Thursday, April 03, 2003

If you really wanted to peer into the heart of Baghdad, into Saddam's inner sanctum, and discern whether the Iraqi government is on the verge of collapse or ready to hang on grimly till the bitter end, where would you turn? Well, if you're Slate's "military analysis" columnist, Fred Kaplan, you'd read the latest papers and check out what the politicians are saying. The Saudi foreign minister, for example, just renewed his offer of exile to the Iraqi leader. The German chancellor and foreign minister made some positive noises about a possible impending collapse of the Iraqi regime. And the Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah, who had been under house arrest in Najaf, has just rescinded his order--made while under Iraqi guard--to resist American forces.

Now, what on earth could possibly cause all these people (who probably also read the papers, just like Kaplan) to suspect Saddam might be in trouble, unless they're privy to extra-special, top-secret inside information--say, about American tanks converging rapidly on Baghdad--that the rest of us could never imagine having access to? "Surely Saddam's allies shifting into neutral, neutrals relishing his downfall, and local foes moving into open opposition mean something," writes Kaplan. For example, it might mean that many foreign government officials watch CNN.

So much for Slate's "military analysis."

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