Despite its defiant provocation of Western air patrols, Iraq has failed to win much political support over its plight. "The 'no-fly' zones aren't actually sanctioned by the U.N. -- they're unilaterally imposed by Britain and the U.S.," says Thompson. "But nobody's in a hurry to defend Iraq." Of course, all that could change with a downed pilot or a stray missile inflicting heavy civilian casualties.
War is hell for politicians, but not if it's conducted away from the headlines. In a familiar story that hardly makes the papers anymore, U.S. planes struck five targets in northern Iraq Thursday; according to Iraqi officials, two civilians were among the dead. "Senior U.S. officials are happy that they're able to downgrade Iraq's defenses without any of the negative reaction that followed Operation Desert Fox," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "In these skirmishes over the 'no-fly' zone, we've already destroyed as much of Iraq's defenses as we did during the December strikes."