I understand you and Armando and the distressingly large number of my Daily Telegraph and Spectator confreres, plus spouses and offspring, who'll be joining you on this march, are in favour of "peace". Armando, countering the hawks' argument that Saddam is stalling and "this can't go on for ever", put it this way:
"Wait a minute. This may sound stupid, but why can't it go on for ever? What precisely are the disadvantages of this form of stalemate going on for a very, very long time?"
Why not ask an Iraqi what the disadvantages of stalemate are? As far as Saddam's subjects are concerned, the "peace" movement means peace for you and Tony Benn and Sheryl Crow and Susan Sarandon, and a prison for them. I was in Montreal last week, which has the largest Iraqi population in North America. I've yet to meet one who isn't waiting eagerly for the day the liberation of their homeland begins. Then they can go back to the surviving members of their families and not have to live in a country where it's winter 10 months of the year.
They're pining for war not because they like the Americans, or the Zionists, or me, but because they understand that, as long as there's Saddam, there's no Iraq. Saddam has killed far more people than Slobo, Iraq has been far more comprehensively brutalised than Kosovo. Marching for "peace" means marching for, oh, another 15 years of Saddamite torture and murder, followed by a couple more decades under the even more psychotic son, until the family runs out of victims to terrorise, gets bored and retires to the Riviera.
It's easy to say it's up to the Iraqi people to get rid of Saddam. That theory worked well in the days when all the peasants had to do was storm the palace and dodge the muskets. It doesn't work against a man who can poison an entire village from the air. Marching for "peace" means marching against the Iraqi people: it's the equivalent of turning them away as, to their shame, many free nations in the 1930s turned away refugees from Germany.
But perhaps, as is the case with many marchers, your priority isn't the Iraqi people living in bondage under an Iraqi dictator, but the Palestinian people living in bondage under a Zionist dictator: fine, whatever, you're entitled to your point of view. But you ought to know that, as long as Saddam sits in Baghdad, there will never be a Palestinian state. Never. Chance of the "Palestinian Authority" becoming a fully fledged People's Republic: zero.
Saddam serves as principal sugar daddy to the relicts of suicide bombers and neither Israel nor America is going to agree to a Palestinian state where the prime business opportunity is strapping on the old explosives belt and telling Baghdad where to mail the cheque. We're talking cold political reality here: keeping Saddam in power may stymie the crazy Texans, but also those downtrodden Palestinians. If you're serious about them, you might want to think that one through.
Thirdly, "Stop the War" is a slogan that showed up too late. You can't stop it now; it's already started. Even if the ricin factories and the NBC suits in the mosque and the live grenades at Gatwick haven't persuaded you, you can tell something's up from the uncertain tone of the Government's once-confident voice: they've run up against something they don't know how to spin.
Do you really think not invading Iraq will make all the bad stuff go away? Do you honestly believe the fig-leaf argument that, because Saddam is a nominally secular Ba'athist socialist, the Islamists would have nothing to do with him? He recently donated enough blood to have a full-length copy of the Koran written in it: that makes him less of a "secular" leader than Charles Kennedy, don't you think? You don't have to believe that if you don't want to. But your argument depends on giving both Saddam and al-Qa'eda the benefit of far more doubts than their prior behaviour warrants. Your line is basically: we can't really be sure he'd sell suitcase nukes to terrorists until one goes off in Birmingham. Then you and Armando will say, oh, OK, maybe there's a link after all - unless, of course, you're among the dead.
I don't claim to understand the depth of opposition to Tony Blair. It must be frustrating to switch on the television every night and see Blair planning to save the world when he can't even do anything about the crummy hospitals and lousy trains and rampant crime. But sending a million Valentines to a monster to spite your own hard-hearted master is not the answer.
Today's demo is good for Saddam, but bad for the Iraqi people, and the Palestinian people, and the British people. One day, not long from now, when Iraq is free, they will despise those who marched to keep them in hell.