Jewish World Review March 21, 2003 / 17 Adar II, 5763
America's ready for war ... and peace
The Big 2 1/2 newsweeklies - Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report - sure hope the war in Iraq Wednesday last night.
If they really get lucky, by the time they put their March 31 editions to bed this weekend, Saddam already might be dead, our super-soldiers will be handing out Hershey bars and Christiane Amanpour will be drinking a beer in Baghdad and explaining how she captured 30,000 Iraqis with a satellite phone and a hatpin.
No one gives Saddam's crippled military machine a chance of defeating Earth's only hyper-power or holding out for long. But he's expected to make his toppling as bloody, nasty and protracted as he can.
According to Newsweek, Saddam probably will hold out with about 70,000 elite troops in Baghdad, a 2,000-square mile labyrinth he hopes will become "the Mesopotamian Stalingrad."
Newsweek says Saddam, who wants to make sure he's in the history books 500 years from now, plans to go to his death as apocalyptically and memorably as possible.
Torching the oil fields is a given. But some experts fear he'll unleash a huge poison-gas cloud on Baghdad or pull something with those weapons of mass destruction he may or may not have.
Time, meanwhile, offers a long cover feature on husband-wife military teams, plus "Enter the Cleanup Crew," a piece about the second wave of U.S. troops, whose job is to befriend locals Iraqis with gifts of food and cash for rebuilding the stuff we break on our way in.
It's a nice PR touch for an imperial power that antiwar warrior Pat Buchanan warns in his American Conservative magazine is engaged in the first of "a series of wars" in the Middle East that could ignite a Clash of Civilizations that will prove to be "a tragedy and a disaster for this Republic."
Buchanan says in his cover-tirade that the War on Iraq is the handiwork of an arrogant, bellicose "cabal of polemicists" and administration officials who are more concerned about Israel's interests than America's.
Anti-Semitic conspiratorial hooey as usual, hints columnist Gloria Borger in U.S. News. Her dated cover package, "Ready to Go," notes that it was British commanders who persuaded the U.S. military to invade delicately - i.e., to inflict as little damage as possible on Iraq's people and infrastructure, which we'll be paying to rebuild anyway.
Speaking of the faithful Brits, The Economist says there's no need to worry that a war without United Nations approval would undermine its authority.
Only three wars since 1945 have gotten the OK of the U.N., an organization historian Paul Johnson says with painful accuracy on Forbes.com is "a theater of hypocrisy … where mass-murdering heads of state can stand tall … and where crimes against humanity are rewarded."
You find no tears for the U.N. at the Weekly Standard, headquarters of the crusading neo-conservative intellectuals who've been urging the Bush administration to do everything Buchanan rails against in the Middle East.
The Standard's cover story cheers the collapse of the U.N., and another suggests the United States should drop out of it and form a "Big Three" alliance with Britain and Russia to provide international cover for our future entanglements in foreign swamps.
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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald