You know, it does give me pause to see Saddam in the dock and to read yet more stories that touch on the crimes of his era. Yeah, he was an evil son of a bitch. In isolation, it's obviously a very good thing that he's out of power.
But -- cold-blooded as it sounds -- it's still not enough to justify the war.
For Iraqis, it seems the choice is: torture chambers or car bombs? Rape rooms or widespread rape in the streets? For Americans it's done absolutely nothing -- we're less safe, we've lost nearly a thousand troops and billions of dollars, and we now have to get all the hornets back in the nest, the nest we whacked with the baseball bat of a war justified by WMD claims and al-Qaeda ties that were utterly specious, followed by an occupation we've screwed up.
However much the Iraqis suffered under Saddam, after 9/11 the Bush administration had an obligation to the American people -- namely, to focus on the 9/11 perpetrators and their allies. Their real allies -- not those who engaged them in occasional conversations that led to nothing. You want cold-blooded? We were attacked, and we began to understand the potential for even worse attacks. We couldn't afford to waste time on Iraq, which was just a sideshow.
Contain and deter Saddam? Yes -- that was the best of a bad set of choices. There's no reason today to believe otherwise.