by Austin Bay
August 9, 2006
July 2006 may prove to be a signal, era-shaping month in
Sensationalists, fear mongers, defeatists and terrorists prefer
predictions of catastrophe and disaster. On the surface, last month looks
like a violent disaster, an August 1914, with this July's missiles, rockets
and improvised explosive devices replacing the guns of that terrible August.
August 1914 began World War I. World War I seeded World War II,
which lingered as the Cold War.
However, instead of starting a global conflagration, July 2006
exposed or made explicit key elements of and trends in an ongoing war with
global, regional and very local dimensions.
Exposure and definition of problems and problematic actors
create diplomatic, political and military opportunities -- the chance to
forge a genuine, more resilient peace.
But let's give the sensationalists and defeatists their due.
Recall the first week of July: North Korea's surprise missile
volley jolted Asia and North America. One of the first responses to
Pyongyang's missile tantrum certainly sent a chill through China and other
Asian capitals: Japanese leaders suggested reconfiguring Japan's military
for offensive operations, to include acquiring offensive missiles capable of
destroying North Korea's ballistic missile sites and nuclear weapons
The mass terror attack in Mumbai, India, was the big story of
week two. 7/11's bombs left 200 dead and 800 wounded in the economic capital
of the world's biggest democracy.
The Israel-Hezbollah war erased North Korea and Mumbai as the
top headlines. Hezbollah's rockets continue to hammer Israel; Israeli bombs
strike targets throughout Lebanon. Israel now fights a two-front war,
against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Iran, Hezbollah's financier, continued to dodge diplomatic
attempts to end its quest for nuclear weapons.
In Iraq, terrorists and sectarian militias continued the mass
slaughter of civilians with an IED and car bomb campaign centered on
Baghdad. Iraqi security forces required U.S. and coalition reinforcements in
neighborhoods the Iraqi government thought it had secured.
Venezuela's Castro-wannabe, Hugo Chavez, claimed common
political cause with Iran's President Ahmadinejad.
So why any optimism?
Take the last first. Chavez is an armed nuisance inflated by
petrodollars -- which makes him a poster boy for everyone advocating
diversified, alternative energy sources and fuel efficiency. "Chavismo" and
Khomeinism link in only one place: the oil market.
Now consider China's and Russia's response to North Korea's
missiles. China and Russia approved UN sanctions on North Korea. Those
sanctions, tentative as they are, establish a "no go line" for rogue
behavior -- ultimately applicable to Iran as well.
No doubt North Korea embarrassed China, but Japan's increasing
willingness to share Asian defense burdens with the U.S. tells China it must
make some choices. Will Beijing play a mature, responsible role in
protecting the global trading system? China's pro-sanctions vote says at
crunch time it will.
What do the terrorists have to offer the Third World? Mumbai
answered the question for 1 billion Indians: only mass murder. As a
political message that's a historical loser. Anarchism and nihilism do not
build wealth. In fact, wealth defeats them. Within a week Mumbai was back to
work. It will take decades to stop them, but Mumbai demonstrates why
At least terrorists without nuclear weapons, which brings us to
Hezbollah and Iran. The Israel-Hezbollah war reveals Iran and Syria as
actively engaged in hijacking an Arab country (Lebanon) as well as firing
short-range ballistic missiles at Israel. In the long term, arming and
funding Hezbollah will increase at least tacit international support for
regime change in Damascus and Tehran. Tyrants use terrorists, and tyrants
pursue nuclear weapons. The Lebanon-destroying shenanigans of Iran and
Syria's Hezbollah puppet ultimately put the puppeteers at risk.
July also offered a lesson in timelines for democratic change.
Sixteen years ago (Aug. 2, 1990), Saddam invaded Kuwait. Between 1990 and
his overthrow in 2003, Saddam killed an estimated 250,000 people (mostly
Kurds and Shia Arabs). Would anyone in 1990 or in March 2003 have predicted
a freely elected Iraqi prime minister would appear before the U.S. Congress
and thank America for giving his country the opportunity to create a
"Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror," Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a joint session of Congress.
That happened on July 26, 2006.