I’ve heard a lot of rumbling lately about our possible (and likely) war with Iraq, and being a college student I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about how war is bad.

DUH.

I don’t LIKE war any more than anybody else, but I do recognize that in some circumstances it is a necessary thing. The current conflict with Iraq is a prime example, however rather than harp on that right away I’ll initially establish my point as most intelligent people do—with history.

Once upon a time there was another war, and this war was filled up with needless killing. In fact, this war took the lives of about 40 million people. 405,399 of those were American lives. This war was one of the worst wars ever fought on this planet, and it culminated with the only wartime use of nuclear weapons in history. Yes, this war was “bad”.

I’m sure most of you have figured out that I’m talking about the Second World War (World War II), the quintessential argument for just how bad war is. It made life a living hell for pretty much the entire planet, and as futile as it all may have been it was a war that we absolutely had to fight because as bad as it was, it was a war that we fought for freedom and justice around the world.

We saved lives, countries, governments, and ideals in those terrible years, we overthrew despotic and megalomaniacal tyrants. The world still owes us a debt for bringing that conflict to an end and the for lives Americans gave to ensure that most of the world and its people would remain free. No matter how “bad” that war was, to say that it was “bad” would never have been a valid argument to keep us out of it. Our participation in the conflict on the side of good was our duty, and a necessity.

There is no better example of a war that was worth fighting. It was the right thing to do.

Now Iraq is no Germany, and Saddam Hussein is no Adolf Hitler. Saddam doesn’t occupy or enslave any more than his own country. His nation does not seem to pose an immediate threat, and it’s easy to say that his opposition (the US in this case) simply wants to control the Iraqi oil reserves. These are the arguments that are made by the antiwar contingent, and they are arguments that fail.

Iraq may not forcibly occupy neighboring nations, but this is merely because Saddam does not have the military or financial backing to do it. But if you think that he wouldn’t jump at the chance to take over the entire middle-east, even the entire world, then you are sadly mistaken and terribly naive. Have we all forgotten that he has tried it before? Perhaps you should email somebody in Kuwait who remembers Saddam’s August 2, 1990, invasion and see what they think about his trustworthiness and peaceful nature.

Saddam’s strategy is clear in the wake of his repulsion from Kuwait, he realizes that in his current state he cannot dominate neighboring countries and survive the retaliation from the United States and other allies. He did lose the first Gulf War, you remember? Instead, he thinks that if he can develop “Weapons of Mass Destruction”—particularly nuclear weapons—the world will hesitate to piss him off and will be likely to appease him with more and more territory as we initially did with Hitler’s Germany.

The strategy is, of course, mistaken—even in the face of nuclear retaliation we would not allow any Iraqi regime to occupy any other nation. This means that we have two courses of action: we can strike now, take Saddam out of power, and install a peaceful regime in his place; or alternatively we can wait until Iraq is an immediate threat with nuclear weapons who is taking over surrounding nations and hope Saddam doesn’t push the big red button when we come after him.

The choice seems clear to me.

People think I’m crazy to compare Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein on any level, but people who say that are missing some very important points. Don’t forget, the German economy and military were still in shambles from the First World War when Hitler came to power. He was able to turn a weak and broken country into a power that seriously could have taken over the entire world, and Saddam—with a little luck—could easily do the same to Iraq.

One of Hitler’s first tyrannical acts outside of Germany was the 1938 annexation of Austria, violating the Treaty of Versailles. Saddam considered his takeover of Kuwait to be an annexation as well, and he continues to violate in other ways the treaties and UN Security Council Resolutions drafted at the end of the first Gulf War. The only difference is we stopped Saddam’s ‘annexation’, where Hitler was simply allowed to go about his business later annexing Czechoslovakia, Poland, and France.

But that fact that we stopped Saddam in his tracks doesn’t mean he’s given up, he’s simply moved on to try other methods—methods more insidious and diabolical than anything we’ve ever seen in the hands of a tyrant, methods that if put into practice could easily turn the second Gulf War into the Third World War. No matter how bad you think war is, the specter of a nuclear capable madman like Saddam Hussein should justify this one for you.

We saved Europe from the brink of destruction twice and were heralded worldwide. We liberated Afghanistan from the terrible Taliban regime and the majority of people in that country are grateful while the world seems indifferent. Now talk of liberating another country from another madman brings hatred, hesitation, and opposition around the world and even right here in our own country—still scarred with a seemingly empty skyline over lower Manhattan where nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives to people that Saddam agrees with and wouldn’t hesitate to support. Talk about baffling human behavior.

I assure you that if we stand by and let people like Saddam continue their drive for ultimate power and their terrible reign over their people, they will one day threaten the world much like Hitler’s Germany did once before. A short war fought immediately to prevent this calamity would be unpleasant, but I assure you that World War Three fought later to do the same thing would be worse—perhaps 40 million times worse.

I don’t like war any more than anybody else, I despise war, but if we have to fight one to save so many countless lives in the future than I believe we must do it. Like in World War II it is the right fight, and a necessary fight—whether the world or the antiwar protesters like it or not.