- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 11, 2004

Norman Podhoretz, longtime editor in chief of Commentary magazine and a founding father of neoconservatism, has authored an important essay titled, “World War IV and How to Win It.”

It is must reading for anyone concerned with America’s direction in fighting radical Islamists. Along the way, it makes a trenchant case for George W. Bush as wartime visionary.

You might ask why World War IV? Have we already fought World War III? In fact, we have. Mr. Podhoretz effectively argues the Cold War was World War III. It was certainly a global conflict of unimaginable importance, albeit one fought with intelligence, counterintelligence and clandestine military operations rather than national armies. It follows then the war on terror, a global battle of similar magnitude to preserve liberty, is properly labeled World War IV.

In his essay, Mr. Podhoretz argues Mr. Bush is the right man for this war; the right president at this juncture in history. He paints him as a courageous politician with a clear vision for America, one resting on the new Bush Doctrine’s four “pillars”:

• The first pillar repudiates moral relativism in politics, and accepts a moral clarity and the right to call evil regimes evil.

• The second pillar says terrorists and the regimes sponsoring them are not legal matters for criminal courts. Instead they are members of an “irregular” army that must be dealt with through a war strategy of regime change.

• The third pillar is our right not merely to respond when attacked, but to pre-empt those who would attack us. This means bypassing arms-control treaties, taking the battle to the enemy, “draining the swamps” of terrorist training and shelter, and ultimately moving toward democratization.

• The fourth pillar is the commitment to help nations friendly to us (particularly Israel) and oppose the unfriendly.

On this last point, Mr. Bush asserts “nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror.” Hence, countries aiding, abetting or sheltering Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah or other terrorist networks are clearly enemies of the United States.

Mr. Podhoretz argues that prior to Mr. Bush, U.S. presidents were “paper tigers” who failed to effectively respond to terrorist attacks overseas or at home. He opines this collective U.S. failure emboldened Osama bin Laden and set the stage for September 11, 2001. Fortunately, Mr. Bush changed all this.

In making the case for the president, Mr. Podhoretz connects the dots back to Harry Truman. In 1947, Truman said “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressure.” In 2004, Mr. Bush said: “America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat; America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.”

Just as Truman instituted containment to fight Soviet communism — the policy structure within which World War III was fought — Mr. Bush launched his own war doctrine of regime change, pre-emption and the spread of freedom. This is the new policy structure of World War IV.

Radical Islamists, Mr. Podhoretz argues, are descended from the 20th century’s major totalitarian movements — Adolf Hitler’s Nazism, Benito Mussolini’s Fascism and Josef Stalin’s communism. The U.S. is now fighting to preserve liberty against the latest “ism.” In doing so, Mr. Podhoretz firmly believes the America has answered “history’s call,” and must not swerve.

That brings us to November 2004. Mr. Podhoretz hopes the Democrats, if elected, will not abandon Mr. Bush’s war policy. Dwight Eisenhower, of course, did not abandon Truman’s, even though he campaigned forcefully against it. But the current crop of Democrats — a group whose most public voices hail from the hard left of Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore and Howard Dean — does not inspire Mr. Podhoretz with great hope.

The Democratic pseudo-vision certainly contrasts darkly with the president’s words at the Republican Convention. With the world watching, Mr. Bush said, “This young century will be liberty’s century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom… . Now we go forward — grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on Earth.”

Indeed, this World War IV is the most important conflict of our generation. Re-electing Mr. Bush may not guarantee victory, but a Democratic Party that still hangs to its “negative faith in America the ugly” would make defeat a virtual certainty.

Lawrence Kudlow is a nationally syndicated columnist, Kudlow & Co. chief executive officer and a CNBC commentator. Sam Munson is a Kudlow & Co. research associate.

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