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Traiman asked about Woolsey's choice of terminology in calling the present conflict between the West and Islam as World War Four.
Woolsey explained that shortly after 9/11, "I saw an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University where he wrote that the Cold War was World War III, and that the war against what I call Islamist totalitarianism is World War IV... We have a situation where democracies in the west such as Israel and the US, and Japan and others too, are at war with a group of Islamist totalitarianism ideologies and movements - very loosely analogous to the movements of the 20s and 30s - Fascism, Nazism, Communism, and Japanese imperialism..."
Woolsey said that it could take the West "decades to win this war; the Cold War took us four decades to win, and I see no reason to expect this one to be less than that."
Traiman asked, "Iran is actively working on a nuclear bomb and calls for Israel's destruction. How long can Israel afford to wait before taking action? And how long can the US afford to wait?"
Woolsey did not offer a direct answer, but rather some background:
"We can only hope that the Israeli and American governments have a better handle on the precise details of the Iranian nuclear program... The Persians [precursors of today's Iranians -ed.] invented chess, and they are playing it well. Hamas and Hizbullah and other groups are their pawns, and the Syrian government is a rook, and their most precious piece - their queen - is their nuclear weapons program. They are moving the pieces around quite cleverly, this week using Hizbullah to overthrow the government of Lebanon; next week it may be something else. They are moving their pieces with skill, and they're a very serious adversary."
PA State - Not in the Coming Decades
Asked his opinion on the establishment of a Palestinian state, the former CIA director recommended that it not happen in the coming decades. He said that though the Jewish presence in this region precedes the Moslem claim - "for some Muslims like Arafat to deny that Jews were ever present here is idiotic" - the Moslems also have national rights in the area.
Openly avoiding the question of the nature or borders of a Palestinian state, he emphasized his opinion that "the Palestinians should not be granted the right to statehood until they start to treat Israeli Jews who settle in the West Bank as fairly as Israel treats its Muslim citizens."
"An Arab Muslim living in Jaffa," Woolsey said, "enjoys freedom of speech, religion, and expression, and can vote for his representatives in the Knesset, and doesn't go to sleep worrying that some government element might come and kill him. I think that once the Palestinians start treating Jewish settlers with that same degree of humanity - and they're very, very far from doing that now - at that point I think we have to seriously consider how they could have some degree of self-governing. I won't get into the question of borders, but what I think is that the Palestinians must be held to the same standards as Israel regarding how they treat the other. I am sure this will be many decades from now, though, because their children are taught the Wahhabi doctrine of being suicide bombers and the like."
Disengagement Was a Mistake
Traiman: "There are continuous calls for American troop withdrawals from Iraq; the unilateral withdrawal idea is back on the table here in Israel; and talks with Syria are again being pushed. Why are we playing the appeasement card?"
Woolsey: "Appeasement isn't called playing a card - it's just folding. I think those steps that you just mentioned are most unwise. Talking to Syria and negotiating should be done only when one has leverage... Unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would not be a wise step for Israel to take; when one sees what happened in Gaza, and sees the political advantage that Hamas has taken of the situation to claim unilateral victory and now to be part of the PA government - how many failures do you need before you recognize that it's a failure?"
Woolsey said that this past summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah was a lost opportunity for the United States and Israel to jointly decide on Syrian targets to be attacked. This type of mistake must not be repeated, he said:
"We ought to make sure that if there is another legitimate and reasonable occasion for us to use force in this part of the world against Syria or Iran, we must not waste it. We should move towards encouraging peaceful regime change there; but if we are absolutely forced to use force against Iran, for instance, in order to stop its nuclear program, that should not be the limit of our use of force - it ought to be used also to break the power of the terrible Iranian regime and give the people of Iran a chance to live under a better one."
Asked his opinion on Jonathan Pollard, Woolsey said that though he has favored a significant punishment for Pollard in the past, "now that he has served [over] 20 years in prison, my view is that 20 years is enough. I also think that the close relationship between the US and Israel is also of some consideration, and at this point I think he's served long enough. I won't go any further than that."