But what Saddam can do is force the Americans to pay a price in blood, and a higher price in moral authority in the Arab and Islamic world, if he can force us, out of impatient rage, to raze the sacred city of Baghdad, which ranks with Cairo as a capital of the Arab world and was for 500 years home to the caliphate of Islam.
The destruction of Baghdad before the eyes of the world, by U.S. bombs, artillery and tanks -- with daily TV footage of Iraqi women and children torn to pieces -- is Saddam's last best hope either of surviving this war or entering history as a Saladin who died defying the superpower.
Winning by losing is not unknown to the West. Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie immortalized themselves by fighting to the death, rather than surrender the Alamo. The 400 Texans who surrendered to Santa Anna at Goliad, only days later, were all massacred -- and are forgotten.
Winston Churchill converted Dunkirk -- where the British fled Europe before Hitler's panzers, leaving their equipment behind -- into a miraculous retreat, though he warned that wars are not won by evacuations.
Now, to suggest a comparison between Saddam and the heroes of the Alamo, or Iraqis and the Brits at Dunkirk, seems to us sacrilegious. But it is not we to whom Saddam is appealing, but those who hate the United States. And as we have seen from our own surveys of Arabs and Muslims worldwide, this numbers not just a few.
In 1982, the Israelis, after weeks of shelling Beirut to drive out Arafat and his PLO, had to stand down in the face of enraged world opinion. Saddam hopes Arab opinion, world opinion and U.S. opinion will save him. If he can hold out in Baghdad and force America to devastate his capital, he believes he just might -- like Arafat, who was given a U.S. Marine escort to the ships that took him to Tunisia -- survive as the most famous Arab of them all.
But then, what other strategy does he have, at end game?