Bush's finger is on the trigger

President Bush made the case Tuesday evening that Saddam Hussein is evil, dangerous and armed.

The trickier argument, though, is whether the best solution is to send U.S. troops to Iraq to begin a war. So far, America and its allies remain deeply divided on the course of action that will lead more directly to world peace than to World War III.

Are the risks greater to launch an attack or to wait?

Bush seems to be biding his time in an effort marshal the three key elements to a lasting resolution to the threat of Saddam -- evidence, opinion and force.

Evidence mounts almost daily that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, has played the United Nations for a patsy and has irrefutable ties to the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11. More evidence, Bush said, will come from Secretary of State Powell next week.

Hard evidence is the currency needed to persuade not only America's allies around the world but also the doubters among Bush's own constituency. The doubt isn't meant to betray the memory of Sept. 11 victims in favor of some kind of leniency for Saddam; instead, it is a flickering hope there is some alternative to war. Bush understands that.

So he remains patient, attempting to build an airtight case against Saddam and a consensus for a course of action.

In the meantime, the U.S. military trains its sights on Baghdad. It gathers a force which, if necessary, could strike with the same deadly efficiency as Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf's troops in the Gulf War.

The risk Bush takes is that terrorists will strike a major blow first, killing innocent people while America still has its finger on the trigger.

But terrorism is always a threat. The difference now is such an act would unleash enough anger to make that trigger-finger twitch, leading almost certainly to the destruction of Iraq.


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