Two men to decide the fate of the embattled mankind in a matter of weeks are Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. The issue at stake is Iran’s determination to achieve deliverable nuclear weapons, which has the inherent potential to spark off the dreaded Third World War.
This is presumably so with the Israeli readiness to attack Iran as early as this November to stop the belligerent nation from arming itself with the finisher weapon. So, Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate the threat of a nuclear Iran.
For Israel, the name of the game is survival or self-preservation. According to Israeli Intelligence since made public Israelis believe Iran will have the bomb within two years since they started and that once they have a bomb it will be too late, and Israel will have no choice to strike with or without America rather live at the mercy of Iran.
A French apothecary and reputed seer, Michel de Nostredame (14 December or 21 December 1503– 2 July 1566), latinised to Nostradamus, was the one who brought in the issue the way it should scare even the fool. Better known as ‘the man who saw tomorrow’, the popular press credits him with predicting many major world events, from the Great Fire of London, the rise of Napoleon I of France and Adolf Hitler, to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Despite doubts raised about the predictive validity of his works, the seer has been largely right.
To be certain, World War III is the hypothetical future successor to World War II (1939–1945). And that future is now. In fiction, the war is often suggested to be nuclear and extremely devastating in nature. This war is anticipated and planned for by military and civil authorities, and explored in fiction by many authors all around the world. Concepts range from purely conventional scenarios or a limited use of nuclear weapons to the destruction of the planet.
Historically, the threats of Third World War have always been there though the present threat is ever more potent and closer to the predictions of Nostradamus, who pinned down to the Middle East as source of instigator. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin sent a note to British Prime Minister Anthony Eden warning that “if this war is not stopped it carries the danger of turning into a third world war.”
The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 is generally thought to be the historical point at which the risk of World War III was closest, and Robert McNamara claimed that if it were not for Vasili Arkhipov, who prevented a nuclear launch on the B-59 Soviet submarine during the heat of the crisis, World War III would have broken out, saying at the Cuban Missile Crisis Havana conference, “A guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.”
On 26 September 1983, a Soviet early warning station under the command of Stanislav Petrov falsely detected five inbound intercontinental ballistic missiles. Petrov correctly assessed the situation as a false alarm, and hence did not report his finding to his superiors. Petrov’s action likely averted a nuclear conflict, as the Soviet policy at that time was immediate nuclear response upon discovering inbound ballistic missiles. According to a report by Geoffrey Forden, published for the Cato Institute, the most likely culprit for the false alarm was the Cosmos-1382 satellite belonging to the Oko early warning system.
During Able Archer 83, a ten-day NATO command post exercise starting on November 2, 1983, the Soviets readied their nuclear forces and placed air units in East Germany and Poland on alert. Some historians believe this exercise was a close call to a start to World War III.
On 12–26 June 1999, Russian and NATO forces had a standoff over the Pristina Airport in Kosovo. In response, NATO commander Wesley Clark demanded that British General Sir Mike Jackson storm the airport with paratroopers. Jackson is reported to have replied, “I’m not going to start the Third World War for you”.
Today, though the scenario is considerably different, the dangers it carries are potentially the same. Israel has said it will never allow Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes to reach fruition because it would leave its very existence at the whim of its staunchest adversary.
We need to also recall that Israel has not previously accepted such risks and cannot therefore be expected to accept it now. It destroyed Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 and a Syrian reactor being built by North Koreans in 2007. One major new element in Israel’s calculus is the Obama administration’s growing distance (especially in contrast to its predecessor).
Let’s deconstruct the emerging third world war threat. The two things are now certain: Iran isn’t giving up its nuclear programme and Israel just issued what many see as the final warning to the west to prevail on Iran or Israel will have no choice other than to use force to stop it. If this happens, Tehran will most likely decide to retaliate against the actual attacker, Israel. Using its missile and perhaps air force capabilities, Iran could do substantial damage in Israel, especially to civilian targets. Of course, one can only imagine what Iran might do once it has nuclear weapons, and this is part of the cost-benefit analysis Israel must make before launching attacks in the first place.
Direct Iranian military action against Israel, however, would provoke an even broader Israeli counterstrike, which at some point might well involve Israel’s own nuclear capability. Ordinarily, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards would have to think long and hard before unleashing its own capabilities against Israel. But Israeli strike against Iran can spin things out of control and fighting to save face can draw other interests into the fray.
For example, the conflict once ignited is more likely to draw in the Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel. By process of elimination, but also because of strategic logic, Iran’s most likely option is retaliating through (but not limited to) Hamas and Hezbollah and by directly throwing in its military. Increased terrorist attacks inside Israel, military incursions by Hezbollah across what they call the Blue Line, and, most significantly, salvoes of missiles from both Lebanon and the Gaza Strip are all strong possibilities.
