President Bush’s State of the Union speech and upcoming events make it clear that war is now almost inevitable.

Previously reluctant allies are falling into line and the momentum of military deployments makes war an almost certainty in the next two months.


Unless Saddam and his sons and closest cronies are somehow removed from power – either by fleeing into exile or dispatched by a coup or by assassins.

And the unknown factor in all of this is Russia. Iraq has long been a client state of the Soviet Union. Moscow’s military trained the senior Iraqi military leaders. And Russia has extensive business contracts for oil and military supplies with Baghdad. After all, who do you think re-supplied Iraq after the Gulf War? And who cavalierly would bypass UN sanctions to do illegal business with Iraq?

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want to see the American flag flying all over Iraq – especially over those invaluable oil fields. Such an American triumph would cost Moscow billions in previously signed contracts – and American access to Iraqi oil would cheapen the value of Russia’s huge oil reserves.

Here is what may happen:

For the next few weeks – while we continue our troop deployment – we will be trying to assemble a diplomatic coalition to wage this war. Putin will be wooed – and will be watching carefully. Meanwhile, you can be assured he has a fallback plan to protect Russian interests in Iraq.

Tip-off to imminent war.

When the UN recalls the inspectors and removes them from Iraq, that will mean the war is about to begin.

When Putin sees that, he will move. He has two simple options:

1) Use his sway with Saddam to convince him to pack up – immediately – and go into safe exile with his illegally stolen billions safely stashed in foreign bank accounts.

2) If Saddam refuses to go, then Putin’s ruthless special agents may kill Saddam and his sons – making it look like a coup.

3) A new Iraqi leader – secretly loyal to Moscow – but seemingly ‘clean’ to the world will take over - all before a US invasion.

This way Bush can triumphantly bring the troops home with his long-sought ‘Coonskin’ – Saddam’s scalp which he thinks will help him get re-elected unlike his father in ’92 – while Russia and the Arabs can happily watch the 300,000 GI’s leave the region without an invasion.

This result will be eerily like what Bush I did in Panama. We went in there to capture Manuel Noriega on the pretense that he was running illegal drugs into the US.

Indeed, we captured him and brought him to trial in Florida. He is presently in prison in the Sunshine State.

But guess what?

As even the Bush Administration’s DEA admits, Panama today – and right after Noriega’s removal, too – is an even bigger source of illegal drugs than when Noriega ran it.

Iraq – after Saddam – may be just as bad or even worse.

All because of Russia’s interests and intentions.


G.W. Bush finds himself caught in a vice of his own creation.

Because he ratcheted up the ‘heat’ over Iraq last fall with claims that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), he set in motion a chain of events that inevitably will lead to either human or political disaster.

Instead of following Teddy Roosevelt’s oft-cited dictum, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” Team Bush has elected to have their rhetoric overcome the provable facts. Because they can not prove that Saddam has WMD – the long-awaited ‘smoking gun’ does not exist and that is yet another indictment of our intelligence agencies – Team Bush was forced to use the UN inspection process in order to enlist allies in an upcoming war with Iraq.

But – and this should not have been a surprise to anyone – Iraq is using this inspection process to make the world believe they are cooperating. And the rest of the world is buying it! No wonder even Tony Blair is now favoring giving the inspectors more time; his public is 80-20 against a war.

Meanwhile we have our daily dose of a President Bush ranting and raving about how he is “sick and tired of waiting” and how “this is a bad movie I don’t want to see again.”

Clearly whoever is running this administration did not think this thing through properly. They should have known that once they joined in the UN process that they would lose control to the very bureaucrats they now are denouncing.

Speaking of “bad movies,” perhaps the biggest motivation for G.W. Bush is for his now-embattled presidency not to become a sequel of his father’s. So far, Bush II is beginning to look a lot like Bush I:

Both had rotten economies that caused the American people to believe that the administration was out of touch or spending too much time on foreign affairs. (The latest polls now show that Bush II is beginning to be seen – like his father – as too much in favor of the rich.)

