What the Iraq thing needs is straight shooting

Mike Royko

December 28, 1990|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

WHAT'S IT BEEN now, about five months?" asked Slats Grobnik.

Since what?

"Since Iraq heisted Kuwait and we went in to play rent-a-cops for the Arab oil sheiks."

Come to think of it, yes, it's been almost that long since the naked aggression occurred.

"So after five months, have you got it figured out yet?"

Yes, it's clear enough. Either Saddam Hussein withdraws from Kuwait or we will attack the eye plucker's army and drive it out.


I believe President Bush said Jan. 15 was the deadline.

"Yeah, but our No. 2 general in charge over there said the Army won't be ready to attack by then. And he said there's nothing special about Jan. 15. Like we could do it some other day."

That's true. On the other hand, that date falls on a Tuesday, which means that if we went to war there would be no football games to interrupt on TV.

"Yeah, but they'd have to cut in on all the soaps, and that could cost Bush 10 points in those approval polls. So I think a Saturday would be better."

Why a Saturday?

"Because the stock markets are all closed and Dow and Jones wouldn't start foaming at the lips and getting hysterical. They could have the weekend to see what's happening and decide if they want to get hysterical on Monday morning."

Yes, but the market will become hysterical no matter what happens. And you're forgetting Ted Koppel.

"What about him?"

He isn't on the air on Saturday nights. So I'm not sure if it would be proper or even constitutional to have an international crisis without Koppel convening a panel of experts to explain it to us.

"What's to explain? If we go to war, we're going to win, right?"

Yes, President Bush has said we will kick fanny, so I assume that means we will win.

"I read that he said that and it kind of bothers me because Saddam says he's going to pluck our eyes out. And if somebody's going to pluck our eyes out, we ought to do more than kick his behind."

We shouldn't take them literally. It's just their way of saying that their armies will lay waste to the opposing armies.

"So you think we'll win?"

I always believe my commander in chief. After all, he has secret intelligence information from the CIA and the military that the rest of us aren't privy to.

"Yeah, like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had during the Vietnam War?"

Something like that.

"But if we win, how'll we know it? Do we wait for Koppel to count to 10 and hold up Bush's hand like Rocky? What does winning mean?"

I assume winning means that we will have driven the Iraqi army out of Kuwait and restored the right of that country's lawful rulers to sit on their solid-gold potties again.

"That's not the way I heard it. What if we run them out of Kuwait, but this Saddam is still running Iraq? If he's really worse than Hitler, we can't just let him sit there, can we? Didn't you read that in a year he might be able to build a nuclear bomb?"

Yes, but the experts say that such a primitive bomb would be so huge and clumsy that it would have to be transported on a big truck. So it wouldn't be of much military use.

"Oh, no? What if he disguises it as a float and puts it in a parade? You want to go to bed at night wondering if Saddam's bomb is gonna turn up in the next Rose Parade disguised as a giant Mickey Mouse?"

A chilling thought.

"So we got to go in there all the way and get him or he's gonna start something again one of these days. Or ain't that what Bush seemed to be saying a while ago?"

Yes, I believe that may have been our implied goal. But some experts say that's risky because the Arab nations that now appear friendly or neutral would suddenly be against us because they don't want us kicking their fellow Arabs around too vigorously.

"What does that mean? The ones who say they're right behind us now, they'd shoot us in the back?"

So to speak. And Saddam might become bold or crazy enough to attack Israel to gain widespread Arab support. Then Israel would, as is its custom, seek an eye for a eye. Or two eyes for an eye. Or maybe two eyes for a tooth or a filling. It doesn't mess around.

"Then what would we do? It sounds to me like we'd be in a big war and up to our necks in Arabs?"

Well, I'm not sure what we'd do.

"I thought you said you understood it."

Yes, I thought I did, but there are some things the President hasn't explained yet. There's no reason for concern, though. I'm sure he sees the whole picture and has a plan.

"What if he don't?"

Uh, did you get a nice tree this year?

"Yeah, Scotch pine."

Good. Nice straight trunk?

"Yeah, sure. But I still wanna know, how'll we know if we won? And what about the Jan. 15 deadline?"

You're not still talking about that, are you?

"You bet. I want some answers."

Have you forgotten this is the Christmas season?


Don't you like surprises?

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