On Inauguration Day, President George Bush told us that America's "vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one." Spoken from the podium by a president of the United States, such words have the sound of deep insight, as if articulating profound truth.

The reality is different. The statement is nonsense. Interests and beliefs are two entirely different things. By linking together the two, the President's words artfully promote a confidence game, the scam known as bait and switch.

The American people may indeed have confidence in the notion that it is "the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture." With the bait thus set, the switch followed: The president's declaration that such support is "the urgent requirement of our national security" enlists support for aggression against those same nations and cultures, with the immorality of such aggression hidden behind a respectable sentiment.

Our national security will be well served when President Bush and others in his administration learn that America will do well to keep its hands to itself.

Iraq has never been a threat to America. We have no justification for killing people in Iraq. America's national security will be served when we stop killing people in Iraq and remove our troops from their country.

Unprovoked aggression undermines our nation's defensive ability. While the slow attrition of our army in Iraq is bad enough, ex-marine officer William S. Lind, writing Nov. 25 for Justin Raimondo's www.antiwar.com, points out that an attack on Iran could provoke retaliation capable of rolling up an entire occupation army. Just as a willful European leader once ordered his army to attack Russia, American leaders with insufficient military experience are playing with fire.

Although it may be rational to place an army at risk for the defense of the nation, reaching out and killing people who have done us no harm is criminal. Those who indulge in such aggression are insane and should be removed from office before they destroy what little remains of America's moral stature.

Sagacious souls holding the levers of power have perverted our armed forces to the interests of another nation. Perhaps we should show them that we are still the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let us refuse to participate in their illegal, immoral war. Then to show the world that we remain a moral nation, let us reconvene the Nuremberg court whose instruction to political leaders evidently went unheeded.

Jack Dennon