With President Bush saying a decision on whether to use force to disarm Iraq is just weeks away, efforts are being stepped up, especially in the Arab world, to persuade strongman Saddam Hussein to take his family and cohorts and go into exile.
Although a long shot, this effort should be pursued. But if Saddam still hasn't exercised the exile option before the start of war, the offer should be withdrawn. If there are hostilities, then Iraqi war criminals, including Saddam, must be held accountable in an international tribunal when it's over.
Exile, however, would be the best outcome. It would avoid war and its attendant casualties, while opening the way for a more democratic, pro-peace Iraqi regime that would cooperate with U.N. arms inspectors in ridding the country of weapons of mass destruction.
But even as many leaders around the world implore Saddam behind the scenes to go into exile, there are no countries eager to accept him and his entourage. Saudi Arabia has reluctantly indicated some willingness to take him in, but other Arab and Islamic nations - even Syria and Libya - want no part of him.
African nations, like Ghana and Djibouti, have been mentioned as exile sites, but it's unlikely Saddam would find those remote nations a good place to accommodate the expensive lifestyle that he and his corrupt cronies could afford after plundering the nation they ruled all those years of tens of billions of dollars and stashing the loot abroad.
One place that should welcome Saddam with open arms, however, is Hollywood. The likes of Susan Sarandon, George Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Sean Penn and others on the looney Hollywood left are more enthusiastic Saddam apologists than any of his Arab neighbors.
It would be a good fit and a winning script. The lying, back-stabbing, double-dealing and double-crossing that routinely goes on in Tinsel Town - and its values - should make Saddam feel right at home.