Usama bin Laden is as close to dead as he can get, if he's not already there. Mullah Omar is now a Trivial Pursuit question. The Taliban is vapor. So who's next?

There's been a lot of talk about Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Richard Perle, one-time assistant secretary of defense, layed out the case against Hussein in the New York Times. His argument goes like this:

1. Hussein hates the U.S. and isn't going to be talked out of it … ever

2. Iraq has developed weapons of mass destruction. Hussein has used them, and with each pasing day — to use Perle's expression — he comes closer to having nukes

3. Hussein has engaged in terror, sponsored terror camps and collaborated with terrorists — including Mohammed Atta, who met with one of his agents shortly before Sept. 11

Perle says the choice we face now is the same one the Israelis faced in '81: Strike pre-emptively, or wait until the West has some solid goods on Hussein.

The Israelis decided pre-emptively was the best route for everybody, so they took out Hussein's first and only nuclear power plant. We now have the same choice to make.

We know what has to be done. We know there is no talking Hussein out of the course he's on. We know there's no forcing him off that course with sanctions. We know he has the patience of Job when it comes to building the weapons he needs to strike out at us. We know the world will not be a good place with him running the world economy with his oil fields. So what are we waiting for?

Sure, we have to get bin Laden. But then we also have to get serious. We should do in Iraq what we did in Afghanistan: Enrich and embolden the opposition, arm the opposition, put pressure on Hussein to allow in weapons inspectors … or else. When he balks over the weapons inspectors, we should bomb. We should bomb those Iraqi forces until the opposition can walk into Baghdad virtually unopposed.

We should do this for everybody in the world, even the Iraqis. And we should do it even if everybody else complains.

That's My Word.

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