The most powerful part of Powell's message was that it was delivered by Powell; the most reluctant member of the administration to use force. Yet he was the one saying we have no alternative, that Iraq poses such a grave threat, it must disarm or else.
But does Saddam understand that? Most of all, does he understand that even if we had second thoughts, we could not turn back now? To do so would leave the world believing Saddam had stared down the United States and won, which would create the most dangerous destabilizing situation of all.
Whether you agree or disagree with the policy, the reality is that we are headed to war and every indication, every leak, every on the record statement is that Iraq will be dealt one of the most devastating blows in the history of warfare. Everyone seems to understand that but Saddam. Yet only he can stop a war now.
If he agrees to leave voluntarily, there will not be military action. But does he understand that he now has no alternative? Let us hope, let us pray that he does. Because if he does not, it is the words of John McCain in the hours after 9/11 that will be most appropriate. He said, "To our enemies, we say we are coming. May God have mercy on your soul."