One of America's leading generals says U.S. forces will not rush into action against Iraq but will act prudently if and when President Bush decides to pursue a military course against Baghdad.
General Tommy Franks refuses to discuss any U.S. war plans for a possible military enforcement action against Iraq. The man who would command American forces in an attack on Baghdad also declines to estimate the number of casualties any such action could cause.
But General Franks, speaking to a group in Florida, said the U.S. military is preparing methodically for every eventuality. "We won't be quick. We will be prudent," he said.
General Franks makes clear, however, that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will not be allowed to continue what he calls Baghdad's policies of cheat and retreat while failing to abide by United Nations resolutions. "That will not stand," he said. "It will not stand."
The four-star commander of the U.S. Central Command, responsible for the Middle East, also said he believes there will be widespread international support for any military action. He said that is because of what he sees as growing global fear of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
"The stakes are too high, and the sight of the first mushroom cloud on one of the major population centers on this planet is something that most nations on this planet are willing to go a long ways out of their way to prevent," said General Franks.
Iraq has until Friday to say whether it will comply with a new U.N. resolution ordering Baghdad to end to any chemical, biological and nuclear programs and give arms inspectors unrestricted access to the country.