It is as inevitable as tomorrow. A military strike on Iraq is looming like the dark cloud that war truly is, and it can happen at any given moment. So what then?

War sucks, and this is a fact. But what sucks even more is allowing a megalomaniac such as Saddam Hussein who seeks to create instability in his region to remain in power.

His loss to the U.S.-led coalition in 1991 was not only an embarrassment to his government but also a setback to accomplishing his goals to destabilize his region. Still, this doesn’t stop him from trying to become what he perceives to be as the next Gamal Abdel-Nasser of Egypt.

For over a decade, Hussein has used his defeat and United Nations mandates to appear as if he is the victim in an attempt to create Arab unity. Never mind his past actions, such as the attempt to take over Kuwait, his gassing of the Kurds or his squashing of the Shiites. Never mind the violation of every one of the U.N. resolutions placed upon his regime.

A decade later he’s still at the cat and mouse game.

So now the world’s mightiest military machine sits poised to topple him, a product of the Clinton administration’s coddling of this dictator. All the Clinton presidency could do was talk tough, launch a few cruise missiles and think the problem solved.

Meanwhile, the people of Iraq suffered. Not because of the imposed U.N. sanctions, but rather because of how the oil for food profits are displaced by the government that claims to care for them.

It is very simple how a dictatorship works: If you want complete control, starve your people as well as deprive them of medicine. This makes them weak and vulnerable. Next step is to erase the history that got your country into the current mess it is in. Make the people forget why they’re screwed. Finally, put a spin on the news to make the rest of the international community appear as the evildoers while your government appears as the victim, regardless of the actions that got you there in the first place. Add it all up and you have Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

The longer Mr. Hussein stays in power, the longer his people will suffer and the more likely another show of military might to further destabilize the region and bring his people down further is to occur. But hey, it is still all right for Saddam to spend millions on his many palaces and the buildup of his weapons programs while ignoring the plight of his people.

I’m not a big fan of war and neither are many true soldiers. A Navy Seal once told me that a true soldier trains for war but prays for peace, and it is with this saying that I hope for the sake of the Iraqi people that Saddam Hussein takes the path of disarmament.

In 1991, we heard Mr. Hussein declare “the mother of all wars,” which only amounted to the “mother of all retreats” back to Iraq. Nice try, but no cigar.

And so the clock ticks down to zero hour for Mr. Hussein’s regime, and thus far all he’s managed to do is stall and delay, as well as lie and deny, and the international community is getting tired of it.

All Mr. Hussein has to do is prove to the world that he is not in possession of weapons of mass destruction and the looming attack will go away like the bad dream it is. If he maintains a disarmed stance, the U.N. sanctions will go away as well. But this remains to be seen by the world at large.

The ball is now in Mr. Hussein’s court, and the world is watching to see what he does. How much longer can he stall?

Henry Sarria is a long time Isla Vista resident.