CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — The top U.S. general in the Middle East said Friday that if the world did not find a way to stem the rise of Islamic militancy, it would face a third world war.
Army Gen. John P. Abizaid compared the rise of militant ideologies, such as the force driving Al Qaeda, with the rise of fascism in Europe that set the stage for World War II.
"If we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology today, we'll go through World War III tomorrow," Abizaid said in a speech at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
If not stopped, he said, extremists would be allowed to "gain an advantage, to gain a safe haven, to develop weapons of mass destruction."
He said the world faced three major hurdles in stabilizing the Middle East: easing Arab-Israeli tensions, stemming the spread of extremism, and dealing with Iran, which Washington has accused of seeking to develop nuclear bombs.