If you believe in Armageddon -- and apparently a lot of people do, or the Left Behind series of novels wouldn't be the best- sellers they are -- there's plenty of evidence that the battle of all battles is on the way.

During the Gulf War a decade ago, some books appeared, suggesting that a war with Iraq could lead to the end of the world and the arrival of the Messiah. You may have noticed -- it didn't happen.

Now, the fires of end-time theology are being stoked again. The United States intercepted a shipment of North Korean scud missiles bound for Yemen a few days ago. President Bush, himself, reportedly ordered the ship released after high-level diplomatic exchanges between our government and Yemen.

And the president this week threatened Iraq with what he called overwhelming force -- including nuclear weapons -- if Iraq used any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological agents -- in a war.

This is scary stuff. But scary, too, are the Hollywood celebrities who have come out against war with Saddam. Isn't free speech a wonderful liberty?

Although some of these stars are newcomers, many are aging leftovers from previous anti-war efforts. They're not singing "Give Peace a Chance," but that's their message.

Trouble is, they're saying it to the wrong side. It's not the United States that's pushing the world toward Armageddon. Iraq is. Maybe these celebrities should take their cause to Baghdad and try demonstrating against Saddam. Not many liberties there.

And let's not ever forget that we were trying to keep the peace 15 months ago.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.