And that's why I think Howard Dean is in big trouble. When he says we aren't better off with Saddam in chains, he is essentially saying that it's utterly inconsequential that one of the greatest mass-murderers of the post-Hitler and Stalin era has been stopped. From a purely cold-hearted and calculating perspective, he may have an argument, though I don't see it. Ultimately, Saddam himself was a weapon of mass-destruction and his defiance of America encouraged our enemies.
But seen through a moral prism there's simply no defensible case on his side. In other words, what if this were a movie?
Imagine a film - set against the backdrop of a global war on terror - about a dictator who launched vicious wars of aggression for personal gain, causing death and destruction on a massive scale. Imagine a movie where the tyrant uses rape the way the IRS uses audits and where untold hundreds of thousands of citizens are murdered.
Imagine sitting in the theater as the first half of the movie recounts one scene of torture and mutilation after another. Then, enter the good guys. Risking exposure to chemical and biological weapons, they ride in and depose the tyrant, taking extraordinary care to spare the lives of civilians. They free a political prison of hundreds of children. They pull the tyrant from his rat hole and deliver him to justice.
Now that's a feel-good movie.
Yes, you can make the Kissingerian case that the war wasn't as good for America as the Bush Administration claims. That's a fair argument. But Dean & Co. thinks the whole war was a mistake. Indeed, he only "guesses" it was a good thing Saddam was deposed and he still insists the war wasn't a net good. Indeed, Dean insists his spoilsport interpretation of these events is what qualifies him to lead America. I think voters will reject him at the box office.