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The Power Of The Presidency

President Bush once told me that he first realized the awesome responsibility of the presidency when he visited a military base and understood that if young men and women of the military were ordered into combat, it was his responsibility and his alone to send them there.

It had been one thing, he said, to think about that in the abstract, before he became president, quite another when he actually had the power. He will soon decide whether to exercise that power.

And as I have watched this crisis building, I have wondered if Saddam Hussein ever had those kinds of reservations about putting his young people in harm's way? I doubt it. Sending soldiers into combat is probably easier for a man who has killed his son-in-law and gassed his own people.

I'll be honest. I'd feel a lot better about this coming war if the administration could show a direct link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, if a smoking gun had been found. But it is hard to argue that the world would be safer if we allow Saddam to build the kinds of weapons North Korea already has.

North Korea flaunts those weapons to extort money from the West. We can deal with that, and will.

But Saddam thirsts for power, not money, and he has willingly sacrificed the lives of his young people and used whatever weapons he thought necessary when his power was threatened.

I hope against hope that there is a way out of this war, but I keep coming back to this: A man who is willing to kill his son-in-law is a threat to as many people as his weapons can reach.