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Russia and America both possess massive armed forces and enough nuclear-tipped missiles to destroy planet Earth 10 times over. Yet last week their capital cities were both paralyzed by an absurdly small number of madmen. In Washington, D.C., it was two wackos with a rifle. In Moscow, a platoon of AK-47-toting kamikazes wired with bombs.

Welcome to the new face of war. And whatever you choose to call it – insurgency, terrorism or guerrilla warfare – get used to it. Because it’s going to get far worse before it gets better.

Ironically, these two megapowers were defeated by insurgents in Vietnam and Afghanistan primarily because their leaders insisted on fighting unconventional opponents with World War II, high-diddle-diddle, right-up-the-middle-type tactics.

From the looks of George W. Bush’s recent $355 billion record-breaking defense budget, nothing’s been learned from either those bloody years in Vietnam or our Special Operations victory that defanged the Taliban in Afghanistan in the blink of a bomb. The biggest annual defense budget in our history – 70 percent of the cost for World War II – provides for fleets of new ships, airplanes and armored vehicles, more of the right stuff for fighting the now-defunct Soviet Empire – and for the war racketeers who contributed so generously to both major parties’ political war chests. Gold-plated hardware that won’t help much against the real enemy, al-Qaida, which is about to crash once again through our still-undefended doors.

In Vietnam, the generals were into big battles instead of fighting small and smart, protecting the people and winning their support. With our top guys huffing and puffing over Iraq, it looks like they’re into the same glory game. But going for this big score won’t do much for us ducks sitting around here at home, where not one tank, plane or cruiser was able to protect 4 million D.C.-area folks from three weeks of sheer terror.

“I swear by God we are more keen on dying than you are keen on living,” said a steely-eyed zealot in the Moscow Theater as he threatened to blow up all 700 hostages along with his stoked suicidal band. “Each one of us is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of God.”

He was telling us that terrorists are the Main Event, Public Enemy No. 1, and that if we don’t listen up, get our priorities straight and allocate more of our defense bucks to protecting the home front – first – we’re in for a world of pain.

Part of the prescription – a tough pill for Democrats and Republicans alike to swallow, much as the former likes the votes, the latter the cheap labor – is that our borders must immediately be sealed and the millions of illegal aliens rounded up and shipped out. We need to swallow hard, then charge a retired Marine general like Al Gray or Tony Zinni with turning all that Immigration and Naturalization Service bureaucratic blubber into lean and mean muscle to get out there and excise the sleeper-cell cancers muy pronto.

The Muslim terrorist training camps in the USA – they’re here, I kid you not – must be closed with the same focus and force we brought to bear on the Afghani camps, since they have the same purpose: the destruction of our country. And we must move to clean up the U.S.-based Muslim terrorist-support system that ranges from Middle Eastern-run mom and pop shops to thousands of mosques – in 1991, there were 30; in 2001, more than 3,000 – to Mafia-like drug rings.

An undercover agent told me: “Islamic international terrorism has invaded our nation to where it’s on almost every street corner in the form of convenience stores, specialty retail and wholesale outlets, import and export companies, used-car lots and narcotics trafficking. They and the majority of the mosques raise funds – which are sent overseas to terrorist groups – launder money and provide logistical support to the sleeper cells.”

Citizens, make no mistake: We are indeed at war. With our country’s very survival at stake, we must hunker down and do what needs to be done to defend our homeland.

And in warfare, a smart general always secures home plate before venturing out to left field.

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