Introduction: Recently to a packed house in Melbourne, I gave what I called my ‘most important message yet’ on the Middle East conflict. It is under the auspices of the ‘Free Public Lectures,’ which I have been conducting since 2008 twice a year. This event is being repeated annually in Perth and periodically in other places, including Singapore. I was especially gratified to see a good response in Toowoomba, Queensland, a state normally known for being ‘parochial.’ Even more heartening was the attendance of several dozen ‘under 30’s.’ I announced that the ‘Free Public Lecture’ is being renamed YEWS (Your Early Warning Service).
So for those who could not come and hear me in-person, but would like to catch what was said, here is the entree.
Wars & Rumours of Wars:
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet -- Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:6 (KJV)
There have been serious war-talk from credible sources. Joseph D’Courcy, publisher of the prestigious Courcy Intelligence Brief, whose insights have been read by heads of state for years, and who has mentored me from afar since 1994, made these comments in 16 September 2011 edition:
We believe that the conditions for the first major Arab-Israeli war since 1973 are germinating. The worst may be avoided, or at least delayed, but signs of a lack of understanding and urgency at the highest levels of Western policymaking increase the chances of a catastrophic miscalculation.
Also, Thomas Barnett, Chief Analyst of Wikistrat recently said:
That is the path we are on: Israel and America will soon go to war with Iran -- for as many times as it takes. In each instance, our proximate goal will be to kick the nuclear "can" as far down the road as possible, but our ultimate goal will be regime change. Nothing is going to stop this war dynamic from unfolding -- not China, the U.N., the Pentagon's strategic "pivot" to East Asia, our upcoming presidential election, nor our nation's much-discussed war fatigue, much less ‘decline.’ Nothing. So get ready for war with Iran. Because once Assad is gone, that is what comes next.
Of course, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel is ready to conduct a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, if need be. Israel has experience attacking Middle East nuclear sites. It successfully destroyed Iraq’s Osirak reactor in a surprise raid in June 1981. Then, in September 2007, it quietly destroyed a nuclear facility in northern Syria. Surprisingly, neither country made any announcement about it.
While not admitting so publicly, Israel wants to have a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East. Its situation is unique. Currently, the ‘nuclear club’ includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the USA, UK, France, Russia, China. In addition, there are India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. The normal nuclear doctrine is that a nuclear nation does not fear another nuclear nation for the simple reason that MAD (mutually assured destruction) would take place. Nuclear Power A will not strike Nuclear Power B simply because B will also push their button, too.
In Israel’s case, that formula does not work. For nearly 50 years, Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal has served as a deterrent. Some reliable sources suggest that one of the motivations of US President Richard Nixon’s famous airlift of military supplies to Israel during the October (Yom Kippur) 1973 War was that then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir hinted that the Jewish state may be forced to use its nukes if it did not get access to conventional weapons. Nixon acted immediately. Afterwards, the Soviet Union announced a greater (military) involvement to help its embattled allies Egypt and Syria. Nixon responded to this potential Soviet Middle East adventure by calling a worldwide US military alert, which brought us back from the brink of a Cold War flare-up.
A nuclear-armed Iran would change the entire equation. Even if Iran kept its bombs in cold storage, they would virtually render Israel’s nuclear deterrence useless. For this reason, the Jewish state says an Iran that even has the mere capability of assembling nuclear weapons would be an existential threat. Israel is suspicous of the many ‘talkfests’ between Iran and western nations. These meetings follow the same pattern: Iran and the western powers meet, they emerge from the meeting, pronounced the talks as ‘constructive,’ and agree to meet again in a few weeks. Netanyahu says these talks give Iran a ‘freebie’ of time to continue their uranium enrichment program. So despite many obstacles and dangers, Israel is prepared to strike. The fact that Netanyahu managed to form a unity government with the opposition party Kadima, reminds us of the unity government formed just before the pre-emptive June 1967 war.
War talk goes much further than Israel and Iran. The Arab Spring, the series of youth-led, grass-root, internet-fueled revolutions that has rocked the Arab world, has changed the face of the Middle East forever. While the world applauds the fact that Arab nations are having what appear to be free and fair democratic elections, the problem is that the population is electing Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, its affiliates, and Salafists. Without question, the Arabs want democracy, but they have yet to understand what the West learned the hard way: the when you mix religion and politics, church and state, democratic freedoms for all will evaporate.
The prognosis of Islamist-dominated governments means that instead of having a democracy, they would simply have majoritarianism. That means majority rules and minorities, like women, Christians, Jews, other groups, and dissident Muslims, would all suffer. Long desired public discourse, full human rights, and social freedom would be still-born.
Islamist-dominated governments are promising to make Sharia, the 7th century legal code of Islam, the law of the land. In addition, they may be tempted to beat the ‘anti-western, anti-Israel, anti-Christian’ drum, especially to divert attention from any failures they may have in delivering campaign promises. None of this augurs well for peace and stability in the region.
The fact is that the Arab Spring has transformed Israel’s immediate neighbourhood. As late as 2010, Israel had only 1 unstable neighbour: Hizbullah-dominated Lebanon. Today, since the start of the ‘Arab Spring,’ it has 5 unstable borders: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt/Sinai, and the Palestinian territories. An encircled Israel is not going to make concessions in land or resources to neighbours whose rulers may not even be in power come next year, let alone next week.
This will create the perception of Israeli intransigence, which will not be received by an increasingly impatient world community, wanting to have peace at any cost. Will the Arab Spring make Israel’s neighbours even more unfriendly? Could this be the prelude to the fulfillment of Psalm 83; Joel 3; Zechariah 12, and more?
Watch this space.
PS: If you desire more after having this entree, you can have the ‘main course and dessert’ by ordering the newly-released DVD ‘Wars and Rumours of Wars,’ one hour plus with powerpoint, from the Teach All Nations website: http://tan.org.au/shop/product_info.php?products_id=98 (for AUD 18 postpaid; overseas is AUD 22).