Even as U.S. planes attacked air-defense sites in northern Iraq Monday, Defense Secretary William Cohen toured the Gulf states hoping to maintain support for Washington's strategy. "There's a lot of skepticism here about what the U.S. is doing," says TIME Middle East bureau chief Scott MacLeod. "Everyone in the region wants to get rid of Saddam, but they don't want to maintain an indefinite bombing campaign." Despite weekend press reports of U.S. officials nodding and winking about coup prospects, MacLeod is skeptical. "The assassination, quite possibly by the regime, of a Shi'ite cleric in the south last week, sparked some unrest, but it was all over in a couple of days," says MacLeod. "You can't put out fires that quickly if you don't have a firm grip on your security forces." Washington, therefore, may need a little more than carborundum in its toolbox.
Another day, another fusillade of TNT falls on Iraq. Is this going anywhere? Only if we're lucky. "Despite claims about a prospective coup against Saddam, this is something Washington can hope for but not plan," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "Persistent bombing takes a psychological toll on Saddam's regime, but it's like trying to cut down a tree with sandpaper -- not impossible, but it'll take a long time."