George Bush has ordered a plan to destroy the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to the Sunday Observer newspaper in the U.K.

The Pentagon plans air attacks on Iraqi installations as well as attacks by Iraqi opposition forces on Baghdad, the same way the Northern Alliance was used to attack Khabul in Afghanistan after we first bombed the area. Washington plans to launch the military campaign early in 2002.

The planning is being carried out by the U.S. Central Command at McDill air force base in Tampa, Florida, which is commanded by General Tommy Franks, who is leading the war against Afghanistan. Another key planner is former CIA director James Woolsey, who was sent to London by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz soon after September 11 to talk to Iraqi opposition groups, such as the London-based Iraqi National Congress, if they would participate in an uprising if they got U.S. military support. The INC has long been trying to convince the U.S. to fund an opposition insurgency campaign against Saddam. The plan is to work with three political forces: Kurdish rebels in the north of Iraq, radical Sunni Muslim groups in and around Baghdad, and the Shia opposition in the south.

The plan is opposed by Tony Blair and other European Union leaders, and threatens to destroy the international consensus the U.S. built up before launching its attacks on Afghanistan. Washington has been told by its allies that the evidence of an Iraqi link to 11 September is only circumstantial. However, the U.S. believes we can justify attacking Iraq because of its plan to produce weapons of mass destruction.

Under the existing strictures set down by Washington and London after the Gulf War, evidence of any credible threat from weapons of mass destruction is regarded as sufficient reason to launch military strikes along the lines of Operation Desert Fox in 1998, when allied planes made large-scale strikes against Iraqi weapons complexes.

Opposition by Blair and French President Jacques Chirac may not be enough to stop us. One European military source who recently returned from General Franks?s headquarters in Florida says, ?The Americans are walking on water. They think they can do anything at the moment and there is bloody nothing Tony [Blair] can do about it.? It will be a combined operation of U.S. bombers targeting key military installations while U.S. forces assist opposition groups in the North and South of the country in a planned uprising. One version of the plan has U.S. forces fighting on the ground. Pentagon sources say ?significant numbers? of U.S. ground troops could be called on in the early stages of the attack to guard oil fields around the Shia port of Basra in southern Iraq.The trigger for the attack will be the expected refusal of Iraq to submit to renewed inspections for weapons of mass destruction under the United Nations sanctions imposed after the Gulf war.

The Bush administration clearly feels it has found a formula that works against terrorist dictatorships in the Middle East, and plans to use it again.

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