Both had a Mid-East War. Bush I’s was over Kuwait; Bush II is/was against al Qaeda. And both were never finished. Saddam and Osama were never removed/killed/captured.

Both had astronomical poll ratings at one time but saw them decline. Bush I was at 91% at the end of the Gulf War and ended up only getting 37% of the vote in 1992. Bush II had 89% after 9/11; he is now heading down in every poll. And his political opponents smell blood in the water. No wonder so many democrats are running.

And Bush II has one other problem: putting 300,000 troops in the Mid-East means he can’t bring them home without a “coonskin” to hang on the wall. If he brings them home with Saddam still in power he risks being labeled “the second Bush to leave Saddam in power.”

But, as much as he wants to invade Iraq, the rest of the world is violently against it. No wonder he seems so petulantly unhappy every day when talking about it.

Meanwhile, the American people are wondering why he seems so totally focused on Iraq while North Korea’s Kim Jong Il is making much more dire threats. And all the war talk out of DC is clearly dampening the economy.

Indeed, G.W. Bush is caught – by his own making – between ‘Iraq and a hard place.’

The result is inevitably going to be bad in the long run.


President Bush’s announcement about the wrongful use of race in determining who gets into college or graduate schools is 100% correct.

Intentionally mis-labeled as ‘Affirmative Action,’ these racial categories are a perversion of the goal of a color-blind nation. What is ‘affirmative’ about discrimination based on skin color?

Indeed, this ultra-liberal, PC program has done more to divide the races than it has helped advance minorities who, admittedly, have suffered awful discrimination for hundreds of years. But the notion that the way to ‘correct’ one wrong is by committing the exact same wrong – in reverse - is ludicrous.

Affirmative Action – however well intentioned – is actually Negative Action for our entire society.

It demeans those minorities who legitimately deserve jobs or school acceptances. And it stigmatizes all minorities as “affirmative action hires.”

The use of race in awarding ‘points’ in determining acceptance or denial into colleges and graduate schools is pathetic. Please let me share a story with you:

In 1976 I applied to Stanford Law School. I was at that time a senior at Harvard with good grades; five months later I would graduate Magna Cum Laude.

On the Stanford Law application they asked applicants to check a box under the category Origin of Birth. There were a few choices: Native Born American, Caucasian, Negro, Foreign Born.

Looking at this choice – and with no mischief or malice intended – I said to myself, “Native born American? I was born here…that’s me.” I checked that box and moved on to fill out the rest of my application. Then I mailed it in, didn’t think about it again and waited to hear from Stanford.

In March or so – around the time the law schools inform you of their decision – I walked into the dining room in Kirkland House, where I lived at Harvard, and noticed a table full of American Indians having lunch. These folks were not usually eating in this dining room as they didn’t live in Kirkland House.

Anyway, I got my tray and went and sat down with some friends. Not three minutes later an American Indian woman came over to our table, looked at me, and asked, “Are you John LeBoutillier?”

I said I was.

She said nothing else and returned to her table.

I had a funny feeling about it but soon put it in the back of my mind.

Ten days later in my mail box was the all-too-thin rejection letter from Stanford Law School.

I tore it open and saw that indeed I had been turned down.

Walking around that evening it then hit me! Stanford Law had seen the checked ‘native born American’ on my application – coupled with the French name – and had wondered if I might indeed have been a ‘minority’ – perhaps a French-Canadian Indian!

So they dispatched a few sets of trustworthy Indian ‘eyes’ to eyeball me to make certain of my ‘heritage.’

And once they ascertained that I was a white man, then I was O-U-T at Stanford Law.

I suppose that if I had some Indian blood in me I would have been accepted. Otherwise why would they even have ‘examined’ me?

Twenty seven years later I bear no ill will or bitterness over that ridiculous use of race to admit or reject people. But I do want to prevent others from having their skin color – over which they have no choice – be a factor in admissions or securing a job.

