In the wake of Secretary of State Colin Powell's chilling presentation to the UN Security Council regarding whether Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction, what part of yes do opponents of removing Saddam not understand?
Those opponents include the always-faithful French President Jacques Chirac and singer Sheryl Crow (sporting a "War Is Not the Answer" T-shirt at the American Music Awards show, she hummed about "karmic retribution" for taking to the battlements). And they include some key Clintonians who favored employing American military muscle in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti - individuals with a view perhaps summarized by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in one of her losing confrontations with Saddam: "We are talking about using military force, but we are not talking about war."
But their ranks are thinning. They no longer include many from the Bush I administration that favored not pushing on to Baghdad in 1991 and disposing of Saddam then - namely Powell himself and (now) commanding general Norman Schwarzkopf. They no longer include Clinton's Defense Secretary, William Cohen. And they no longer include many convenient pacifists in the leftist press - namely "The Washington Post," even its columnist Mary McGrory who seems to be coming around to right reason, even possibly ditto the smug sophisticates at "The New York Times."
Some in politics, the press, the academy and the church - those who recognize that true pacifism, a sometimes defensible intellectual position, can lead to enslavement or death - retreat these days to redoubts where they can fashion gauzy theories of "just war" and choose conflict or a Canadian dovecote.
So they fought Hitler, or say they would have fought him, but not Stalin and his "Marxist" disciples worldwide (pas d'ennemies à gauche) such as Comrades Mao and Ho and Fidel - and certainly not Lumumbists or Sandinistas or members of the Shining Path. But all such rationales and excuses for inaction reduce to how bad one believes a given regime to be - whether it is worth leaving in place or removing, whether to contain or liberate it.
In this George Bush we have something relatively new - a president who rejects containment, for most of the post-war period the operative principle of U.S. foreign policy. In those cases warranting it, he embraces liberation, which inheres in the doctrine of preemption he has been articulating for nearly a year.
Visceral leftists, those harboring ideologies unreachable by truth, have their minds already made up. They will not be swayed by facts. They will view the world wearing blinkers and rosy glasses. In refusing to face the truth, they will offer up endless litanies of the most bizarre demands and clichéd arguments - as now, regarding Saddam's removal:
"The inspectors can't find any weapons. The U.S. can't be the world's policeman. The U.S. must get UN approval. There's no terror connection. What about the Arab "moderates"? What about the Europeans? Bush better make the case or lose the support of the American people. Let diplomacy work. Give peace a chance. Powell better make the case. Do we want to see American soldiers coming home in body bags? Make love not war. It's all about oil. Saddam poses no threat to us."
President Bush in his State of the Union address and Secretary Powell in his speech to the UN blew all that idiot weepy fatuousness out of the water. Saddam has in abundance the weapons he insists he does not; he may have nukes. He has committed every detestable cruelty under the sun. He terrorizes, tortures, brutalizes, savages and murders his own people - gasses them too (Kurds and Shiites), as he has gassed Iranians, and as he has sought to gas Saudis and Israelis.
In addition, he is a key player in the terror network - may even be its nexus. He funds and harbors al-Qaidists and allows them to train in Iraq. He likely had a hand in the 9/11 World Trade Center and Pentagon assaults. Certain evidence suggests he may have been involved, as well, in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and the post-9/11 anthrax letters - plus thwarted terrorist enterprises since then.
Congress has endorsed Saddam's removal; so, in effect, has the UN. Messrs. Bush and Powell have sealed the case with their recent speeches: Saddam's weapons threaten not only his own people but also the world. Time's up. Game's over. The moment for liberation is at hand.
Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to see what Stalin was up to: On the day before he died, he wrote to Winston Churchill: "I would minimize the general Soviet problem as much as possible" - even when, in Churchill's words, "almost the whole world is combined against the evil-doers."
More broadly, J.R.R. Tolkien, whose seminal work is now in movie houses across the land, phrased it this way in "The Two Towers" about the consequences of honorable men doing nothing: "There is some good in the world that is worth fighting for. What can men do against such reckless evil? (If one does not oppose it, does not fight it), then all that is great and good in the world will be gone."
So sound the bugles. The cavalry is coming. The American eagle is on the way in - and Saddam, the embodiment of evil, on the way out.
Oh, and to emphasize the point, in a complementary strike how about a few seeing-eye missiles down the chute of North Korea's re-fired nuclear plant?