Friday, July 21, 2006

Now isn't the time for restraint

Newt Gingrich, USA Today:
Imagine that this morning 50 missiles were launched from Cuba and exploded in Miami. In addition to buildings and homes being destroyed, scores of Americans were being killed. Now imagine our allies responded by saying publicly that we must not be too aggressive in protecting our citizens and that America must use the utmost restraint. READ MORE

Our history shows us that we, as Americans, would reject such bad advice. After all, we have never reacted to a direct attack on our soil with any restraint. Every time America has been attacked by an enemy, we set about defeating it and ending the threat.

This was true of Pearl Harbor in World War II, after which we replaced the imperial Japanese government. The regimes of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy met the same demise. Without actually being attacked, President Kennedy risked nuclear war to eliminate the threat of Soviet missiles in Cuba. After the 9/11 attacks, we replaced the Taliban in Afghanistan once it became known that they were providing refuge for the al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the attack. This is our history as Americans. We believe that our government has a duty to protect us.

When compared with U.S. history lessons, the advice of the Group of Eight industrial nations to Israel is wrong. The communiqué says the No. 1 priority is a cease-fire that would effectively leave Hezbollah in possession of all its rockets. We'd never accept such advice for ourselves. The Israelis should not accept it for the same reasons: It would not end the threat.

Israel, a fellow democracy, has the same duty and right to protect its citizens from enemy attack. It is doing so while making every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The Israeli response is wholly justified based on a history where Israeli concessions to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist alliance have consistently resulted in their enemies preparing for the next attack. The terrorists have been attacking with increased capability, brutality and violence aimed at civilians. This is only the latest cycle in an ongoing 58-year campaign to destroy Israel.

In 2000, the Israelis withdrew from southern Lebanon, creating an opportunity for peace. Instead of peace, for six years Iran, Syria and Hezbollah moved more than 10,000 missiles into the vacated area. More recently, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza to provide another circumstance for peace and an opportunity for a self-governing Palestinian people to work toward creating a place of prosperity, but instead Hamas created a place of terror. Now Israel is the target of more than 1,000 missiles from both Gaza and southern Lebanon in the past week alone.

Iranian involvement is not in question. There are at least 100 Iranian guards in southern Lebanon. Apparently, it was an Iranian missile fired with Iranian know-how that hit an Israeli warship. Because Hezbollah and Hamas are waging war against Israel as proxies for Syria and Iran, the United States should announce that we support Israel's effort to remove every one of the thousands of missiles in southern Lebanon, and that we will decisively stop any effort by Syria and Iran to intervene.

United Nations Resolution 1559, supported by the European Union, called for Hezbollah to be disarmed. If not now, when? If not by the Israelis, who? The G8 advice, if taken, would only guarantee the cycle of violence. The terrorist alliance must be destroyed or it will be rebuilt with more dangerous capabilities. The appeals for an Israeli cease-fire, if heeded, will enable Israel's enemies to re-lay the groundwork for yet another violent campaign for what has been a nearly six-decade episode with the sole objective of destroying Israel.

The key steps to ending the violence in Lebanon first requires recognizing that Hezbollah in its military form must be eliminated, that the 100-plus Iranian guard in southern Lebanon must be removed and that the allowing of the Syrian and Iranian dictatorships to supply, train and equip the terrorists must be stopped.

To do that, the United States should offer to help strengthen the Lebanese government so that it has the ability to re-establish itself in all of Lebanon and defeat the military wing of Hezbollah. We should encourage the Israelis to work with the Lebanese government to eliminate the thousands of missiles within its borders that threaten Israel. Finally, Iran and Syria must be forced to cease their support of Hezbollah and Hamas by the United States communicating to them such dire consequences that they could not sustain the relationships. And then we should be prepared, if necessary, to impose those consequences.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America.