New Gingrich, the ex speaker of the House of Representative has an article on the Guardian Web site where he argues that the third world war has begun. He makes the following argument, "The nature of the threat - with Iran at the epicenter - is at its core ideological. The ideological wing of Islam that is irreconcilable to modern civilization. And while not operationally connected, the events of just the last seven weeks throughout the world share the common strategic goal of defeating the West and its values. It could be accurately described as a third world war."
- I am reluctant to buy the idea that we are in the midst of a third world war because I believe that thinking about the current struggle against terrorism and against ideologies which support it in terms of war is a grave mistake because it is in my opinion impossible to use war, force, and violence to defeat terrorism. The fight against terrorism is most of all a battle of wills and of ideas. Too many people in the world today believe that violence, that killing to achieve political and religious objectives is justified. I don't believe that it is going to be possible to stop the spread of the idea that violence is an acceptable means by fighting them and by eradicating them from this earth. To fight terrorism and radicalism, we have learned more about those who believe in violence, know about the way they think, to engage them, and to do everything that we can to stop them before they strike.
- It is because I don't believe that the fight against terrorism is a battle between good and evil that I don't believe that the primary way to fight it should be the use of force. The most dangerous aspect of radicalism is that it is infectious and thus spreads very quickly when it is not confronted by other ideas. Two ago, on CNN, Nick Robertson, one of the foreign correspondents in Beirut interviewed a young Lebanese who was showing him the ruins of his country and was saying with passion that they would never surrender and that they were going to hit back Israel. What do you do against such young people? Do you eliminate them hoping that they are just bad seeds which will contaminate the rest of the population or do you find a way to engage them not necessarily to change their minds, but to show other youths who are close from becoming radicals that dialogue is possible and that violence isn't their only means to take control of their future.
- It is possible that I am naive and that I don't know much about terrorism. However, I believe that sometimes, naiveté is a good thing because it brings with it the optimism and the commitment necessary to change the world. I think that the mistake of those who like Newt Gingrich believe that the third world war has begun and that the free world has no choice but to fight this war and to win it is that they have a Hobbsian view of the war and that they still believe that we live in times where might makes right. Because of globalization, the weak and the radicals have a voice and are able to be heard by millions of people who because they are resentful of the lack of control, which they have on their lives are choosing to believe that by blowing themselves and others up they will give their lives meaning. The United States and the people who are fighting against terrorism aren't going to win because they are more weapons and a strong military; they are going to win because they have the better and more inclusive ideals.
- More than thirty years, Albert Camus wrote an excellent essay, L’Homme Révolté,(the Rebel), which I believe should become a required reading for the leaders of today and of tomorrow. In that essay, he made the argument that most rebellions become violent and that they are destined to fail and that human beings in order to survive had to refuse to become gods and to accept their humanity. The fight against terrorism isn't a clash of civilizations, it is a struggle between those who want to become gods and those who argue that because we are all humans, we have to respect each other and to accept that to kill is useless because it does not bring meaning, value into the world, but nothingness.