Watching Norman Podhoretz on C-Span’s book program, I realized this harmless-appearing old man may not be the scariest person in our nation, but he must be among the first three.
To our misfortune, the others are his true-believers, President George W. Bush and Vice-President Richard B. Cheney, who have at their command the most destructive military machine the world has ever known or imagined. They are busily making plans when and how to attack Iran, and God knows where else.
Podhoretz, who evolved from youthful advocate for communism and socialism at Columbia University, to godfather of the neocons, has written a book entitled “World War IV.”
Podhoretz’ ode to perpetual warfare conveniently arrived in bookstores last month concurrently with a best-seller entitled, “The World Without Us”, all of us.
Podhoretz’s 217-page dialectic is first and foremost the promotion and defense of the Bush Doctrine of preemptive warfare, even “before the threat is fully developed.” For him, the Bush Doctrine surpasses even the successful Truman Doctrine of containment of communism. And, he believes Bush, like Truman, someday will rank high among presidents.
Podhoretz promotes the Bush Doctrine’s concept that we must “drain the swamps” of Muslim nations, not by ridding them of poverty and hunger, but of political oppression. This, of course, rationalizes Bush attacking the secular, despotic regime of Saddam Hussein, throwing our nation’s peerless military against a nation that Podhoretz, like Bush, hints was a supporter of Al Qaeda--and whose weapons of mass destruction, he writes, are “probably in Syria.”
Reading “World War IV” is also an opportunity to learn that GWB’s alleged mistakes in Iraq were “either not mistakes at all, or things he never did.” So help me God.
Podhoretz does concede one Bush mistake, “his refusal from the outset to give both the enemy forces and our struggle against them their true and proper names.”
As someone who lives by words, Podhoretz is big on names. So he laments Bush’s initial designation “Global War on Terror,” preferring, not surprisingly, his own designation “World War IV.”
Thus, with a few strokes on his word processor, the clever Podhoretz elevates Bush’s messy invasion of a nation of 25 million people with the import of World War I, World War II, and World War III, Podhoretz’ preferred name for the 42-year Cold War waged successfully against both the ideas and real nuclear weapons of international communism.
In addition to misnaming WW IV, Podhoretz faults Bush for not consistently speaking of “Islamofascists.” He thinks Bush is too timid to “convey we are taking on the entire Muslim world” of 1.6 billion people.
Podhoretz gratuitously narrows the number of our enemies in the Muslim world to “125 to 200 million persons,” whom fellow paper-warrior Daniel Pipes identifies as the “committed cadres.” They want us to know these millions are at least as committed as the 15 Saudis and 4 others who flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Podhoretz captures the Bush spirit that “you are with us or against us” by reading out conservative icons William F. Buckley, Jr. and George Will, who, he says, have joined the opposition. He deplores Will’s “retrospective vote” for John Kerry’s contention the war on terror is “primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation,” not Podhoretz’ stupendous, endless World War IV.
Will’s statement is heresy. In Norman Podhoretz’ world, disputes are settled only by war.
Podhoretz believes respect and support for people’s universal desire for freedom and good government requires us to physically destroy their oppressors, the Saddams of the world--which, not coincidentally, makes his vision of World War IV a self-fulfilling prophecy.
All wars, because they are horrible, demand a casus belli. Podhoretz and his neocon disciples have been scarily successful at providing our eager “war-time president” with an intellectual basis for World War IV.
Significantly, Podhoretz’ greatest fear is effective domestic opposition to the Bush Doctrine. He characterizes those who disagree as engaging in ”a war so ferocious that some of us have not hesitated to describe it as nothing less than a kind of civil war.” So be it.
Dr. Roy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org