the idea of democracy quite yet, I'll risk sounding like a fool. I would hope that if we do any bombing at all, it will be limited to carefully targeted Iraqi military facilities. If Saddam has surrounded said facilities with, say, a ring of nursery schools, then leave 'em alone. We're not talking about Germany circa 1942 here; we're talking about a country that couldn't surrender fast enough in 1991, when it was presumably a lot stronger than it is today.
If we absolutely, positively have to invade -- if more sanctions and more inspections simply aren't going to get the job done -- then let's invade by land and hope for a rapid collapse of the Iraqi army, followed by the fall of Saddam. We may even be greeted as liberators -- for a day or two. After that it could get incredibly ugly. But if the Iraqi exile groups can put their country back together with a minimum of involvement on our part, that would certainly be the best we could hope for.
But I'm not a pacifist. I'd rather see the US and its allies take action than let Saddam equip terrorists with nerve gas that can be set off in cities throughout Europe and the United States.
This is a terrible moment. President Bush needs to approach it with humility -- a word he used a lot when he was running for office, but which we haven't heard much of since he was installed.