Did you catch the significance of President Bush serving roast wild boar in Germany Thursday, while Islamic extremists, who detest pork and fear that even touching pork products will bar them from paradise, were launching missiles into Israel?

Perhaps he was just making a gesture of humility and solidarity with his German hostess, and giving a nod to German history. But I think there was a not-so-subtle message being served up along with roast pork loin.

But messages aside, with the Mideast once again engulfed in the flames of war, and the United Nations again doing nothing except shuffling papers and talking endlessly, it is way past time for the President Bush to remove his chef's apron, and take his iron fist out of its velvet glove. Instead of platefuls of roast meat, if the United States and its allies ever want to see peace in this generation, we should serve up some well-placed and permanent shots to the terrorists' vital spots, followed by some more well-placed shots at the instigators who are inciting the terrorists.

President Bush gave Israel the green light to press its offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian terrortories (pun intended) and his caution about not overdoing it meant next to nothing. But if we are ever to put an end to this insanity and win the support of moderate Muslims across the globe, we have to show that there is indeed an iron fist inside the velvet glove and we will use it without restriction if necessary. Judging from what is going on in the Middle East, it is necessary.

But once again, we have to step back and consider who is doing what over there, and why. Two terrorist groups make minor incursions into Israel, kidnap some troops, kill others, and set off a conflagration. Syria rattles its sabers and the president of Iran struts around the international stage like a demented street teen -- "Hey Israel, you want a piece of this? Huh? You want to take me on man. Go ahead. Touch Syria. You'll be answering to me man, and it won't be pretty."

Good grief. The sensible Iranian population, and by all accounts there is a sizable sensible Iranian population, must be mortified. This is the best the country can do? Put a loudmouth street punk out in front to represent their society?

But after we get past the mouth and the posturing, what can Syria, Iran and the terrorist groups actually accomplish? Very little. If Israel wants to flatten Damascus and Tehran today, it can and will be done.

So why is this going on? If Iran is instigating the fighting between Israel and the terrorists, who is instigating Iran?

Well, as I said in an earlier post, look to China and Russia. Not only are we dealing with a resurgence of communism worldwide, but the terrorists are giving the communist leaders a lever with which to undermine the democratic reforms that have been sweeping through the civilized world for nearly a generation, and an excuse.

Who stands to gain the most if the Jews, Muslims and Christians batter the living daylights out of each other? The communists. Who stands to fill the leadership vacuum that will be created in much of the world if the faithful renounce or distance themselves from their chosen faiths? The communists.

They did it before in countries where long-running dictatorships had brutalized the populace, with promises of workers' paradises where everyone would have an equal shot at the good life. But as was shown repeatedly for 60 of the most murderous years in human history, communism was not the answer to the sins of the aristocracy and monarchies.

Unfortunately, somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million human lives were destroyed, first in learning this lesson and then breaking free of communism's bonds.

While I believe both Russia and China are complicit in stirring up a religious war that will benefit them regardless of who wins or loses, I think China is a more active player than Russia. For starters, China has the most influence on North Korea, and as we all know, the leaders of North Korea and Iran talk to each other regularly. This is supposed to be an international top secret but I know it is true, I read it in the New York Times.

While Russia's (Ras) Putin has steadily eroded the freedoms that came with the fall of the Soviet Union, at least Russia has had a taste of democracy. And Russia has its own problems with Muslim extremists that could very easily escalate if additional countries become involved.

China hasn't seen anything remotely resembling a democratic government, well, ever, and it has the biggest share of still-in-control die-hard communists. If the Korean missile launches of two weeks ago were indeed a distraction to test the U.S., then today's fighting in Lebanon, Palestine and Israel is an extension.

Iran can't do squat if Israel decides to launch a pre-emptive strike against it. It can't get through Iraq, where we have an entire army in place, and where the emerging Iraqi army probably won't look too kindly at attempts to cross its borders. If Iran tries to fire missiles across Iraqi air space to hit Israel, it again is creating its own second front right there in Iraq.

Syria too can be overwhelmed by either Israel, the U.S., or a combination. So what we have here is a situation where someone obviously wants to see what will happen if certain buttons are pushed on certain tin pot dictators who look at themselves in funhouse mirrors that always show them to be much larger and important than they are in real life.

Constant taunts by Iran's president are just that, childish taunts, but somewhere out there someone wants to see what the United States and its allies can and will do. And if it is little or nothing, I fear there is far more in store for all of us than what we see in Lebanon and Israel today.

There is still this oft repeated claim that the US military is stretched too thin. But we have only about 1 percent of our entire population in the military on any given day, and only about 10 percent of that number is actively engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it really came down to it, we could increase our military by four percent of the total population and we would have more than enough people in uniform to do whatever needs doing without even breaking a sweat.

And we have allies, more so than you may imagine. There are dozens of countries that stand to lose horribly in the event of either a religious war or a communist takeover. Besides our stalwart friends like Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, we also have friends in Japan, India, Taiwan, South Korea and elsewhere.

I'll leave it up to geo-politicians to decide what the hidden agendas may be on the world scene. But I'll leave us with one concept that more than anything else should be at the forefront of President Bush's thinking.

All the rhetoric, missile firing, posturing and threatening have one common goal. Together they are a distraction that is giving Iran time to go nuclear and North Korea time to further develop the nuclear capabilities it already possesses. If these two countries can begin exporting nuclear weapons, even in the most rudimentary form, then whatever sacrifices are necessary today to rid the world of their influence will seem miniscule in a nuclear future.

There are many countries between Spain and Indonesia with large Muslim populations, whose rulers have given lip service, and possibly even more to the fight against terrorism. But for the most part, they still are fence-sitters, waiting to see who will emerge as the strongest. If they don't have a clear vision that the U.S. and its allies will be the victors, they will hedge their bets, and not give all they could to help.

On there other hand, if they see our resolve and a willingness to unleash the iron fist, they could become valuable allies, with a common goal of a peaceful more productive world. It no longer is sufficient to serve up signs and signals. It is time to dish out some knuckle sandwiches.

The time for talk is past. Diplomacy is wasted. The time to act is now. If President Bush doesn't use the full might of the United States to eliminate the terrorists, neutralize both Syria and Iran, and put world communism back in the box, he is mortgaging the futures of his own daughters, and his unborn grandchildren, and their grandchildren.

And ours too.