Clinton Sends in the Ships

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WASHINGTON: While the U.S. scrambles to establish some sort of diplomatic consensus for military action against Iraq, President Clinton is sending in the ships. Friday, he ordered the carrier USS George Washington to the Persian Gulf. When the carrier arrives next week, it will double the number of U.S. warplanes in the region that can be used unilaterally, giving the President badly-needed maneuverability if he decides to launch a strike without the blessing of the Security Council.

But if a major strike is needed, the Pentagon wants to be able to bring in ground-based Air Force planes. The reason? Carrier-based planes can't carry enough bombs to conduct an extensive carpet-bombing campaign. Because of this, the Pentagon is considering sending F-117 stealth fighters and other Air Force planes to the region. The problem will be finding a base for the aircraft. The logical choice would be Saudi Arabia, but allowing an extensive U.S. presence would certainly cause trouble for the Saudi government. One option would be to bring in heavy bombers, such as the B-1 or B-52, which could conveniently reside on the Indian Ocean isle of Diego Garcia, a British possession.

  • Discuss the Iraqi standoff with former U.N. weapons inspector Dr. Raymond Zilinskas in the TIME/CNN Impact chat on Sunday, Nov. 16, 10pm EST.