Will Washington start a full-out war against Iraq this weekend? George Friedman, of Strategic Forecasting, says, “This is the best weekend militarily to do it. There is no moon, and if you ever have been on the desert in special operations, you know you don’t want a moon when you need to take bridges and other strategic posts?[The president] really has no choice. His biggest problem is that right after Sept. 11 (2001) he was decisive, and now he has dragged this out so long.” He’s dragged the stock market down along with him.

Friedman says, “Imagine, Bush throws up his hands and says, ‘No international coalition, so I am not going to invade.’ The left wingers say they stopped the lunatic. The right wing bolts. We have now a two-year lame duck. Can you say President (John) McCain? Bush will be crippled.”

The financial media say peace will bring lower oil prices and a rally in the stock market, but Friedman disagrees. “If the scenario the market regards as bullish comes to pass, which is the U.S. makes the decision not to attack, the consequences will be intense. Saddam Hussein becomes a hero of the Arab world. The United States appear weak, and the foundations underneath Bush will crumble,” he says. “The financial markets, as they always do, will react badly when the Republican leadership dissolves?Israel will become much more aggressive in its own defense. And strategically, the United States does not have the Iraq base of operations to pursue its war against terrorism.”

Friedman says war will bring lower oil prices, despite Arab reactions to an attack on Iraq. “Iraq exports 1.7 million barrels of oil a day,” he says. “In the event of a total catastrophic war, the world markets will lose just 1.7 million barrels at a time when Venezuela oil is coming back online and many producers, like Saudi Arabia, want to fill that capacity.? The rising oil market is acting how it always does in the short term, irrationally.” He says the Saudis and other OPEC members actually need money and want to sell more oil.”Every major producer has some surplus capacity and is eager to fill it because they have cash-flow problems,” says Friedman. “In the ’73 oil crisis, the debt structure of these countries was absolutely different. In ’73, the Saudis could sit on their oil. Now they can’t.”

Friedman thinks the war in Iraq is only one campaign in a “much longer and much more complex war, and the forces that invade Iraq will remain there, for future potential operations (against terrorists)?Public opinion around the world does not matter that much. The U.S. is never going to be loved.”

All of this seemed to start on 911 (although it really started much earlier). Do we understand what really happened on that fateful day?

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