Inside the bustling new Hamas television headquarters in Gaza, Saraa Barhoum, 11, the sweet face of ”Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” an immensely popular hour-long Hamas television children’s show says she wants to be a doctor. If she can’t, she’d be proud to become a martyr. ”Of course,” Saraa says, ”it’s something to be proud of. Every Palestinian hopes to be a martyr.” One can dismiss this as the ranting of a brainwashed child, but how does one dismiss the fact that this is the most popular children’s TV show in Gaza?

How does one dismiss Palestinians sending nine year-old children to retrieve used Kassam missile launchers knowing they will be killed by Israeli retaliatory responses? How does one explain a demonology expressed by editorial cartoons in the Palestinian press that portray Israelis as ogres who devour babies and draw on medieval and Nazi imagery? How does one dismiss “martyrdom” operations conducted by children or a society that has revived the pagan ritual of human sacrifice for Allah? How does one dismiss stories, poems, riddles, puzzles and magazines that incite Palestinian youth to jihad, martyrdom and the glorification of terrorist operations? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that there is a serious pathology loose in Palestinian society – one that is not subject to negotiation, discussion or accommodation as we would like to believe.

But it’s not the fault of the children. They are merely the by-products of the society the Palestinians have created and have shown little inclination to end. In late July, just after two Palestinian missiles exploded beside a Sderot nursery, Abu Obeida, the leader of the Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed branch of Hamas stated that, “If the Israelis think they will be confronting 12,000 Hamas fighters if they attack Gaza, they are dreaming.” Instead, “they will face all the Palestinian people.” On the same day, Hezbollah claimed that it had twice as many people signed up in the villages and towns in southern Lebanon than it had prior to the Second Lebanon War last year. Hezbollah banners hang everywhere boasting of the “divine victory” over Israel and villagers confirm that Hezbollah’s recruitment of young men is booming and its popularity is solid politically and militarily both north and south of the Litani River. It is heavily armed, more powerful than Lebanon’s army, refuses to surrender its weapons, protects a semi-autonomous Shia Muslim mini-state amid Lebanese society, and pursues a foreign agenda separate from that of Beirut, particularly with Iran, Syria, and Palestinian militants.

There are those in the Israeli and U.S. administrations who argue that these ‘problems’ can be ‘managed’ by targeted attacks on terrorist leaders and against those involved in the manufacture and firing of Kassam missiles, more and deeper ground penetrations to gather intelligence and to destroy terrorist military infrastructures, more artillery and air power aimed at Kassam launching bases and, if necessary, greater economic sanctions. And then there’s the Israeli Peace Bloc that has called upon the government to reach a ceasefire agreement with the terrorists. Their view suggests that Israel must address terrorist ‘grievances’ in order to reduce the violence and that the terrorists sense of fair play will resolve their “problem” with Israel. Unfortunately, this view is based upon an unfounded, unwarranted and an unjustified optimism that has no basis in historical fact – or to put it plainly, fantasy.

But here’s the real problem. It’s not just the suicide-bomber wannabes or those who plan the missile attacks or fire those missiles at Israeli towns and cities who should concern the Israelis, as Prime Minister Olmert and others would have us believe. It’s the society that has spawned them, indoctrinated them, funded them, provided them with shelter, eulogized them as “martyrs” on their TV programs, from their mosques, on their billboards, in their marketplaces, parades, schools, restaurants and video games and given them the tacit approval necessary to operate on and from their territory. In other words, Palestinian society itself has fostered a culture of death. If history is any judge such societies invariably contain the seeds of their own destruction.

Had Adolf Hitler limited his cult of Aryan supremacy to Germany alone, disgusting and inhumane as Nazi policies were towards Jews, gypsies, the mentally handicapped, homosexuals and others, it’s unlikely that a Second World War would have resulted. But National Socialism included an almost messianic belief in Aryan supremacy (much like Salafi/Wahhabi Islam’s messianic belief in a global Caliphate based on Shari’a) and it was the Nazi attempt to “export” this belief through conquest that ultimately led to its destruction, at a terrible cost to the German people.

So what happens when all the alternatives fail? What happens when all the negotiations, sanctions and compromises fail to dissuade an aggressor? What happens when a nation is forced into war as a last resort (as French Foreign Minister Kouchner recently suggested with reference to Iran)? Perhaps our own history holds the answer. What distinguished the American Civil War and World War II from other major American conflicts fought over the past 150 years (notably the Korean War, Vietnam and – at least to this point Iraq) was that both the Union Army during the American Civil War and the Allied Forces during World War II understood that for a decisive victory to be achieved over Germany, Japan and their allies, the enemy – not just it’s army or militias and its regime, but all those who supported them – had to recognize that they had been defeated and that continuing the war was futile.

FDR and Generals Eisenhower, Marshall and Patton – like Lincoln, Grant, Sherman and Sheridan before them – understood that if wars had to be fought, if blood and treasure had to be expended, if sacrifice had to be demanded of the nation, then the American people had the right to demand that wars be prosecuted to insure absolute and final victory so the issues over which they were being fought and for which they were being asked to sacrifice their sons and daughters would never again have to be “revisited” on future generations. [1]

In the case of the Civil War, Sherman, put it rather bluntly:

“We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and we must make young and old, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war…I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptom of tiring until the South begs for mercy.” [2]

Sherman, by all accounts, was a decent man who hated war, but he understood that to end it, he not only had to crush the Confederate army, but the society in whose name and with whose support it fought. The South, he said, had to be convinced that a return to the status quo ante was impossible – that the dream of a Southern Confederacy based on slavery was gone. He understood that sometimes nations had to act inhumanely; that war was a dirty business, and he acknowledged that his “scorched earth” policy had inflicted unbearable pain on the Southern population. But he also understood that doing so was the only way to end the war decisively. It is a sad statement of our time that Israel and the U.S. may soon be forced into such a war where vanquishing their enemies will be the final, least pleasant, but only effective alternative to restoring peace and stability to that region of the world – at least for the foreseeable future.

At the end of World War II, for example, no Nazi official could stand in the ruins of Berlin in April 1945 and urge his fellow Germans to “stay the course” until a Nazi victory was assured. Nor, for that matter, could General Hideki Tojo of the Imperial Japanese Army convince his people that the destruction wrought by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 were just a “temporary setback.” It was clear to the German and Japanese peoples that the European and Japanese wars were over; that the dreams of a greater Japanese empire and a thousand-year Reich were gone, and that the humiliation of “unconditional surrender” – the ultimate acceptance of national defeat – was the only alternative to end the suffering. In the final stages of World War II, the business of living in Germany and Japan had become so unbearable that what the German and Japanese people wanted more than anything else was for the war to end and for their daily lives to return to normal.

As Herbert E. Meyer (former Reagan Administration Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and the man who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union a full decade before it happened) wrote in late November 2005:

“In the minds of their populations, no matter how terrifying the post-war future might prove to be, it had to be better than their present condition. While both nations honored their soldiers, they would no longer support them.”

Such will be the fate of the Palestinians, the Lebanese and the Syrians if they provoke another major Middle East war (unless, of course, they are rescued by another UN ceasefire that has historically proven effective in snapping defeat from the jaws of victory thereby sowing the seeds for future conflicts).

All of which leads to Iran.

On October 4, 2007, tens of thousands of Iranians marched through the streets of Tehran chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to United States” and demonstrations such as this were echoed throughout the country. For nearly thirty years, the Iranian mullahs and their well-entrenched Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have literally been getting away with murder and have exported their revolution throughout the Middle East and the world on the backs of terrorists – and America has failed at every attempt (short of war) to stop them. Now, the Iranians are on the verge of developing a nuclear shield under which they intend to export their global Islamic crusade. Problem is, most Americans don’t really get it. We think its all rhetoric, that the Iranians couldn’t possibly mean all this gibberish about Caliphates, restoring Andalusia, Hidden Imams and creating the chaos necessary to bring on Armageddon. That’s because we don’t understand our enemies and that’s why we are losing the war against them.

Quite simply, we believe what we see, while they see what they believe – and they believe that they are absolutely invincible. And because Paradise is attractive to them, they are even more dangerous because while we value life; they value the Afterlife and have no fear of death (as we know it). In fact, as noted above, they welcome it. That makes them a formidable enemy. It also gives them a psychological advantage over us and they know it…which is why a confrontation is inevitable.

Ahmedinejad may be a psychopath, but he’s a psychopath with a vision. We have always assumed that we are the only nation with ‘grand visions’ like peace, democratization, free enterprise and globalization. But Iran has its own “grand vision” and the grandest of all tells it that America will never be anything but an enemy of its regime, culture and religion and that victory over America and Israel is assured because it has been pre-ordained by Allah. Their vision is to humiliate us and drive us from the Middle East as the first stage in establishing a global Islamic Caliphate. For Ahmedinejad, the dominance of the West is over, the End of Times is at hand and Islam is set to win the coming war.

Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is done in the name of Islam and Allah and therefore it is inherently legitimate. Period. As far as he is concerned, refusing to allow Iran to pursue nuclear weapons is tantamount to an assault on God. End of discussion. It is this grand vision that propels his jihad against us. In effect, every move Iran makes is designed to expel American influence from the region and every time America is humiliated, attacked or defeated, that vision is reinforced. In short, the Iranians are not interested in our vision for ‘a new Middle East.’ They have their own. It is to defeat and replace us. That vision (as was the vision of the Nazis and Confederates before them) will end only when Iranian society is forced – probably by the devastation of war – to conclude that their vision of global Islamic conquest has lost favor in the eyes of Allah since it was He would pre-ordained victory. Quite simply, if we are to win what we call “the global war on terrorism”, our mission must be to destroy their vision of the future before they destroy ours. We must render safe havens unsafe, using diplomacy where possible and force where necessary and that moment is rapidly approaching.

Nor is Iran the only nation pursuing such a vision. Since 1986, Syria has been working on a clandestine nuclear program with the assistance of North Korea and this is only the latest manifestation of Syrian belligerence. Most of the Middle East’s terrorist groups have found safe haven in Damascus and the Syrian regime remains actively engaged in dangerous and destructive policies that threaten America, our allies, and our interests in the region.

Jane’s Defense Weekly reported in late September that dozens of Iranian engineers and Syrians were killed in July attempting to load a chemical warhead containing mustard gas onto a Scud missile pointed at Israel and there are recent reports that the North Koreans were helping the Syrians to attach airburst chemical weapons to warheads. Syria remains a hub for Hezbollah and Hamas and is the gateway for jihadists to infiltrate into Iraq. Further, its unconventional weapons transfers to Islamist terrorists in Lebanon represent a continuing danger. The Israeli destruction of a major Syrian nuclear installation on September 6th should have told President Assad that Syria has very few secrets it can keep from the Israelis and that Israel can hit what it wants, when it wants, and Syria is powerless to stop it. [3] Problem is, it didn’t. Rather, it appears that Iran and its Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian proxies have set their own terms in dealing with America and Israel, ‘all or nothing’, and yet the mere mention that America or Israel should act militarily against them is dismissed as unnecessary, irresponsible or doomed to failure.

As Caroline Glick wrote recently in the Jerusalem Post:

“As is the case in Iraq, so in the cases of Lebanon and the PA, the possibility of forming a “moderate” government will only materialize after the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iranian and Syrian proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, are defeated.”

No one seeking a decisive victory in World War II spoke of a “ceasefire” or “accommodation” with Japan or Germany as we do today with Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Syria or Iran. No one thought it made any sense to merely “disarm” or “degrade” the German army or to liberate France and stop at the French-German border while leaving the Nazis in power in Germany to spread their subversive war into other countries – as the Iranians and Syrians are doing today through their proxies in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Perhaps that’s why we refer to the veterans of World War II as “The Greatest Generation.” World War II was the last major war that America won decisively.

