On The Beach

Copyright © by Len Holman, 3/13/12


  I live in the high desert, and just below us, relatively speaking—about 30 or so miles—is the San Andreas fault.  When the Big One hits, I tell everyone, my property value will skyrocket because when California splits off from the rest of the U.S., the Pacific Ocean will come rushing in, and I will have valuable beachfront property, just like the “A” list folk in Malibu.  But now, if things go as well as they have so far, I won’t have to wait for an 8.3.  I’ll just wait for all the talk of war with Iran to come to a head, which will undoubtedly result in some kind of a nuclear exchange—and the next thing anyone knows, half the earth will glow in the dark, and the other half will ALWAYS be dark. 

  Yes, our President is talking calmly about diplomacy and sanctions and giving Iran a chance to make nice, but there is an increasing insistence among our politicians and candidates for President that we must DO SOMETHING, and then there is Israel, which insists that Iran is an “existential threat.”  There is no doubt that there are some—and will always be some—who want Israel gone from the face of the earth.  And there are some in Iran who would like to do that soon, and some here in this country who have taken it into their heads that if Iran’s nuclear facilities are bombed, that will be the end of it and we can all go back to the Way It Used To Be.  Except we won’t.  Many already believe we have been at war with Iran for a while: someone unleashed a nasty virus into Iran’s centrifuge system—the machinery which purifies its uranium—and set them back for a while.  And someone has assassinated Iran’s nuclear scientists—the latest being a magnetic car bomb which was very effective. 

  Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa which declares the primacy of defending the Islamic republic, and the Iranian public—not all that happy with their regime on a good day—is solidly behind it when it comes to other countries telling it what it can and cannot do.  Oh, and there’s the oil thing.  The Strait of Hormuz, which at its narrowest point is 39 km wide (21 nautical miles), is an oil highway, through which about 20% of the world’s crude oil passes—and Iran threatens to shut it off.  This is but one threat issued by Iran, which must be taken with a grain of salt, since Iran’s economy depends on selling oil and if no oil is sold, the desert covers the minarets and Ahmadinejad is just the short guy in the front row in the picture on page 353 of your history book. Yet we hear an increasing din from everyone who is an expert, and everyone who can get on Fox and CNN, and we read how Israel is “examining” possible outcomes of bombing Iran. 

  I can help Netanyahu with that.  Israel bombs certain facilities in Iran.  Israel bombs mountain tops and large expanses of desert because some of the facilities it is interested in are way underground.  Iran immediately gives up, conceding it had no right to a nuclear program of any kind and beats its breast in abject apology for not letting inspectors rummage around every plant, factory, rug bazaar and mosque in the country.  The Supreme Leader declares Israel a “brother state” and orders every Iranian school to begin teaching Hebrew as a second language.  Iran apologizes to the U.N. for letting radioactive debris escape into the world’s air from the rubble of its nation, and it immediately holds a democratic election which takes five years to complete and then the newly-elected president asks the U.S. to send Sarah Palin as an ambassador. 

  Or it might go down a bit differently.  Israel, with America’s tacit blessing (we don’t want to get our hands dirty, especially with Obama seeking another term), bombs Iran, but Iran retaliates, and there is a missile exchange which blots out the sun for a while.  Then Hezbollah and various fringe groups allied with Iran start chucking rockets at Israel, and then the Taliban and al-Qaeda start up again with a renewed vengeance.  The West Bank and Gaza explode in fury.  Israel wins the battle but loses the war.  The U.S. has its hands full with mini-insurrections everywhere, and the world economy takes a dump.  Children all over the globe see what’s going on say the hell with it all: suicides rise.  American politicians demand a harder line amidst all the chaos—as well as do Israeli pols—and make everything worse.  It takes two generations to begin to see the outlines of the emerging new world.  One argument in favor of making a Fukushima out of Iran is that if Iran is allowed to have nukes EVERYBODY will want them.  Saudi Arabia is mentioned, but they really don’t need them.  They have us. Israel has had nukes for years, but Saudi Arabia and Egypt have declined the honor. India and Pakistan had three wars BEFORE they each had nukes; none after. 

  Another argument is that the Iranian leadership is nuts and will go off the reservation, risking their very existence to destroy Israel.  They’ve spent a lot of time and energy to build up their state and it seems unlikely they would risk it all now.  And as far as being nuts, they’d have to go to the back of the line of a long procession of head cases we currently deal with, have dealt with, or would consider dealing with, including the present head of Syria, the past head of North Korea (and now we’re sending food to his kid), and sundry warlords, heads of state, and wannabes (remember Chalabi?), when it suits our purposes.  Remember, both American and Israeli intelligence systems indicate that, at present, Iran doesn’t have a bomb.  We can’t even tell if they’re actually constructing one.  So before I get out the deck chairs and sunscreen, I’d appreciate it greatly if the so-called leaders of the world would step back, take a deep breath, and get to bargaining with the Persian nation.  Beating war drums is great for dancing, but not for living.


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