The massive American-British air raid over western Iraq on the
evening of Sept. 6 is almost certainly a precursor to an invasion of the
country. An estimated 100 warplanes delivered a major blow to Iraq's various
command and control systems that could deliver weapons of mass destruction
and complicate an invasion by ground forces.
That strike followed a raid on Aug. 5, when allied bombers
demolished Saddam Hussein's air-command-and-control center southwest of
Baghdad. Key Iraqi air-defense lines have been taken out, and the way is now
clear for U.S. special forces.
Israeli intelligence sources report that some 15 percent of
Iraqi soil is already under allied control and that a combined U.S.-Turkish
force will soon capture Iraq's oil facilities in the north. They also say
U.S. special forces numbering near 15,000 troops could move into the area in
the next month. A full-scale allied invasion could occur in late November.
The recent air strikes represent much more than mere enforcement
of the Iraqi no-fly zone. Instead, they may well signal that the first phase
of the war with Iraq has already begun. And despite a recent pessimistic
barrage from media and political naysayers, there's no economic, financial
or military reason not to finish off the job this time.
Recent stories in The New York Times and elsewhere continue to
grouse that an invasion of Iraq will be tough on the U.S. economy. The oil
card is the biggest argument against this war, and it was effectively
disposed of a week ago when Kuwait came out in strong support of a U.S.
invasion of Iraq. Should the Iraqis set fire to their own fields, the
Kuwaitis can easily make up half of the potential million-barrel-a-day
shortfall. Think of Kuwait as a strategic petroleum reserve.
And the Saudis could easily add a couple of million barrels per
day to help stabilize prices. Saudi Arabia is basically broke and would not
want to see a big oil spike crushing demand during a global recession. Nor
will they risk losing U.S. protection of their oil facilities. Also, many
industrialized countries including the U.S. have significantly increased
their own strategic reserves. By year end, U.S. reserves should reach a
capacity of 700 million barrels -- enough to distribute over 4 million
barrels per day. More than enough oil-card insurance.
Then there's the issue of the U.S. budget deficit, which is
likely to average roughly 1.5 percent of gross domestic product through next
year, the lowest recessionary deficit in memory. And contrary to the
predictions of former Clinton economic adviser Robert Rubin, the temporary
deficit rise has been accompanied by plunging -- not rising -- interest
rates in U.S. government securities, and homeowner mortgage rates stand at
But what if the United States has to finance the Iraqi war on
its own? What if another $50 to $100 billion of war-related funds becomes
necessary? Easy. The Treasury should sell war bonds. Liberty bonds were sold
in World War I and were actively traded on the open market. During World War
II, war bonds were big business, raising huge sums of money and generating a
cottage industry for their sale.
War bonds sold today would act just like U.S. savings bonds.
They would be government-insured savings accounts with competitive interest
rates; the interest would not be taxed on the state or local levels; and
federal taxes would be deferred until the bonds are redeemed in 20 or 30
years. These bonds, which should be indexed to offset inflation, will yield
more money after tax than ordinary bank savings accounts (for most states).
With stock-market confidence still at low ebb, a good portion of the roughly
80 million shareholding Americans will undoubtedly invest in war bonds for
patriotic and economic rate-of-return reasons.
Doomsayers may try to use oil and budget deficits as reasons not
to go to war. But the economic facts speak otherwise. And anyway, American
economic potential is so vast that these anti-war arguments quickly become
The U.S. economy is strong, resilient and free. The post-Sept.
11 recession predicted by many never came to pass. In fact, the 2001
recession ended last September, and key measures such as growth, profits,
production and living standards are all recovering. This improving economic
backdrop provides a solid foundation for the war effort.
We have already blown away the Taliban. Al Qaeda has been
totally disrupted. Strengthened homeland defenses have thus far stopped
additional terrorist acts. And businesses have stayed open to increase our
prosperity. Now it's time to end state-sponsored terrorism in Iraq and
elsewhere. A year after Sept. 11, 2001, a resolute America is ready for the