Once again it seems America has been deceived by her own better angels. We have assumed, incorrectly, that our enemies can be reasonable. They cannot -will not -and so we face the grim reality that we are viewed as the evildoers while Evil itself is nourished by the deception.
Here's what would be reasonable: that Saddam Hussein disarm. Reasonable would be for Saddam to recognize that he is imposing mass suicide on his countrymen and immediately desist. Reasonable would be for the rest of the world to join the United States in demanding that he behave reasonably.
Under current circumstances our actions have been entirely reasonable. Saddam has had 12 years to comply with United Nations' demands that he disarm. His refusal to do so, especially in light of his sympathies toward and financial support of terrorists, invites our uncompromising scrutiny.
Even those who oppose war admit that Saddam's limited cooperation now is in direct response to the imminent U.S. and British military threat. Without the presence of our troops coupled with our steadfast determination to bring Iraq in line, inspectors would never have been allowed inside Iraq.
That Saddam continues to "cooperate" in dribs and drabs -blowing up a missile here and there while hoping public opinion will hand him a bloodless victory against an aggressive United States -is evidence only of his cunning and deceit, not his good intentions.
Yet, the United States and Britain bizarrely have become the bad guys in this perverse game of international chicken. We're the ones forced to justify our demands for Iraqi compliance rather than Saddam being forced to comply. Confronted with such illogic and its frightening contagion, one begins to feel confused. To doubt one's instincts. To question what is true.
Here's something that might help. When a cause unites both radical Islamists now gathering steam in Pakistan for a Million Man March against war and Raelian sect followers in California who strip down to their thongs (and who for their acts would be divested of their heartbeats by said Islamists) in common cause against the United States and in defense of a murderous psychopath, we're having a little reality breakdown.
Here's something else that might help. A question: If Saddam Hussein had nuclear or biological weapons and the means to deliver them, would he use them or provide them to terrorists to use against Americans or our allies?
Even though we know the answer is when, not if, it's a tricky question for reasonable people because reasonable people would never do such things. Therein lies the difficulty for Americans and explains in part how we've wound up being viewed as hostile cowboys bent on unleashing chaos on Iraq.
For the most part, we are a reasonable and fair-minded people and as such tend to project our values onto others. Good people, because they are good, tend to believe in the goodness of others. Likewise people of conscience tend to assume conscience in others. But people of conscience are always at a disadvantage with psychopaths.
Thus it requires a suspension of belief in others' goodness in order to interact with those who have declared themselves our enemies. To deal with Saddam, one must accept not only that he is evil, but also understand that he is mad.
Imagine how Saddam might have run his oil-rich country, ensconced in luxury with enough material wealth for all. But instead of basking in the adulation of his kingdom's well-fed hobbits and elves, he burns the forests and invents a better Orc, one that can travel by day, torturing and destroying all in its path.
That's the metaphor. Here's the reality.
As an unwinnable war approaches, Saddam orders thousands of British and U.S. uniforms for his soldiers to wear, planning for them to disguise themselves and massacre Iraqi citizens for Al-Jazeera and Arab television cameras. For the same purpose, he orders Iraqi troops to dress as civilians to fight Americans. Few doubt that he would hesitate to use children as "human shields" or to gas his own people and blame the Americans.
He cannot prevail against a full-frontal American assault, which promises to include 3,000 bombs in the first 48 hours. The Iraqi military will be overwhelmed, on the run, and the United States will be relentless in a way never before seen. Even knowing this, Saddam persists in his deceit, in his betrayal of the international community and in his homicidal condemnation of his own people.
Yet, we who wish to liberate the Iraqi people; who hope to find and dispose of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, which he or his consorts someday will use against us and others; and who want to minimize the growing terrorist threat are the evil ones.
That world opinion has been so easily massaged and manipulated by a madman proves the true power of evil and confirms only the imperative that Saddam be eliminated.