A Third World War

Like you, I spent the past week viewing the events in the Middle East with growing concern. In the 13 weeks that I have been bringing you my thoughts in Winning the Future, I have shared with you directly many challenges facing us. But no challenge confronting America is greater than the one I am writing about today. And no challenge requires us to be more candid and more direct about what victory will require.

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As I talked about yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” I am now firmly convinced that the world confronts a situation that is frighteningly similar to a Third World War, one every bit as serious and dangerous as the two great conflicts of the 20th Century.

The recent attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel — with the active political, financial and military support of Iran and Syria — are just the latest acts in this war. It is a war that pits civilization and the rule of law against the dictatorships of Iran and Syria and the terrorist groups of Hezbollah and Hamas that they support. It is also a war that pits civilized nations against Islamic terrorist groups around the world, including, most significantly (but not exclusively), the al Qaeda network.

In the United States, we refer to this struggle as the “Global War on Terror”. Yet, I believe this label fails to capture the nature and scale of the threat faced by civilization.

The nature of the threat — with Iran at the epicenter — is at its core ideological. The threat to the United States is an ideological wing of Islam that is irreconcilable to modern civilization as we know it throughout most of the world. The United States and her allies face a long war with this irreconcilable wing of Islam.

While I have addressed the nature of this threat before, I believe the deadly attacks that have recently been carried out across the globe and the plots of mass murder that have been uncovered recently in our own country and abroad reflect a scale of challenge much larger than we currently recognize. So much so that I think an analogy to the two world wars of the last century more accurately explains where we find ourselves today.

The Iran-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas Terrorist Alliance

It is necessary to connect the dots to understand the scale of the challenge we face. These are not isolated events: Whether operationally connected or not, these attackers and plotters are connected in their ultimate aim to destroy the values of freedom, security and religious liberty that sustain civilization in the modern age.

Here’s a list of the attacks, provocative acts and uncovered plots that have occurred in just the past seven weeks:

  • An Iran-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist alliance is waging war against Israel in both southern Lebanon and Gaza. Hezbollah has launched more than 1,000 rockets into northern Israel in the past few days alone.
  • Seven bombings in Mumbai, India, killed more than 200 people.
  • North Korea, which is in public contact with Iran, launched seven missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the West coast of the continental United States, in deliberate contempt of repeated warnings from the American and Japanese governments and the United Nations Security Council.
  • Seven Americans were seen on video tape in Miami pledging allegiance to al Qaeda.
  • A plot to bomb New York City subways and tunnels was discovered.
  • Eighteen Canadians, plotting terror, were arrested with twice the explosive force used in the Oklahoma City bombing and a plan to blow up the Canadian parliament.
  • The British government reported that it has uncovered more than 20 “major conspiracies” by Islamic terrorists, and as many as 1,200 potential terrorists now live in the United Kingdom.

This is only a recent list. It is in addition to the deadly bombings we witness on an almost daily basis in Baghdad, and previous attacks in New York, Washington, London, Madrid, Bali, Beslan, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Sharm-el-Sheikh, New Delhi, Amman and many other cities.

Are We For Civilization or Appeasement?

Some actions are clarifying because they force people — and nations — to choose sides. The increasing number of attacks, provocations, and plots of this Third World War similarly force us to make a decision. We must have a national debate — indeed, a worldwide debate — between those of us who believe we’re in a war to defend civilization (and therefore must defeat terrorists and their state sponsors) and those who are made uncomfortable by the price of defeating terrorists and their state sponsors.

This is a fundamental choice upon which will hinge our future liberties and possibly our very lives. New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin described the war like this:

“While it is often a war of loose or no affiliation, and sometimes just amateur copycats, the similar goals of destruction add up to a threat against modern society. … Islamic fascists are the driving force, but anti-American hatred is a global membership card for any and all who have a grievance and a gun.”

So which are we for? Defending civilization and America? Or making excuses for those who threaten us and burying our heads in the sand?

What Can We Do?

I think the answer is clear. The duty of civilized, law-abiding nations is to win this war. Anything less than victory sends the message that our terrorist enemies and their state sponsors have the time to develop the strength to do us incalculable harm. Anything less than victory threatens the very survival of the rule of law and freedom as we have known it.

Winning four arguments are essential to winning this Third World War. I urge each of you to take the time to make these points to your friends and neighbors who may not yet recognize the nature and scale of this war, or who are tempted by the dangerous allure of appeasement.

