Next Stop Baghdad?

The Brits have said they will sign on with George W. Bush for the Iraq deal. That means we won't go it alone.

But it probably does not mean the Saudis or the Kuwaitis will help — we probably shouldn't expect much from them anyway.

God only knows what the French will do. French politicians have to worry about millions of Arab immigrant voters, so you can't expect a whole lot when it comes to bombing Saddam Hussein's bunker.

The Germans will wuss out too. They want to sell Iraq things. They'll still want to sell stuff to the new Iraqi leaders — whoever they are — but in case Saddam rides this one out, they'll stay to the side clucking their tongues.

The Russians aren't going to like this a whole lot. But the beauty of sending troops to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia is that the Russians might be kept so busy that they won't have time to worry about Saddam.

So what's going to happen?

In rough terms we're going to try to find some Iraqis living outside the country who are as determined to see their country straighten up as Hamid Karzai was about his country, Afghanistan.

You'd think it wouldn't be so hard, but evidently we've tried this before without much luck.

After we find the Hamid Karzai of Iraq, we're going to demand a bunch of stuff in the U.N. It will be a long list of things Iraq ought to do, like readmit weapons inspectors, but we all know won't do.

After a few ultimatums, the Brits and the United States will launch a campaign of taking out Iraqi air defenses and large conglomerations of troops and armor.

Then our new friends in Northern Iraq, the Kurds and other opposition forces, will make a move on Baghdad and we'll be tagging along to make sure the smart bombs hit the right places.

This will go on at the end of this year and into next — probably.

I'm gazing at a crystal ball here. I don't have any sources.

I've just been watching George Bush for a while now and I think I'm getting to know the guy. When he says he's going to do something, he does it. It may take a while, but he does it.

And he's said he's going to do the Iraq thing. My outline may be a little off, but probably not much.

So, if you were wondering what you were going to be reading about in the papers for the next year, you read it here first.

That's My Word.

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