Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A new war in the Gulf?

Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson predicts a new Gulf War erupting in 2007 and lasting until 2011. He shows none of the extended analysis of, say, Harry Turtledove's fiction, and limits his hypothesis mainly to this year. His main point is that if the United States and the United Nations ignore the looming nuclear threat of Iran, the following scenario will occur: "As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war."

This time, the demagogue in question is Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Aided by French and Russian money, Ahmadinejad could make his country into a nuclear threat, and his anti-Israel rhetoric makes him appear as dangerous as Saddam Hussein once seemed.

Just as worse, according to Ferguson, is that this is a year of lost leadership: a reluctant Dubya, a battered Blair, an incapacitated Sharon. As a result, the only course to pursue is through diplomatic wrist-slaps.

Is Iran really that formidable, and is the West really that helpless? Iran has not fought a war since the 1980s, so it is hard to gauge the effectiveness of its army. The American and Israeli militaries remain two of the best technologically-equipped fighting forces in the world. That said, the US is pursuing an ambitious agenda with forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan; this could make it difficult for the US to invade other countries. However, the American forces in Iraq would seem sufficiently strong to withstand any Iranian attack across the border.


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