World War IV
Late in 2004, I posted this piece at The Unrepentant Individual. Reading a story in the Washington Post today called The Guns of July, it drew a parallel between today’s fighting in Lebanon and the beginnings of World War I. It’s been hinted widely that the war against Radical Islam is a lot wider than simply Afghanistan and Iraq, and recent events in Lebanon and Israel might simply be the catalyst to start something truly horrifying. Below, I discussed a Norman Podhoretz essay from September 2004, and its implications discussing what may be the arrival of World War IV.
I found the above article, and really felt it put a lot into perspective. If you choose to take a look, bear in mind that it is long, but well worth reading if you have some time.
The article makes the claim that our current war on terror is only accurately understood if it is seen in the context not of a single war, but as World War IV (WWIII, of course, being the “cold” war against the Soviet Union). To put it succinctly, it describes the true nature of the war we are fighting, in historical, present, and future contexts.
The 9/11 Commission was tasked with determining how we allowed such an attack to occur. For the lefties (Michael Moore, Howard Dean, etc), it was Bush’s fault, for not doing enough to stop it. For the righties (Sean Hannity), it was Clinton, for not doing enough in the years leading up to Bush. But neither group is correct. Since the early 70’s, we’ve been regularly assaulted by a fanatical enemy bent on our destruction. All presidents, from Nixon up through Bush before 9/11, did not actually respond with true force to deter future attacks. We all woke up on 9/11, and this is the first article that I’ve read that really makes the point hit home. The groundwork for 9/11 was laid by 30 years of inactions, so assigning blame (as attempted by the 9/11 Commission) is bound to be fruitless.
As for the future of this war, the author draws many parallels to the conditions at the end of World War III, aka the Cold War. Perhaps Eastern Europe and Russia are still going through growing pains (i.e. Ukranian elections), but it is obvious that they are on the road to democracy and prosperity. Even more impressively, some of the nations most familiar with being under the boot of Soviet oppression are the closest US allies in this current war.
Suppose that we hang in long enough to carry World War IV to a comparably successful conclusion. What will victory mean this time around? Well, to us it will mean the elimination of another, and in some respects greater, threat to our safety and security. But because that threat cannot be eliminated without “draining the swamps” in which it breeds, victory will also entail the liberation of another group of countries from another species of totalitarian tyranny. As we can already see from Afghanistan and Iraq, liberation will no more result in the overnight establishment of ideal conditions in the Middle East than it has done in East Europe. But as we can also see from Afghanistan and Iraq, better things will immediately happen, and a genuine opportunity will be opened up for even better things to come.
The Anti-War group has been on our case about the troubles and difficulties faced in building a free Iraq. And not without cause, as this has certainly been a difficult and troublesome process. But anyone looking at the progress that has been made cannot believe that given the reality of a years- or decades-long struggle, that we are losing. A point made by Haim Harari in an April 2004 speech is highly important. Our two biggest remaining foes in the region, Iran and Syria, are now completely surrounded by hostile nations. I’ve been one of those hawkish fellows who has long wondered whether invading Iraq was only done first because it was more politically expedient than invading Iran, but had noted that we now have two flanks on Iran, which may be a way to exert greater pressure.
Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq.
As someone who naturally savors political debate, I am unfortunately drawn into the peculiarities of the specific debate at hand. An article like the above gives a much more adept look at the “big-picture view” of the situation. Specific debates over the nature, timing, or necessity of the invasion of Iraq truly boil down to something much more simple. If you view Islamic terror as mostly a reaction to our support of Israel, our foreign policy, and our export of American culture, then Iraq is just a bigger mistake that will cause the pot of Islamic terrorism to boil over. On the contrary, if you believe, as I do, and as this author does, that the United States is embroiled into a conflict accurately described as World War IV, you most likely support the invasion of Iraq. The article above makes a strong case for the latter.