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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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24 hours later

With the first 24 hours of military strikes over, the United States looks confident and poised to end the Iraqi conflict swiftly. The first assault, which began Wednesday night, featured “a barrage of 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles… (and) 2,000-pound bombs” in an attack U.S. officials say was aimed directly at Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders, according to The Washington Post. While this sounds impressive, Fox News theorized that the initial attack could have been much more severe had U.S. intelligence not seen an opening and taken it, initially firing at one of Saddam’s palaces while he presumably slept. If the current state of Baghdad is any indication, with air raid sirens blaring and buildings ablaze, Operation Iraqi Freedom looks like it may be over sooner than many imagined.
The cruise missiles, which The Washington Post says were fired from the USS Donald Cook and other ships, were a clear success, “slam(ming) into… targets near Baghdad.” U.S. officials have yet to comment on just how devastating these strikes were, but nine targets were hit Wednesday alone, “including two long-range artillery emplacements and one surface-to-surface missile system,” The Post said.
There were also reports of 17 Iraqi soldiers giving up before the bombing had even begun. By Thursday afternoon, members of Saddam’s Republican Guard were expressing a desire to surrender, according to Fox News. Clearly, many of Saddam’s own people don’t support him and are not willing to fight for his cause. An early-morning address from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein further verified U.S. progress.
In a televised speech to the Iraqi people that was intercepted and replayed on CNN and Fox News, Saddam looked visibly shaken and years older than in previous broadcasts. Analysts from Fox News and CNN said officials initially theorized that it might not even have been Saddam speaking, but one of his many doubles. But U.S. intelligence stated Thursday afternoon that they indeed suspected it was Saddam, according to Fox News.
In either case, the Iraqi dictator looked sickly, pale and hunched-over, with his voice quiet and his demeanor passive. This is a far cry from the arrogant man often seen walking with his chest bowed and talking proudly, firing rifles into the air. Saddam had on reading glasses and was reading from what appeared to be a handwritten address on a legal pad. This was clearly not a leader in control reassuring his people, but a man on the run, giving a speech that was hastily thrown together. With Fox News reporting a vital refueling stop “obliterated” and U.S. troop morale “sky high,” Saddam’s evil regime looks to be in its final days, though the war is only days old.
Perhaps more interesting, though, is the fact that U.S. forces had control of certain Iraqi television and radio stations within six hours of the bombing, broadcasting messages encouraging the Iraqi people to distance themselves from Saddam and his leadership, according to Fox News. Clearly, Saddam was losing control of Iraq even in the early hours of the bombing. With U.S. strikes strengthening by the hour, this trend will continue until the rule of Saddam ceases and Iraqi liberation is achieved.
In a televised statement Thursday afternoon, President George W. Bush listed 44 nations that are now members of his coalition, so international support may indeed be strengthening. This support is welcomed, but overdue. Perhaps Iraqi scud missles fired at U.S. troops in Kuwait Thursday, scud missles Iraq lied about possessing, played a role in strengthening such support.
As the United States launches a ground invasion, Americans should take comfort in knowing that the most devastating strikes are yet to come. And though the war is far from over, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is clearly rattled, (add comma) and his regime (is) crumbling. With few U.S. casualties reported and only limited bombing underway, the first 24 hours of the Iraqi conflict was an undeniable success. As the White House said in a statement released Thursday afternoon, “So far, so very good.”
Lisa
micala
brandie

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