- A veteran intelligence analyst says Washington almost surely will choose a full-out war against Iraq, as soon as this weekend over the moonless Arab desert.
With that first strike, says Strategic Forecasting founder George Friedman, President Bush will have lodged the centerpiece of his administration’s foreign policy: a global effort to oust Saddam Hussein and root out international terrorists. The president also will have sparked greater technology spending, a significant stock-market rally and a collapse in energy prices.
“He really has no choice,” says Friedman, who explains how the president has a bleak political future if America capitulates to Iraq, or the United Nations. “His biggest problem is that right after Sept. 11 (2001) he was decisive, and now he has dragged this out so long.”
Friedman, as chairman of 7-year-old Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor.com, is something of a pioneer in the field of private intelligence. The former director of the center for geopolitical studies at Louisiana State University publishes regularly on national security, warfare and computer security.
….Many investors fail to interpret correctly the fast-moving events leading up to war, he says. The financial media are under the impression peace will bring with it lower oil prices and a relief rally in the stock market. Not so, says this analyst.
“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,” Friedman tells me. “The financial markets, as they always do, will react badly when the Republican leadership dissolves.”
….On timing, Friedman says an attack is probably imminent. This weekend offers a moonless night over Iraq’s desert sands. U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks, who will have responsibility for an invasion of Iraq, arrived at Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar earlier in the week.
“This is the best weekend militarily to do it,” Friedman says. “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.” [CBS MarketWatch]
This weekend it is, then.