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Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2003 / 12 Adar I, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Editors planning for the day after Gulf War II | America can never lose the war against terrorism.

Not with all the duct tape and plastic sheeting we produce.

America will not lose Gulf War II, either. Magazines long ago ran out of things to prepare us for the coming war, but everyone from Soldier of Fortune to The New Yorker knows by now what the military outcome will be - a lightning knockout punch of Iraq followed by quick surrender or easy slaughter.

In fact, if Saddam is curious how our 21st-century battle plan is likely to go, or if he just wants to see some pictures of the cool electronic war toys he's going to be obliterated with, he should pick up a copy of Newsweek at his corner supermarket/chemical weapons factory.

According to "Boots, Bytes and Bombs," in the first 48 hours of battle Iraq's hapless military facilities, communications centers and the places where Saddam and his family and friends might be hiding will be destroyed with 3,000 smart bombs, missiles and nifty electronic-frying gizmos called E-bombs.

When this period of "shock and awe" is over, fast-moving troops will move in and mop up as fast as possible. Special Forces will find SCUD missile launchers before they can be fired. Airborne units and Marines will grab Iraq's oil fields before they can be set afire.

Of course, in the real world, these and other well-laid war plans could go awry. As U.S. News & World Report enumerates in "Six Deadly Fears," its roundup of things the Bush war hawks worry could go terribly wrong, Saddam could hold out in Baghdad and force us into deadly urban warfare.

Or, before he dies a martyr's death, he could slip some of his trademark weapons of mass destruction into terrorist hands. Or he could unleash chemical or biological weapons on invading troops and his own civilians, who have neither protective chem-bio suits nor duct tape to protect themselves.

That's what most worries Col. David Hackwork, the retired hero and military guru. Writing in the back pages of Soldier of Fortune, a magazine that's been drooling over prospects of Gulf War II since 1991, he fears our soldiers' protective gear will not adequately protect them.

Most of all, it's what will happen after the military cakewalk that worries most people - with justification. Newsweek's "Imagining the Day After" is not shy about disbelieving administration claims that we'll only have to hang around for 30 to 90 days to set Iraq up with the Arab world's first self-governing democratic paradise.

"Most outside experts insist any Iraq occupation will be costly and messy, lasting a year at the very least," Newsweek says, adding "that a civil war or postwar bloodbath is the biggest day-after fear."

Meanwhile, over at the ivory towers of The New Yorker, Nicholas Lehman seeks a deeper understanding of the arguments by war hawks that victory in Iraq "could help bring about a wholesale change for the better in the political, cultural and economic climate of the Arab Middle East."

Their optimistic vision of the rational, peaceful and terrorist-free Middle East that will result from America's remodeling of Iraq sounds heavenly, but you'd still better keep a good supply of duct tape.

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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