|I have believed since I was pretty young that what America needed was a sequel to World War II. Not World War III, mind you, and certainly not the nuclear apocalypse usually associated with that term, but literally World War Two II. We needed a galvanizing enemy to unite us as Americans without political, social, or ethnic differences. Sadly, we had that moment on September 11, 2001. This moment should have been a second Pearl Harbor and a call to action for Americans to fight a common enemy. Unfortunately, the moment was squandered and may have been lost forever as 9/11 is now used much more deftly as a weapon to divide the country than it was ever wielded to unite us.|
[Disclaimer: I am not making any partisan accusations here, simply stating what I believe to be true. Either party could have tried to unite us after 9/11, neither did. Dispute that if you want but, if you do, provide some evidence that this country is, indeed, united.]
Having said that, I fear that the recent escalation of conflict in the Middle East has the potential to become the incipient stages of World War III – non-nuclear, perhaps (that is far from off the table, however), but unquestionably a hot war and one less concerned about preventing civilian casualties than ever before. In fact, we know that Islamic extremists use civilian casualties as one of the main arrows in their quiver and, as recent events in Lebanon and Gaza have shown, Israel will show little to no restraint in this regard either.
The events/factors most prescient to this new regional conflict are:
- Israel’s disproportionate response to soldiers being kidnapped by Hamas and Hizbollah in Gaza and Lebanon.
- Iran’s brinksmanship with the UN over its nuclear program.
- The Bombay train bombings and (even more troubling) the Indian assertion that the bombers were aided by elements in Pakistan.
- Kurdish nationalists harbored in Iraqi Kurdistan are conducting assaults into both Iran and Turkey.
- Increasing Taliban violence in Afghanistan.
- The escalating sectarian violence in Iraq.
- The general Sunni v. Shia tension in the region.
- Oh, and everybody hates America and Israel and thinks (with some justification) that we let them do whatever they please.
It is conceivable that in the next few months to years there could be a regional conflict stretching from Israel to India, including Saudi Arabia (as the Sunni counter-balance to Iran) and Turkey (which has implications for the EU). This would be, by definition, a regional conflict. However, this conflict would undoubtedly spread to Europe and Russia, due to both proximity and other factors. The disenfranchised European Muslim population would become an even riper recruiting ground for terrorists than it already is (see London and Madrid and for examples of what this will look like).
Then, of course, there is the elephant in the room: oil. Oil today is hovering around $78 per barrel. Very near the highest price ever when adjusted for inflation. If a hot regional conflict engulfs the Middle East, the sky is the limit. Cost might not even be the biggest problem. Drilling and exporting from this region may be near impossible. Al Qaeda has said that oil supply disruption is one of its main goal/weapons. This could cripple (or at least severely hamstring) the rest of the world. Also, if their energy sources are imperiled, do not think that China will sit idly by.
[Notable exceptions to this would be countries outside of the region with their own oil supply who would make a killing selling to a starving world market, for example, Venezuela. This would give Hugo Chavez virtually unlimited resources to consolidate his own power and expand the grasp of socialism farther across South and Latin America (potentially sparking more violence). Not an attractive prospect for the US. Speaking of South America, Brazil would also be relatively insulated as the vast majority of their energy comes from fuels made of home-grown sugar cane. Hmm, maybe we should look into that.]
Escalation to include India (which has the second largest Muslim population of any country in the world) and Pakistan introduces the nuclear element into the picture. These are two countries that are no strangers to rattling their nuclear sabers. Of course, Israel brings its not-so-secret nuclear arsenal to the table, as well.
Make no mistake, a conflict encompassing the Middle East, large portions of Asia, Europe, the US, and potentially South America, is a world war. This is exactly what Al Qaeda wants. The question is whether or not it can be averted.
I do not have any answers, I just give you background so you are ready for the future.
I will say that blindly allowing Israel to kill innocent civilians with no fear of reprisal is not the best beginning.
The world is at its technological and economic zenith but people we refuse to try and understand could drag us all into an open ended conflagration. I wonder if this was what it felt like right before the Vandals sacked Rome and began Western civilization’s descent into the Dark Ages...
Tags: World War III, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, Iraq, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Oil, Al Qaeda, Turkey, Europe, EU, United Nations, International, Venezuela, Brazil, Nuclear, Islam, Lebanon, War
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