There was some measure of satisfaction in seeing Condoleeza Rice glare at her Democratic inquisitors in Thursday’s hearings before the Senate Foreign Relation Committee. However, the Democratic inquisition is far too little, far too late. Where were they before March 20, 2003, the date Bush started bombing Baghdad? Where were they during Colin Powell’s embarassingly ridiculous dog and pony show at the UN, when he held up a vial of powder and spoke breathlessly about Saddam’s mobile weapons of mass production laboratories? The answer is, the Democrats were asleep at the switch.

I remember those days before March 20, 2003 very well, as I was but one of millions of ordinary people who took to the streets in demonstrations worldwide, naively hoping that mass public disapproval could stop the impending idiocy. Then, the Democrats and the American media were all supporting Bush’s insane decision to invade a sovereign Middle Eastern nation that posed no threat to the United States and, by all accounts, was a relatively peaceful place. Before March 20, 2003 there were no reports of scores of Iraqis dying in the streets, no reports of terrorist activity in Iraq whatsoever.

The Democrats’ belated opposition to Bush’s stupid and illegal war comes only because it is expedient now that they have regained some political power. It is far too late for the three thousand young Americans who have died, the twenty thousand or so who have been maimed and, though Iraqi lives are apparently much less important than American ones, for the sixty thousand or so Iraqi civilians who have died horrible and needless deaths.

Dr. Rice may indeed be glaring at her inquisitors, but she should be doing it from the dock, alongside Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Some day maybe, there will be an effective international criminal court that will be able to deal effectively with politicians who unleash terror on civilian populations.