I sent the following letter to the New York Sun last weekend, in response to Michael Kinsley’s column (from Slate.com) accusing George Bush of being “morally unserious” and confused in his State of the Union address. The Sun did not print the letter.

To the Editor:

As much as Michael Kinsley wants to show off how clever he is at George Bush’s expense, it is Kinsley who is confused. That Saddam Hussein’s regime is evil, maintaining itself by terror and repression, means that it has no claim to represent its people, no legitimacy, and no right to exist. Ethically, Saddam’s “sovereignty” means nothing; it is morally permissible for any free country to topple him by force.

But we are not obliged to go to war merely because it is morally permissible to do so. Morality, properly conceived, is not a means of sacrificing our interests but a system of principles for upholding them. The need for us to take out Saddam Hussein arises not out of altruistic concern for Iraqis but out of the threat he poses to us. In this regard the president’s position is moral, coherent and correct.

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