Suicide From Fear of Death?

This article is part of the Foreign Affairs Iraq Retrospective.

What, me worry? Saddam Hussein, July 1983. (Francois Lochon / Gamma-Rapho Via Getty Images)


With war in the Middle East imminent, it is clear that the United States has painted itself -- as well as Iraq -- into a corner. The Bush administration's success in engineering international support for a preventive war in the Persian Gulf is impressive, both politically and diplomatically. But Washington's case rests on two crucial errors. It understates the very real risk that an assault on Iraq will trigger a counterattack on American civilians. And even when that risk is admitted, the pro-war camp conflates it with the threat of unprovoked attack by Iraq in the future.

Many Americans still take for granted that a war to topple Saddam Hussein can be fought as it was in 1991: on American terms. Even when they recognize that the

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