Three blasts Saturday night in the Saudi capital of Riyadh (search) proved, as if we needed proof, that the family of man still includes imbeciles who believe the road to heaven is strewn with the blood and body fragments of innocents. The slaughter reminds us that evil exists, and that it's boorish, unimaginative and annoying.

Over the last two years, terror has become the background radiation of our lives. We Americans have set out to expunge the killers without becoming obsessed with them. That's a tough balance. While we ball up our fists against the bad guys, we're also trying to extend a friendly hand to their countrymen, so they might appreciate the sunshine spirit of liberal democracy.

The business of peace requires more than showing up with paint brushes, foodstuffs and an oil pipeline or two. We've got to rebuild human hearts -- and persuade people that hope isn't just possible, but essential.

President Bush gets it, which is why he has set the breathtakingly brash goal of building democracy in even the most savagely backward lands. There's a huge element of self-interest in this. People who control their destinies feel little impulse to blow others to smithereens. They would rather get good jobs, save and think about the future.

Set against that aim, the ongoing disputes in Washington about prewar intelligence seem idiotic and peevish. After all, the guys setting off the bombs are the real enemies, right? So why don't we subdue them first -- and then return to the peacetime indulgence of political hackery?