When's the war?

I don't know. The president has been neglecting to call me lately to fill me in on his secret plans, but I think I can tell you when it's not going to be.

That's anytime after April, when the Iraqi summer starts beating down in temperatures starting at 100 and — by all accounts — can rise to 120, with the pavement a sizzling 150.

The American military says it can fight in any weather. It probably can, and it probably would, but not because the French and the Germans want to dribble the ball a while longer. That would be the dumbest reason of all.

Can't you just picture some American cop, called up for reserve duty — a ton of reservists are in law enforcement — who finds himself sitting in a chemical suit in 120-degree heat, realizing he's in this awful position because the world somehow browbeat his commander in chief into giving the French another month to fool around with inspectors?

Like I said, the president doesn't call me to tell me his plans, but I'd bet anybody a $50 steak that that's not going to happen.

If the French and the Germans are going to have their noses out of joint, so be it.

If there is going to be an attack — a war — it should be at a time suited to our preparedness, our timetable, our ability to squeeze concessions, send Saddam Hussein into exile or our determination that he really, really, really isn't going to go anywhere without the encouragement of the 82 Airborne and their colleagues in the U.S. military.

It's true that Saddam and his French and German buddies have February to sputter and harrumph, but come March, the game is up.

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