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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-23-06 03:20 AM
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Allow me, if you please, to freak you out...
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It is easy enough to hold the violence unfolding in the Middle East at arm's length if you are an American, especially if you are an American whose knowledge of the vast complexities of the situation comes from the television news. It is easy enough to hold it all at arm's length because, goodness knows, you've heard enough about Mideast violence already over the last several years.

It may even be something of a relief to have all this unfold, because it has managed to drown out coverage of the daily drumbeat of Iraq carnage. If you are an American with a media-trained short attention span, you might even be able to pretend, for a while anyway, that the Iraq thing isn't really that important anymore. If it was important, they'd be covering it, right?

Besides, you're safe. The Bush administration has spent an enormous amount of time and energy convincing you that you're covered, that they've got your back, that they are all about the defense of the homeland. Nothing else has been blown up over here since 9/11, so they must be doing something right. And besides, violence between Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah is so totally 80's, anyway.

Let's roll one version of the tape to the end.

The military build-up on the border between Israel and Lebanon is ostensibly aimed at Hezbollah guerillas, but it isn't too long of a drive between that build-up and the Syrian border. If enough people get nervous on either side, or if Syria decides to flex its muscles on behalf of its proxy fighters in Lebanon, or if Israel decides to strike the root instead of the stalk, then all of a sudden we have a firefight between two serious powers.

Syria and Iran signed a mutual defense pact not so long ago, which means fighting one is tantamount to fighting both. This isn't terribly daunting to the Israeli military, because there are not many combinations of military powers in the region that can challenge their conventional warfare might.

The fight starts for real, and the first thing Israel does is establish control of the air. The Israeli air force chews up the Syrian and Iranian air forces at speed, and then begins to attack basic infrastructure: power grids, fuel depots, bridges, communications centers, anti-aircraft batteries and any troop or armor concentrations it comes across in the process.

Stage two, once air dominance is established, will be Israel attacking and destroying any and all troop, armor and artillery forces deployed by Syria and Iran. They will do this to great effect, and follow it up with their own troops and armor. Syria and Iran will find themselves, very rapidly, almost entirely outmatched.

But Syria and Iran are not entirely without fangs. Iran's batteries of Sunburst missiles are unleashed from their mountainous shoreline overlooking the Persian Gulf, and a number of heavy American warships are hit and sunk, because the Sunburst has the capability of defeating Aegis radar systems. Iran likewise has the ability to, overnight, bring their fight against Israel to the American soldiers in Iraq. Iran's Shiite allies all across Iraq introduce a whole new front in that struggle.

Somewhere in this, the oil spigot in Iran is either disrupted or deliberately shut off. The global economy rocks and rolls. China, whose multi-billion dollar oil deals with Iran provides their economy a desperately needed infusion, feels the shortage severely. An ominous possibility arises, only darkly muttered previously because the ramifications are too dire to contemplate. That possibility, simply, is China's ability, with their vast holdings of American debt, to annihilate the American economy with five simple words: "We want our money back." At a minimum, China becomes a major player in the situation.

As if this were not bad enough, Syria is pressed into a corner by Israel's effective attacks. The Syrian leadership realizes Israel isn't simply pushing them, punishing them or attempting to bomb them to the negotiating table. Israel is out for blood and intends to topple the Syrian government. Syria's commanders, facing extinction, break the seal on the final option: their stockpile of chemical weaponry. Gas bombs are used against Israeli troops, and explode within Israel's borders.

And we're off to the races.

Israel, erupting with rage, turns Syria and Iran into glass. An explosion of rage envelops the Middle East, and even the Arab governments who chastised Hezbollah are forced to choose between opposing Israel or being themselves toppled by the swell. The eruption is most acute in Pakistan, whose hard-core fundamentalists are umbilically and spiritually tied to their Taliban neighbors in Afghanistan.

Pervez Musharraf is faced with a sudden revolution, both from his population and from within the ranks of his Taliban-friendly military. His government is toppled, and all of a sudden, a nuclear power has been overthrown by Islamic extremists. The American military unit in Pakistan, whose sole purpose is to secure and remove that nations' nuclear arsenal in the event of revolt, loses the race to get hold of the weapons.

India reacts with unutterable terror, as does China and Russia and every other neighbor in the immediate region. Worse, the ultimate nightmare has become real. There are, all of a sudden, loose nukes walking the Earth.

If this last Pakistani bit seems too farfetched, someone should let the editors of the Los Angeles Times know. The following appeared in the Opinion section of their Sunday edition: "Al Qaeda has had Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in its sights for years, and the organization finally gets its man. Pakistan descends into chaos as militants roam the streets and the army struggles to restore order. India decides to exploit the vacuum and punish the Kashmir-based militants it blames for the recent Mumbai railway bombings. Meanwhile, U.S. special operations forces sent to secure Pakistani nuclear facilities face off against an angry mob."

Meanwhile, back in America, terror strikes begin to take place all across the country. It was, after all, the violence between Israel, Palestine and Lebanon back in the 1980's that inspired men like Ramsi Yousef to attack the World Trade Center in the first place. The government is powerless to stop these attacks, because anti-terror funding has been redirected to bean festivals in Indiana instead of major capitols and seats of infrastructure, and because the first-warning intelligence services have been savaged in an ideological purge.

"Red Alert" is announced. Martial law is declared, posse comitatus and habeas corpus are suspended, and the Constitution of the United States is indefinitely put on the shelf. Elections are cancelled, and a sense of permanent emergency is impressed upon a cowed and unprepared populace by a pliant news media.

Sleep tight.
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