  1. It’s Us Versus Them: The American people and free people everywhere must come to recognize that we are in a world war that pits civilization against terrorists and their state sponsors who wish to impose a new dark age — with them in charge. Everything our leaders do must be judged by whether it helps or hurts us in defeating terrorists and their state sponsors.
  2. Connect the Dots, Then Connect Them Again: We must consistently emphasize that the deadly attacks and threats of destruction we see worldwide are connected.

    The bombings in India relate to attacks on Israel. Iran’s erecting a statue of the favorite hero (Simon Bolivar) of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez — in a gesture of alliance — is linked to the Chavez-Castro efforts to weaken America. Suicide bombings in Iraq are linked to efforts to kill thousands of innocent civilians in Canada and New York City.

    And on and on it goes.

  3. Stand and Deliver: We must take every possible opportunity to engage in arguments and efforts that educate people about the nature of the war and the enormous challenge it will be to defeat terrorists and their state sponsors who are committed to our destruction.
  4. Be Honest About the Challenges Ahead: Many things in this Third World War will be very hard. When there have been more than 800 suicide bombers in Iraq alone and several thousand over the last decade worldwide, there is a serious crisis of civilization. We must convince the American people and our allies across the world that fighting this fight is hard but necessary and unavoidable. Losing to the murderous terrorists and their state sponsors who threaten us would be far harder.

In his magnificent book about Abraham Lincoln, The Eloquent President, Ronald White writes that Lincoln proved that “words are actions” — that people cannot be led until they are first persuaded. Lincoln is an example for our leaders, and for all of us who care about the survival of American civilization. Like him, we must be clear in our thoughts, candid in our words, and rock solid in our resolve. It is up to us first to prove that in this Third World War “words are actions.” And then it is up to us to win.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich

P.S. — In previous issues, I have described the situation with the the Mt. Soledad Cross near San Diego and how a federal court has ordered that the cross be taken down. Two weeks ago, on Independence Day, I wrote about Michael Martino who was killed in action last November in Iraq when his Cobra helicopter was shot down by the enemy. Members of Captain Michael Martino’s Camp Pendleton unit dedicated a plaque in his honor at the Mt. Soledad Memorial and how on that day of dedication, more than 300 Marines stood in line for more than three hours to pay their respects to Michael Martino’s parents.

Earlier this week his parents sent me an email. With their permission, I wanted to share with you what they wrote.

“Please pass our sincere thanks to Speaker Gingrich for pointing out the underlying issues of freedom that our son, Captain Michael D. Martino, died to preserve. Our son believed deeply that our country was not only under attack from Islamic forces that were determined to destroy us, but also from within, by those that would strip away all vestiges of religion from our landscape. The cross at Mount Soledad is just the latest battle in the war to strip the majority of Americans of their right to religious expression. The dedication of a plaque to our son at Mount Soledad was meant as a tribute to his service in defense of freedom made by his fellow Marines. I cannot put into words the emotion we felt at that dedication ceremony. To know our son would be honored under that cross overlooking the beautiful countryside that he dedicated his life to preserve was comforting to our family.

“We were shocked and dismayed to find out later that day that a court had ruled to remove that cross. It became apparent to us that this was not only a dishonor to our son, but to all those other service men and women who are honored there. Our son can no longer fight to preserve our freedoms, but I know he would support us fighting for this issue. It became up to us to take up the cause of our freedom anyway we can. I urge all Americans to do the same.

“Again thank you for your support by informing your readers about the Mount Soledad issue.”

Robert A. Martino & Sybil E. Martino

Ask Newt

Each week, this newsletter features questions from its readers. Have a question? Send an email to Newt at

What this country needs is a clear concise guideline, as with your prior Contract with America. Will you be releasing a new “contract” … of what is necessary to guide this Great Nation into the future?

—Brad B.
San Diego, Calif.

Brad, it just so happens that (well, I was hoping someone would ask) the new paperback edition of Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America is being released today. It has a new introduction and four new chapters since the release of the hardback edition last year. The new chapters are: “Patriotic Immigration,” “21st Century Executive Branch,” “21st Century Congress,” and “Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution.”

In Winning the Future, I lay out a new 10-point Contract with America that focuses on securing America and her allies by defeating our enemies, defending God in the public square, protecting America’s unique civilization, competing and winning in a global economy, and promoting active, healthy aging.

So Brad thanks for giving me an excuse to share the news about the paperback release of Winning the Future. For me, to “win the future” means that we must chart a course, as Ronald Reagan once said, that “will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on this earth.” I hope you and others will find Winning the Future a useful handbook in our common efforts to create an America that is stronger and more prosperous, and with more opportunities than the America we have inherited from our parents and grandparents.

Click here for a free chapter from Regnery Publishing and click here to order it from


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