As 1 million Iraqis Friday jammed the roads out of Baghdad in an air raid evacuation drill, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said U.S. forces would not be able to sustain a prolonged war with Iraq and President Bush would be forced to order a retreat after American casualties mounted to 5,000.
Bush and top administration officials stepped up threats against Iraq, warning that war was becoming more likely, that Baghdad showed no signs of bending and the United States would not shrink from conflict.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said war is increasingly likely. Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visiting U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia with Cheney, added that any attack on Iraq would be swift and decisive.
"When we launch it, we will launch it violently," Powell said. "We will launch it in a way that will make it decisive so we can get it over as quickly as possible and there's no question who won."
However, Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to President Bush, said Jan. 15, the U.N. deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait, is just "an authorization date."
"It doesn't say he is going to be attacked this date or that date or whatever," Scowcroft said in an interview.
In Washington, British Prime Minister John Major said Iraqi troops will have to be "forcibly removed" from Kuwait if Saddam does not agree to withdraw them peacefully.
Major, just as unyielding as was his predecessor, Margaret Thatcher, rejected the notion a partial Iraqi pullback from Kuwait would help bring about a solution to the crisis. "A complete withdrawal is necessary, a partial withdrawal won't do," he said in a display of solidarity with U.S. policy.
In a U.S. News & World Report interview, Bush underscored his determination to expel Iraq soon.
"It can't drag on with indecision and it can't stop short of the U.N. mandate (that Saddam completely leave Kuwait)," Bush said. "That argues very forcefully against some of these scenarios that call for somebody to compromise: We'll give him something for this, give him something so he saves face. That is not in the books."
On whether to go to war, Bush said, "On this question, I've got it boiled down very clearly to good vs. evil. And it helps if you can be that clear in your own mind."
Secretary of State James A. Baker III said Saddam's behavior "would not make one optimistic that we could succeed in our very strong effort to achieve a political, peaceful resolution."
In a move signaling the Soviet Union's policy is unchanged, despite Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze's resignation, Mikhail Gorbachev messaged the Gulf Cooperation Council reaffirming Moscow's support for the U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding Iraq leave Kuwait.
Saddam predicted an Iraqi victory in any war and stood by his refusal to pull out of Kuwait. In a German television interview, Saddam was asked if he would pull his troops out of Kuwait by the Jan. 15 deadline. "No," he answered. "We are certain that even when Bush pushes his country into war, which he plans, he can't keep it going."
"When 5,000 Americans have fallen, Bush will have to end such a war . . ." he said.
Sirens blared Friday and residents of East Baghdad jumped into cars or caught buses to evacuation camps. A second exercise today will cover West Baghdad.
In Saudi Arabia, Cheney told U.S. troops war was closer.
"It increasingly looks like (Saddam's) not getting the message and we'll have to use force," Cheney said. "The only acceptable outcome, if hostilities begin, is absolute, total victory."
In other developments:
U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia were placed on "alarm red" status Friday, indicating possible enemy attack, as Israel test-launched a missile and there were reports of an Iraqi missile flight test as well.
In Saudi Arabia, the commander of the anti-Iraqi Arab force welcomed Egyptian reinforcements and said the force has everything it needs to go to war. "The troops are ready," said Lt. Gen. Khalid Bin Sultan of the Arab-Islamic armies deployed on a defensive line in front of U.S., British and French troops.