In the early morning hours a pair of ISIS terrorists stormed into a church near the Normandy city of Rouen, took the priest, Father Jacques Hamel, two nuns, and some elderly parishioners as hostage. They made the octogenarian priest kneel and slit his throat. After they had conducted an Islamic ritual around the altar, they tried to make good their escape by using the nuns and the parishioners as human shields. They were shot to death by police. Thus the latest outrage of World War III was conducted to its bloody conclusion.

When the Al Qaeda terrorists slammed hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-President George W. Bush announced that the War on Terror had begun. He was wrong on two points. Terrorists had committed outrages before 9/11. And the proper term for the conflict is World War III.

In the popular imagination, World War III would involve tank battles in the Fulda Gap in Germany followed up by a thermonuclear exchange. But the fall of the Soviet Union made that scenario obsolete.

World War III is being fought by methods that were unimaginable when the United States and the USSR confronted one another across a cowering world.

To be sure, some of the battles are conventional, with bombing raids on ISIS targets and infantry struggling over ruined towns in Iraq and Syria. But the real battles consist of crazed young men ramming a truck through crowds on a beachside road, machine gunning night clubs and Christmas parties, taking and torturing hostages in cafes and music concerts, and endless suicides bombings.

The battles consist of police raids on terrorist hideouts and the more high-tech cyberwars fought from computer terminals. World War III is a hard, inglorious war with the score tallied in the body counts of innocents. The war is being fought across the planet, but has no fronts and no distinct theaters of operation. Any place at any time can suddenly be turned into a butcher shop by young men screaming, “Allah-uh Akbar!”

Ironically, this singular fact of the 21st Century has gone unmentioned at the Democratic National Convention.

President Barack Obama once dismissed ISIS as “the JV team.” But considering the lack of seriousness with which his administration is waging World War III, we know who is junior varsity, and it is not the hard, insane young men in Raqqa and Mosul dreaming of plunging the planet into blood and fire.

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