I picked up Norman Podhoretz's new book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, a couple of days ago. Once I started it, it was hard to put it down for such mundane reasons as going to work or sleeping. In one word, it's brilliant.
If you are like me, you get so confused by all the screaming about the war in Iraq -- especially by critics who actually seem to want America to fail -- that you've lost sight of how and why we got there. Podhoretz brings his considerable knowledge of history and politics to the discussion, and reveals his conviction that 9/11 marked the beginning of World War IV (the Cold War was WW III). In the book, he details why this is going to be a decades-long struggle -- a struggle which America (and the world) cannot afford to lose.
If for no other reason, the book is worth reading for its clear, succinct summary of various "doctrines" that have guided American foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson's days -- and the reasoning behind each, based on the historical realities of the era. Podhoretz also gives the clearest summary of the Bush Doctrine that I've seen anywhere. Certainly, people are free to think the Bush Doctrine is wrong; but after reading this book, they will at least understand why and how 9/11 changed President Bush's view of the world and forced him to recognize America's duty to directly confront the threat of Islamofascism rather than passively waiting for more attacks.
Along the way, he writes about the failure of our country (under Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2) to understand the early terrorist attacks, the intelligence reports regarding WMDs, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Joe Wilson/Valarie Plame, the blame-America-firsters, the anti-war protesters, the roots of European anti-Americanism, Michael Moore and George Soros, the mistakes we've made in Iraq (but which have been blown out of proportion by a hostile media), and the Arab response to the Bush Doctrine (both positive and negative).
Since we're heading into an election year, where debates about the war in Iraq and the war on terror will likely loom large, I encourage everyone to read this book. It will give you a thoughtful, grounded understanding of the issues -- something we are not going to get if we only listen to the mainstream news media.