This one goes back a few years…
Back in July 2002, Newt Gingrich and Christopher Hitchens appeared together on an episode of Uncommon Knowledge to discuss how best to define & describe the “War on Terrorism”. Hitch and Newt largely agreed on most things, and they both had some interesting things to say, points well made, but it is what Newt had to say that I want to focus on.
Newt: “I think [the Bush Administration is] mis-defining the war, because it’s a war with a force that is much larger than just terrorism…. [The term] is also too narrow, by Bush’s own definitions, because the other thing that we have been awakened to from September 11 is that there are acts which can occur that are so horrifying that containment is not an adequate solution, and you have to start thinking preemption. Those acts are only tangentially related to terror organizations.”
The host/moderator, Peter Robinson, suggested that we — particularly, our leaders in Washington — should be clearer about who & what we are at war with: namely, as Lou Dobbs put it, “War against Islamists.” Hitchens agreed in principle but preferred his own term of “theocratic fascism”. Newt also agreed but then expounded a bit…
Newt: “You’re talking, really, about a particular subset of Islam. I mean, I prefer ‘reactionary Islam.’ It’s the Wahabis and, to a lesser extent, it’s the Ayatollah brand of Shia Islam. But, those two groups together — and the Wahabis are far more dangerous — clearly have a worldwide, confrontational goal of financing schools, creating a network of terror, and being dedicated to the destruction of their opponents by violence.”
Robinson: “And the Administration should say so.”
Newt: “I couldn’t agree more. I think the world would be much healthier if we said, ‘We are totally committed to defending the rights of every Muslim who is peaceful, and we are totally committed to destroying those people who are joined together in a conspiracy of hate.'”