In a week that began with anticipation around the UN inspectors' report and ended in great political theatre starring President George Bush and his applauding fans on Capitol Hill, the world edged a little closer to war. His jaw set and eyes narrowed, Bush declared in his State of the Union address: "The course of this nation does not depend on the decision of others. We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: if Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. And we will prevail."
It was the final warning, the beginning of the endgame now in progress for months. Bush furnished a long list of Iraq's secret stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, building quickly on the surprisingly negative report presented by Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, on January 27. Bush said Hussein had shown "utter contempt" for the United Nations, deceiving and stashing documents in private homes. Finally, he linked the "brutal dictator" to Al Qaeda, reminded the world that Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people and described Iraqi torture techniques in graphic detail. "If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning," he concluded.