The Hamas victory in Gaza is a warning that World War IV (as Norman Podhoretz has called it) is going to be long and hard. It is also a warning that the West is currently losing that war.
These defeats are not a function of the courage and will of the American people. In a June poll sponsored by American Solutions, 85 percent of the American people said it was important to defend America and its allies. Only 10 percent were opposed. On an even stronger question, 75 percent said it was important to defeat America’s enemies. Only 16 percent disagreed.
So the hard left in America is only 16 percent. It is outnumbered almost 5-1 by those who would defeat our enemies.
The source of failure is not to be found in the American people but in the inarticulate and unimaginative leaders all across government who now preside instead of lead.
The tragedy of the current debate in Washington is that while the inarticulateness and the failing performance of the Bush administration have led the American people to desire a new direction, the politics of the left insists that the new direction be less than President Bush. Yet the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, New Jersey, the JFK plot, the Algerian bombings, the Iranian nuclear program, the conflict in Lebanon and now the defeat in Gaza all point to the need for a war policy that is substantially bigger and more robust than Mr. Bush.
As the forces of modernity are being ground up by terrorism, our political process is not producing a Churchill or Roosevelt to rally the democracies but instead embracing advocates of surrender withdrawal and defeat. As women are being oppressed, we remain silent. Faced with the weakness, vacillation and inarticulateness of the leaders of Israel and America, the people see the violence as senseless, the bloodshed as repugnant and the current strategies as too flawed to continue to invest in them.
Gaza is the most recent example of where Western failure of imagination is being defeated by ruthlessness and determination.
Israel has had enormous power over Gaza for 40 years. The United Nations has been running refugee camps since 1949 with disastrous results that have led to massive population growth, vast unemployment, deep bitterness and a society which produces entrepreneurs of terrorism rather than entrepreneurs of wealth creation. Michael Oren has noted that since 1993 the Palestinian Authority “has garnered more international aid than any entity in modern history — more per capita than the European states under the Marshall Plan.” With all these advantages the old “reasonable” terrorist organization has been destroyed in Gaza by the newer, more militant and more ferocious Hamas.
This is a signal victory for Iran and a defeat for Israel, the United States, and the so-called moderate Arab governments.
The first reactions to this defeat have been pathetic. The beleaguered American and Israeli governments have met to wring their hands and pledge funding for the old terrorists in the West Bank. This will surely prove to be a losing strategy. Hamas will consolidate its hold on Gaza and begin to extend its reach more decisively into the West Bank.
The West will sooner or later have to confront several hard realities if it is to defeat its enemies.
First, terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah will have to be rooted out and destroyed. We do not today have the strategy, the doctrine or the techniques for defeating these kinds of organizations. In Iraq, after more than four years of effort, our current doctrine for population control and for effective local policing and intelligence is pathetic. To defeat ferocious committed and enthusiastically violent organizations like al Qaeda and the Taliban will take new energy, new drive and new determination on our part.
Second, the indirect strategies of propping up corrupt dictatorships have to give way to direct people-to-people help, securing private-property rights and direct financial assistance so we can improve their families’ lives and they can be empowered to defend their neighborhoods from evil men. Hernando de Soto will be vastly more effective in designing this than all the bureaucrats at AID and the United Nations combined.
Third, the U.N. camp system of socialism with unearned anti-humanitarian charity has to be replaced with a totally new system of earned income and earned property rights to restore dignity and hope to every Palestinian.
Fourth, the current system of schools under both Fatah and Hamas control have to be replaced in their entirety with a system dedicated to genuine education and to teaching human rights rather than jihad and hatred.
Lastly, mosques can no longer be allowed to preach hatred and violence. The de-Nazification that seemed obvious in Germany in 1945 will have to be matched by a dehatred campaign today. The haters have to be defeated, disarmed and detained if the forces of peace and freedom are to win.
These steps are only the beginning, but the gap between our current pathetic reaction to the Hamas victory and the requirements of victory give some indication of how far the West has to go before it starts winning. In Churchill’s phrase, we are not even at the end of the beginning. However, we may be at the beginning of recognizing that this will be a real war.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.