There is nothing more despicable than an institution, organization or individual with superior strength that threatens or abuses the weak simply because they can. Bullies, tyrants and cowards have been wreaking havoc on the helpless throughout the recorded history of mankind.

The Inquisition, Cotton Mather, the horse soldiers, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, the Ku Klux Klan, the Alabama State Police, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, street gangs, the Mafia, pedophiles, rapists and the like. Cowards that maintain their power by systematically brutalizing the defenseless.

In recent times, civilized nations have tended to cut other nations in general, and the United States in particular, a great deal of slack on the bullying front, as we tend to bully others in the name of peace, freedom and democracy and those we bully for the most part are cowardly tyrants themselves. It could be argued, however, that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the only visible threat to U.S. military and technological supremacy, the U.S. presidency has become an international “bully pulpit” of proportions not envisioned by the founding fathers.

No one can doubt the integrity and sincere commitment to liberty and justice for all people that motivates President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, or that Hussein, Castro, the Taliban, the North Koreans, the PLO are essentially dirt bags.

The undeniable facts, however, indicate that virtually all of the pain and suffering which results from our well-intentioned bullying is born by innocent civilians. Embargos on Iraq and Cuba has caused unimaginable deprivation and disease among the general public and nothing to dislodge Saddam and Fidel who continue to live at the top of the food chain.

Absent September 11, no bombs would have fallen on Afghanistan and while the Taliban’s disregard for human rights, particularly towards women, were appalling, millions of Afghan children are starving and the war lords once again rule the roost with little more regard for human rights than their Taliban predecessors.

While it is conceivable that North Korea and Iraq, or Libya and Pakistan for that matter, could launch a weapon of mass destruction, their certain fate, in that unlikely event, in the presence of U.S. military might, is annihilation and they know it. The cold war never got hot for over 50 years because both Russia and the U.S. knew the result would be Armageddon.

Rumsfeld’s declaration that the U.S. is willing and able to invade both North Korea and Iraq simultaneously, and our demand that South Korea impose draconian economic sanctions on the North, has got to make every other nation on earth, even our allies, even the other nuclear powers, a little uneasy.

As the world’s only superpower, it could be argued that vigorous diplomatic initiatives designed to contain our adversaries will work, certainly with small nations with limited resources like Iraq and North Korea. While tensions with China inevitably heat up from time to time, the Chinese, a potential superpower with a third of the world’s population and an economy that may well exceed ours during the next decade, react like business people, jealously guarding their new WTO status and their overriding need to have access to our markets and our currency.

It was the power of our economy, not our military might, which triggered the final collapse of the Soviet Union. Only the United States can afford an unlimited commitment to guns, and provide enough butter to fill all of its citizens’ stomachs. The Soviet Collectivist System, isolated from the West, could not supply adequate housing, harvest sufficient food, develop adequate energy, to maintain a credible military and with a worthless currency, no ability to satisfy their citizens’ desires for automobiles, serviceable apparel, decent medical care, a good education or the creature comforts taken for granted in most of the civilized world. Old Russian ships and planes without spare parts and fuel, with poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly fed soldiers, couldn’t expect to win a war anywhere short of using their nuclear arsenal and destroying mankind in the process. Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed.

If the U.S. and its allies’ economic and military might was successful in dissolving the “evil empire” without firing a shot, why are we again planning to commit hundreds of thousands of American troops to a shooting war in Iraq because their aging despot may have built a few weapons which he cannot any longer use? Iraq and North Korea pose no threat to the U.S. or its people. The “axis of evil,” which includes Libya, Iran, Yemen and Cuba, similarly pose no credible threat to the U.S.

Since September 11 the only significant threat to our people, our economy and our way of life is international terrorism – Islamic fundamentalist extremists willing to sacrifice themselves to in anyway knick the bully. The U.S. invades Iraq, the U.S. wins, at a cost estimated in the $25 - $50 billion dollar range. Nineteen terrorists in hijacked planes brought down the World Trade Center, dented the Pentagon and nearly collapsed the world economy.

Giving terrorists a new cause around which to rally their troops seems to make no sense. It is virtually impossible to identify and even more difficult to contain terrorists, as our people don’t react well to having their freedoms restricted in any way. If launching a pre-emptive strike on Iraq or Korea releases enough pent up anti-American hysteria to bring down the Eiffel Tower, the Sears Tower or the Tower of London, the bully pulpit, not to mention our way of life, might not survive.

The bi-partisan homeland security initiative could not be more appropriate. In spite of the Bush administration’s heavy handed and sometimes reckless approach to foreign policy and treaty commitments, September 11 rallied the entire civilized world, virtually every nation, including most of “the axis of evil,” to support stopping at all costs Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and suicidal terrorist organizations of any background or persuasion.

The United States’ unequivocal support of the State of Israel and its right to exist could not be more appropriate. A stable Middle East is required to fuel the rest of the world. Anti-Palestinian rhetoric and the escalation of violence against the Palestinians, casts Sharon, like Bush, as a bully, as the entire Arab world is no match for Israel’s military might. No one worked harder to bring about a negotiated piece in the Middle East than Bill Clinton. While he ultimately failed, his approach was the only one likely to achieve a lasting solution.

The United States has never been in a better position to bring its unchallenged clout to bear on the bad guys wherever they may be hiding. Ousting Saddam in no way assumes an enlightened successor. Eliminating Arafat will not alter the Arab-Israeli equation. The time has come to listen carefully to our strongest diplomat, General Colin Powell, the one man in the administration who clearly understands the horror of war, and as a result is committed to building a strong coalition with all of our allies to avoid military action if at all possible. Let’s give moral suasion a chance.