- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

The time has come for the president to publicly declare that it is the decision of the United States government to lead an invasion of Iraq with the intent to change the regime as soon as our military is prepared to successfully carry out the mission. A two-pronged U.S. diplomatic campaign has spent the last six months simultaneously seeking a peaceful solution and building a war alliance. The former was probably doomed to failure from the outset, while the latter has gained whatever there was to be gained during this period of indecision.
The failure of the Turkish parliament to authorize its own govenment's decision to support us is powerful evidence of the limits of diplomacy's efficacy in the face of overwhelming public opposition. The same principle may come to apply to some governments that already have committed to support us. We are at the point where it is more likely to see subtractions, than additions, to the list of allies. Some governments, such as France and Russia, which have resisted our diplomacy may, when faced with the certainty of our action, decide to join us. But they won't make that final decision until we have made ours. Clearly, while they have a chance to block our final decision (which, for whatever reasons, they oppose) they will not make their final decision.
Further delay only strengthens the political opposition around the world and at home. Organized, ideological opposition gets better organized. Those who are well-intended, but hesitant or fearful, only become more so. Up until now, delay was justified because our military preparations were incomplete. But now, with the exception of possible short-term delays caused by the Turkish decision, our forces are in place and ready to go. The very act of further delay would tend to undercut the perceived need for urgent action.
Worse, trying to maintain the pretense that we would really at this late date accept some U.N.-defined "successful disarmament" that would leave Saddam Hussein in power and free to further arm himself after our troops leave the theater, only forces the president's spokesmen and cabinet officers into embarrassing verbal slights of hand.
Whether or not a second (actually 17th) United Nations resolution should be sought in the next week, should be based on whether our government judges such a vote to be more embarrassing than it is helpful. Either way, the U.N. schedule should be subordinate to our military schedule.
Fundamentally, now is the time when power must replace persuasion. The president must guard against letting prudence and patience turn into dithering and indecision. As Gen. George Patton is reputed to have warned: "A good plan executed violently today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow." Because, sometimes, tomorrow is too late.

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