Is This World War III?

The David Horowitz Freedom Center recently held its inaugural event under its new name. The Washington, D.C., forum brought together an impressive list of commentators and reintroduced the audience to the Freedom Center’s objectives and programs. Formerly known as the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, author Buzz Patterson joked that they didn’t think the left could attack it because it had the phrase “popular culture” in the title. It was announced that evening that Patterson, along with Peter Collier, the former publisher of Encounter Books, would be joining the Freedom Center as vice president and chief operating officer, respectively.

Before the forum began, Horowitz described his group, as he often does, as a battle tank rather than a think tank. Judging by the two strapping bodyguards in the room, it is a well-guarded operation. He is also fortunate to have many other soldiers of freedom on his side and in attendance, including several dozen students from the nearby George Washington University, political guru Michael Barone, Suzanne Fields and Stacey McCain of the Washington Times, and Islam expert and author Robert Spencer.

The question at hand that evening was “Is This World War III?” Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan Administration and currently a senior fellow at the Center of American Progress, made a few patronizing points against calling the Global War on Terrorism a world war. He also took issue with calling it a “global war” on terrorism because it “makes the threat larger than it is.” He said, “Yes, we have threats, but let’s not get carried away.” Just a few blocks away, Camp Democracy, a makeshift village of idiots protesting the war, was surely missing a camping buddy. (As a side note, I drove by this “camp” twice last week after dark and could see no overnight campers.) Korb concluded by saying, “Whatever you call it … we’re losing it.” Ah, the Battle Cry of the Democrats.

Next on the panel, columnist Christopher Hitchens spoke to a captive audience on why we are, indeed, engaged in a world war. Hitchens began with this observation, “Most of the people I know were weary of war by the afternoon of September 11.” Throughout his remarks he remained soft-spoken, but it didn’t matter because the audience hung on his every word. When the moderator, talk radio host Alan Nathan, announced that Hitchens had one minute left to speak, a collective “Aww…” echoed throughout the room. He concluded that we must “defend the ideas of a secular Constitution.” With his rapier wit in full-effect, he added, “It’s a pleasure and a duty to kill these people.”

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal was bogged down in the semantics of war name-calling. Stephens’ suggestion was “Muslim War or Wars” because “our goal is to get Muslim societies to reform themselves.” To be sure (the most pretentious phrase ever), we are at war with Islamo-fascists and such a reminder came from an Iranian Muslim woman in the audience who said the Iranian people do not support the current regime there and her jihad is with Islam. She said the United States should take its case directly to the Iranian people.

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol closed out the panel saying that he was neutral on naming the war, but more concerned with fighting it. Kristol said, “The greatest fallacy is that [terrorists from different factions] don’t work with one another. … Competition and support are both dangerous.”

The Q&A portion (more Hitchens!) closed out the evening and the audience scattered to catch a few extra minutes with the panelists and network (open bar!) with other attendees. Horowitz and coauthor Richard Poe signed copies of their book, “The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party.” After getting my book signed, I saddled up with one of the bodyguards, who informed me that attendee Robert Spencer was named as a threat to Islam in a recent al Qaeda video. I’d say that’s something to be proud of. At the top of my list of proud moments is being called “just as vicious” as Ann Coulter.

Whether we are engaged in World War III may not have been definitively answered that night, but Hitchens offered up the best reason for continuing the war — “We can not let the wrong side win.” Now that’s a battle cry worth following.