Military Front: Administration officials said they saw little hope for peace as the deadline for U.N-sanctioned force approached. "It's no longer a question of whether, but when," a senior White House official said.
Officials said there is great uncertainty even in the upper echelons of government. "Everybody's looking for signs," said one official. "The prevailing opinion seems to be that things are imminent, but there's a counteropinion that it may drift a few days."
A Defense Department spokeman said Iraq continues to beef up its forces in Kuwait and said U.S. troops are "ready to execute any order we might receive from the President." The Pentagon's "war room" is being fully staffed around the clock, and communications with U.S. and allied forces in the Persian Gulf are constant.
In Israel, the commander of the air force said he expects his warplanes will soon be drawn into a war with Iraq, and he warned Jordan that there is no way for those planes to approach Iraq except over Jordanian airspace.
The fear that war is imminent caused panic shopping in many parts of the Middle East and even Europe.
Diplomatic Front: The White House said it sees no merit in the latest peace proposals, including France's last-minute plan for the United Nations to promise an international conference on all Mideast problems in exchange for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.
Six hours before the midnight deadline, U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar issued a final appeal to Saddam Hussein to pull out and avert war.
Jordan's King Hussein told his nation that he and others have knocked on every door and traveled every road to seek peace, but the world now faces "an imminent catastrophe."
Economic Front: President Bush's top economic advisers assured him that military action in the Persian Gulf is not expected to have a major impact on the U.S. economy, provided that the war is short.
Latest Gulf Deployment Figures:
U.S. troops: 415,000
Allied troops: 265,000
Iraqi troops: 545,000