What next in the gulf?


NOW THAT the war has been won, President Bush and his allies must turn to securing the peace.

It is likely to be a more difficult, more complex, more ambiguous task. It must start with containing Saddam Hussein until the Iraqi people have the wisdom and the courage to find a new leader.

Bush was correct to suspend combat as of midnight Wednesday and to talk with pride about the job done by American and allied soldiers. This was a masterful campaign. The military mission -- destroying Hussein's military capability -- has been accomplished. Iraq's army did not fight, its equipment has been abandoned and the Republican Guard has been thrashed. Chances are the Iraqi people will recognize who has brought their nation such devastation. But until Hussein is deposed or eliminated, the coalition must keep some economic sanctions in place and, of course, the arms embargo. Food and medical supplies should be allowed through; there has been enough suffering. But until Hussein is gone, Iraqi oil cannot be sold and the job of rebuilding the country cannot really begin.

There will be a need for an allied or U.N. military presence in Kuwait. Its nature and composition will depend to a large extent on who is in control in Baghdad. The sooner U.S. forces can be sent home, the better. If a peace-keeping force can be formed without American troops in Kuwait, that would be preferable. But there must be an American presence just over the horizon.

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