Mike Huckabee’s first notable contribution to the presidential campaign was to declare World War III. It is a war to the death with a pagan religion, he told businessmen in New Hampshire, and it is far more important that we win it than it was to win either of the first two world conflicts. Anything less than a resounding victory in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East will spell the end of the United States, he said.
Our former governor actually said that the United States could have afforded to lose World War I or II because it would merely have lost “some land and some geopolitical influence.” But losing the current war means “we give up our own lives, because no less than that is the goal of the jihadists.”
Let us hope that Huckabee’s political instincts are no more dependable than his knowledge or else we are in for even more trouble than George W. Bush has already got us in. If his war-of-the-worlds trope gains Huckabee any traction, even in the hapless scramble for headway in the Republican race, it will be an unnerving development. Worse, it could embolden Bush and Cheney to do what they already want to do, bomb Iran into the Stone Age and enter us into the lists of the real World War III.
Whether Huckabee’s daffy remarks about being in the third world war gave him a leg up in the competition to be the religious right’s main man, which is his goal, it is impossible to say. The only immediate reaction was joyful razzing by bloggers. Losing to Hitler and Tojo would have lost us only some land and influence?
The notion of a world war with Islam is not original with Mike Huckabee. President Bush once said that World War III began with the struggle of passengers with the terrorists on hijacked Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11. Newt Gingrich, himself not yet a declared candidate, has been talking up the third world war for a year. “This is, in fact, World War III,” he told Tim Russert on Meet the Press. Sen. John McCain has used World War III from time to time as a metaphor for the campaign against terrorism but not so boldly as Huckabee.
Gingrich urged that declaration on the administration as a political strategy for the ’06 elections. The minute that the president calls the battles in the Middle East “World War III,” Gingrich argued, popular support for the war cranks up and all the calls for restraint by American forces and Israel stop. Bush would not do it, and a former Arkansas governor’s calling it that is not the same thing.
Huckabee’s idea that we are in the most decisive clash of Western civilization had some traction when Bush took us to war because that conceit was necessary to persuade the country of the wisdom of invading Iraq. Men lose their senses in herds and reclaim them one by one, and that has been happening with the war.
It was necessary for the country to believe that the 9/11 attacks were not the work of a few religious fanatics driven by rage over American military presence on holy soil in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait but of a monolithic power that spread across the region and was seated in Iraq, and now Iran. But people now know that the Iraq war begat what had not previously existed, a seething resentment of America that spreads across the Muslim world.
Vanquishing those legions will take a few well-placed nuclear bombs or else steps that show that we have no desire to control them, such as by removing troops from the region.
But the millennialists who are pushing the country to war with Iran and WWIII, who apparently include Huckabee, would take the first option.
They include Texas televangelist John Hagee, who is leading a campaign by religious conservatives to push the country into war with Iran.
War with Iran, you see, is necessary to fulfill biblical prophecy and move the world swiftly toward the end days. We must attack Iran to fulfill God’s plan for the world.
Hagee published a best-selling book on Armageddon, “Jerusalem Countdown,” and his international television program and lobbying have brought mega churches on board. His lobbying effort is called Christians United for Israel. He says Iran is only a few months away from having a nuclear arsenal although every international expert says that if Iran is indeed seeking nuclear weapons it is years away.
Here is the best we can hope for: Hagee’s Armageddonists will have to settle on Mike Huckabee as their candidate for president. He would go on the A list of Huckabee supporters with Tom DeLay and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, co-chair of the congressional wing of his exploratory campaign and a close consort of Jack Abramoff in the Indian gaming scandal.