Cliff May

It will require comprehensive missile defense and other high-tech means to prevent our sworn enemies from "infiltrating nuclear weapons into American cities, exploding them offshore near American ports, or detonating bombs above America's critical electronic infrastructure" - destroying that infrastructure with an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) attack, an offensive capability that Iran, for one, is known to be developing.

"No nation in history has succeeded in preserving its integrity and sovereignty without meeting the challenge of ever-advancing armaments," Gilder points out. "But many American intellectuals still imagine that the United States is different, that it is possible or desirable for us to negotiate an ‘end to the arms race.' Our enemies will always want to end the arms race because they know only free nations can win it. ... An end to the arms race would deprive the capitalist countries of their greatest asset in combating barbarism."

Gilder is convinced that the forces targeting Israel and America also are "targeting capitalism and freedom everywhere." Capitalism, he says, requires freedom - for entrepreneurs, workers and consumers alike. All benefit, because, "under capitalism the achievements of one group provide markets and opportunities for others."

He goes on to make this unfashionable observation: Any democracy not resting on a solid capitalist foundation is doomed. "Without an expanding capitalist economy," he writes, "democracy becomes dominated by its zero-sum elements - by mobs and demagogues."

Over the centuries, such mobs and demagogues have, many times, turned against Jews. Today, Gilder adds, "they have turned against Israel." Sometimes, the root cause is simply greed and envy. But often it is the belief that "social justice" necessitates the dispossession of the "haves" and redistribution to the "have-nots" in the interest of "equality of outcome."

Over time, this can only lead to expanding poverty because it is based on a misunderstanding of what wealth is. Fundamentally, wealth inheres not in material resources but in "human minds and creations that thrive only in peace and freedom. In particular, the immiseration of the Middle East stems chiefly from the covetous and crippling idea among Arabs that Israel's wealth is not only the source of their humiliation but also the cause of their poverty."

Gilder has much more to say - more challenging arguments and perplexing questions than I can summarize in a brief column. But his underlying thesis is straightforward: The future of freedom, democracy, capitalism, America, the West and the tiny state of Israel are all tied together in a single knot. Israel is "not only a major source of Western technological supremacy and economic leadership - it is also the most vulnerable source of Western power and intelligence."

Israel is, Gilder contends, "not only the canary in the coal mine - it is also a crucial part of the mine." If Americans will not defend Israel, they will "prove unable to defend anything else. The Israel test is finally our own test of survival as a free nation."


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.



TOWNHALL MEDIA GROUP