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World War III is flickering while the world sleeps

Right after Christmas, the Italian prime minister confirmed that terrorists had planned to attack the Vatican on Christmas Eve. I wasn't surprised. It confirmed what I'd learned during my trip to Israel in November: Islamic fundamentalists have declared war on the western world.
“Someday they will hit the Eiffel Tower,” one Israeli had told me. “Then maybe Europe will wake up.”
If Europe is sleeping, so is America. I arrived home from Israel to find America agog over Michael Jackson. I’d been in a hot spot where terrorists lurk, where fences are rising in self-defense, where my life was at risk, and I came home to find a nation hypnotized by an aging, freaky pop star. It confirmed what I’d sensed after two weeks in South Africa last March: America is dangerously isolated and strangely naive.
I keep waiting for the Democrats to address these issues before the Iowa caucuses, but they don’t. They’re bickering over race and the economy. Sure, Dennis Kucinich has proposed a Department of Peace, but what the heck is that? Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, giddy Islamic fundamentalists are plotting attacks on the West. I came home afraid for the world.
I thought I’d seen the real world in South Africa, which is still floundering after apartheid and collectively dying of AIDS. South Africans pleaded with me to ask President Bush to save neighboring Zimbabwe from its dictator, who is murdering whites, confiscating farms and letting citizens starve. That was eye-opening enough; but then I went to Israel.
The crisis in Israel extends far beyond Yasir Arafat. Not only is Israel’s future at stake, but that intifada is part of a larger explosion in the Middle East, where free-wheeling western values are colliding with rigid Arab ones. Israel is a lonely democracy adrift in a furious sea of dictatorships.
In Israel, several people, all independent of each other, warned me of an approaching apocalypse. They see it coming.
One of them was Itamar Marcus, founder of Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors TV and Internet broadcasts inside Arab nations. Marcus, a native New Yorker who has testified before the U.S. Senate, bluntly told me that Islamic fundamentalists are preparing for war with the West.
The fundamentalists hate “the triumvirate” of the U.S., Great Britain and Israel, he said. They remind their people that Napoleon fell, Rome fell, and that the U.S. will fall, too. Marcus said these zealots are evil at the core.
“They are too evil to realize that most Americans are basically good people, that we don’t have evil intentions,” Marcus said. “This is a culture that raises its young to be suicide bombers.”
That theme picked up a few days later during a three-day Negev Desert sojourn with Alfonso Nussbaumer. Nussbaumer, 64, is not only a tough desert guide; he also trains snipers for the Israeli military. He teaches desert survival to soldiers from all over the world, including Americans. He has assisted on dangerous search-and-rescue missions in Zimbabwe, Colombia and China.
“Weapons of mass destruction? Of course Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction!” Nussbaumer insisted, stretching his arms out as if embracing the empty Negev Desert. “Look at this vast land! There is so much room to hide them! Nobody will ever find them! Then he slaughtered all the people who had anything to do with making them.”
Nussbaumer also said that President George Bush should have taken out Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War because after that war, Hussein slaughtered all pro-American Iraqis.
Nussbaumer warned that a global conflict with Islamic fundamentalists is brewing: “They don't care if they take us all back to the 16th century.”
He also said that terrorism has made the conventional Army obsolete. “How do we fight it?” I asked?
“Counter-terrorism,” he replied.
In speaking with Marcus, I’d asked him why the Islam world doesn’t rise up against its militant brethren. He said, “They are afraid.”
A chill went through me. If militant Christians hijacked a jet and slammed it into one of the world’s landmarks and slaughtered thousands, I would hope the rest of the Christian world stand up. Ditto for Jews if one of theirs had demolished the WTC in the name of religion. If the rest of the Muslim world is afraid to speak up, the implications are terrifying.
Nussbaumer doesn’t fear that a global conflict is coming. He knows it is. He pointed out that France is now 20 percent Muslim. Muslim numbers are up in Britain. Most Muslims, of course, simply want to live quiet lives; but if they can’t control their radicals, the West is in trouble.
“Bush and Tony Blair are the only world leaders who get it,” Nussbaumer said. Yet the week I was overseas, thousands of Britons protested the two of them in London.
“Britain is asleep,” Nussbaumer said, shaking his head. “The world is asleep.”
I don’t want to know what Howard Dean and John Kerry are going to do to save Social Security. I want to know what they’re going to do about America in the post-9/11 world.

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