Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Iranian Forecast: Tense, With A Chance Of Holocaust

Those who have been paying attention to Iran's post-2001 sprint to obtain nuclear weaponry, as well as its new president's bizarre rhetoric, cannot help but wonder what the future holds for Iran and the world.

What follows is obviously not fact, but rather merely a dramatic forecast of what may unfold if we as a civilization stand back and allow a dangerous nation, with unequivocally voiced intent to harm its neighbors, to obtain a nuclear arsenal without any resistance. It goes without saying that this is one forecast the likes of which you will not see on The Weather Channel.

- Sometime in the near future, Iran -- after years of delay and subterfuge -- succeeds in developing multiple nuclear warheads. On what starts as a quiet news day, Iran detonates one of its earliest low-yield nuclear devices below ground within Iranian territory in an unmistakable sign to the world that it has joined "the club."

- Not long thereafter, Iran launches a limited, but not necessarily nuclear, assault on Israel with some of its short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. Israel responds by launching a non-nuclear counter-assault.

- The United States, in support of Israel, joins the conflict alongside Israel by providing air, ground, and other logistical support. Iran officially declares war on the United States.

- Great Britain, France, and Germany -- none of which are technically allied with Israel -- begin providing military support to Israel and the United States. Their joining of the battle is partly due to their recognition of the Iranian nuclear threat, but it is also due to their subtle acknowledgment of their failure to broker a peaceful resolution to Iran's uranium enrichment. Whatever their motivations, the result is that Iran declares war on the EU-3. The European Union (EU), in turn (and reluctantly), declares war on Iran.

- The West's counter-assault on Iran, coupled with the increased Western presence in the Middle East, rouses regional powers to join the fight on Iran's side. Egypt and Syria join the war immediately. Jordan, Sudan, and Kazakhstan join in only belatedly, as do the other Muslim nations of North Africa.

- Muslim nations that do opt to join the West encounter tremendous difficulties. Turkey, which at the time of the outbreak of war was still seeking to join the EU, joins with Europe. It is rewarded with border skirmishes, and is forced into fighting with Iran and Syria, as well as pockets of Muslim radicals in Georgia and Armenia. Pakistan, after initially supporting the West, erupts into a violent coup, at the end of which General Musharraf is assassinated. The radicalized replacement regime throws its support into Iran's column. Afghanistan and Iraq, both undergoing the fragile process of democratization, collapse into civil war.

- The communist People's Republic of China (PRC), which cannot help but observe that the United States and other western powers are distracted by war in the Middle East, seizes the opportunity and moves to occupy of Taiwan. The Taiwanese government successfully defends itself against the initial assault, but Taiwan calls on the United States to fulfill its treaty obligation, run counter to Nixon's misguided "One China" policy, and support them against the PRC. The United States -- facing depleted resources and waning public support -- obliges Taiwan and joins the war against the PRC. The PRC responds in kind, declaring war against the United States. The EU responds in kind by declaring war on the PRC. The PRC returns the favor and declares war on the EU.

- The PRC expands the scope of the war -- first, by attacking Japan and South Korea with its nuclear arsenal, and then by opening negotiations with Iran and Russia, the latter of which was never quite on board with European opposition to the war, for economic and other reasons. The PRC, Iran, and Russia form a Central Asian Axis. North Korea eventually also joins the Axis, fearing isolation and exclusion. All four of the Central Asian Axis powers now have nuclear capability, along with advanced ballistic technology provided by Russia and the PRC.

- After that . . . is anyone's guess.

Just like that, we have World War III: a global conflagration resulting from our collective inability to solve a very simple problem. I grant you, the above scenario is awfully Clancy-esque, but it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, particularly when one considers how the previous two world wars started.

The first world war began with the bullets of a lone crazed gunman from Croatia; his assassination of Austrian royalty triggered a world war that led to the decimation of an entire European generation. One step back and a few deep breaths by the major Western powers, and this war could have been avoided.

Twenty years later, an Austrian university dropout with a lust for power took advantage of Germany's insecurities and launched a second world war, far uglier and far more devastating than the first. A little spine on the part of European leadership, and the willingness to face the growing German threat with strength instead of flight, and this war also could have been avoided.

Now, in this time, we have an Islamist nation -- run by a radical who views himself as an "end-times" warrior in what he perceives to be a war against Israel -- that seeks nuclear weaponry to fulfill its nightmarish goals. With a little intelligence, a little patience, and a little intestinal fortitude on the part of us all, this war can be avoided.

(Special thanks to DS for contributing to this post by way of inspiration.)

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