The use of chemical weapons is banned by the Geneva Convention of 1925. Only Benito Mussolini, in Italy's war against Abyssinia, had ever defied the ban. Now for the first time ever a state was using chemical weapons against its own people.

Ali Al Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein and head of the Northern Bureau set up to deal with Kurdistan, convened the Ba'ath Party leaders on 26 May 1987. "As soon as we complete the deportations," he informed them, "we will start attacking [the Pershmega resistance] everywhere... then we will surround them in a small pocket and attack them with chemical weapons. I will not attack them with chemicals just one day; I will continue to attack them with chemicals for 15 days...I will kill them all with chemical weapons. Who is going to say anything? The international community? F--k them!" This is the same man who was later promoted by Saddam to governor of Kuwait and subsequently minister of defense of Iraq.

That Saddam has been allowed to continue as the merciless and tyrannical ruler of Iraq after his mass slaughter of his own people is a stain on humanity and disgrace to the more powerful nations of the world. That a miniature Hitler is coddled by American lawmakers and British MP's who travel to Baghdad to take pictures with him is disgraceful and unforgivable. That this is being done in the name of protecting Iraqi civilians is an affront to the intelligence. Is there any sane individual who would really argue that the leaving a murderous tyrant in power, when he has already liquidated thousands of political opponents, is the safest thing for Iraqi citizens? When I lived in England between 1988-99, I witnessed the gradual erosion of the reputation of Winston Churchill. The first to go were his great wartime speeches. Were we aware that many of them were read by professional actors? Next, his virtue in defying Hitler was presented as irrational stubbornness. John Charmley in his Churchill: The End of Glory, contended that Churchill had squandered the British Empire by insisting on continuing the fight against Hitler. Many other authors have told us of Churchill's extraordinary impetuosity, egotism, insensitivity, and abrupt ideological shifts.

And yet, amid this vociferous assault, Churchill is still nearly universally admired as the greatest statesman of the 20th century. Why? Because he stared evil in the eye and, with unswerving determination, refused to compromise with a bloody and murderous tyrant. While war is, at times, highly immoral, the knowledge of when it is necessary to fight is perhaps the single leading determinant of greatness.

On May 10, 1940, Hitler's armies were overrunning Holland, Belgium, and France. The government of Neville Chamberlain fell and Winston Churchill was asked by the king of England to accept the position of prime minister. As noted historian John Lukacs chronicles in his book, Five Days in London: May 1940, the fate of the Western world was determined during this period, with the issue being: Would Great Britain carry on the fight against Hitler, even if alone, or would it accept defeat and a political compromise that would leave Germany in control of the European continent?

Lukacs illustrates how Churchill was determined to resist every suggestion of negotiation with Hitler. Churchill had an adamant vision that there was no solution to Nazism, either in Germany or in Europe, other than absolute resistance by Great Britain and the complete destruction of Hitler, even while Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Minister, advocated conciliation. The commitment to the destruction of despotism so that freedom might flourish established the Churchillian legend.

Some will argue that these words recklessly commit nation-states to permanent intervention in the affairs of others. Others will say that the Western states cannot play the role of global policeman, watching their sons and daughters die fighting other people's wars. To them I respond with the ancient Jewish aphorism, "It is not for you to finish the entire enterprise. But neither are you free from beginning it." While we cannot liberate every country from tyranny, we can remove from power the world's foremost executioner.

Peace and tranquility are the dual blessings to which all the earth's inhabitants rightly aspire. But a just war is often, ironically, the only guarantor that we will ever attain them.