I don't know how many people really believed deep down that this could be avoided. The months-long display of teasing, taunting and name-calling has finally turned into an all-out fistfight. In this case, the US military is the big kid and the Iraqi military is the smaller kid. And Iraq is the sandbox. Yesterday, early morning Baghdad saw the big kid throw the first punch.
And now we have all the coverage that comes with it. All of the self-justifying propaganda. Argh. It's expected, because that's what governments do. But Ari Fleischer's noontime briefing and press Q&A yesterday is what really got my attention. I wanted to laugh, then groan, then scream "Does he think we're all idiots?!" (I have a sneaking suspicion that the answer would be "Yes.")
Fleischer was giving the usual roundabout answers to questions about what's going on in Iraq. Granted, I know he couldn't/shouldn't reveal everything they know. But here's the bit that got me: A reporter asked what Saddam's status had to be for this war to be considered over. Fleischer responded with the cookie-cutter We-will-keep-you-informed-as-events-happen line. The reporter repeated his question, as anyone could hear that it not only was unanswered but largely unaddressed as well. Again, the question went unanswered. At another point, a different reporter asked if Saddam and his higher-ups would be given safe passage if they wanted to put themselves into exile or surrender. Fleischer stumbled a bit and then gave the same cookie-cutter response, adding at length that the goal with this war is disarming Iraq and protecting the world from Saddam. (Don't get me started on THAT piece of nonsense.)
After hearing all this, I found myself laughing and wondering how this guy could stand up there and say this with a straight face. Regarding Saddam's status, Saddam would have to be proven DEAD for this war to be over. Say it with me. Bush and Company want Saddam dead. If this wasn't the case, and disarmament was the goal, then the US's very first attack wouldn't have been an assassination attempt. With missiles. Our government fully acknowledges that the first strike was done because they felt Saddam would be in a certain bunker at a certain time. And, since assassination is allowed during wartime, they took that shot. Face it, they want Saddam to take a missile where the sun don't shine, but don't think you'll get anyone to actually say that. The same can be said for the second question, regarding safe passage into exile or to surrender. Suppose he does flee and exile himself. We'll still go after him. Yes, he'll be out of Iraq, but do you really think Bush will stop at that? Ohhh no. Bush the shark has smelled blood and now there's only one thing on his mind. And besides, whatever country he goes to looking for safe haven will be thrown on Bush's "Axis of Evil" list, especially if they give Saddam asylum. And THEN, Bush'll have an excuse to war with THAT country as well, if they don't turn him over. And since all the countries Saddam can easily flee to are within the area that the US considers a terrorist breeding ground, one can easily guess that the war would tendril there as well, under the guise of the War On Terror.
So really, the only way out for Saddam is to die. If he dies in the fighting, war is over. If he surrenders, war is over and he's as good as dead. If he flees to another country and they turn him over to the US, war is over and, again, he's as good as dead. If he flees and is given asylum, war is continued into that country and to wherever Saddam runs after that, possibly instigating World War III. Such a vicious, VICIOUS circle.