Preparing for war

November 08, 1990

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the purpose of Secretary of State James Baker's current overseas trip is to prepare for an attack very soon on Iraq. The most ominous sign that this is the plan was yesterday's announcement that two new U.S. armored divisions will be sent from Europe to Saudi Arabia.

Common sense tells us that the Iraqi forces would never attack the 238,000 troops already stationed in Saudi Arabia, so the escalation of troop strength by a third can only be viewed as preparation for an offensive action. Margaret Thatcher announced yesterday in effect that such an attack is imminent.

The only remaining question seems to be whether such an action will be authorized by the United Nations or will be a unilateral action by the United States. We continue to believe that any attack that lacks explicit U.N. authorization will be a grave mistake which could lead to great loss of life, destabilize the entire Middle East for generations, plunge the U.S. financial markets into chaos and probably even fail in its unstated goal of keeping the oil supply flowing in the Persian Gulf.

If President Bush can get U.N. backing for a concerted action, that's one thing; if he can't get it, he will be most ill-advised to strike out on the perilous course of unilateral action.

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