Friday, 14 December 2012

The drumbeats of war?

The most important event of 2012 may well have been something that did not happen - Mitt Romney was not elected as US president.

Romney made a series of statements that revealed a reckless approach to international affairs that would have exacerbated tensions already straining the capacity of statesmen to control events.

We expect US presidents to be inexperienced on the international stage, but we expect them to choose wise and experienced advisors and the tough guy talk of Romney showed a lack of grasp of even recent history - I am thinking here of Kennedy's acceptance speech in which he said that America would ' ..bear any burden, fight any the cause of freedom' 
It was later revealed that these words led almost straight to the Cuba Crisis, convincing as they did Khrushchev that Kennedy was both green and dangerous.

But there are two really frightening developments in international affairs. They lie, as so often, at the crossroads between the middle east and US policy.

Five thousand years ago Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land - the only trouble being that the Palestinians lived there too and there has been conflict ever since.

This conflict has flared up again recently and the real reason it has is the first of my two really frightening developments : Iran and its nuclear ambition.

The Israelis want to attack Iran because they think this is the only way to avoid what they describe as 'an existential threat' to their survival.

Before they do that, they must occupy Gaza to neutralise the threat of Iranian supplied missiles fired by Hamas.

The US has succeeded in stalling this ambition so far, but it won't last because of the other really frightening event of 2012 : The oil embargo on Iran.

History buffs will remember that it was the US imposed oil embargo on Japan which led to Pearl Harbour.

The US led embargo on Iran is providing further justification for the Iranian regime in developing nuclear power and is harming ordinary Iranians, but more importantly, it is increasing the power of the hard line Revolutionary Guard in Iran ( just as the same policy did for the military fanatics in Japan in 1940 )

The Iranian regime must find a way to distract its people from the economic turmoil that their policy has brought down upon their people and an aggressive move in response to Israeli threats is a likely contender.

This combination of Israeli belligerence and the economic collapse brought about by the oil embargo in Iran will be difficult to control, especially as relations are not cordial between the two sponsoring powers of Russia and the USA.

The collapsing regime in Syria is only adding fuel to the fire, lining up the US against Russia and Iran, both of whom support Assad and the status quo.

These manoeuvres are taking place on a wider field of conflict which is seeing an increasing willingness to resort to force or the threat of force without recourse to any legal sanction.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the USA is conducting illegal assassinations using Drones or unmanned aircraft.

This sets a bad example which is likely to be followed, and is creating another generation of martyrs.

In a world of increasing fragmentation and technological virtuosity, we need international law as a codification of co-operation and compromise between state actors.

From this stable platform, the world can keep an eye out  for all the ‘black swans’ that are bound to be out there, armed to their teeth and nursing a grievance.

It is time to look again at the UN and give it some teeth so that it is not sidelined and humiliated as it has been in 2012.

If I was one of the scientists in charge of the doomsday clock, I would be moving the hands a little closer to midnight in 2013.

Fortunately it is not about London and not about Moscow.

But this news just out. "The United States expanded anti-nuclear sanctions against Iran on Thursday, blacklisting seven Iranian companies and five individuals including Fereydoon Abbasi, Iran’s top nuclear official and the target of a failed assassination attempt in Tehran two years ago, which Iran said was the work of Israeli operatives."

Unfortunately I'm sure I'm right about the US throttling Iran into aggression

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