Victor Davis Hanson

Here at home, our State Department is advising its officials to avoid perfectly descriptive terms for our enemies like “jihadist” and “Islamo-fascist” in favor of vague terms like “violent extremist” or “terrorist” -- as if we could just as easily be fighting Basque separatists.

Even more worrying, Americans cannot find a substitute for imported oil. The result is that $110-a-barrel petroleum is slowing our economy, weakening our international financial clout -- and sending billions in capital into the hands of our otherwise unproductive enemies.

The way to shut down Iran's reactor or its subsidies for Hezbollah is not necessarily through bombing but by getting oil back down below $50 a barrel, which would cut the value of Iranian petroleum production by nearly $100 billion a year and weaken an already weak economy.

Saudi Arabia largely ignores our pleas to help rebuild Iraq and cease its money flowing into the hands of radical Islamists. And why should they listen to us? After all, at present astronomical prices, their oil production is worth nearly half-a-trillion dollars a year — with Chinese, Europeans and Indians waiting in line to pay even more.

In all our major wars — except the present one — Americans have won through a combination of military prowess, correctly identifying the enemy and economic savvy. In the Civil War, the South was blockaded and starved of its cotton revenues, an effort that proved every bit as important as Gettysburg and Sherman's "March to the Sea." Germany was blockaded in both World Wars and cut off from precious metals, oil and food. The Soviet economy collapsed before its military could. Only in this war has our own profligacy empowered our enemies.

After years of learning how to fight an unfamiliar war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to protect us at home, we are finally getting most things right. But if our soldiers and intelligence agencies have learned how to win, our politically correct diplomats and the American consumer haven't — and are doing as much at home to empower radical Islam as those on the front lines are to defeat it.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.