A Call for World War IV
September 12, 2002

by Joe Sobran

     One 9/11 wasn't enough for some people. A well-known 
opinion leader has found the formula for many more, for 
many years to come.

     Not content with making war on Iraq, Norman 
Podhoretz of COMMENTARY magazine, the highbrow Zionist 
monthly, calls on the United States to launch World War 
IV. Yes, World War IV. Lest you think he's running a 
little ahead of history, we should explain that he counts 
the Cold War as World War III. But this time he has a 
very hot war in mind -- what he describes as "the war 
against militant Islam."

     Podhoretz thinks we have just the right leader to 
conduct a world war: George W. Bush. And what qualifies 
Bush for this tremendous role? He has restored "moral 
clarity" and rejected "moral relativism." Moral clarity 
means the "concept that some nations [are] evil and 
others good."

     Alone among commentators, Podhoretz finds Bush a 
singularly eloquent man. Bush's speeches inveighing 
against the "axis of evil" (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) 
are, Podhoretz says, "enormously impressive": one of them 
-- the one announcing "war on terrorism" and the so-
called Bush Doctrine -- scaled "heights of sublimity" and 
"deserves to live forever." Every president receives 
fulsome sycophancy, but this must set some sort of 
record. (Podhoretz admits that these speeches were 
probably the work of speechwriters, but "it hardly 

     How did Bush achieve this moral clarity? After the 
9/11 attacks, "a kind of revelation ... lit up the 
recesses of Bush's mind and heart and soul." He suddenly 
knew, says Podhoretz, "that the God to whom, as a born-
again Christian, he had earlier committed himself had put 
him in the Oval Office for a purpose. He had put him 
there to lead a war against the evil of terrorism."

     Yes, God had given George W. Bush a "personal 
revelation"! World War IV will be, as it were, a faith-
based initiative.

     Meanwhile, in Israel -- which Podhoretz ranks 
supreme among the "good" nations -- Ariel Sharon has been 
fighting terrorism with the same moral clarity as Bush, 
albeit without a personal revelation from the Almighty. 
Podhoretz laments that it took Bush a while to grasp his 
moral consanguinity with the Israeli prime minister; at 
first he sank into a "bog of confusion," "courting and 
coddling" evil (Arab) regimes. Then he realized that 
Israel, under Sharon, was up against the same enemy he 
was. Bush had regained his moral clarity!

     If we're going to have a genuine world war, 
Podhoretz sensibly argues, we can't stop with victory and 
"regime change" in Iraq. We have to clean up the whole 
evil Middle East and change all its regimes.

     Lest the reader suspect that Podhoretz's views are 
being caricatured here, let us quote his own words:

     "The regimes that richly deserve to be overthrown 
and replaced are not confined to the three singled-out 
members of the axis of evil. At a minimum, this axis 
should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as 
'friends' of America like the Saudi royal family and 
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian 
Authority, whether headed by Arafat or one of his 

     "At a minimum"! If making war on Syria, Lebanon, 
Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority 
(not to mention North Korea) would be the "minimum," what 
would the *maximum* be? Overthrowing and replacing every 
regime on earth?

     Apart from Iran, none of these regimes represents 
"militant Islam," the alleged target of Podhoretz's World 
War IV. The only thing they actually have in common, 
obviously, is that they are Israel's enemies. World 
War IV would be a war to destroy Israel's enemies -- 
fought, of course, by the United States.

     Podhoretz has unconsciously exposed the Manichaean 
fantasy world of so many of those who are now calling for 
war with Iraq. The United States and Israel are "good"; 
the Arab-Muslim states are "evil"; and those opposed to 
this war represent "moral relativism," ostensibly neutral 
but virtually on the side of "evil."

     This is simply deranged. The ability to see evil 
only in one's enemies isn't "moral clarity." It's the 
essence of fanaticism. We are now being counseled to 
fight one kind of fanaticism with another.

     And a man who actually clamors for a world war, with 
all the millions of violent deaths it would entail, is 
himself evil.


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