Until we become a color-blind society, we will remain a divided society – instead of a united society based on merit.


Here is the so-far under-reported story behind all the ‘war talk’:

The Pentagon - led by an aggressive Donald Rumsfeld and his Deputy Paul Wolfowitz and neo-con hawk Richard Perle – and hungry to begin the war versus Saddam Hussein as soon as possible – is pushing troops onto planes and ships as fast as possible so as to combat the Colin Powell-led diplomatic campaign to stall or prevent a war.

These Pentagon leaders are steamrolling everyone and anyone in their way. Even GOP senators have bitterly complained to the White House of administration arrogance; they particularly cited Rummy as the single worst offender.

In fact, these bedrock supporters of G.W. Bush are particularly upset over Rummy’s refusal to share with them any evidence of Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

(The UN is also complaining – strongly in private – that the US will not share intelligence – even with redacted ‘sources and methods’ – of WMD.)

Of course this again raises a disturbing possibility (repeatedly raised in this space): that US intelligence does not have hard evidence of WMD and has bluffed this entire matter to the edge of war.

Powell, long an opponent of armed conflict with Iraq, is deftly using near-unanimous world opinion against a war to stall/delay/slow down the whole process. Even our staunchest ally, England, now is openly talking about waiting until ‘next autumn’ to finish the inspections process. And UNMOVIC itself now says it needs 12 more months to finish all the inspections.

Only the Pentagon is pushing this war – and soon.

What is going on?

Where is G.W. Bush in this?

We do not know. He speaks toughly, but also allows talk to continue of a delay in launching this war.

Perhaps it is all a carefully orchestrated Psy-Ops campaign designed to keep Saddam wondering – and to goose a coup out of some Saddam’s subordinates fearful they will be killed in a war.

It is hard to believe that the United States can and will launch a war absent some shocking new revelation. Virtually the entire world is against this war. If we go it alone we will be seen as the Lone Ranger aggressor imperialist nation - exactly the image we have been trying to rid ourselves of.

If, on the other hand, the UN sanctions such a war, then it is not the US vs. Iraq, but the civilized, peaceful world against a brutal international criminal.

A still-unanswered problem: if the war is delayed for 8-12 more months of UN inspections, what happens to the 150,000 US troops and all the tonnage of equipment we are now shipping over there? Will the troops remain there for a year – at tremendous financial expense not to mention morale problems and equipment degradation in the heat?

Or will the troops be brought home – thus lessening the pressure on Saddam to comply with the UN?

It is a mess!

And it goes back to the initial days of both Bush Administrations: Powell vs. Cheney then and Powell vs. Rummy today.

Powell – against war in Iraq – versus his old Pentagon colleagues eager to take out Saddam once and for all.

And - in the middle - yet another George Bush who must decide whether to go into Iraq or not.

Will he follow his father’s footsteps?


As the crucial January 27 United Nations Security Council meeting approaches, a number of recent diplomatic announcements make it almost impossible for President George W. Bush to launch a war against Iraq. Let us examine a few:

1) British Foreign Minister Jack Straw now says, “The likelihood of war is less than 50-50.” Straw also broke with the US on a crucial point: London will now want another debate in the Security Council and a vote to authorize the use of force – something the Bush Team was adamantly against. His Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is now “cautioning” America about how it is perceived around the world. Thus, our one and only staunchest ally has suddenly pulled back form all the heated war talk of the past four months.

2) Turkey, Egypt and Syria have just held talks aimed at preventing a war. This is significant because access to Turkey’s bases is crucial for US efforts to hit Iraq from the north. But Turkey has just elected a new, more fundamentalist government and so far they will not even allow an on-site American assessment of the base capabilities.

3) Saudi Arabia has just announced – contrary to previous announcements – that they will not allow US use of Saudi bases until and unless WMD (weapons of mass destruction) are found inside Iraq – or evidence of same is shown to Riyadh.

4) The European Union has just announced that they are sending a delegation to the Middle East to round up support among 7 Arab nations to stop any war against Iraq.

