Your cut-out-and-keep guide to the week ahead - whether there's a war or not

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The Independent Online
As we wait to hear whether the balloon is going up in the Middle East, it would make it all a lot easier for us if we knew what exactly is going on, which is why today I have scrapped the column which was originally intended for this space (a fitness feature called "Get In Shape The John Prescott Way") and am bringing you instead a basic briefing for the week ahead.

If, at all times, you can bear the following facts in mind, everything else will seem clear by comparison.

1. Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq, is a psychopath without a conscience.

2. Do not take my word for this. I am quoting from what John Major, ex- Prime Minister, said in Parliament last week. And he should know.

3. He worked closely with Margaret Thatcher.

4. So, Saddam Hussein is a psychopath without a conscience.

5. He is the sort of man who not only develops chemical weapons but uses them, not just on the Kurds, but on his own people.

6. This is psychopathic, conscience-free behaviour all right.

7. I mean, what sort of man would encourage the use of death-dealing chemicals on his own people?

8. For instance, encourage his own farmers to use organo-phosphates until they were driven to death, disease and suicide?

9. Well, John Major, actually.

10. But I digress.

11. It is established that Saddam Hussein is a psychopath with no conscience, and if we have ever watched a Hollywood film, we know what to do with that kind of psychopathic killer.

12. You ruthlessly hunt him down and kill him without hurting anyone else.

13. Unfortunately, the Americans can't do that, because their weapons system can only hunt down and kill everyone else without hurting Saddam Hussein.

14. So instead, they are trying every diplomatic move possible.

15. Unfortunately, diplomacy is probably the worst possible approach to a psychopath, as anyone who has ever tried pacifying an armed and desperate serial killer by offering him a five-year wheat and iron ore trade agreement will testify.

16. In the long run Bill Clinton may have to listen to his military advisers.

17. What counsel will his advisers offer?

18. They will say: "Mr President, sir, we have an awful lot of military capability which is getting obsolete and which we need to update. Instead of scrapping it, why don't we drop it on Saddam ? Then we can modernise our arms AND keep the military-industrial complex in work. We NEED a small war, sir. You owe it to us."

19. Bill Clinton may not take this advice.

20. He may examine his other options.

21. These other options include: sending in American planes to destroy Iraq's cable cars and cripple their skiing industry, which we know from test runs in Italy they can do with pinpoint accuracy;

22. Sending in the US ice hockey team to trash the place.

23. Forcing Saddam Hussein to stage the next Olympics and thus bankrupt Iraq.

24. Bombing Saddam's millennium Dome.

25. Incidentally, a man was arrested in the US last week on suspicion of possessing anthrax and being about to start biological terrorism.

26. He has now been released because the "anthrax" was in fact identified as a harmless vaccine used on cows.

27. So maybe the Americans have got it wrong and Saddam is making cow vaccine.

28. But if they are right, Saddam Hussein must be stopped, because no one nation should be allowed to stockpile such a vast store of weapons.

29.Except of course the United States.

30. Who do actually need a vast stockpile of weapons in order to be able to bomb other nations who have a vast stockpile of arms to which they are not entitled.

31. That's it, really.

32. World opinion is so outraged by Saddam Hussein that the US's stand is being unanimously supported by the rest of the world, though only Britain has said so.

33. We are ready to go in and bomb this psychopath to kingdom come.

34. Unless, of course, Kofi Annan can hammer out an agreement with him, in which case Saddam Hussein is not a psychopath at all, but a great and responsible statesman, and we shall all breathe a lot easier until the next time this farce is played out.

35. No, I don't think he is any relation to Lord Annan.

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