Time Essay: The Temptations of Revenge

Life being what it is," said Baudelaire, "one thinks of revenge." Americans found themselves thinking about it a little more than usual last week as they watched Iranians displaying charred American bodies in front of the Tehran embassy that the dead had been sent to liberate. They thought of it again when Moussavi Garmoudi, the Iranian President's "cultural affairs adviser," appeared before cameramen, reached into a box and brought out a burned human foot (American), which he laid on a table before them.

Such scenes open a little trap door at the base of...

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