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Opinion After Hamas’s massacre, clarity on the Iran-China-Russia threat is vital

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The animating hatred of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel was specific — this was a pogrom against Jews — but the massacre was indiscriminate in its deadly swath. The victims were overwhelmingly Israeli Jews, but Jews and non-Jews alike were among the more than 1,400 people killed. They came from dozens of countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the United States.

It was an attack on the state of Israel, of course, because Hamas — like other Iranian puppets, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen — thinks the nation has no right to exist. For Islamist fanatics such as these, though, a more basic motivation is this: They want Jews dead. Consider the recording revealed by the Israel military on Monday of an exultant Hamas terrorist calling his parents, crowing, “Your son killed so many Jews. Mum, your son is a hero.”

Many serious and candid people know that the masterminds and financiers of the slaughter, its strategists and tacticians, have an address: Tehran.

“Iran invaded Israel,” Robert C. O’Brien told me in a radio interview last week. The former national security adviser to President Donald Trump had previously served in his administration as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs during a period that saw dozens of American hostages returned to the United States. O’Brien has great diplomatic skills, but now he does not mince words.

Of Hamas and the Oct. 7 attack, O’Brien said, “These guys are serial killers. They’re not even terrorists. I think that’s too good of a label for them. This is like having Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy and a bunch of them living as your neighbors. You can’t have John Wayne Gacy as your neighbor who’s killed a couple of your kids, and then say ‘Well, if you build a higher wall, you know, it’ll be fine to keep him as a neighbor.’ These serial killers of Hamas have to be rooted out.”

That is the sort of clarity and resolve needed today. Let’s also be clear about who is allied with Iran’s so-called supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: dictators Xi Jinping in China and Vladimir Putin in Russia. The ruthlessness of these tyrants is not in dispute.

Khamenei, before aiding and encouraging the Oct. 7 slaughter in Israel, crushed protests in his own country, leaving hundreds dead. Xi’s Chinese Communist Party has perpetrated genocide against the Uyghur people of the Xinjiang region. Putin long ago demonstrated his capacity for barbarism, in Russia’s assaults on Chechnya in the 1990s, and he followed that brutal path in the invasion of Ukraine.

Perhaps too many in the West are not familiar enough with Xi’s and Putin’s outrages. The CCP worked hard to conceal its campaign against the Uyghurs, and as retired general David Petraeus and historian Andrew Roberts note in their new book, “Conflict,” the full extent of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine are still yet to be known.

But make no mistake, these regimes are in league with Iran as enemies of freedom and democracy. They supply each other raw materials, weapons and investment. It is all one enemy, one evil force, waging war on the West.

This is not the “clash of civilizations” Samuel P. Huntington predicted in the 1990s. It is a clash between the civilized — the West, both as traditionally represented by the nation-state, but also by those peoples held captive by these uncivilized regimes — and the barbaric.

Unless we first recognize the barbarity, the depth of the depravity coursing through these three linked regimes, we cannot possible defeat it. Can a post-Christian West, tied in knots by “social issues,” rally to its own defense?

The combined poisons of communism, fascism and Islamist fanaticism cannot be defeated without a moral clarity that too many hesitate to express for fear of offending the small contingent of fellow citizens who prefer to impose their own absurd ideological slogans on everyone. The vast bulk of U.S. universities cannot even rise to the effort of condemning the Oct. 7 butchery, or of articulating the principles of a “just war,” or of offering a coherent definition of what “proportionality” in the law of armed conflict actually means.

The widespread outcry against these craven institutions was encouraging: Maybe the West is finally beginning to wake up to the threats from the gathering storm clouds that grow ever darker, and ever closer.