Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was in the United States over the weekend for a United N summit. Nothing out of the normal there. What is out of the normal is that he used his trip to go on television interviews
telling demanding that the United States set specific conditions (red lines) on Iran that would trigger military action if crossed. Let me repeat, a foreign head of state came to the United States and demanded that we lay out on the table conditions in which we will with no uncertainty use our military if another nation meets those conditions. Was this completely out of line?
I think this move was completely out of line and is almost apology worthy. Why? Natanyahu is not talking about setting conditions like, "if you attack another nation, we will attack you" or "if you set off a nuclear weapon test, we will attack you." Netanyahu wants us to lay out conditions that say we will attack you if you "come close" to developing a nuclear weapon. "Come close" are the key words. How do you define it? How do you check how close someone is? Do you demand weapons inspector access and if that is denied do you attack? Maybe that's what Netanyahu wants. One thing is clear, Israel is preparing to attack Iran preemptively. Israel doesn't want to (but will) do this alone and would prefer the United States help and support.
It is completely out of line as a head of state to go to a foreign country and use their airwaves to demand policy that involves military action, i.e. American lives, to support something that your country will do with or without their support. We are talking about a preemptive strike after-all, not responding to an attack or an invasion. Even worse, Netanyahu made the claim that if we had set these "red lines" up in the early 1990s that the first Gulf War could have been avoided. What?!
Israel will attack whether they have our support or not. They have shown in the past they don't care if the world is against their preemptive strikes. The problem is the world has changed substantially since their last preemptive attack. Arab nations all over the Middle East have been going through massive political changes with the Arab Spring in full bloom. Historically, Arabs and Persians (Iranians) have not gotten along very well. This all goes back to the Sunni/Shia split in Islam and goes back centuries. But now with the Arab Spring, could an attack on Iran by Israel be seen as an attack on all of Islam? Could a preemptive attack on another Islamic nation set of the barrel of dynamite in the Middle East that ignites the next global conflict?
I don't rule out that possibility. The war drums against Iran have been beating for a long time, but animosity against Israel in the Middle East has been going on for decades. It is that animosity that had the United States support a dictator in Egypt for 30 years. Now with Egypt in control by the people through democratic elections, we may discover that the majority in Egypt would rather not keep the peace with Israel like their previous dictator did. That's the funny thing about democracy. Sometimes the will of the people support things that other democratic nations do not.
So how could that lead to a global conflict? If an attack by Israel is the catalyst that sets off the whole mess, then I see the attack uniting Islamic countries in the Middle East against Israel. This would lead to a massive build-up and attack on Israel by Middle Eastern countries. The United States at that point would have to get involved. That is where the whole mess boils out of control because with the United States entering the war zone, China and Russia decide they would rather back their Middle Eastern friends and start by providing weapons and artillery. China then uses the Middle East war as a distraction to invade and takeover disputed islands that Japan now owns. This sets off a ground conflict with Japan and China. Eventually Europe enters the theater to back the United States and Israel (and help get them out of the economic mess they're in) and the war escalates into a new set of Axis and Allies, with the United States, Israel, most European countries, and Japan joining the Allies and China, Russia, and the Middle Eastern countries on the Axis side.
I am literally talking about WWIII.
I don't normally make predictions because the fact is, I hate being wrong. While I am not predicting the above scenario, I do believe that within the next decade a global war, not unlike the above scenario, will be set off. What sets it off might be something minor or it might be something major. In any case, the water in the kettle is starting to boil. Many Western economies are struggling or are in shambles. One thing that history has taught us is that wars are a great way to get out of economic messes. I really hope I am wrong (something I rarely, if ever, say)!