I like Friends and Frazier, two very funny shows about people I really would not like to meet. The characters are people who are still suffering from arrested adolescence. Adolescents fixate on petty slights; they refuse to let go of things to the point of self-destructiveness; they are utterly self-absorbed; they get wrapped up in silly searches for authenticity, and think nothing can be worse than hypocrisy. These are the sorts of things that make teenagers so hard to live with. But teenagers are going to behave that way, because it is built into their hormones, and it is a parent's job to get them past it. It is not really fair to simply condemn a teenager for being a teenagers.
It is fair, however, to condemn adults who behave that way. Mark Steel, in the Independent, gives us some more "Saddam is wicked, but it is really not right to do anything about him" stuff.
More recently, in January 2001 an Iraqi refugee, who'd been detained and tortured by the good people of the Iraqi state, had an application for asylum rejected by the Home Office. The letter read: "The Secretary of State (Jack Straw) is aware that the Iraqi security forces would only convict and sentence a person in the courts with the provision of a proper jurisdiction. He is satisfied that, if there are any charges against you, you could expect to receive a fair trial under an independent and properly constituted judiciary." Perhaps Jack Straw is under the impression there are two Iraqs, one an evil regime packed with weapons of mass destruction, and the other a charming happy-go-lucky village that comes under Hereford county council. This Government's warmongering wouldn't be more hypocritical if they declared Iraq had to be bombed as it had introduced tuition fees for students and refused to give its firefighters the same pay rise it gave to its politicians.
And so what? He has discovered that Jack Straw is not pure of heart, unlike Mark Steel. His picture suggests he is at least 40. More than enough time to grow up.
None of this is to suggest Saddam isn't a monster, only that the impending war has nothing to do with his monsterness.