NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Bush administration is plotting a potential major air campaign and ground invasion early next year to topple the Iraqi government of President Saddam Hussein, the New York Times reported in Sunday editions.
The use of 70,000 to 250,000 troops is being considered, the Times said.
President Bush has not issued any order for the Pentagon to mobilize its forces, and there is no official plan for an invasion, the newspaper said.
For years, official U.S. policy has been to work for a "regime change" in Iraq. Since the Sept. 11 strikes, which exposed America's vulnerability to attack, the Bush administration has repeatedly said it has to act to prevent the possibility of Baghdad using weapons of mass destruction. The statements have caused unease among many European and Arab nations.
The Times reported the use of American or combined allied forces became a possibility after two alternate scenarios were rejected. The White house concluded a coup in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed and a proxy battle using local forces there would be insufficient to bring a change in power.
"There have been at least six coup attempts in the 1990s, and they consistently fail," an administration official told the Times. Source.