War is hell


PREDICTING the future is a job best left to prophets and fortune-tellers. It is a risky business, and is even more so in the Byzantine world of the Middle East.

All sorts of fanciful scenarios are being concocted by so-called "military analysts" as to how a U.S.-Iraq battle would unfold. They all end with the U.S. winning a decisive victory with minimal loss of life. But, of all human activities, war is perhaps the least predictable.

If war breaks out in Kuwait, this much is certain: It will develop in directions that are utterly unpredictable. It will not be neat or surgical or sanitary. It will be what war has always been: ugly and vicious and more deadly than anyone can imagine.

No one should be fooled by the video-game scenarios being spun by armchair generals and sunshine soldiers. War in the Persian Gulf would not be a Tom Clancy novel or a Clint Eastwood movie. William Tecumseh Sherman said "War is hell" because that is precisely what it is.

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