- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006

The latest developments in the Middle East are a clear reminder that we must appreciate the ongoing Global War on Terror for what it really is: our fourth world war. We should use the lessons from the prior world wars to ensure we win the current one. Now, in case I lost you a second ago, and you are still trying to figure out when World War III occurred, let me explain.

As your history books will tell you, the First World War was the struggle that broke up the old order of monarchies and empires that were based in Europe. Fascism rose from the ashes of those empires, and World War II soon followed. In the wake of fascism’s defeat in World War II, communism sprang up in the vast Soviet Union and its satellites in Europe and around the world.

Along with communism’s spread came a conflict with the democratic west, which I and some others would argue was World War III. Admittedly, the casualties were only a fraction of the tens of millions killed in the prior two world wars, but there were armed military conflicts on almost every continent in the world. Americans served from Korea to Vietnam to Beirut in what we commonly call the Cold War. But that name falls short of adequately describing the global nature of this war and its eventual result of eliminating communism from all but a few nations.

In World War IV, we now fight Islamic extremism instead of empires, fascism or communism. And there should be no doubt that this is a worldwide conflict. Terrorists have bombed New York, Washington, London, Spain, Japan, Indonesia, Russia, India, Israel, Egypt and other areas. The recent attacks on Israel and the Israeli response are just the latest clashes in this ongoing conflict between the civilized world and barbaric terrorists.

There is no dispute that this conflict is between two distinct sides and it clearly involves much of the world. The question now is whether the nations that choose to ally themselves with the civilized world will learn from the lessons of prior world wars. It is nave to assume that al Qaeda, Hezbollah and their ilk will give up because the international community asks them to. Militarism, fascism and communism certainly didn’t. If we are to extinguish this ideology of hate and the terrorism it breeds, it will require united leadership in the world and the same commitment to victory required for the defeat of communism and fascism.

World War III taught us how to win while minimizing bloodshed by being strong and resolute and not letting weakness prevail or the enemy to expand its power and influence. In World War IV, we cannot predict or control who will be attacked or when it will occur. But what can be controlled is how the civilized world chooses responds to acts of terror.

The Israelis have chosen. They will fight and destroy an enemy that is determined to destroy them. Jews around the world have seen this kind of hatred and bigotry before, and they know what can spring from it if it is allowed to prosper.

When nations relent in the face of aggression, the terrorists grow stronger in boldness and influence, and the states that support these terrorists are not deterred. If the civilized world does not stand and fight with a collective resolve to eliminate this form of evil, we will find ourselves facing an enemy with greater international influence, better financing, and an unrelenting commitment to bloodshed.

In each of the world wars, the enemy and the tactics used to defeat them have differed. What doesn’t change is the need to stand up to those who perpetuate evil on the world. Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Today, Israel is showing the same commitment to fighting for and protecting the freedom that Reagan, Churchill and the other greats of the 20th century did. Other world leaders should watch and learn.

John Campbell is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California.

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