Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen: Give it up for Israel and Iran

The Drudge Report, one of my favorite sources of quick news, links to an article in the Jerusalem Post stating that Israel is preparing options for an Iran strike.

My hunch is that Israel has probably already war-gamed different “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb Iran” scenarios to exhaustion by now. At this point, America seems to have a wait and see attitude with respect to Iran going nuclear. “La-Da-Da-Da Life goes on” and “time keeps on ticking”, to paraphrase the Beatles and Pink Floyd. But, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, “time is not on our side”.

Waiting for Iran to get full-scale nuclear capabilities will irreversibly change the world as we know it. This is probably the most serious, though understated, international issue of our time.

The most obvious ramification of Iran going nuclear is that it will trigger like-mindedness among its neighbors. There will be an arms race where every country in that region will rush to acquire the same capability. For many obvious reasons a nuclear armed middle east is dire for everybody. Nuclear weapons aren’t intended for in-house enjoyment. They travel well across borders. Even, maybe over an ocean that separates them from us.

Did I mention that you have irrational clerical nuts in charge of Iran? The leader of Iran holds to a Shiite Muslim interpretation in which the Mahdi, a hidden prophet who walks among us in an occult state, is envisioned to return. Iran's leader, Mr. A, sees himself as an instrument of Allah’s Will in helping him along. As mayor of Tehran, it is said that the Mr. A had the streets of Tehran redone and beautified so that the Mahdi would walk on nice terrain for the glorious occasion. I wish this was a Stargate or Star Trek Next Gen episode I was describing. But unfortunately it’s not. People take this business quite seriously.

Because of what’s happening in Iran, I am very sympathetic to Israel. They are not in an easy position and nor are we. The case of Iran and Israel illustrates the complexity of our world and the fact that there are not easy or good options available.

On the one hand, I suppose we could support Israel and have them go in and try to destroy the sites. The problem with this is that the sites aren’t hanging out in the open. It’s not precisely known where they are, and even so, they are underground or hard to access because there are many spread throughout the country. In addition, Iran is about 4x the size of Iraq. It’s a big country and it’s got a lot of people. They are reasonably up-to-date on their stock weapons technology. Not on a par with America or Israel. But they’re not slinging stones from sticks either. They could effectively retaliate. There is a bit of a myth that Israel is invincible militarily. It makes sense for the myth to be perpetuated. But while they're strong per capita, the myth is still a myth and they are not invincible.

On the other hand, because of what’s happening in Iran, if we don’t do anything and hold back Israel we all but ensure a nuclear Iran and live with the consequences that follow.

Sometimes a nation and an individual feels they need to act. This is especially true for men. To sit back and watch events transpire appears to be unmanly. The old adage is that doing something is better than nothing, especially when the world is falling apart. We celebrate heroes of the past who had courage and took action and skewer those around them who urged caution in the face of danger.

I tend to think that with Iran we need to avoid trying to be heroes. We probably need to be cautious and wait and see what happens. I have not definitively made up in my mind about “doing nothing” because it goes against every instinct I have and my personal nature. I am not a person who sits on his hands nor am I a passive acceptor of the status quo. This personality trait has served me well but it has also resulted in me making some poor decisions over time.

But this may be a time when America should wait and see what God Himself is allowing to happen. I am not alluding to dispensational theology here, but God may have plans for that place that we can do nothing about. God’s Will may actually be for us to do nothing rather than to do something.

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