President George W. Bush said this would be a "moment of truth" for the world.
The problem is, to borrow a phrase, the U.N. Security Council can't handle the truth.
It couldn't handle the truth in Rwanda. It couldn't handle the truth in Kosovo. It shows no signs of being able to handle the truth in North Korea. And the Security Council has proved time and time again over the course of 12 years, most acutely in the past six months, that it can't handle the truth in Iraq.
The truth is, the world must decide whether it is acceptable, as we begin the 21st century, for a murderous dictator with ties to world terrorism to harbor chemical, biological and perhaps someday soon nuclear weapons - while harboring no scruples about using them.
The truth is, the world must have the courage to use force if necessary - and it has become necessary in this case - to divorce the dictator, Saddam Hussein, from those weapons.
The truth is, it doesn't take 12 years, or even six months, to surrender such weapons, or to document their destruction.
The truth is, there is no reason to believe that, given all the time and opportunities Saddam has been afforded to disarm, that another three weeks or three months will make a difference - except to give him more time to obfuscate, and perhaps even use such weapons.
The truth is, the first Gulf War never really ended; hostilities were ceased by the U.N. coalition, mercifully we might add, when Saddam Hussein agreed to a set of conditions, many of which he has blatantly violated, and which included the proscription of weapons of mass destruction.
The truth is, the French and others have been blinded to these truths by a combination of deep and nefarious financial entanglements with the regime of Saddam Hussein and the naive and mindless pacifism that, more than red wine, has come to symbolize France.
The truth is, this French-made dithering has only emboldened Saddam Hussein and encouraged his intransigence, rendering him the hope - realistic, sadly - that ultimately the U.N. Security Council wouldn't have the fortitude to act to enforce its oft-stated and unanimous mandate to disarm.
The truth is, while misguided protesters demonize President Bush and his so-called "rush to war," few leaders in history have done more to avoid it - despite being attacked in an unprovoked fashion on Sept. 11, 2001. Meanwhile, no one in human history has had more of a warning - and more of an opportunity to choose peace - than Saddam Hussein. No one. Not at any time in the course of human events.
These are the indisputable truths that have brought us to this point. That the U.N. Security Council could not handle these truths does not make them any less true - or make the need to act on them any less urgent.