I’m thirty-six years old. That means that my formative years were spent during the Cold War. While it wasn’t a real, ‘shooting’ war, the Cold War defined life both in the West and behind the Iron Curtain for two generations.
Make no mistake; the Soviet Union was a formidable enemy. As Communism dictates that the State controls the means of production, a Communist Government can produce whatever it wishes produced even at the expense of its own Citizenry.
So you end up with a country that has the largest naval fleet in the World, the most tanks and guns, arguably some of the best planes in the air and the most powerful rockets – whose own people have to line up for toilet paper.
Of course, the Soviet Union ultimately collapsed under its own weight. Unable to produce enough to keep up with the West (particularly the United States) and under pressure from many directions from within and without, it finally folded.
And I’m really starting to miss the Cold War.
When “The Russkies” were our biggest enemy, life was pretty simple. We had our enemy, and they had theirs, but neither would ever fire a direct shot because to do so would lead inextricably to Total Force Commitment. Nuclear War. And though the Soviets really did believe that their cause was the good one, and we believed (and still do) that our cause is the good one, nobody wanted a nuclear war.
Nobody ever launched their weapons because, even though we may hold our ideologies very dearly, none of us wanted to die.
The current President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made it clear that his country will pursue “peaceful nuclear technology” without the interference of the UN or the IAEA or anyone else. He’s also made it more than clear that he doesn’t believe the Holocaust actually occurred, and that Israel itself should be wiped from the map. He’s even going to host a “symposium” on the Holocaust…so that he may then officially deny it.
If anyone doesn’t know, Iran doesn’t need nuclear power. Not now, and probably not for a really long time to come. Iran is one of the most energy-rich nations in the World, holding oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia. (And with recent news of Saudi Arabia’s estimates being off, Iran may well be number one.)
There is only one reason Iran needs nuclear technology right now, and that is to build weapons. While we futz about trying to get them back to the negotiating table (while planning contingencies should we feel the need to attack), they are enriching uranium as quickly as they can to try and build a weapon before we attack. Because if they can build that weapon – so the logic goes – then we cannot possibly attack, and then they can do as they please. Including wiping Israel off the map.
Then what stops them from threatening the rest of us with a good nuking?
Nothing. While the succession of General Secretaries of the USSR fluctuated a bit, they were all men that knew they didn’t want to die. Even that firebrand Kruschev. And that simple fact, at the most basic level, ended up keeping us all alive.
Now we have a man that believes the messiah is coming. Roughly comparable to the Christan idea of the Second Coming of Christ, for Shi’ites the revelation of the Mahdi (or “Hidden Imam”) heralds the Apocalypse. And no one seems very sure if Ahmadinejad merely believes that this day is coming soon – and thus he must prepare for it – or if he believes that he can actually bring it about.
Consider this quote, which I managed to find through several sources, including Wikipedia:
(Mundhir al-Jawzi) said: I heard (Ja’far al-Sadiq) say: “Before the coming of the one who will rise (al-qa’im), peace be on him, the people will be chided for their acts of disobedience by a fire which will appear in the sky and a redness which will cover the sky. It will swallow up Baghdad, it will swallow up Kufa. There blood will be shed and houses destroyed. Death (fana) will occur amid their people and a fear will come over the people of Iraq from which they shall have no rest.”
If he had a few nukes, he could certainly make us a nice, red fire in the sky. Whether the Mahdi then shows up will be completely irrelevant to me.
It scares me absolutely shitless, and I’m not the only one.
French President Jacques Chirac is another. In January he stated pretty clearly that France would consider a nuclear response to a terrorist attack. For the leader of a nuclear power to even feel that he needs to say that just shows how far we’ve come.
It has also been revealed that France has reduced the number of warheads on “a number” of its deployed missiles in order to target specific points rather than a large area.
Stay with me here…not only has the French Government thought about this, but they have prepared for it and they have made it public policy. If France were attacked tomorrow (and I certainly do not wish it) and they did not retaliate with full force, then the entire West is rendered impotent.
Add to this the always-befuddling North Korea, whose woeful leader Kim Jong Il drinks Hennessy V.S.O.P. and maintains an army that would be massive by any measure, all while his own people are starving and have to be fed by foreign aid shipments. Charming.
And this guy already has his nukes, and missiles capable of delivering them a very great range indeed. Japan has re-opened debate on building a deterrent nuclear arsenal of their own to counter this threat, for they know they would be the first target. And, dare I say it, they know what it means to be nuked.
The only thing that makes Kim Jong Il better than Ahmadinejad (if I had to pick the lesser of two evils) is that underneath all the posturing and bluster there is likely still a man that doesn’t want to die.
And I don’t want to die, either. Even if I am a crackpot.