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Retired General: U.S. Not Heading for Military Showdown

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RALEIGH — An American U-2 resumed reconnaissance flights Monday morning, despite Iraq's threats to shoot down the spy plane. No shots were fired. DeputyPrime Minister Tariq Aziz met with U.N. leaders Monday, but refused tobudge on his stance to exclude weapons inspection teams with Americans.

Saddam Hussein said his people must choose between "sacrifice or slavery,"implying he may not back down.

Retired Air Force General Bob Springer agreed to speak with WRAL'sBrian Bowmanabout what's been happening. He said he believes the U.S. is not headedtoward a military showdown. Instead, he thinks Hussein is rattling hissword to drum up political support in his own country. On the other hand,he says Hussein's actions clearly show he has something to hide.

For more than a week, Saddam Hussein has threatened to shoot down U-2 spyplanes, saying Americans have no right to see his cache of weapons.

"It may just be that when he's out there turning off the lights, turningoff the cameras, shifting his things from one location to the other, theU.N. inspectors came very close to finding something," said Springer.

General Springer said he believes Hussein is developing chemical andbiological weapons, but is not hoping to use them right now. He believesHussein is bluffing about a military clash, and really hopes to avoidanother fight.

North Carolina's military bases like Seymour Johnson Air Force base arenot on any type of standby or alert. In fact, they haven't changed a thingabout their daily routine.

"We're not involved in any preparations for anything other than normaldaily ops here," said Col. Ron Hayden, 4th FW Vice Commander.

General Springer said the U.S. has 18,000 troops in the Gulf right now,so even if we do strike, the men and women here might not be needed. Still, he believes Hussein is simply trying to draw us in as an enemy toease his own political conflicts at home.

"I don't think that Saddam Hussein would have fired the missiles anywaytoday before his foreign minister had a chance to meet with the U.N.Security Council," said Springer. "That would have really been stupid. Ofcourse, he's been known to do a lot of stupid things."

U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson wants the United Nations Security Councilto impose strict sanctions on Iraq to show Hussein his actions won't betolerated. Richardson says if the council refuses, "All bets are a go, alloptions are open." And that could mean a military strike.

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