"I am curious to know where one would stop in a quest to rid the world of dictators. To my mind the Chinese have a case to answer with regard to Tibet and its people. However, I suspect that the playground policemen might stop short of regime removal in this case since we are talking about some real clout and power. "
I agree the list of dictators who are pillaging their own country and people is unfortunately longer than one would hope, and it is not practical to imagine toppling every last one and hope for the best. I admit that the US has had to be involved with very unsavory world leaders during the Cold War to achieve the common goal of toppling the USSR.
I agree completely regarding China, but as you stated, there is little point in invading China, as this would not be wise. I believe that China will change from within sooner than later due to the increasing oppurtunities for the middle class chinese. As soon as they are more able to gain individual rights, the ideas from communism will fade away.
"At that time the sympathy lay with Iraq and we cared not what atrocities were being perpetrated against innocent Iranians."
Not really sympathy, more like apathy. There was nothing admirable about looking the other way during the Iran-Iraq war, but due to the stakes we had little choice. Had we not helped to keep Iran from defeating Saddam, we might not even be having this conversation today.
"With regard to the Iraq war I believe that what sticks in the craw of many folk is the blatant manipulation brought to bear on the populace by its leader (here in the UK), regardless of the true agenda being followed by said leader."
I read what Blair gave as his reasons for removing Saddam, and I don't believe he was manipulating anyone. I thought he was trying to do his job, which is protect his country. I'm sure many disagree with me. So be it.
"If we accept the substance of the Bush quote where he says that waiting for proof is not an option in todays world the extreme extrapolation of such a view would be that anyone has the excuse for any action whatsover."
True, but the other option is to cross our fingers and hope we in the US don't see another 9/11. We simply no longer have this option. The terrorists state on a regular basis how they wish to kill millions of us. We simply can't wait for this to happen. Bush is doing his job by doing what is necessary to protect the US.
"This does not accord with most generally accepted legal frameworks, which was precisely the point being made by France, Germany etc., although, who knows, they may very well have had their own dubious agenda and been playing devils advocate (the French build exocets don't they)."
I don't find it much of a coincidence that the majority of Saddams oil customers and weapons suppliers were the countries that were the most opposed to the war. They had the most to lose outside of Saddam. Do you think its a coincidence that many German, Russian, French and Chinese weapons producers are struggling to survive these days?