SALT LAKE CITY
I have a provocative suggestion for the Nobel Prize selection committee: Tony Blair and George Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize.
They deserve it for ridding us of Saddam Hussein, undoubtedly one of the world's worst tyrants and mass murderers since Adolf Hitler, and for triggering a wave of democratic stirring throughout Islamic world.
It would be a particularly fitting tribute for the prime minister, who may or may not survive this week's British general election. But whether in or out of office, he should be honored for standing for principle in Iraq in the face of considerable dissent from his own compatriots. His stand is reminiscent of that of Winston Churchill in the late 1930s who correctly pinpointed the evil of Hitler while some of his countrymen looked the other way.
Now before the steam starts coming out of the ears of all those anti-Bush and anti-Blair folks, let's look at a few facts.
One of the foremost arguments likely to be marshaled against a Nobel for Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair is that they brought freedom to Iraq only after waging war. But a string of other winners got the peace prize after being involved in both war and peace. They include such luminaries as Henry Kissinger, Menachem Begin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Yasser Arafat, Kofi Annan, and Jimmy Carter.
Another criticism is that the war in Iraq was waged on the pretext of neutralizing Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. True, those weapons turned out not to be there. But every major Western intelligence service believed before the outset of war that they were there. The United Nations believed they were there. The Israelis believed they were there. The Saudis believed they were there. Some of Hussein's generals believed they were there because Hussein told them so, even while he was telling the UN they weren't there. US intelligence agencies believed they were there. And, in the face of all this, Bush and Blair mistakenly believed they were there.
If the premise was wrong, the overthrow of Hussein was still a plus for everyone who cherishes freedom for all.
Bush and Blair, the American conservative and British Labourite, were at one on ousting the Taliban from Afghanistan and setting that tragic Islamic land on the road to democracy.