Thursday, January 30, 2003

While I think the path Bush has taken to get us here was clueless, now that we are here, we must slog on down the road.

In a way, Bush is as trapped as his nemesis, Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi dictator cannot give up his weapons of mass destruction, because without them he is just another Middle East despot -- not the modern-day Saladin he once proclaimed he was. He would be perceived as weak -- a terminal illness in his part of the world -- and lacking the very weapons he credits with forcing the Americans to pause on the so-called Highway of Death during the Gulf War and leave him in power.

And if Hussein cannot do an about-face, neither can Bush, who has sent an expeditionary force halfway around the world. He can neither let it sit in the desert, its energy and morale being sapped, nor accept some sort of compromise deal that would bring it home. He has laid out his case in the boldest, clearest language: Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction must go. Anything less would make Bush look like a temporizer and America a blowhard. War is inevitable.

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