A few days ago the world commemorated the most senseless large-scale slaughter of human beings by mediocre politicians and heartless glory hungry generals. This was the First World War, which ended on "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of the year 1918. A suitable baptizing of what was to become the bloodiest century in human history, the 20th century. It is a century that from a bloodshed point of view has not ended yet.
Now here is a suggestion for a thought experiment to stretch our brains with, and our nerves. What if the leading powers at each side to that conflict had nuclear weapons?
Would that have stopped the war, or annihilate Europe and its vicinity?
Would the leaders who had no scruples in deploying the first modern weapons of mass destruction develop a conscience when faced with the terror of such a weapon?
Or would they be captivated by the promises of strength these weapons contain?
Do you have a quick answer or do you need some time to think about it?
Before you do, lets look at the current regime in Iran. A regime that in the early days of the Iran-Iraq war, sent kids carrying Korans and Taiwanese made plastic keys to open the gates of heaven; to detonate minefields with their bodies.
The point of the exercise suggested here is to show that the likelihood of a Cold War like scenario repeating itself in the Middle East is far from certain. It certainly was not certain when the Cold War begun. What the First World War had taught us, the members of the general public, is the value of human life. To the politicians it taught the value of good judgment, a lesson that was largely practiced during the Cold War. The likelihood of this repeating itself in current and future regional standoffs depends on a range of factors. One of them is the nature of the regimes involved, and the Iranian regime has more in common with the European leadership of 1914, than with the American and soviet leaders of the Cold War.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
There is a wildfire going on right now. It is above and beneath the surface of a great forest and exquisite flora. It is called Jihadism, Islamism, or simply, Islamic religious fanaticism. And it is consuming vast tracks of the great Islamic and Arab civilization that guided the world in science, literature, and philosophy, centuries ago.
But this uncontrolled forest fire is what the EDL, the English Defense League, and like-minded organizations and individuals desire. Whether they vandalize a mosque in protest against the peace process or burn the Koran in the name free speech. Hate is hate, and as it burns books and the ideas they contain it will burn the people who believe in those ideas. No matter what belief system the hate filled person subscribes to.
When two forest fires conjoin, a ten thousand-fold hell unleashes at a lightning speed, with no way of telling one fire from the other. Leaving behind nothing but smoke and ashes. For us caught in between the work is twice as difficult. But someone has got to take on the duties a park ranger, whether as law enforcement agent, an educator, or a mere spoken voice of sanity. Or else the ashes will be us.