Tags: Possible | Geopolitical | Future

A Possible Geopolitical Future

Friday, 17 December 2004 12:00 AM

Between 1995 and 2005, it was the September 11, 2001, attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that triggered a war on, and the defeat of, Afghanistan's despotic Taliban regime followed by a war on, and the defeat of, Saddam Hussein's bloody tyranny.

Movers and shakers as well as long-range thinkers and planners meet in a wide variety of intelligence and think-tank huddles. These over-the-horizon, out-of-the-box appraisals range from good news scenarios (the minority) to the kind of global unraveling funk whose only antidote would be a desert island.

Behind all the geopolitical jargon about the "functioning core of globalization," "system perturbations" and "dialectics of transformation," there is the underlying fear of a Vietnamlike debacle in Iraq that would drive the U.S. into isolationism — a sort of globalization in reverse.

Among the most interesting and optimistic librettos in the game of nations is peace in the Middle East made possible by a deal with Iran. Keeping this kind of negotiation with the ayatollahs secret in the age of the Internet and 4 million bloggers taxes credulity. It would also take a Henry Kissinger or a Zbigniew Brzezinski to pull it off. However, if successful, it would look something like this:

In reality, Iran is automatically the region's dominant power after U.S. armed forces withdraw from Iraq. The Shi'ite side of Islam, long the persecuted majority in Iraq, will emerge victorious in forthcoming free national elections. A minimum of 1 million Iranians have moved into Iraq since Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 1/2 years ago. The Iran-Iraq border is porous, mountainous, largely unguarded and no one has even an approximate count. The Jordanian intelligence service believes the Iranian influx into Iraq could be as high as 3 million.

In Syria, the Alawi regime, in power since 1970, is also a Shi'ite sect of Islam. In Lebanese politics, the Hezbollah Party is a Shi'ite movement. The oil fields of Saudi Arabia are in the kingdom's eastern province, where Shi'ites are the majority – and Iran is a hop, skip and jump away.

One all-too-realistic geopolitical nightmare was a weapon of mass destruction terrorist attack on the U.S. West Coast. A nuclear device detonates in a container ship about to enter Long Beach, Calif. News had just broken about pollution of the U.S. food supply, most analysts assumed by transnational terrorism. The U.S. can prevail conventionally anywhere but seems helpless in coping with asymmetrical warfare.

In quick succession:

A slight detour from this global ship o' fools imaginary cruise had Pakistan and India, no longer restrained by the United States, miscalculating and exchanging a nuclear salvo over Kashmir. A billion Indians survive. A city disappears, Islamabad. Pakistan, part of India prior to independence in 1947, collapses as a unitary state and becomes part of India again.

To be warned is forewarned. Short of WMD terrorism, the intelligence insiders are concerned about implosions in the former Soviet Muslim republics. They also say there is no more important objective for the Bush administration than repairing transatlantic relations. Chris Patten, the EU's outgoing foreign minister, says, "The world deserves better than testosterone on one side and superciliousness on the other."

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Between 1995 and 2005, it was the September 11, 2001, attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that triggered a war on, and the defeat of, Afghanistan's despotic Taliban regime followed by a war on, and the defeat of, Saddam Hussein's bloody tyranny....
Possible,Geopolitical,Future
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2004-00-17
Friday, 17 December 2004 12:00 AM
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