McCain, Vietnam and Islam Fundamentalism

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an op-ed by John McCain, which is very telling and should give us some insights into the way some of Israel’s enemies think, and how the Islamic fundamentalists think.

The op-ed “He Beat US in War but Never in Battle” is about the North-Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, who died last week at the age of 102.

Gen. Giap had to his credit the defeat of both the French and the Americans. He was instrumental in ending the French colonial rule of Vietnam, and after that, repealing the Americans’ attempt to impede the communist from advancing in Vietnam.

As McCain writes, Giap’s success formula was his “unwavering resolve to suffer immense casualties and the near destruction of their country to defeat any adversary, no matter how powerful.”

And so, McCain goes on to say “The U.S. never lost a battle against North Vietnam, but it lost the war”.

This should be a stern warning not just to Israel, but to the entire Western civilization when it comes to dealing with the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. In Israel’s case, the threat is two-fold as in addition to Islamic fundamentalism there’s the constant threat of authoritarian regimes that will not recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State.

For quite some time – and we can still see it happening today – many politicians and analysts from different parts of the world referred to the “Middle East linkage doctrine”: “solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and this will be a key step in resolving the broader Middle eastern issues.”

The so-called Arab spring not only showed us the fallacy of that doctrine, but it also unveiled in a very clear way a big internal dispute going on in the Arab world between Islamic fundamentalism and “the others”. Why “the others”? Because in this big bag we can include groups with different interests: the secular Arabs, Bashar El-Assad’s regime, the military in Egypt, etc…. They all have one common enemy: Islamic fundamentalism. And as it happens, it is an enemy that also opposes the basic tenets of the Western civilization.

However, those internal disputes have shown, and continue showing that neither sides have any limits to “their resolve to suffer immense casualties to defeat any adversary”. This is where the danger lies to both Israel and the Western world.

So let me suggest that the linkage goes the other way around: the Western world needs to recognize that we are indeed seeing a clash of ideologies, or civilizations as Samuel Huntington put it in his book published 16 years ago, and that by taking a resolute and decisive approach against the regimes that support Islamic fundamentalism we can win this war, including ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Once the resources are diminished or removed from radicals that preach Islamization of the world and that see Israel as an outsider state in a region that should be all Islamic, chances will substantially increase for the West to win this war.

In this context, the United States leaders should stand firm and pay close attention to another point that McCain makes is his article: “Countries, not just their armies, win wars. Giap understood that. We didn’t. Americans got tired of the dying and the killing before the Vietnamese did”.

The West is fighting an ideological war. Within this ideological war, Israel is fighting for it’s existence.

There’s too much at risk to be tired of fighting this war. Israel understands it. Does the West understand?


About the Author
Max Blankfeld is a Houston based entrepreneur and pro-Israel activist; Born in Germany, he moved at the age of 2 to Brazil, where destiny took his parents who were Holocaust survivors; From 1970 to 1976 he studied at the Technion and Tel Aviv University, and was a stringer for Brazilian newspapers; Upon his return to Brazil he was the local correspondent for Yedioth Aharonot for two years; He serves on the Boards of Honest Reporting, FIDF and the Jewish Studies Program at Rice University; Max Blankfeld is a managing partner of Gene by Gene genetic testing services. Follow me on twitter @mblankfeld .