Wednesday, June 29, 2011

War is In the Air

I do not think that war is inevitable, but the arguments below are at least sobering.  US leadership is presently adrift and often bone stupid.  Yet that has been true for much of history.  That leadership is theirs is a consequence of overwhelming real world fighting power.  What is today part of every potential belligerent’s calculation is two things.  The first is that the USA can bring overwhelming power to bear.  The second is that however out of touch the current president is, his term ends in less than two years and his replacement will be a response to your aggression should you decide to try something.

I personally do not like the posturing indulged by the odd Chinese leader, not because it should be taken seriously but because it conditions thinking to even consider aggressive behavior in a country that has zero need for it.  It is a case of allowing old fashioned military concerns to be listened to.  It is bad enough that the US indulges this sector and lets them have their toys.

In the meantime, the dysfunctional Islam political diaspora continues to behave like a sack of snakes.  Yet that is the reason for their immense economic weakness. The recent revolt is attempting to shed the feudal system of autocrats, but is likely to end up with another form of Kemalism as the only intact organizing force in the form of the military takes charge of their respective countries.

Way more important than any of this is that the clock is now ticking for the Global oil industry.  Two things have happened.  The most important is the Focardi- Rossi Reactor which is able to produce heat at eight time unity.  The second is the advent of a viable three hundred mile range battery pack for the automobile industry.  They are both coming into the market in some manner or the other now.  This means the world will be converting to a pure electrical power system over the next decade no matter how cheap oil happens to be.  Uranium and Coal will be dumped as fast as the reactors can be put in place.  Cheap power transmission will then flood the market with power while electrical vehicles help absorb some of that power.

In this way the kleptocrats will suddenly be without foreign cash to pay for their security system.  They will all have to walk and likely leave chaos behind.  The Arab Spring was merely the beginning, and perhaps a premature beginning.  The Arab world will look mostly like Pakistan without the support of USA cash.  In the meantime, good governance in the rest of the world is swiftly producing the rise of majority middle classes and the related democratic systems.

The Arab world is facing a massive economic and social transition that must be messy for many.  What needs to be done is clear to a non Muslim but anathema to the majority of Muslims.  It can be allowed to continue for a long time yet although we will face a litany of aggressive behavior.

Yet we need to understand one thing.  The next thirty years will not be a case of linear progress but in fact it will be exponential.  The rest of the world will have joined the resultant communion of modern humanity and political issues will have then been well resolved as we have witnessed in the European Community.

In South East Asia, Chinese faux belligerence will collapse with the first real recession as did Japanese faux belligerence.  North Korea is merely a rotten apple waiting to fall.  After that there is nothing else.

Elsewhere, except along the fault lines between Islam and the rest, the rest is getting its act together and traveling the path of modern development which will now be swiftly accelerated with cheap energy.

The Islamic world is about to enter the fight for its economic survival with the baggage of an ideology that is rejected elsewhere but interferes with their ability to modernize.  Getting past this will inform the next two decades.

The present tinderboxes are well known and include Israel and Pakistan in particular.  It also includes the southern Sudan and eventually parts of the Sahel.  We also have conflict in the Caucasus and other potential embers needing only a breathe or two.

In the long term, depending on Islamic success or failure, we face a war of confrontation with Islam leading to the de Islamification of Islam.  If we are lucky, it will be done by Muslims. In the short term, the problem is to defuse hot spots as much as possible while hoping they can sort it all out.

The worst hot spot continues to be Israel.  We have presently entered a period of maximum instability because new political structures are emerging in all the surrounding countries.  We simply do not know how it will all shake out.  The potential exists for the renewal of hostilities leading to another Arab war.  If such does occur, Israeli war aims will be quite different beyond outright survival.  They will move to eject Palestinians from Southern Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.  This provides defensible a northern and eastern border with the Palestinians reoccupying Jordan and establishing a proper Palestinian state.  This might be a Zionist Dream, but the present conditions allow for it.

The Sinai itself will be also in play if the Egyptian army tries again to attack Israel as is likely to occur if the other parts of this scenario play out.

Of course, Israel has to win such a war.  Since they have been preparing for it forever while their enemies have been largely imitating other conflicts, their chances are at least good.

Once again war is in the air, but to be fair, it has always been in the air and far more so in even the recent past.  So muddling along perhaps we can avoid all that.

War Is in the Air

Posted by David Solway on Jun 28th, 2011

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 Shimbunnewspaper 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.

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