5) The United Nations estimates a staggering 500,000 Iraqi casualties if a war breaks out. The UN also predicts a “devastating refugee crisis.”

Meanwhile, we here in the United States are being inundated daily with the predictable ‘soldiers go off to war’ stories. Eager-beaver pseudo-war correspondents - with career enhancement and potential book contracts dancing in their heads - are flooding Amman, Kuwait City, Baghdad and several of our aircraft carriers. Of course, these stories – all broadcast with the assent of the administration and military command – send a strong signal to Saddam Hussein. This is a typical ‘psy-ops’ tactic – and it gives some muscle to back-up the UN inspectors.

The single biggest reason the UN inspectors have not been blocked, delayed, stalled or trifled with is the imminent threat of an American invasion.

But Saddam is too clever to confront the UN. He clearly has stashed his WMD where no one can find it – not the CIA or NSA or British Intelligence. Perhaps it is in Syria or Iran. Or maybe in some old run-down house somewhere out in Nowheresville, Iraq. After all, the entire crucial inventory of his WMD could be contained in several large cannisters – which would probably fit in your basement!

How in the world can anyone be expected to find that in a country the size of California – especially when everyone lives in a police state laced with fear if they even blink an eye?

That is why this entire drill threatens to become a total waste of time, money and political capital.

G.W. Bush wanted this. But now he is about to be trapped by his own tactics. Hoping to use the UN as his father did to ‘authorize’ a war, the UN is instead being used by opponents of a war to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Bush’s only hope is for his overrated CIA/NSA/DIA spooks – led by Clinton holdover George Tenet - to come up with something that proves to the world that Saddam – despite the inspectors’ failure to find anything - indeed has WMD.

Time is running out – for both sides. But it is we Americans who have to prove to a skeptical world that Saddam is lying.

Bush needs a once-in-a-lifetime Perry Mason moment -soon – or else the whole war buildup will be seen as a monumental sham.


Yesterday on MEET THE PRESS, Los Angeles Times international affairs correspondent Robin Wright spoke of a potential war with Iraq: “Saddam Hussein still has all sorts of tricks up his sleeve to divide the United Nations members.”

She then stated – and, amazingly, no other panelist commented on this – that “Russia might bring troops into Iraq and take possession of any questionable weapons and thus avert a war.”

Let’s examine this heretofore unexpected ploy: Russia, long a cozy business and oil partner with Saddam, has not been too keen on this potential war with Iraq. They resisted the Bush Administration's UN plans for two months - and only then reluctantly joined in Resolution 1441.

At the same time, Russia has a multi-billion dollar oil deal with Iraq that would undoubtedly go down the drain if we ‘take out’ the Saddam regime.

If Vladimir Putin followed Ms. Wright’s scenario, he could perhaps preserve the Russian influence in Baghdad – and the deals, too. But his so-far friendly relationship with Bush would be severely damaged.

The bet here? No such Russian Plan ever happens.

Another more likely scenario was leaked last week: if war looms as a near certainty, a coalition of Arab leaders from the surrounding countries will ask Bush to hold off while they make one last entreaty to Saddam to get him to peacefully step down and go into exile.

He may do so – but only if he is absolutely convinced that a war is coming. (He knows he can not survive a US-led invasion. Nor does he want to die and be a martyr. So he may very well ‘buy’ a cushy life in Saudi Arabia – but only if he is convinced that war is coming.)

A third scenario is coming into focus daily: the North Korean Card.

Russia and Red China – the real Axis of Evil - are the puppet-masters of Pyongyang. It is they who have goosed Kim Jong Il to act up like a petulant baby as a way to slow down and distract the focus on Iraq.

And it is working. More and more Americans - including prominent Republicans - are asking why such ‘inconsistency’ when it comes to North Korean known nukes and Saddam’s lack of nukes?

Meanwhile we now know that Hans Blix will go to Baghdad on January 20 – just one week before he must report to the UN Security Council on the success of the inspections.

Blix, a lifelong pacifist diplomat, does not want to be the man who causes a war to begin. He thus will be puddy in Saddam’s hands during this crucial visit to Iraq. And Saddam will want Blix to make a ‘nice’ report on January 27th to the UN.

Thus, it is likely that that ‘Inspectors’ Report’ to the Security Council will not be definitive enough to allow Bush to start a war – unless he defies the UN and goes it alone in a new, streamlined coalition. In that case, however, Bush must reveal a ‘smoking gun’ piece of intelligence that proves that Saddam has WMD.

Some wonder if, indeed, our heretofore inept, incompetent and overrated intelligence agencies have any such evidence whatsoever.

Bush has boxed himself in with too-strong rhetoric. Both his ‘Axis-of-Evil’ speech last year and his calls for ‘regime change’ have almost forced him into disappointing someone on one side or another of these issues.

Already the neocons are growing antsy about whether or not we really are going to launch this war or not.

Bush would have been better off following Teddy Roosevelt’s dictum: Speak softly and carry a big stick.


1) January 27: Chief UN Inspector Hans Blix reports to the UN Security Council. He will say that – so far – Iraq has been “totally cooperative” and that the on-the-ground inspectors have found zilch in the way of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

Blix, a life-long diplomat, wants to avoid a war – if possible. He will bend over backwards to prevent a war against Iraq.

Knowing this, the Iraqis have cleverly ‘played the game.’ So far there have been no incidents of the Iraqis preventing inspections; and sources tell the LA TIMES that nothing has been found so far either.

As predicted in this space months ago it appears that Iraq simply moved its WMD to another country. Israeli intelligence believes it to be Syria – a UN Security Council member!

And now Baghdad brazenly says to DC: “Bring the CIA into Iraq and go anywhere you choose. You will find no WMD.”

2) January 28: President Bush gives his annual State of the Union address. It most certainly will focus on whatever Blix has just reported to the United Nations Security Council. If Blix says that UNMOVIC has indeed found a secret WMD program, then Bush will use his speech to rally the world for an imminent war.

But what if Blix declares Iraq so far in compliance with Resolution 1441?

What will Bush then say?

Will he blow off the UN and go to war anyway – thus greatly damaging our image around the world?

Or will he wait longer for the UN teams to find something?

Many – especially on the Fox News Channel – confidently predict that Bush has a ‘gotcha’ piece of irrefutable proof of Saddam’s WMD program and that, at the crucial moment, he will unveil it and prove Saddam to be a liar.

Prediction: US intelligence has no such piece of evidence whatsoever. There will be no ‘gotcha’ goody that proves Iraq to be in violation.

Bush will be forced to wait – and many of his neo-conservative supporters will start carping about it. Already, Safire, Krauthamer and others are bridling about the ‘UN process.’

Other predictions:

3) While the world is focused on Iraq and North Korea, an entirely new international crisis - and related scandal – will take center stage.

In an almost simultaneous development, a blockbuster new book – entirely based on previously classified United States Government documents – will reveal unspeakable acts of perfidy by our government over the past three decades, including scores of high-level officials in the present administration.

This story will come to dominate the news for months and years to come.

At the same time, the Democrats in Congress and running for President in 2004 will fail to capitalize on this ‘new’ crisis because of their own atrocious behavior on this ‘issue.’

4) The economy will limp along; consumer confidence will lag yet again. We may dip back into recession – fueled by rising oil prices – especially if ‘war talk’ continues.

5) Senator Frist will duplicate Senator Trent Lott’s accommodation of the Democrats in the Senate – thus earning the wrath of the right.

6) Final prediction: many in political life who are riding high as 2003 begins will be ruined before the end of the year because of actions they have taken – secretly – over the years. Revelation of these actions will cause many famous American politicians to leave public life and face permanent humiliation.

OK, that’s all folks! Let’s sit back and see if any of this comes true, OK?

In the meantime, a Happy, Happy New Year to all of you nice readers!