The great thing about predicting human events is that you are so often wrong. In this case, nothing would make me happier than to be in error. But, G-d help us all, I think the odds aren't that bad that I' m right. It is possible that yesterday morning, we started World War III.
The beginnings of wars are often hard to identify. Which act lit the spark on the tinderbox? Which straw was the final one? Like peak oil itself, the beginnings of war are often visible only in retrospect. Why today? Why, when we might make the case a world war war began when the US invaded Iraq? Why when this particular cause might turn out to be just another brush fire?
We don't know. We can only guess. Yesterday morning, Israel invaded Lebanon in retaliation for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, and began shelling civilian targets. Hezbollah is demanding the release of 9000 Palestinian prisoners. Israel is threatening to destroy Lebanon and potentially Syria as well. Iran and Syria are both making noises in support ofHezbollah, and our president and Germany are making noises in support of Israel. Iran has already threatened to close the gulf to oil transport in retaliation for any US or Israeli strike into Syria. Our government has been looking for an excuse to invade Iran, and here is one ready-made - Iran's long standing economic support and military support of Hezbollah. Moreover, American strategy in the middle east is deeply tied into Israel, and there is no questionthat we will provide support of some sort or another if Israel fully commits to war with Lebanon and perhaps Syria.
Another American beachhead, run through Israel, is likely to spark more conflict with Iran and other nations in the middle east, and encourage them to retaliate by cutting off oil supplies. And full-scale, multi-national war in the middle east is something no energy dependent nation inthe world (that is, basically all of us) can afford to ignore. As Iraq fragments and the US is increasingly over committed, China and Russia are caught between their economic and energy ties to Syria and Iran, and their desire not to antagonize the US. But if the middle east fully ignites, neither China nor Russia will be free not to choose sides. They will have to protect their own interests. And I believe nothing good could possibly come from so many people with big guns and nuclear bombs trying to decide which side they are on.
I could be wrong. This could all just peter out, or end in a peaceful solution. I pray it be so. But the crisis pattern we're seeing resembles things I've seen before in history books. I won't be surprised if someday, today is named the beginning of the next world conflict, the one that we've all known was coming. As I said before, G-d help us all, and may I just end up looking silly, making predictions that don't come true.
If not, though, the only thing that will stop this from becoming a greater disaster is the will and strength of people all over the world to say, "stop." Because this is madness. In Israel, I would pray you will say "Stop!" no matter how desperately your hearts are aching for those children/soldiers who were stolen from you. In Gaza and Iran and Beirut, I pray you will say "Stop!" and find a way that leads to peace. In the US, we must say "Stop!" and prepare to consume less and use less and absorb any oil shocks coming to us, rather than strike military blows to get our way. And those who could be drawn in so disastrously must stand up as the voices of wisdom, and also say "Stop!" and talk peace at those who are so hurt and angry they can only see war. Please G-d, we all have such wisdom.