Iraq is finally cooperating well enough with United Nations monitoring to be allowed to sell oil for food and medicine. Hearing that news, I couldn't help wondering whether I should have been able to predict some movement toward flexibility in Baghdad when I noticed an Associated Press item last March that began, "Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has ordered an end to the practice of cutting off the ears of army deserters and draft dodgers."

At the time it was tempting to respond to Saddam's change of heart on involuntary ear removal the way my Aunt Gert might have responded: "Well, that...

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