- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

President Bush yesterday gave his first signal of how the U.S. military would invade Iraq, saying the operation would "swiftly" depose of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"This time we mean it," a combative president said at a White House press conference, referring to previous failed attempts since 1991 to get Saddam to relinquish his entire arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
"This time it's for real," Mr. Bush said. "And I say it must not have been for real the last 16 times because nothing happened when he didn't [disarm]."
Gen. Tommy Franks, who heads U.S. Central Command and would direct any attack on Iraq, has presented Mr. Bush with several military options for an invasion, should a new round of U.N. weapons inspections fail.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush said of the war plans: "I also want to remind you that should we have to use troops, should it become a necessity in order to disarm him, the United States, with friends, will move swiftly with force to do the job. You don't have to worry about that. We will do … what it takes militarily to succeed."
Military sources have said the plans to topple Saddam involve a nearly simultaneous assault by air and ground forces that would seek to create chaos among Iraqi troops and their leadership. The attack would begin with a ferocious air assault, relying heavily on more than a dozen Air Force B-2 stealth bombers and scores of Navy Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Planners have eyed February as the optimum time for an assault. But that timetable is dependent on when U.N. inspectors enter Iraq and how long that mission lasts until, as anticipated, Baghdad starts putting up opposition.
War plans also rely heavily on key elements of the Iraqi military, including the Republican Guard, to change sides and help bring down Saddam's regime.
Mr. Bush yesterday spoke directly to Saddam's generals. He said that if they choose to fight, they must not endanger civilian lives.
"I also want to say something else to the people of Iraq, that the generals in Iraq must understand clearly there will be consequences for their behavior," the president said. "Should they choose, if force is necessary, to behave in a way that endangers the lives of their own citizens, as well as citizens in the neighborhood, there will be a consequence. They will be held to account."
The U.S. military expects Saddam to try to launch his small arsenal of Scud missiles, perhaps armed with chemical or biological weapons, at Israel and other nearby countries.
The U.S. war plan will include operations to prevent that from happening.
The president yesterday also laid out his argument for why Saddam cannot be permitted to have weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush said that should Saddam acquire a nuclear weapon it would alter the international diplomatic scene, cause Israeli and Persian Gulf citizens to live in fear of annihilation and set up the potential for a catastrophic terrorist attack on the United States.
"Imagine Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon," the president said. "Imagine how the Israeli citizens would feel. Imagine how the citizens in Saudi Arabia would feel. Imagine how the world would change, how he could alter diplomacy by the very presence of a nuclear weapon."
Mr. Bush predicted the U.N. Security Council today will approve "a tough new resolution" that calls for "serious consequences" if Saddam defies a new inspection team headed by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.
"The debate about whether we're going to deal with Saddam Hussein is over. And now the question is how do we deal with him," Mr. Bush said.
Declaring, "I have a deep desire for peace," the president added that peace can come only if Saddam cooperates. "If he's not going to disarm, we'll disarm him," he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide