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Will the West Wake Up?

  

 

In the midst of the current crisis in the Middle East, which is after all only another blip in a sixty year effort by the Arab/Muslim World to annihilate Israel, there is only one legitimate question - will the West wake up? With Israel having withdrawn from southern Lebanon in 2000 and from the Gaza strip last year, the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah after crossing into Israel proper along with the ongoing firing of rockets make it clear that this was never about "occupation," or "land for peace," but a desire to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish state.

But this spasm of violence is only the epicenter of what is a global Jihadist movement to end the current international system and supplant it with an Islamist vision, a mythical Islamic empire or caliphate under a radical version of Sharia in which the rights and freedoms taken for granted in the West would vanish. It would be replete with those characteristics we see in great abundance all around the Middle East including the suppression of women, sectarian violence, armed militias, poverty, tribalism, extremism and terror.

Achieving this goal of world domination requires the destruction of the West, most particularly, the US and its proxy, as they see it, Israel. Europe is, for the most part, already gone, in complete denial, fully unable to counter the growing Islamic threat taking place demographically under its nose. Europeans are not bothered enough to reproduce sufficient children to replace themselves, let alone mount a spirited defense of the civilization they themselves created. With their population plummeting, Europeans depend on Muslim immigration to provide workers and tax base, notwithstanding that radicalized Muslim enclaves are growing by the day.

Europe is further weakened by its moribund statist economy and an array of corrosive liberal pieties including multiculturalism, political correctness, and secularism, mixed with general sloth and decadence. It is in effect a spent force, defanged culturally, economically, and militarily, and left with the one device to which it is suited: preening morally and engaging in nuanced debate leading nowhere.

But the US is only slightly better. We are also weakened by multiculturalism, an antagonistic media, civil liberties extremists, and a major political party determined to undermine the war effort. But the most glaring deficiency rests not with Bush's opponents but with Bush himself: his mismanagement of the war in Iraq, and his failure to correct the gross under funding of the military that occurred in the 90's.

With the demise of the Soviet Union, the US embarked on a dangerous degradation of its military, the so-called peace dividend that led to drastic cuts in defense spending under Clinton and which Bush did nothing to address despite 9/11.

As Mark Helprin has written in National Review, the current Bush military budget of $400 billion represents 3.2% of our GDP compared with an average of 5.7% during peacetime years between 1940 and 2000. The average defense budget during the Clinton years was 3.6% of GDP; this by a Democratic President who had busily set upon degrading the military at the end of the Cold War. Our Naval fleet is half of what it was during the Reagan years. Our conventional forces, a third. If the US were to return to the peacetime average of 5.7% during the last half century that would provide for a defense budget of $700 billion, almost double the current level, which would be in line with the array of threats confronting us.

But there seems to be no stomach for this, as if the nation has become so addicted to federal entitlements that it is no longer able to mount the credible military build up needed to face the challenges before it. As Mark Helprin asks, "Can it be that, in a war year, the US is devoting to defense only half the effort it has customarily expended in non-war years?"

Immediately after 9/11, this would have been the kind of sacrifice to ask of the nation, and to which the country would have responded. Bush missed that critical strategic opening and his standing is now too diminished to even contemplate such a request.

By fighting the war in Iraq on the cheap, Bush has cost America dearly not just in blood and treasure but in international stature. His father's handling of the first Gulf War in which an American military still primed from the Cold War deployed half a million troops and liberated Kuwait in four days should have been a case study. American prestige at the time was at a highpoint because of how effectively this far more limited mission was accomplished. How did it ever occur to Bush and his advisors that the far greater enterprise of regime change, occupation and rebuilding of Iraq could be achieved with 130,000 troops? By failing to apply overwhelming force in the manner of his father, he has squandered American prestige, emboldened our enemies, and ushered in a new "Vietnam Syndrome."

American ineptness in Iraq, for example, has been an invitation for North Korea, Iran, and Syria to engage in highly provocative actions. North Korea fires missiles on the 4th of July; Iran pursues nuclear weapons; and Syria and Iran give Hezbollah the green light to attack Israel. Had Bush deployed half a million troops to Iraq as many advisors recommended, the country could have been secured and any fledgling insurgency swiftly crushed. With some hundred thousand US troops poised on each of the Iraqi borders with Iran and Syria, the world today would be a different place.

In the meantime, while the West dithers, it is left to Israel to confront the savages. It will do the world's dirty work and dispense with the odious Hamas and Hezbollah, as it did Iraq's nuclear reactor. So, perhaps, will it be Israel that deals with Iran. Will the West recognize that the global Islamic Jihadist movement is the moral equivalent of Nazism and Soviet Communism? Will the West muster its courage, garner its vast resources, and join Israel in the campaign to end Islamic Fascism? Will the West wake up?

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