Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Countdown to War

Countdown to War
Content Edited by Pamela Appea for KPTM-Fox 42
Originally posted March 19, 2003

The nation is on the brink of war with Iraq, and the Bush administration is getting ready for the final showdown with Saddam.

White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer says Saddam still has the chance to leave Iraq, even though he has rejected the President’s ultimatum to pack his bags.

Fleischer said the coalition of the willing will move into Iraq regardless of Saddam’s decision, but he cautions the “Butch of Baghdad” to think carefully about his choices.

“Saddam Hussein has led Iraq to many mistakes in the past, principally by developing weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein, if he doesn’t leave the country, will make his final mistake. The President continues to hope he will.”

As military action comes even closer, there’s a lot of talk about the possible scenarios that may unfold once coalition forces move into Iraq. Reports that some Iraqi generals are planning to lay down arms and surrender for Saddam.

But the White House cautions it may not be that easy, and Saddam has the ability to wreak havoc.

If the United States uses military force, the President is, of course, very comfortable and confident that we will be successful in achieving our objectives. He made no prediction about the length of time. I’ve seen many people say that this could be relatively quick. We make no such assumptions. But the President is confident in the outcome,” Fleischer, White House spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the news from Iraq is that Saddam Hussein has refused to accept President Bush’s ultimatum.

A statement from Baghdad says Iraq is ready to confront a U.S.-led attack. Images from Iraq on Tuesday show organized government demonstrations, showing support for Saddam.

“We came here to say to Bush, ‘all Iraqi people want peace and are against war,” one Iraqi citizen said. Gun-toting civilians, captured in images shown on both U.S. and Iraqi television stations, imply defiance of every Iraqi household, should U.S. troops arrive there.

Saddam Hussein appears firmly in control. Meeting top politicians early on Tuesday, the Iraqi leader was seen in military uniform for the first time in two years. He denounced President Bush’s ultimatum as debased and flawed.

His elder son Uday in a statement on [Saddam Hussein’s own] television station, said it was President Bush who’d have to leave office. These defiant words were also echoed by Iraq’s foreign minister, who called Bush an “idiot” and said that Iraq had done all it can [could] to avoid war.

“The solution is for those two despots in Washington and London to leave office. Once they leave office they can often … open the window of diplomacy all over the world, solve all disputes away from the cowboy policy,” said Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister.