President Bush's decision to push ahead with war against Iraq brings with it a certain air of reluctant resignation. Most Americans sensed a feeling of inevitability. But although we knew it was coming, who can be happy that it did?
Ben Franklin probably had it right more than 200 years ago when, at the end of our successful war for independence, he said that in spite of America's milestone achievement, there never was a good war, nor a bad peace.
This time, too, there is at least some good that can be achieved by this war against Iraq. It is hard to imagine that anyone will mourn the departure from the world scene of Saddam Hussein and his bloody clan. Nor could anyone want to see weapons of mass destruction in the hands of such a man, or such a regime.
The argument has always been over the best way to rid the world of Saddam. It's clear that he had no intention of yielding to demands that he simply head into exile, though Bahrain offered him safe passage and refuge.
There can be no doubt that Saddam despises President Bush, but there can also be no doubt that the feeling is mutual.
If Saddam is determined to stay, chances are good he will die. American forces say they have been training for months for the express assignment of terminating the Iraqi dictator. So if his plan is to become a martyr in the name of Islam, he doubtless believes that the best course is to fight the “evil Satan” to the death. He will do no actual fighting, of course, but he can be expected to do a lot of hiding.
Still, millions of Americans wonder if diplomacy might have ultimately carried the day, assuming that talking is better than dying. War will mean casualties on both sides, although it is Saddam's own people who will suffer most grievously, given the overwhelming superiority of American firepower.
That evidently does not concern Saddam, whose inhumanity toward his own countrymen is a matter of record. The world can expect, too, that he will try to sabotage his country's oil infrastructure as defeat looms.
It is frightening to contemplate, and should be to Iraqi leaders, what America's military might is capable of unleashing against their country before this war is finished. The 21,500-pound MOAB bomb, nicknamed the “Mother Of All Bombs,” though non-nuclear, is a devastating weapon.
So, too, is our massive force of superbly trained soldiers, sailors, and airmen that has Saddam and Iraq virtually surrounded. Regardless of how one feels about the war, the support of U.S. citizens for their military should be resolute.
This is a war that has been a long time building. The beginning can be dated to Sept. 11, 2001. Or more recently. Or further back, depending on what theory one finds convincing.
Fact is, the buildup to war took a lot longer than the war itself will require. What needs to be done now is get it over with quickly and efficiently, with minimal loss of life, on the part of our people and on the part of the Iraqis themselves. Then we can seek to build a good peace, in Iraq, and in the Middle East region.
But for now we can only pray that God will cup his hands around our brave men and women as they go about the jobs they volunteered to do in service to their country.