Yesterday, President Bush drew worldwide attention for stating the obvious ... that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it would lead to World War III.
His comment was not adequately expressed, but the logical assumption is that he was talking about the probability that Iran would actually use or allow the use of its nukes against Israel and/or U.S. interests, leading to retaliatory strikes and subsequently escalating warfare that would draw in countries from around the world.
President Ahmedinejad of Iran has indicated several times that Israel is due for annihilation. Israel and the United States are determined to guard against that.
Today, even the Democratic front runners in the U.S. presidential race are saying that the preemptive military option versus Iran's nuclear development capabilities is NOT off the table. Quite simply, in the U.S. there is little give on this issue. France, U.K., Japan, and Australia are key allies who join America in that stance. Germany is also likely to stand firm with the others against the Iranian mullahcracy from obtaining the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.
With strong commitment on this by the world's free nations, there would likely be a peaceful ultimate solution arrived at via strong negotiation and trade pressures. However, Iran has supporters who are increasingly digging in their heels. Russia, China, Venezuela, North Korea, and Syria and the main nation-states supporting Iran to some degree in this matter.
Each nation has its own vested interests in a controversy such as this. It is never so easy as a simple decision to support or not support. Clearly, there are political/diplomatic/military alignments that are becoming more and more entrenched out there. In fact, perhaps a more telling motivation for some is an anti-U.S. angle to all of this.
Interestingly, this week alone has proven to magnify tensions a bit on all fronts.
Russian President Putin is intensely feeling his oats after meeting with and pressuring at least some of the Caspian Sea nation leaders and declaring that those nations will not be allowed to be used to stage attacks on Iran, as the U.S. has reportedly been planning should that need arise. Further, he clinched a deal that prevents the development of a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline that had been advocated by the U.S., effectively bypassing Russian control over energy concerns in that region.
Turkey is preparing to militarily venture into Iraqi territory to deal with a Kurdish population there that they are feeling threatened by. Needless to say, this is not a development sanctioned or smiled upon by the U.S. or the Iraqi government.
The return of former Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto out of exile to a catastrophic welcome-home bombing by her Muslim opponents is a grim reminder of the vulnerability of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal to a regime change brought about by extremists there who may not be in the minority. Lest we forget, India watches events in Pakistan with their own nuclear triggers at the ready.
Finally, when something so benign as the U.S. recognition this week of the Tibetan Dalai Lama causes China to issue a warning that the honor "gravely undermined" relations between China and the U.S., well, I think we could say that the last few days has not been the friendliest of times in international circles.
We're not there yet where events would be expected to explode soon into a new widespread conflict. But this week would appear to be a period in which the screws have been tightened a half-turn across the board.
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