Winston Churchill once wrote that America will always do the right thing, after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives against an enemy (which today includes dialogue, diplomatic exchanges, accommodation, engagement, negotiations, appeasement, inspections, concessions, international conferences, sanctions and containment). Well, we’ve pretty well exhausted the alternatives. Then again, we can choose to leave things just as they are and continue to spend American blood and treasure, allow the creation of radical Islamic states in Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, the Arab Emirates and perhaps even Lebanon (as Syria continues to assassinate anti-Syrian leaders in Beirut opening the door to a pro-Iranian Islamic coup d’etat) and throw Israel to the Islamists (just as the Europeans threw democratic Czechoslovakia to the Nazis 70 years ago) in the hope that they will leave us alone – the underlying theme of the new Stephen Walt – John Mearsheimer book – The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy. After all, if the United States sends a message that it thinks total victory over its enemies is too costly to pursue or that Americans “don’t have the stomach” to defend their strategic interests abroad, can the Ahmedinejads and Assads of the world be blamed for concluding that Washington may be unwilling to pay the costs of avoiding defeat?

I fear the Iranians and Syrians may have already reached that conclusion and feel secure in pursuing their ‘grand vision’ against us with a vengeance. I certainly hope not, because if that’s the way it’s going to be, the U.S. had best stop talking about American power since we’ve clearly forgotten how, when and why to use it against those who are actively seeking to break our spirit, murder our people, expel us from the Middle East and ultimately destroy our way of life.

ENDNOTES

  1. Military historian Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institute wrote recently: “Sixteen years ago (1991) on the cessation of hostilities (after the first Gulf War), Saddam Hussein’s supposedly “defeated” army used its gun ships to butcher Kurds and Shiites while Americans looked on. And because we never achieved the war’s proper aim – ensuring that Iraq would never again use its petro-wealth to destroy the peace of the region – we have had to fight a second war of no-fly zones, and then a third war to remove Saddam, and now a fourth war of counterinsurgency to protect the fledgling Iraqi democracy”……and the war still rages on.
  2. …which makes it all the more amazing that the Israeli Government has made an open-ended commitment to the care and feeding of the Gaza population. Morris Amitay, former head of AIPAC recently wrote: “Sustaining Gaza’s standard of living seems to have become a solemn Israeli obligation. On an almost daily basis, the IDF releases “a summary of humanitarian activity”. One recent example: “Throughout the day, the following humanitarian aid was transferred from Israel into Gaza through the Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings with the coordination of the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison Office – 569 tons of animal feed; 269 tons and additional 7 truckloads of flour; 22 tons of straw; 187 tons of sugar; 143 tons of bananas and additional 9 truckloads of fruits; 98 tons of salt; 78 tons of cooking oil; 28 tons of humus; 12 tons of milk powder and additional 300,000 liters of milk; 300,000 kg of seedlings (not to mention regular supplies of fuel and electricity). In addition, 480 tons of wheat seeds were transferred through a conveyor belt near the Karni crossing.” He continues: “It is hard to think of any precedent in history where a sovereign nation undertakes to provide funding, food, water, electricity, and fuel to an area whose people have “democratically elected” a leadership explicitly committed to war with that nation. In World War II, we didn’t drop wiener schnitzels on Berlin – we dropped incendiaries.”
  3. Unlike the events that transpired prior to and during the Second Lebanon War, the Israelis have analyzed their weaknesses and are in the advanced stages of correcting them. When Israeli F15I bombers, using stealth technology and a fleet of specialized electronic warfare aircraft over the Mediterranean to remain invisible, entered Syrian air space on September 6, 2007 (code-named Operation Orchard) and obliterated Syrian’s nuclear facility at Dayr az-Zawr, they were also testing Syria’s latest, most sophisticated ground-to-air missile defense systems. Syrian anti-aircraft ground fire proved ineffective against the Israeli bombers. The state-of-the-art Russian-made Pantsyr-S1 missiles were successfully jammed by the Israelis and have left Syria (and Iranian) airspace vulnerable. Such information as this is essential to any future US attack on Iran or any future massive Israeli strike against Syria, Hezbollah and/or Hamas.