Friday, January 27, 2006

Staging the Third World War

Before I get to the point of this post, I will warn you that this post will be long, and if you aren't interested in what is going on in international politics, check out Fazed for your amusement. If you are in the mood for something a little geekier (Star Trek specific geekness), check this out.

On to the point. The title link goes to NPR's coverage of the recent elections in Palestine. The BBC is running similar coverage. Our President has made it very clear that he thinks Hamas is a terrorist organization. This opinion is well founded. After all, Hamas is responsible for a number of suicide bombings, and is open and notorious about its distaste for Israel. However, Fatah has roots in terrorist organizations as well. This whole situation brings us, as a global community, into dire straits.

The middle east is a fragmented place, with divisions between Muslims and the rest of the world. Interestingly, the Christians and Jesuits are on the same side, so the situation as it stands is believers in one faith against another. (Let me clarify, the Jewish believe in the same god as the Christians, the difference is that the Christians believe that their Prophet, Jesus, has already come, while the Jewish still await the coming of their Prophet) Regardless, it boils down to the followers of Islam versus any and all takers. This creates an important tension considering the political state of the world otherwise. Iran has recently restarted their nuclear program. North Korea seems to have similar ambitions. The result could be an interesting alliance between Iran, Palestine, and North Korea. In all likelihood, what could follow is a tumble down affect with dire consequences.

First, Hamas will like start a war with Israel. The US sees Israel as an ally, so we would pledge troops and military support. Seeing as our forces are already stretched thin between Iraq and Afghanistan, it wouldn't take much slack in our forces to provide a loop hole for Iran and possibly Syria to disrupt operations in Iraq. Any alliance between Iraq and Syria will no doubt draw the attention of Hamas. If this were to happen, Hamas could ally its self with Iran and Syria. At this point, the middle east will have lost all stability, and American forces will be fighting a loosing battle with enemies on all sides and not enough men to fill necessary gaps.

Second, the United Kingdom will likely pledge support, as will other parts of the European Union, after all a unified middle east under a banner of Islamic extremism isn't good for anyone. China and Russia will most likely opt to keep their noses clear in the beginning. This is where North Korea comes in.

Finally, North Korea brings up the rear. North Korea is really the free radical in the equation. Its not clear whether Kim Jong Il would take advantage of the situation, but with US forces at a tactical disadvantage both geographically and in terms of keeping troops supplied, they may attempt to get into the fray. This is especially dangerous if they have nuclear weapons. That, as yet, remains unclear. If nuclear weapons come into the game, the President will no doubt retaliate with the brunt of American nuclear forces. North Korea may bring China and Russia into the game, but only because Russia wouldn't want such a zealous nuclear counter-part in Asia. Similarly, China wouldn't have a choice since they would suffer at the hands of any nuclear fall-out from an attack against North Korea. Unfortunately, this could be a chance for China to reclaim Taiwan.

Any way you slice it, its a dangerous situation. The hope is that Hamas follows the road of Fatah, and the end game is played out politically. Many analysts are hoping that this political movement pacifies Hamas. Israel, though, remains a point of tension. If Israel were to take a pre-emptive approach to the situation, the whole debacle would unfold and the rest of the world would be along for the ride. Patience and diplomacy is the key here. If the cards are played correctly, the whole mess can be resolved without escalating to a world wide military conflict. Moreover, accepting Hamas would go a long way to legitimizing democracy in middle eastern countries typically run by theocracy. If anything, such an initial approach would save face, how can Americans tout democracy but then disagree with the free choice of a people who have made a decision. Regardless, we all should hope for patience, and that cooler heads will prevail, even if it means cooling our American egoism.

No comments: