LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Former CIA Director James Woolsey said Wednesday the United States is engaged in World War IV, and that it could continue for years.
In the address to a group of college students, Woolsey described the Cold War as the third world war and said "This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us. Hopefully not the full four-plus decades of the Cold War."
Woolsey has been named in news reports as a possible candidate for a key position in the reconstruction of a postwar Iraq.
He said the new war is actually against three enemies: the religious rulers of Iran, the "fascists" of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al Qaeda.
Woolsey told the audience of about 300, most of whom are students at the University of California at Los Angeles, that all three enemies have waged war against the United States for several years but the United States has just "finally noticed."
"As we move toward a new Middle East," Woolsey said, "over the years and, I think, over the decades to come ... we will make a lot of people very nervous."
It will be America's backing of democratic movements throughout the Middle East that will bring about this sense of unease, he said.
"Our response should be, 'good!'" Woolsey said.
Singling out Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, he said, "We want you nervous. We want you to realize now, for the fourth time in a hundred years, this country and its allies are on the march and that we are on the side of those whom you -- the Mubaraks, the Saudi Royal family -- most fear: We're on the side of your own people."
Woolsey, who served as CIA director under President Bill Clinton, was taking part in a "teach-in" at UCLA, a series of such forums at universities across the nation.
A group calling itself "Americans for Victory Over Terrorism" sponsors the teach-ins, and the Bruin Republicans, UCLA's campus Republicans organization, co-sponsored Wednesday night's event.
The group was founded by former Education Secretary William Bennett, who took part in Wednesday's event along with Paul Bremer, a U.S. ambassador during the Reagan administration and the former chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism.
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Last modified: Wed Jul 23 01:34:09 CDT 2003