LONDON -- Let the recriminations begin! In the aftermath of Israel's abortive, on-again, off-again military campaign against Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, there are calls for a no-confidence vote to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In Washington, critics of President Bush cite the latest round of Mideast violence and the discovery of a suicide plot to bomb U.S.-bound aircraft as reasons to spurn Republicans at the polls this November. In Lebanon, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah claims that Hezbollah's "victory" gives him a new mantle of political authority. His assertion is supported not just by his zealous followers -- but by governments in Tehran, Damascus and less quietly in other Islamic capitals.
All these accounts of recent Mideast hostilities -- and now a U.N.-imposed cease-fire -- have appeared in this week's newspapers, magazines, radio and TV broadcasts. Though such depictions of political consequence may indeed be accurate -- they are woefully shallow and ultimately, misleading to readers and viewers.
With the exception of a small handful of serious journals, few of today's commentators or "reporters" seem able or willing to explain the latest armed confrontation and suicide bomb threats in the stark and perilous terms they deserve. As a consequence, few Americans seem to comprehend the two dangerous -- and perversely synergistic -- themes that predominate in modern radical Islam:
-- The apocalyptic belief of Shia scholars, clerics and political leaders -- like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- predicting a violent, "final" clash between Muslims and infidels in which Islam triumphs, by wiping "non-believers" from the Earth, and;
-- The predominantly Sunni Muslim goal of an Islamic caliphate that extends from Casablanca, Morocco in the west to Bali, Indonesia in the east.
The vision of a globe-spanning Islamic theocracy is not new. In 632 A.D., following the death of Muhammad, his followers named Abu Bakr as caliph -- or successor. He resolved to spread the Muslim theology, with its message of equality and strict rules of behavior, through force of arms. His goal of Islamic dominance has survived the bloody Sunni-Shia schism, the rise and collapse of the Ottoman Empire, two world wars, communism and the fitful spread of representative democracy through most of the rest of the world.
Thanks to a steady flow of petro-dollars, today's leaders of "the religion of peace" -- both Sunni and Shia -- have been able to launch and sustain well-financed, extremely aggressive campaigns to advance their beliefs. Sheiks, imams, mullahs and ayatollahs routinely expound the virtues of "martyrdom" and vicious treatment for Christians and Jews.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.