I think I'm getting the picture. North Korea breaks all its nuclear agreements with the United States, throws out UN inspectors and sets off to make a bomb a year, and President Bush says it's "a diplomatic issue". Iraq hands over a 12,000-page account of its weapons production and allows UN inspectors to roam all over the country, and – after they've found not a jam-jar of dangerous chemicals in 230 raids – President Bush announces that Iraq is a threat to America, has not disarmed and may have to be invaded. So that's it, then.
How, readers keep asking me in the most eloquent of letters, does he get away with it? Indeed, how does Tony Blair get away with it? Not long ago in the House of Commons, our dear Prime Minister was announcing in his usual schoolmasterly tones – the ones used on particularly inattentive or dim boys in class – that Saddam's factories of mass destruction were "up [pause] and running [pause] now." But the Dear Leader in Pyongyang does have factories that are "up [pause] and running [pause] now". And Tony Blair is silent.
Why do we tolerate this? Why do Americans? Over the past few days, there has been just the smallest of hints that the American media – the biggest and most culpable backer of the White House's campaign of mendacity – has been, ever so timidly, asking a few questions. Months after The Independent first began to draw its readers' attention to Donald Rumsfeld's chummy personal visits to Saddam in Baghdad at the height of Iraq's use of poison gas against Iran in 1983, The Washington Post has at last decided to tell its own readers a bit of what was going on. The reporter Michael Dobbs includes the usual weasel clauses ("opinions differ among Middle East experts... whether Washington could have done more to stop the flow to Baghdad of technology for building weapons of mass destruction"), but the thrust is there: we created the monster and Mr Rumsfeld played his part in doing so.