Rich Lowry

So long as it is done properly and lawfully, wielding force is a profoundly moral exercise. It requires a moral compass to weigh the importance of the goal to be achieved and the nature of the enemy to be confronted. Moral relativists don't go to war, and it is pacifists who often make excuses for international aggressors and thugs.

It is no accident that Sen. John McCain, who felt absolutely no compunction about the United States ridding the world of Saddam's sons, also spoke most passionately about their hideous crimes, calling them "two psychotic murdering rapists." He added, "America and, most importantly, the Iraqi people are far better off with these two guys gone, and their father should be next."

How impolite. What McCain realizes is that some people aren't "misunderstood." They aren't the product of unfortunate circumstances or bad parenting. They are simply evil. There is no negotiating or reasoning with them, and force becomes the only option in protecting the world from their depredations. Thus the war on al-Qaida and Saddam's regime, and our willingness to kill, if necessary, the people responsible for both.

President Teddy Roosevelt had a famously tart reaction in 1904 when a bandit chieftain (Ahmed ben Mohammed el Raisuli) took an American (Ion Perdicaris) hostage in Morocco: "Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead." Perdicaris was freed. The spirit of T.R.'s blunt demand still lives on in America, even in the early 21st century. We have the pictures to prove it.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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