The report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies seems to be slightly exaggerated in today's press cycle. Iraq could make nuclear weapons if it had enriched uranium or plutonium? Isn't that like saying if I had a million dollars, I'd be a millionaire? The detail that the report seems to omit is that the technology for the original atom bomb is almost seventy years old; any competent Physics A-Level student can tell you how such a bomb works, and how to make a crude version, equivalent to about 15-20,000 tons of TNT. The hardest part is getting hold of the radioactive material, and the report says that they don't have any, and haven't had much success in finding sources. As a validation of America and Britain's hawkish stance, the report comes up fairly short.
While I accept that, yes, Saddam Hussein is guilty of severe repression and genocide, and I'd love to see him share a cell in The Hague with Slobodan Milosevic, is it worth turning the entire Middle East into a bloodbath to get him? Will the people of Iraq thank the West for deposing Saddam, or will it generate even more resentment? What happens if democratic elections vote Saddam's party back into power? Would the Allies accept that? At the moment, the American and UK governments keep on saying that Saddam must be stopped. But, apart from razing Iraq to the ground, they don't seem to have much of a plan for Iraq's future.
Every now and again, I seem to be afflicted by grand visions of things I could be doing. As some of my friends will testify, most of these come to nothing (although sitting here 3,000 miles from home suggests that not all of them are idle dreams), and I move on to the next daydream. My current obsession is a huge comic epic, a trilogy of stories spanning a hundred years of life in New York. I Am Not Sane. Each story will focus on a specific era; the first is a tale of rigged boxing matches, chloroform attacks, Bowery boys, and a chase across the old Elevated Line. The second story will be set in the 1950s or 60s; political intrigue aginst the backdrop of Robert Moses's ruthless remoulding of the city, and the final story, set in 1971, involves a jail break at Sing-Sing, a jewel heist, and inventive uses for a TV antenna. Look for the advert in Diamond's catalogue in early 2003. I'm being secretly ironic, of course.
Scarily, the John Cusack for President campaign may just have a point. His defence of his new film, which follows the early life of Hitler, is eloquent and forceful. I'll try and catch this film when it goes on general release next year.