Podhoretz: World War IV

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[Hat tip to Ira Stoll @ The New York Sun]

The journalistic category of war correspondence evokes images of dashing young men in flak jackets and muddy combat boots, dodging bullets and hitching rides in jeeps. It is a measure of how different the current war is that one of our finest war reporters turns out to be a 77-year-old grandfather who does most of his reporting in Manhattan rather than from Kabul or Baghdad.

It’s not that Norman Podhoretz hasn’t seen attacks firsthand. The morning of September 11, 2001, he was serving jury duty on Centre Street and was out on the street as the second tower collapsed. His great skill, though, is as a reporter of the war of ideas, one of the hottest fronts in the conflict described by Mr. Podhoretz with the title of his latest book, “World War IV” ( Doubleday, 224 pages, $24.95).

It’s a slim volume built to a large degree on his essays about the war in Commentary, but even those of us who are readers of the magazine and followers of the war will find in it new insights. Mr. Podhoretz has a clear idea of our enemies in Al Qaeda and the other Islamofascist forces and of their goals, but where he really shines is in his assessments of their sympathizers in the West.

He quotes the wonderful descriptions by Nick Cohen of the London Observer of the antiwar marches throughout Europe in 2003: “About a million liberal-minded people marched through London to oppose the overthrow of a fascist regime… In Madrid, about 650,000 marched to oppose the overthrow of a fascist regime.” All told, throughout Europe, “millions, maybe tens of millions, had marched to keep a fascist regime in power.”

Mr. Podhoretz quotes the Italian playwright Dario Fo, a Nobel laureate, as minimizing the attacks of September 11 by writing, “The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty– so what is 20,000 [sic] dead in New York?” Mr. Podhoretz quotes a professor of classics at Cambridge University, Mary Beard, as saying of September 11, “the United States had it coming.”

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