Newt Goes Global, Hugh Goes Postal

newt-gingrich.jpgFormer Vice President Al Gore, star of the environmental blockbuster “An Inconvenient Truth,” is not the only 90s’ icon to make a strong comeback in 2006. Newt Gingrich is pursuing a similar strategy — frightening everyone about global catastrophe — to get people talking about him.

Clearly, we are being maneuvered into a Gore vs. Newt presidential election in 2008. Who do you pick? Gore fears rising seas. Gingrich fears rising hordes. Gore fears it might be too late to reverse global warming. Gingrich fears it might be too late to reverse World War III!

According to David Postman’s Seattle Times-hosted political blog:

Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly, and to the administration, about the need to recognize that America is in World War III.

He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week’s bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III. He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and “connect all the dots” for Americans.

He said the reluctance to put those pieces together and see one global conflict is hurting America’s interests. He said people, including some in the Bush Administration, who urge a restrained response from Israel are wrong “because they haven’t crossed the bridge of realizing this is a war.”

“This is World War III,” Gingrich said. And once that’s accepted, he said calls for restraint would fall away.

hugh_hewitt.jpgAlready, Hugh Hewitt is reading “appeasers” out of the blogosphere, even those conservatives who want to stop and think about this for a second before we start blasting away at Syria and Iran. World War III is the message of the week. Hewitt likes to cite the William Manchester biography of Winston Churchill, “The Last Lion,” which documents British appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s, and Churchill’s lonely, failed efforts to reverse it before the Nazi military strength grew to the point where it threatened all of Europe. I’ve read that book, and it’s great, and it has nothing to do with today.

The British appeasers thought Hitler could be Britain’s ally against the Communist Soviet Union, or if not an ally, a kind of vanguard who would do the dirty work that the deeply anti-Red British establishment didn’t want to do themselves. Also, the British establishment thought many of Hitler’s demands were quite reasonable; it was still an embarassment to Britain that it supported the draconian punishment of Germany demanded by France after WWI.

These positions look ridiculous now, and those who held them are responsible for hundreds of millions of avoidable deaths. That’s why “appeaser” is such a blood insult for Hewitt to toss around so carelessly.

But reviewing the news coverage of Israel’s fight with Hezbollah, I see virtually no sentiment out there to “appease” the terrorist group’s sponsors, Syria and Iran. There is little confusion about the hostile status of these countries with respect to Israel and the U.S. The argument is over how to deal with them, and there are many approaches being debated. The problem is legitimately complex.

Patience, Hugh! It’s still okay to have a debate in this country.

One perhaps relevant observation: The left-wing blogs haven’t really said anything much about the fighting in the Middle East, nor about the Syria/Iran aspect of the issue, and seem to want to steer the conversation back to more tried and true topics.

arianna1.jpgThe most important thing Arianna Huffington found to say about the war was that Bush’s use of the word “shit” in a conversation with Tony Blair is yet more proof that Bush is blah blah blah blah. Joshua Micah Marshall doesn’t think the president’s s-bomb is such a big deal, but he does allow a guest blogger to enjoy the irony of columnist David Brooks being inconsistent because before the Iraq war he was blah blah blah blah blah. Daily Kos announced he won’t have anything to say about the war at all, and Kevin Drum has taken the same position (which prompts a comment on his site that “A political blog will be pretty lame without an opinion on an active war.”) I get the feeling that the unstated fear among this side of the blogosphere is the war might — darn the luck — help Joe Lieberman.

So I really don’t know what Hugh Hewitt is worrying about. The conservatives have the field all to themselves.

But if Newt Gingrich wants Bush to declare World War III, I sure want a debate about that first, if it’s okay with you all. I mean, sheesh. I’m pretty hawkish, but the right has gone a bit giddy! The unfolding of the Iraq war has tempered my enthusiasm. I can’t believe it hasn’t made people of Gingrich’s and Hewitt’s ilk a bit more humble about making demands for war with no debate and no restraint.

2 thoughts on “Newt Goes Global, Hugh Goes Postal

  1. The Gingrich talk loses me. How many people really want a World War III? Are we that nostalgic for total war, even bigger (and more watchful) government, huge portions of our economy dedicated to destruction, the draft, and all that? Plus, such thoughts seem to play into the hands of Armageddon lovers in other lands that would evidently oppose us. I feel that “be careful what you wish for” would be wise advice on this subject. In fact, you could say that a solemn, if unspoken duty of a leader of the free world is to AVOID World War III.
    Besides, if the run-up to the Iraq war was any evidence, who knows what sort of coalition of nations would join us in such a War. The whole concept is outmoded; our opponents seem to find localized struggles and “surgical strikes” far more effective than the total war notion that the pre-Rumsfeld US military may be more comfortable with. That may be Gingrich’s one valuable insight, though probably unintended.

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