Mideast Distraction Time

These are glory days for Saddam Hussein.

It was only a few short weeks ago that he was in President Bush's crosshairs: The U.S. was getting ready to gin up world opinion for an attack on Iraq. The vice president was on a world tour to get the allied ducks in a row. The Brits were about to issue a white paper on the whys and wherefores for going after Saddam. But then... distraction time.

The Arabs squealed in Dick Cheney's ear: Palestine, Palestine, Palestine... and then goaded Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon into an attack. Saddam started pouring money into the West Bank to encourage Palestinian mamas to send their babies off to be bomber boys and girls. Bush had to do something to tamp that down. It took weeks, and it's still not settled. 

Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak is now coming to Washington to tell Bush that the Palestinians and Israelis can't settle their problems themselves, and that America must order an agreement and impose a settlement. Can you spell quicksand?

Even if President Bush were somehow able to deal with that issue successfully, he would find himself facing another roadblock to Baghdad in the form of Al Qaeda trouble in Kashmir between nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan.

Well... you can't go attack Iraq if you have to stop World War III before it breaks out and vaporizes a few million Indians and Pakistanis.

Even while Bush had Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld packing his bags to go quiet that thing down, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., appeared on a Sunday talk show to say that the president can't launch an Iraq attack because it's ill advised and over the top. Besides, she said, he's got to solve the Palestinian question first.

Diane... excuse me... are we on the same page here? Saddam wants to drop the Golden Gate Bridge into the drink. Maybe not right away — a few other things are higher on his priority list — but still. Who are we kidding here? This is a time when politicians have to decide if they're going to be Neville Chamberlain or not.

So what's the deal. Iraq or not Iraq? I'm with Nike on this one: Just do it.

That's My Word.

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