O for a bit of Realpolitikk

What on Earth has happened to good old Realpolitikk?
Surfing the news I picked up on a few tidbits concerning Iran, Israel and the Iranian Nuclear program. The usual stuff. The United Nations squabbling away, talk of sanctions, the Iranians ignoring it all and just getting on with it. Possibly counting on the fact that after a decade of warmongering in South Asia, the West and the USA are tired and exhausted and in great need of a good bath and a long nights sleep.
It got the old thoughts going, which is not always easy these days.
One wonders what is really going on right now within the world of Realpolitikk. Whether it even exists anymore. O for the days of the Cold War when everything was so clear cut and easy to understand. Two huge blocks to whom everyone was aligned one way or the other, lots of spies, nuclear races, races to the Moon and John le Carre.
Now there is suddenly a general Arab revolt going on where Mubarek is the first to have been removed but where there seems to be nothing but a void left behind, a void that the Army seems to be filling. Ghaddafi too is now being squeezed and one cannot see him remaining for all that much longer except as an irritant. To topple him is not going to be as simple as first thought. But he remains simply an irritant. In Yemen the USA is supporting the government against rebels, but the Yemeni’s too are on the fringe. Small fry. The Saudi’s and Jordan seem to be unaffected by this upsurge, whereas Iran and Syria, possibly the two most dangerous states, are definitely mired in an opposition that will not go away, but which has been easily contained.
There is so much happening in the Arab world with a new generation emerging that seems to want nothing to do with the ideologues of the past, be they secular or religious, that for once the focus is not on Israel. Except for the goings on in Iran and Syria. Iran is without a shadow of doubt building a nuclear weapon. Syria has attempted the same but the Israelis brought that to a sudden halt in its very infancy. So in all the turmoil there is one clear and present danger – Iran.
A while ago there was a great big rattling of swords in the West which has now quieted down. Iran is proceeding with its enrichment program and hanging program and silence has fallen over it all. Perhaps this is the clearest indication that plans by the USA and Israel have long been made to deal with this threat when it is judged that it has gone too far. The sabers have been rattled, the warnings given, the plans have been honed to deal with it, and one morning we will wake up to the news, as we did with the death of Osama bin Laden.
Those who follow the subject are aware of the joint naval exercises that have been held in the gulf between the USA and Israel, and some may even have picked up on the boo-boo made by the commander of an American missile carrier when he was not being closely enough monitored by his commissar. Where he stated that the exercises were all about a missile shield to protect Israel once they had bombed the Iranian nuclear sites and Iran attempted to retaliate. One knows the Israeli point of view and need not doubt it for a micro-second. Netanyahu stated for all to hear “Israel will NOT allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. And then we know when back in the days of Saddam Hussein how Begin gave the go ahead to bomb the Osirak reactor with a flight of 8 f-16 fighter planes before it came on line. They passed about fifty feet over the deck of the then King of Jordans yacht on their way to Baghdad. They had been training for YEARS. We also know Reagans reaction when he first heard the news. “Boys will be boys”. Then of course he made the other noises that he had to make to placate various nations.
We can perhaps rely on the fact that something will be done about the Iranian nuclear program at some point and consider the consequences, which will most likely unleash a major war in the Middle East, and entirely re-align the region. Saudi and Kuwait are Begging the West to zap the Iranians. That the exercise has been planned and rehearsed, honed and polished continually, for years, can be taken for granted.
After all, a Major war in the Middle East is far preferable to a Nuclear War in the Middle East.
One would think that our political leaders are so astute and clever that they have got it all worked out, but then again, taking a closer look at them does not exactly inspire confidence.
I just hope it does not happen when I am on holiday.

Howard Gamble
Oslo, June 28th 2011

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