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When one surveys the world situation, one cannot react with anything but intense disquiet and apprehension. The premonition of imminent catastrophe cannot be shunted aside as unthinkable or as the capricious imaginings of the congenitally unstable. War is in the air, as it was in 1914 and 1939, before the actual outbreak of hostilities. And the flashpoints are instantly discernible, namely, the Middle East and the South Asian theater. The sequel appears to be pretty much inevitable.
In a certain sense, assigning blame for the coming eruption is a useless enterprise. Al-Qaeda and the Iranian Shi’ite regime are only acting in character; they are the carnivores of the current political world and cannot be expected to begin acting like herbivores. They have openly declared their intentions many times over and have given every indication of being willing to use nuclear weapons once they control or develop them. Those of us who downplay the utter fanaticism of Twelver Shi’a theology or the visceral savagery and determination of al-Qaeda—both Iran and al-Qaeda may be plausibly defined as “non-rational adversaries”—are living in the flimsiest of bubbles. Russia and China have regularly collaborated with the potential “slayers of mankind” as it is in their nature to do. The former is concerned with supply-profit, the latter with energy demands, and both with the purpose of further weakening the United States. Their lack of forethought is endemic and incurable. As for the feeble European democracies, they cannot do other than posture and appease in the face of an approaching firestorm. That is part of their genome.
But if responsibility for the gathering storm is to be ascribed, it is to the United States of America, in virtue of its pre-eminent position on the global stage and of its failure, under the most dangerous and politically corrupted president in its history, to address the looming threat. For the U.S. until recently was the only nation in the world that enjoyed the power, the means, the legitimacy and the authority to avert the coming disaster, but has now abdicated that responsibility. Indeed, its conduct in the international arena has been entirely myopic and counter-productive.
Its Libyan intervention is a blatant misadventure, without a clear and sustained strategy and in violation of the War Powers Resolution and the Constitution. Its levying of sanctions against Iran is a mordant joke and has had no effect on deterring the mullahs in their quest for nuclear weapons and the development of a long-range delivery system. Its support of the misnamed Arab Spring has led to the credible prospect of an anti-American and anti-Israeli Muslim Brotherhood regime assuming power in Egypt. Its pressuring Israel to make untenable concessions to the Palestinian Authority has only hardened the latter’s negotiating position and rendered the “peace process” null and void. The absence of a strong and effective Middle East policy has facilitated the takeover of Lebanon by Hezbollah, empowered Hamas in dominating a unity government with Fatah, and permitted Turkey to drift inexorably into the Islamic orbit. And just as the U.S. had little to say about Iran’s crushing of its own people during the popular revolt of 2009, so it remains essentially mute as Syria’s Bashar Assad slaughters his own countrymen with complete impunity. After all, according to a recent statement of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bashar Assad is a “reformer.” The comedy of terrors is literally mind-boggling.
The result of the American forfeiture of its political will, practical intelligence and moral inheritance, as it grows increasingly to resemble the political caricature that goes by the name of the European Union, is all too predictable. It means that there are only two countries in the world left to meet the Islamic nuclear menace: India, which will have to deal with Pakistan in the event that al-Qaeda gains control of the country’s nuclear capability; and Israel, which at tremendous cost to itself will have little choice but to act against a nuclearizing Iran and its terrorist proxies.
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