Executive Times






2007 Book Reviews



World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism by Norman Podhoretz








Click on title or picture to buy from amazon.com






Neoconservative stalwart Norman Podhoretz delivers a passionate defense of current American foreign policy in his new book World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. Podhoretz argues that the cold war was World War III, and we are now engaged in a lengthy battle against Islamofascism, one part of which is the war in Iraq. Both opponents and advocates of ending the war in Iraq quickly may reconsider their positions after reading World War IV. Here’s an excerpt, from the beginning of Chapter 4, “From World War III to World War IV,” pp. 69-71:

Both as a theoretical construct and as a guide to policy, the new Bush Doctrine could not have been further from the "Vietnam syndrome"the loss of self-confidence and the concomitant spread of neo-isolationist and pacifist sentiment throughout the American body politic, and most prominently into the elite institutions of American culture, that began during the last years of the Vietnam War. I have already pointed to a like­ness between the Truman Doctrine's declaration that World War III had started and the Bush Doctrine's equally portentous decla­ration that 9/11 had plunged us into World War IV. But fully to measure the distance traveled by the Bush Doctrine, I want to look now at the other presidential doctrines that preceded it, be­ginning with the one developed by Richard Nixon in the late 1960s precisely in response to the Vietnam syndrome.

Contrary to legend, our military intervention in Vietnam un­der John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s, far from being unpopu­lar, was backed by every sector of mainstream opinion as a legitimate application of containment. In such bastions of the old foreign policy establishment as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution, and in periodicals like the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, and Newsweek, the consensus was that saving South Vietnam from a Communist takeover was a vital interest of the United States. The prevailing attitude was perfectly expressed in a Times editorial under the headline, “Prospects in Vietnam." It began by speaking of "Communist aggres­sion" against South Vietnam that had been "launched as a cal­culated and deliberate operation by the Communist leaders of the North" and ended with the admonition that "Free World forces. . . still have a chance in South Vietnam, and every effort should be made to save the situation." Even as late as 1965, when the originally minuscule antiwar movement was beginning to pick up steam, David Halberstam, who had been the Times corre­spondent in Vietnam in the early days and would subsequently write in derisive and contemptuous terms about the American in­volvement there, still believed that

Vietnam is a legitimate part of the (U.S.) global commitment .. . perhaps one of only five or six nations of the world that is truly ital to U.S. interests.

At least up until 1965, indeed, virtually the only criticism from the mainstream concerned such tactical issues as how best to fight the new kind of war Vietnam represented. But with Lyndon B. Johnson having succeeded Kennedy in the White House, doubts began to arise about the political wisdom of the intervention: was it perhaps "the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time"—an unwise extension of containment to a situation for which it had not been designed and to a region in which it did not apply? What, however, would turn out to be more decisive than doubts like these were the questions that were being asked within ever-widening circles of the intellectual community. These questions were not about whether the war was being conducted effec­tively or whether it really did represent a proper application of containment; they were about whether we had any right to fight all.

No sooner asked than answered: to the writers and academics and the student radicals who were raising these questions, what the United States was doing in Vietnam was immoral at best, and positively evil at worst. With few exceptions, even those in the antiwar camp who dissociated themselves from the view that the Communists deserved to win and that "Amerika"—as the radicals took to spelling the name in order to suggest an association with Nazi Germany—was waging a criminal war did so not because they were outraged by this kind of talk but because it "gave the movement a bad name" and made it difficult to recruit "ordinary people" into its ranks.

Nevertheless, by the time Richard Nixon had replaced Johnson in 1968, a surprisingly large number of "ordinary people"—even if not large enough to prevail at the polls—had successfully been recruited. Even more surprisingly, most of the not-so-ordinary people who had led the country into Vietnam were now scurrying to join the antiwar parade and even to get to the head of it. Most of them justified this turnabout by claiming that, thanks to Johnson's blunders, the war could no longer be won, but there were others who, while still pretending that Kennedy's decision to intervene had not been a folly, went all the way with the radicals in proclaiming that under Johnson it had grown into a crime.

To this new political reality the Nixon Doctrine was a reluctant accommodation. As going into Vietnam under the aegis of con­tainment had worked to undermine support for that strategy, Nixon—along with his chief adviser in foreign affairs, Henry Kissinger—thought that getting out of Vietnam could, if man­aged in the right way, conversely work to create the new strategy that had become necessary.

World War IV is a provocative book, often rife with political sniping, and with a message that many will find hard to swallow: our current path will take a long time to reach an end.


Steve Hopkins, October 25, 2007



 Buy World War IV @ amazon.com

Go To Hopkins & Company Homepage



Go to 2007 Book Shelf

Go to Executive Times Archives


Go to The Big Book Shelf: All Reviews





*    2007 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the November 2007 issue of Executive Times


URL for this review: ttp://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/Books/World War IV.htm


For Reprint Permission, Contact:

Hopkins & Company, LLC • 723 North Kenilworth AvenueOak Park, IL 60302
Phone: 708-466-4650 • Fax: 708-386-8687

E-mail: books@hopkinsandcompany.com