It would be a fatal error for the civilized world to mistake relative quiet for actual peace.
Saddam Hussein has been relatively quiet in recent months. But as long as he holds power, and holds ambitions of weapons of mass destruction, the world can never truly be at peace.
If the United States ultimately goes to war to end Saddam's threat, which Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware called probable this weekend, the Iraqi leader's undoing will be his own.
Yet, many around the world would decry the war effort as American jingoism or arrogance. In truth, a more apt word would be sacrifice. In order to make the world safer - again - America stands ready to offer up the lives of its service men and women, spend untold billions and, most certainly, relinquish the fair-weather support of more than one weak-willed, blow-with-the-wind ally.
So be it. This is the American obligation.
It's not one that Americans are thrilled about. It comes at considerable cost, both financial and otherwise. But due to a crippling lack of backbone across the world - particularly among Iraq's duplicitous neighbors - it's a duty that falls upon America.
That's nothing new. Nor should anyone be surprised by tough talk from Washington. President Bush has made it clear since Sept. 11 that terrorists will be pursued no matter where they are - or what title they hold.
"I will not wait on events while dangers gather," the president told Congress in his State of the Union address this year. "I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. If we stop now, leaving terrorist camps intact and terrorist states unchecked, our sense of security would be false and temporary."
The president predicted then, and it rings true today, that "some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will."
Pray it doesn't come to that. Pray that blood will not need to be shed, that no more precious resources will have to be directed toward the tyrant of Iraq. Pray that the apparent psychological warfare the Bush administration is now waging will make someone in or around Iraq see the light before the first shot is fired. Pray for the best.
But prepare for the worst.
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