November Surprise?

Morton Halperin, senior director for Democracy at the National Security Council in the Clinton Administration and a present director at the Center for National Security Studies, thinks Bush will at least solicit the support of Congress before going in, but not because of the War Powers Act or any other legal requirements. "He will consult because people will tell him that this is going to be very expensive, it's going to be very complicated, we're going to have to stay there for a long time, and you don't want to do it without having gotten the permission of Congress," says Halperin. "And at the end of the day, they're not going to turn you down." Turning dove on Iraq proved painful for Democrats before, he says, and they're not about to take that chance again.

These days, the smartest opposition to attacking Hussein comes from quarters like the left-leaning Foreign Policy in Focus, which has published a point-by-point rationale on its website, www.foreign-policy-infocus.org:

•The war would be illegal, the group argues. The dispute with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction rightly belongs to the UN, not the U.S. If the U.S. on its own decides to attack Iraq because it violates a Security Council resolution, then any other member of the Security Council, acting on its own, can attack any other country, thereby creating international anarchy.

•Our allies in the region oppose the war. Kuwait itself has been mending fences with Iraq, which has agreed to respect Kuwait's sovereignty. Kuwait is opposed to a new attack by the U.S.

•There is nothing to show that the government of Iraq had links to al-Qaida or other anti-American terrorists.

•None of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi, no major figure in al-Qaida is Iraqi, and no al-Qaida funding has been traced to Iraq.

•U.S. officials have admitted that there is no evidence that Iraq has resumed its nuclear-, chemical- or biological-weapons programs.

•"Iraq's current armed forces are at barely one-third their pre-war strength," the group argues, with a nonexistent navy and a tiny air force. Military spending is one-tenth of what it was in 1990.

•Iraq is not a military threat to its neighbors, most of which have sophisticated air-defense systems. The think tank quotes Israeli military analyst Meir Stieglitz, who noted in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, "The chances of Iraq having succeeded in developing operative warheads without tests are zero."

Research by Joshua Hersh, Gabrielle Jackson and Cassandra Lewis.
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