When we attack Iraq, what will Saddam Hussein do? Some intelligence officials think he’ll do what he?s vowed to do?fight to the death. Despite this, there are indications that he may be willing to step down and go into exile. The United Arab Emirates has drafted a plan for Saddam’s exile in exchange for immunity from war crimes prosecution by the U.S.

“There are two scenarios regarding Saddam,” says former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Malka. “One is a Saddam who will commit suicide. The other is a Saddam who wants to survive.”

“Saddam has relayed signals that he is ready to discuss giving up power,” says a senior Western intelligence source. “But so far this is purely tactical. Once the war begins, Saddam could urge his Arab allies that he is willing to end the war and refrain from any WMD [weapons of mass destruction] attacks in exchange for safe passage out of Iraq. His military deployment is meant to give him enough time for international pressure on the United States to halt the war.”

The plan to wage war on Iraq is nothing new. On January 26, 1998, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, wrote to President Bill Clinton urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein as a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil.” Rumsfeld called for America to go to war alone, and said the U.S. should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.”

The letter was written by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a right-wing think-tank to which they all belong. Vice-President Dick Cheney was one of its founders. Others who signed the letter to Clinton are Bush’s current Pentagon adviser, Richard Perle; Richard Armitage, who is number two at the State Department; John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, under-secretaries of state; Elliott Abrams, presidential adviser for the Middle East and a member of the National Security Council; and Peter W. Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. President Bush was not one of the signatories.

The letter says, “We urge you to seize [the] opportunity and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf war coalition to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades the UN inspections. If Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil, will all be put at hazard. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy. We believe the US has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the Security Council.”

What will happen to Saddam if he takes the ultimate trip? That?s the real unanswered question.

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