One of the most intelligent (and one of the most polarizing) people in politics, Newt Gingrich, has been proclaiming loudly that we are in World War Three and we need to wake up and act accordingly. I couldn't agree more. We have actually been involved in this world war since the late seventies and the rise of global terrorism. The parallels to World War Two are striking if you step back and look at the patterns.
While Americans, most of whom under the age of 30 can't even tell you the date, believe that the Second World War began with the Japanese attack on Pacific military facilities in Hawaii and a day later in the Philippines (most don't even know that), the seeds for that war had been planted two decades before and had germinated, taken root, and flowered into open conflict on the European and Asian continents half a dozen years before the re-United States' entrance as a combatant. Appeasement of Hitler's desires for German domination of Europe, and our efforts to keep Japan from becoming a world power through isolation and sanctions, resulted in German and Japanese aggression against weaker neighbors throughout the decade prior to December 7, 1941. Had the Japanese not attacked us at Pearl Harbor when they did, it can be argued that America may very well have remained out of a war which would have eventually brought Soviet domination to the entire Eurasian continent. But, our response following Pearl Harbor was nothing if not unequivocable. We DECLARED WAR and executed that war ruthlessly. As a result, the citizens of the American Empire have enjoyed the greatest and most rapid advances in technology and standard of living in the history of man.
If, the terrorist attack of 9/11 was our generation's Pearl Harbor, where is the formal declaration of war? By the end of 1941, we had formal declarations of war from the Congress of the re-United States on the Axis Powers--Japan, Germany and Italy. Yes, their populations suffered disproportionately more than ours in the ensuing war, but THAT IS THE AIM OF WAR. War is not supposed to be a fair fight, or a kiddies' soccer game following which everybody on both teams gets a trophy. If you are a citizen of a country that allowed a politician to lead you into war, you will suffer the consequences--good or bad. Following 9/11, our president said, and I paraphrase, "you are either for us or against us in this fight against terrorism and the United States will make no distinction between the terrorists and those nations that support terrorism."
We got off to a good start, even without the required formal declarations of war, and toppled the Taliban and Saddam. But, then we stopped attacking the enemy and starting allowing the enemy to attack us. It was as if after kicking Germany and Italy out of North Africa, and Japan out of the Southwest Pacific in 1943, we stopped and let Hitler and Tojo regroup for the next three or more years. The quagmire in which we find ourselves in Iraq is not the result of toppling Saddam. It is the result of not toppling Assad and the Ayatollahs immediately thereafter.
Sadly, it is too late, politically, to do what we should have done three years ago. Unfortunately, we will soon leave Iraq to radical Shia domination. More unfortunately, we will someday have to fight an Iranian/Syrian/Chinese alliance, that will be much stronger because we were so weak when we could have been so strong.