Many commentators have compared the current war on Islamism to World War II. "Like the Second World War," President Bush said in 2004, "our present conflict began with a ruthless, surprise attack on the United States. We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy."
Unfortunately, the War on Terror no longer resembles World War II; it looks far more like World War I. It will take a World War IV to truly correct the shortcomings of the War on Terror.
At the end of World War I, the Allies left a hollow Weimar Republic. They left German's armaments industry intact. They wanted to reach out to their enemies, to work with them through foolish institutions like the League of Nations. They saw war as an ultimate evil and felt that the right combination of kindness and appeasement could prevent conflict. They ignored the rise of Mussolini, the rise of Hitler, the rise of Stalin -- all of which replaced the nascent democracies of their nations. In fact, the West didn't merely engage in ignorance -- it praised these new leaders as scions of a new age.
H.G. Wells summed up the worshipfulness of the blind West toward the rise of Communism and German and Italian fascism: "The world is sick of parliamentary politics," he wrote. "The Fascist Party, to the best of its ability, is Italy now. The Communist Party, to the best of its ability, is Russia. Obviously, the Fascists of Liberalism must carry out a parallel ambition on a still vaster scale."
Fast-forward 90 years. Today's Italy, Germany and Soviet Union are Iran, China and Russia. We could have done something about them in the War on Terror. Instead, we ignored them, paving the way for a far greater conflict in the coming decades.
First: Iran. After engaging in a long and arduous war against Islamist terrorists ranging from Iraq to Afghanistan, the West is now firmly convinced that it can abandon nascent democracies in those countries without consequence. Iran is filling the void in both countries, at the same time developing nuclear weapons and flexing its muscles against Israel and Lebanon. Iran is on the rise, and the West continues to dally, pretending that a deal with the Islamist mullahs is on the way.
Next: China. China is a moving force behind the nuclear program in Iran and has been for decades. China has sent Iran nuclear technology, high-tech missiles and specialized materials for the production of nuclear arms. The Iranian press reported in 2002 that after President Bush labeled Iran a member of the "axis of evil," President Jiang Zemin took a trip to Tehran and told the Iranians that they needed to work together to "prevent domination of a superpower on the entire world." China uses North Korea as a proxy state to attack and menace the West in much the same way Hitler's Germany routinely threatened Czechoslovakia over the Sudetenland.
China has also drawn closer to the Pakistani regime that continues to hamstring anti-terrorism efforts. Meanwhile, America continues to inflate its currency and sell its debt to the Chinese, with Obama continually expressing his admiration for the Chinese economy and environmental policies (mimicking his bankroller, George Soros, who loves China's government).
Finally: Russia. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the West has assumed that Russia is now a member of the liberal democratic states. It is not. Russia remains a thugocracy run by KGB man Vladimir Putin. During the Bush administration, the Russians assisted the Iranians with their nuclear agenda, threatened the independent and free state of Ukraine, and invaded the former Soviet satellite of Georgia. They developed substantial ties with anti-American regimes like China and Venezuela and are reportedly working to help the Hugo Chavez regime go nuclear. President Obama's response: Give them a "re-set" button, proclaim them an ally, offer them the ability to inspect our nuclear sites under the new START treaty, and kill our missile defense plans.
After World War I, Woodrow Wilson toured the world stumping for his League of Nations. "My clients are the children," he said in one speech. "My clients are the next generation ... I intend to redeem my pledges to the children; they shall not be sent upon a similar errand."
Twenty years later, they were sent on a similar errand because the world forgot that there is no substitute for victory in appeasement and willful ignorance. The world is forgetting again. And once again, our children will pay the price.
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