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Newt is Right: It's World War III

By Jay Bryant

Newt Gingrich's declaration on Meet the Press that World War III has already started brought a quick demurral from Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who was also a guest on the show.

But Gingrich is dead-on right, no matter how incendiary his language may be. The events of the intervening weeks, mostly around the Israel-Lebanon border, lend credence to his position. What's more, these events also suggest that the good guys are no more assured of winning World War III than they were, at the outset, of winning either World War I or World War II.

Gingrich's warning is, for many, a very inconvenient truth. But the failure to recognize this truth, and act accordingly, will lead to the downfall of Western civilization long before global warming even has us breaking a sweat.

Still, a lot of people just can't get their minds around the truth. Gingrich, a master of linguistic subtlety, understands why. As long as we talk about the "War on Terrorism," we have placed the conflict in the category of the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Crime."

Wars on something aren't real wars. Wars with adjectives, however, or wars followed by a Roman numeral, are the real deal.

What Newt has done is step up the conflict between the West and radical Islam from a "War on Blank" to a "Geographical Adjective War Numeral." Moreover, he has taken it to the top of the linguistic mountain by choosing the granddaddy of all geographical adjectives.

Does the conflict justify the nomenclature?

Gingrich backs up his fighting words by citing the long list of places, on various continents, where the terrorists have struck. It's an impressive list, but by itself not enough to justify the World War III label. The drug lords and the Mafia operate worldwide, too.

But three factors elevate the radical Islamist threat from nuisance, to serious, to perilous.

First, the Iranian nuclear program. It is the possession of nuclear technology that confers true sovereignty in the world today. Lacking it, tyrants such as Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein saw their countries invaded and crushed. With it, those led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il would be immune from invasion.

Allowing the Iranian government to develop a nuclear bomb is to put that bomb in the hands of Hezbollah. The link between the terrorists and North Korea is more tenuous -- but it may actually be more dangerous, given the mental instability of the Dear Leader.

The second factor is the willingness of the leftist establishment worldwide to take a pass on the whole conflict. When they concern themselves more with the civil rights of the terrorists than with the lives of the victims of terrorism, when they sneer at the brave Iraqis who are struggling to make democracy work there, when they tolerate the view that George W. Bush is a greater threat to world peace than al Qaeda, when they shrug at televised beheadings of innocent hostages, when they throw monkey wrench after monkey wrench into the machinery of the American war effort, they cripple the ability of the West to win the war.

The third factor that makes the radical Islamist threat genuinely perilous to Western civilization (its leftist elements included, if only they were rational enough to understand it) is that the tactics of the radicals challenge traditional military solutions -- as the Israelis are in the process of confirming in their attempt to crush Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It wouldn't be World War III if the opposition were a group of rag-tag losers without a chance of winning. Both conservatives and liberals are prone to discount the effectiveness of terrorist tactics -- short of the use of nuclear weapons -- and that's a serious mistake.

We are not going to beat this enemy unless we get serious about it. That's why it is so critical that Americans of all political stripes pay attention to what Newt is saying. More people need to hear his message more often, and there is only one way for that to happen: He should announce his candidacy for president -- and soon.

jaybryant@erols.com

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