The worst is on the way.
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.
There is no point in deluding ourselves any longer or smugly dismissing apocalyptic scenarios as mere unbridled fear-mongering. War is going to break out in the Middle East, possibly later this year and almost certainly in 2012, and eventually in South Asia. There is a stark likelihood that these may be WMD wars. For if Israel is targeted by Hezbollah’s 40,000-50,000 missiles, some of which are reported to be fitted with chemical and biological payloads and which can reach every corner of the country, it may need to reply in cataclysmic kind in order to survive. Abandoned by its American ally and left to its own resources, it may quite simply have no alternative, unless it agrees to commit national suicide. Despite the promising development of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile program, neither preemption—known in customary international law as “anticipatory self-defense”—nor second-strike reprisal can be ruled out. And if the U.S.-subsidized but unreliable Pakistani regime with its estimated 70-90 nuclear warheads goes rogue, with the finger of al-Qaeda on the nuclear button, India too may have no option but to respond in the same manner.
These two potential war zones are heating up. The Japanese Sankei Shimbun newspaper reveals that North Korea dispatched 160 nuclear experts to Iran in May, and Fars News Agency reports on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardan’s recent visit Tehran to discuss “a vast range of issues.” We can readily imagine what some of these topics will be. Between Iran and Pakistan falls the shadow.
True, the Korean peninsula is also a potential war zone, but despite the North’s aggressive rheteoric and occasional acts of belligerence, it will be restrained by China for which a peninsular war on its borders is not in its interests. North Korea’s mischief making is mainly confined to the export of its nuclear technology and expertise to Iran and Syria. The Middle East and South Asia remain the epicenters of the approaching upheavals.
There is a slight chance that we may emerge from the present inflammable circumstances if we are providentially given two gifts: more time, and a new, vigorous and wiser American administration. Otherwise, those of us who are not immediately and physically implicated would have only one hope, that the carnage stays localized. But there is no guarantee that this will be the case. And we will then have deserved whatever calamity is inflicted upon us for our blindness, self-deception, anemic leadership and languid inactivity in the face of what might have been prevented.
The writing is on the wall and it does not take a Daniel to interpret it.