In plain violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, Iran has not only completely re-equipped Hezbollah since the 2006 war with Israel, but the longer reach of Hezbollah’s rockets now endangers Israel’s entire civilian population. Moreover, Hamas’s rocket capabilities could easily be substantially enhanced to provide greater range and payload to strike throughout Israel, creating a two-front challenge.
Iran may also be arming newer groups here and there. The shiploads of bombs and other high caliber war weapons intercepted at Nigeria’s Apapa wharf has been proved by the nation’s Directorate of State Security to originate from Iran for Nigeria. The reason for this deadly shipment is yet to be deciphered. The shipment could be meant for a group like Boko Haram, which is only growing in impunity and whose sponsors are yet to be uncovered. If Iran is arming such groups across the globe, it may well be to externalize and globalize the conflict, bearing in mind that it may not survive a positional warfare with Israel standing alone.
There is no doubt that Israel itself is a fix for being unavoidably drawn into a major conflict that may drag in the whole world and possibly consume it. Risks to its civilian population will weigh heavily in any Israeli decision to use force, and might well argue for simultaneous, pre-emptive attacks on Hezbollah and Hamas in conjunction with a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Obviously, Israel will have to measure the current risks to its safety and survival against the longer-term threat to its very existence once Iran acquires nuclear weapons. With its current warning to the US to
help stop Iran, it is now certain it has made up its mind to descend on Iran with its military might. And Iran will respond in full measure and hope for support from the Muslim world in the Middle East and beyond and their sympathizers.
This brief review demonstrates why Israel’s military option against Iran’s nuclear program is so unattractive, but also why failing to act now is even worse. Israel is therefore now more bound to strike Iran. The question is only: when?
Many argue that Israeli military action will cause Iranians to rally in support of the mullahs’ regime and plunge the region into turmoil. To the contrary, a strike accompanied by effective public diplomacy could well turn Iran’s diverse population against an oppressive regime. Most of the Arab world’s leaders would welcome Israel solving the Iran nuclear problem, although they certainly won’t say so publicly and will rhetorically embrace Iran if Israel strikes. But rhetoric from its Arab neighbors is the only quantum of solace Iran will get.
Israel once asked for sanctions against Iran. But the regime of sanctions imposed on the spoiling-for-a-fight country has not had any meaningful effect. The new sanctions currently being discussed with Russia, China, and other major powers at the United Nations are likely to be a slightly-enhanced version of the U.N. sanctions already in place, which have had no impact on the Iranian regime.
So, Israel is no longer looking for sanctions to stop Iran’s nuclear programme. Checks clearly show that the Israeli military is preparing itself to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities within days of being given the go-ahead by the Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Among the steps taken to ready Israeli forces for what would be a risky raid requiring pinpoint aerial strikes are the acquisition of three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack. It is also believed Israel has held nationwide civil defense drills to help prepare the public for the retaliation that Israel could face – or is at the verge of doing so.
With all the military maneuvers and civilian response training, Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words; it is real.
Officials believe that Israel could be required to hit more than a dozen targets, including moving convoys. The sites include Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges produce enriched uranium; Esfahan, where 250 tonnes of gas is stored in tunnels; and Arak, where a heavy water reactor produces plutonium.
The distance from Israel to at least one of the sites is more than 870 miles, a distance that the Israeli force practised covering in a training exercise last year that involved F15 and F16 jets, helicopters and refuelling tankers.
And where does the Third World War come into it? The fact is that in the likely outbreak of war between the 2 archrival nations, the world is not likely to stand by and watch them sort out. Hamas and Hezbollah and some other rogue groups and even nations sympathetic to both the Iranian and Israeli causes will be joining the fray. This will still not make it Third World War. The ultimate fear is what USA and Russia decide to do. US even under Obama will join forces with Israel. But will Russia stay away or be annoyed sufficiently to join too? Nobody can tell. But one thing is certain: if Russia joins, it will be on the side of Iran.
If this happens, the whole world will be mobilized and polarized to either side. In all this the prayer the world must keep fervently praying is for the Israeli-Iranian war not to involve nuclear weapons with USA and Russia in opposite divides. If it does involve nuclear weapons now held by even rogue regimes like North Korea…your guess is as good as mine.
For a quick fix, in the short run, the world must prevail on Iran to discontinue its nuclear programme and push for a nuclear-free world in the long run. To insist that some countries can have nuclear weapons and others cannot is hypocritical and that is the question Iran has asked by its insistence on acquiring it. Yet, no matter the sincerity of Iran as for its actual intention, Israel also has the right to live and can respond rationally to genuine threats to its survival. The world is caught between and extricating itself is in its own hands.
Law Mefor, Author and Journalist, is the Ag. National Coordinator, Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM); 234)0(803-787-2893; [email protected]