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As each day passes, more and more U.S. bombs blast Iraq. And now Pentagon planners are reinforcing this undeclared war with a mighty sea and ground fist that might soon do unto Iraq what Ike Eisenhower did unto Nazi Germany. Estimates place the cost of this exercise in regime change anywhere from a low of $200 billion to a high of almost $2 trillion.

For sure, Ike’s May 1945 victory knocked out the German half of the evil twins who were dedicated to creating a new world order, and it went a long way toward securing homeland America. And then when Imperial Japan went down that August, we were home safe.

Unfortunately, removing Saddam Hussein and liberating his long-brutalized people won’t bring the same results.

If Iraq, Iran and Syria all suddenly become Born-Again Democracies eager to join nuclear-packing Pakistan in our new-best-friend club, their retirement from the gallery of rogue nations bent on putting us out of business won’t go very far toward changing the capability and the threat of this century’s most dangerous enemy – terrorism.

Unlike the Viet Cong during the 25-year-long Vietnam War – who needed bases in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam as well as Soviet and Red Chinese support in order to whip South Vietnam – today’s international terrorists don’t need either sanctuaries or much outside help to outfit, train and hide their soldiers. And Osama bin Laden’s game plan isn’t to storm Washington, D.C., with tank regiments and infantry divisions like the Reds did to Saigon but to freak us out enough to seriously screw with our economy.

Remember what 19 fanatics did on 9-11, or what two freaks with only an assault rifle did to the nation’s capital and surrounding area a year later? Both efforts fractured our minds and wounded our wallets. Ask recently canned Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill or any airline or travel executive or Wall Street insider if our economy isn’t sitting on the lip of the toilet as a result of these hits and those ticking away in Osama’s horror machine.

And count on it, there is a lot more misery coming down. An FBI source says there are battalions of Middle Eastern terrorist sleepers embedded in the USA waiting to strike, while police pals across the nation caution that the sleepers are only a fraction of the total if you include homegrown crazies like Timothy McVeigh and John Muhammad.

Paul Purcell, a sharp Georgia Homeland Security analyst, says: “Conditions couldn’t be more perfect for a terrorist attack. Al-Qaida communications traffic is up, Ramadan has ended, and our holiday shopping is a symbol of American opulence coupled with major Judeo-Christian celebrations. An attack on our easily accessible malls would not only cause panic, it could seriously disrupt the 70 percent of annual retail sales that holiday shopping generates, throwing us another economic curveball.”

Retired Army Intelligence officer Hugh Blanchard adds, “A dirty bomb would be as easy to slip into a U.S port as a few tons of Colombian cocaine, since it wouldn’t evidence the same radiation signature as a nuclear weapon.”

A recent war game explored the economic impact of such an event. In one scenario alone, during which a dirty bomb “exploded” in the Port of Chicago, our stock market crashed, our ports shut down, and cargo was backed up for months. The economic cost was estimated at almost $60 billion.

Imagine what would happen if – at the same time our malls and ports were zapped – a dozen commercial flights were shot down by shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles as they were landing or taking off from airports around the nation, and dozens of packed cinemas, theme parks, gas stations, power grids, trains and oil refineries were also simultaneously struck.

Less than 1,000 murderers-in-waiting could do this job as slickly and as quickly as their 9-11 kamikaze counterparts.

A Pentagon colonel says he heard Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld say, “After we do Iraq …”

Too bad that Bush and his very butch boys aren’t focusing first on who’s really about to do us. Because no way are we prepared for or ready to respond to the predicted second wave that could fill our hospitals and shut down our country’s cash registers in one well-coordinated yuletide afternoon.

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