Nobody much remembers the Iran-Iraq war anymore, except for the families of the millions who died on both sides in that brutal and utterly senseless war a decade or more ago.

But a piece in today's Wall Street Journal reminds us how that thing went in one important way — the chemical war Saddam Hussein waged on his enemy, the Iranians.

In those days, America was still smarting from the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini's "death to America" movement, the hostage crisis, and all that went with it... and we were quietly on Saddam's side.

American advisers were evidently with some Iraqi units when they overran certain Iranian positions and saw the atropine auto-injectors scattered around. These are the devices that administer antidotes to certain deadly chemical agents, like nerve gas.

So the Americans figured out what had happened. Saddam had gassed his enemy with shells loaded with a cocktail of various deadly chemical agents similar to, but much more deadly than... say, dumping all those poisons under the kitchen sink into a glass and knocking it back like a beer.

If Saddam would use such awful stuff on his fellow Muslims, what would he do to your average American Marine or soldier fresh off the plane from Dubuque?

If he would use chemicals quickly and indiscriminately, what would happen if he had a nuke?

All this underscores why the Bush doctrine is correct, and should be followed. We cannot let anyone like Saddam develop the weapons which would even deter us from attacking, much less weapons that would overcome or equal our own.

There are plenty of people in the world who won't like it, but we must exercise our power to say you cannot have this weapon or that weapon to various countries and dictators around the world.

We must preempt certain threats. If we don't, we will be thanked by absorbing more big, ugly attacks.

That's My Word .

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