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Re: Wallerstein on the Future
by Boris Stremlin
16 September 2002 08:38 UTC
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On Sun, 15 Sep 2002, Khaldoun Samman wrote:

> Greetings,
> In his last commentary, Wallerstein made some conclusions that are, to say 
>the least, frightening.
> <<The dangers the coming Iraqi war pose for all of us are threefold: (1) It 
>may go far towards creating Huntington's "clash of civilizations," 
>transforming it from a rhetorical misapprehension of reality into an 
>organizing principle. (2) It will probably lead to the use of nuclear weapons, 
>thereby ending the taboo, and making their use commonplace in the future. (3) 
>It will legitimate "preemptive action," something the interstate system has 
>been trying to outlaw for some 500 years. And on top of all of this, there 
>will be no clearcut outcome, no immediate end in sight. We live in a chaotic 
>world. But we don't have to up the ante so radically. Unfortunately, we are 
>going to.>>
> The second scenario of "making [the use of nuclear weapons] common place in 
>the near future" is, of course, the most alarming of the three.  It is so 
>terrifying that I would assume it is the least likely scenario of the three.

This is a frightful prospect, of course, but not as unlikely as it sounds
to our complacent ears.  Serge Schmemann in today's NYT reports that
"Western intelligence sources" tell the Israeli gov't that Iraq's war
plans include flying long-range jets equipped with dirty bombs into
Israeli territory.  Assuming the information is at all accurate, this
would constitute a calamitous development, because even assuming that
these jets are shot down before reaching their targets, shooting them down
will spread radioactive material in the region.  Curiously, this
eventuality seems not to resonate with the proponents of the Iraq War, who
argue that the war must be prosecuted to eliminate the threat of the
weapons of mass destruction emerging from Iraq.  In the event that this
strategy is adopted by Saddam Hussein, US (and perhaps Israeli)
retaliation will probably involve nuclear weapons.

An additional factor which complicates the situation significantly and
portents a regional conflagration is Israeli plans for the coming war even
absent the above scenario.  The Voice of America site contains a report
about rising tensions over water resources between Lebanon and Israel.
The Lebanese diversion of a river used by Israel has been cited by Sharon
as a potential casus belli.  It is likely that Israel will use a US war
with Iraq to better its strategic situation and to settle old scores.  The
reaction in the Arab world would of course be explosive.

Boris Stremlin

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