It is certainly not easy to know how to respond to the trouble and “hot spots” that exist and have existed around the world in the past. Historically, the United States has been slow to take action when there is trouble in the rest of the world. While we are consistently seen as world bullies and those who attempt to control world events, history paints a different picture of America. American policy for most of our existence dictated avoidance of entanglement in European Wars. America decided that distance gave us the option to remain relatively neutral from the never-ending wars in Europe, resulting in a period of isolationism. Of course, it was impossible for us to remain neutral as we were eventually drawn into those wars. We especially entered the realm of world involvement in World War I and World War II. Interestingly, we had difficulty deciding who the aggressors were in both wars and only entered after deliberate attacks on American shipping.
Today, we are much less reluctant to become involved in world affairs as demonstrated by Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In our current world situation, we face three critical areas of utmost concern. These problem areas are, arguably, the most dangerous risk to world peace that has ever existed: Syria, Iran and North Korea.
Each of these countries present unique issues and each hold the potential for worldwide nuclear war – and all three countries pose, equally, a tremendous threat.
Syria: The problem in Syria is both long-standing and somewhat new. Syria has been a problem area for decades and has been one of the main harbors for terrorist activity worldwide. In fact, if the weapons of mass destruction that we could not find in Iraq are anywhere, most experts agree that they are in Syria. Syria provided aid, assistance, and sanctuary to Iraq which hindered our early efforts against that country.
Of course, the current problem with Syria is the yearlong violence directed at the heavy- handed dictator President Bashar al-Assad. This conflict started as a result of harsh reaction against students who posted anti-government graffiti. As the conflict escalated, it has become a national conflict of continuous death and atrocities directed at citizens. By December of 2011, the United Nations was declaring the conflict to be near civil war.
The United Nations has called on President Bashar al-Assad to surrender the government to a vice president and has attempted to deal with the issues through sanctions and resolutions. The biggest issue is that both Russia and China vetoed those resolutions standing clearly against the rest of the world (especially the United States) and against Jordan, Turkey and the Arab League all of whom have called for an end to the inhumane treatment of the civilian population of Syria.
In early March 2012, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate that President Obama had asked the Pentagon for military options on Syria. But both General Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the administration still believed that diplomatic and economic pressure was the best solution for protecting Syrians from the Assad regime. (Source: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/syria/index.html)
In the past few days, Senator John McCain made significant waves by urging the United States to start air strikes against Syria; others suggested that we arm the insurgents. The problem with arming the protestors is that many of them are known supporters of Al-Qaeda.
Clearly, this circumstance endangers the stability of the region and the people of Syria. Also, it brings a challenge of power and will between the United States against Russia and China.
Iran: Iran has presented significant problems for the United States for decades. This problematic relationship became a critical issue during the Carter administration when Iran took forceful control of the American Embassy and held our diplomatic team hostage. Carter’s failure to take positive action was, in part, responsible for the election of Reagan who took decisive action ending that part of our crisis.
In recent years, however, Iran has been working diligently to create a nuclear weapon while at the same time declaring that Israel must be wiped from the face of the earth. Undoubtedly, this problem is one of our most perilous. The stability of the entire world hinges on finding a solution to this confrontation with Iran.
As I write these words, the news on this day is filled with intelligence from around the world confirming that Iran has tested a nuclear trigger device, and that it is preparing to move all of operations underground where they will be safe from spy satellites and from aerial attack. Perhaps the most disturbing news is that a possible offer was made by the Obama administration, offering new bunker busting bombs and refueling planes to Israel if they will hold off attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities until after the election. The Obama administration wishes to continue with diplomatic efforts which were proven ineffective both in Carter's and the present administration. Even if such a deal was offered to Israel, it is obvious that the current administration is more focused on the consequences to the election than to the efforts of protecting Israel and the entire Middle East.
Again, we face danger from Russia in this crisis as they have offered preemptive intel to Iran regarding any pending attack from either Israel or the United States.
North Korea: The final, but certainly, not the least of the world’s worries, is a nuclear-capable North Korea. Like Iran, North Korea is working feverishly toward the development of a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver the weapon. Their target, of course, is Japan with whom they and China have had long standing hostility dating back almost a century.
North Korea is equally hostile to United Nations inspectors and to sanctions, resolutions or any other diplomatic efforts to end their resolves. North Korea has already fired a number of missiles in the direction of Japan, in theory to test their ability to deliver a nuclear weapon. Their missiles have landed on the east coast of Russia and in the Sea of Japan so far; but are pretty close attempts. In addition to Japan, North Korea would undoubtedly attempt to reunite the peninsula by attacking South Korea. Any attack on Japan or South Korea would involve the United States as they are both significant allies and trade partners.
Our greatest hope with North Korea is that China will find it to its benefit to keep North Korea under control. To date, however, we have not seen much success with that idea.
All of these issues create major quandaries. These are sovereign nations, after all. How can we tell a sovereign nation what it must do? But if we remember history, the world followed a policy of appeasement with Hitler. First Hitler took the Rhineland and it was allowed, then quickly Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. By the time Europe was ready to halt his aggressive violations, it was too late.
Will we repeat that kind of historical mistake? Will we allow these nations to endanger the entire world with the threat of nuclear weapons and annihilation of entire civilizations or will we act before it is too late?
John Wayne Tucker
© TBP Publishing 2012, The Bold Pursuit®. All Rights Reserved.