WW III - Understanding and Confronting the Threat

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Tech Sergeant
Nov 5, 2005
Adv. Ophir Falk*
January 18, 2007


The fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989 marked the end of the cold war and raised two main, yet contrasting views of the paradigm to come. The first view was advocated by Professor Francis Fukuyama in his brow-raising article called the "End of History".[1] Fukuyama asserted that "history", in terms of major human conflicts, had come to an end with the collapse of Soviet communism. The new world order, he led many to believe, would be immune from significant ideological wars and future conflicts would be limited to sporadically localized nuisances that pose no substantial threat to Western civilization and its way of life.

Subsequently, a critical review and an alternative assessment were submitted by Professor Samuel Huntington in an article named "The Errors of Endism"[2] and in a more widely read, famously controversial piece, the "Clash of Civilizations".[3] In his classic analysis in the latter, Huntington argued, inter alia, that ethnically volatile regions previously held as stable satellite entities of the Soviet Union would gradually erupt and identified that "Islam has bloody borders".[4]

The fall of the Berlin Wall, and with it the Iron Curtain, was a historical turning point that was seen in the West as the end to a fifty-year long silent war that brought about the liberalization of peoples. In stark contrast, however, militant Muslims viewed that turning point as a direct corollary - indeed, climax - to their successful struggle against the Soviet superpower in its invasion of Afghanistan.

In a 119-page threat assessment released in January 2005 by the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the CIA director's think tank, it was assessed that the likelihood of "great power conflict escalating into total war … is lower than at any time in the past century". However, it was emphasized that "at no time since the formation of the Western alliance system in 1949 have the shape and nature of international alignments been in such a state of flux as they have in the past decade."[5]

True, the liquidation of the Soviet Union removed the ideological impetus of communist domination, but it also released the tight grip the Kremlin had around the ambitions of many satellite republics, peoples and frivolous dictators. The downfall of the Soviet superpower unleashed the specter of nuclear technology know-how and materiel that could leak to those willing and able to pay.[6] An oil rich and hate driven Iran is both willing and able to pay.

Future historians may indeed construe that the suicide terrorism phenomenon and the zeal to acquire nuclear terrorism capability attests to the fact that "history" did not end in 1989, but rather set our generation into a clash of cultures that served as the backdrop to World War III.

Understanding the Threat:

The first day of September 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland, is considered by most historians the official beginning of WWII. There is no clear date of the beginning of what now seems to be WWIII, but 1979 can definitely be considered a watershed year. That same year, militant sects of both Sunnis and Shiites ideologies made a dramatic reentrance on to the world stage.

The Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan motivated the birth of al-Qaeda, while the Shiite religious revolution in Iran brought down the Shah and formed the first ever Shiite Islamic Republic. Both forces champion the resurrection of an Islamic empire that is supposed to dominate the world and correct what in their view, was an accident of history that enabled the rise of the West.[7]

At the time, Americans saw the Iranian revolution as a backdrop to the hostage situation at the US Embassy in Teheran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as reason enough to boycott the Moscow Olympics and refrain from ratifying the SALT agreements. On the other hand, militant Muslims throughout the Middle East and beyond saw the invasion and revolution as cause for a holy war - Jihad.

The rivalry between Shiites that account for about 16% of the Islamic population and Sunnis that account for almost all of the rest dates back to the death of Muhammad in in the year 632.[8] The Shiites supported the successorship of Ali and the Sunnis accepted Abu Bakr. This disagreement was never resolved and served as a setting for more bloodshed than the 'war on terror' and the Israel-Arab conflict combined.

Though rival sects within Islam, both extreme Shiites - mainly represented by Iran and the Hezbollah - and Sunnis, represented by organizations like Hamas and Al-Qaeda, serve as the key players in the global jihad.

These militants simultaneously compete and cooperate with one another. Both seek to destroy the perceived infidels and establish their leadership and supremacy within the Muslim world – Al-Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attack and in subsequent strikes, Iran in its sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas rocketing of Israeli cities and its promise to develop nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. While each movement aspires to lead the newly established Islamic empire, they both agree it should be an Islamic realm, cleansed of infidel presence or power. This is why they often cooperate with one another against the common enemy, as the Sunni Hamas does with the Shiite Hezbollah against Israel. Both movements, the militant Sunnis led by Al-Qaeda, the militant Shiite led by Iran, declare repeatedly that the destruction of Israel is merely one step towards achieving their larger goal of bringing the downfall of the West. Israel simply happens to be the closest Western target. Militant Islamists do not hate the West because of Israel, they hate Israel because of the West. They see it as the quintessential representative of the free and, in their eyes, hedonistic and corrupt Western civilization they despise so much.[9]

The Iran – Hezbollah – Al-Qaeda Connection

The NIC emphasizes that as an ever-morphing decentralized movement, terrorism is in many ways much more difficult to uncover and defeat than nation states. Terrorists are able to easily communicate, train and recruit through the Internet, and their threat will become "an eclectic array of groups, cells and individuals that do not need a stationary headquarters", the council's report says. "Training materials, targeting guidance, weapons know-how, and fund-raising will become virtual (i.e. online)." [10] This threat is vehemently multiplied when nation states serve as sponsors of terrorism.
Today Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world.[11] The Shiite cooperation between Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah against the West goes as far back as 1983 with the murderous attacks against American and French peace forces in Lebanon. This cooperation has yet to cease.

The joint Shiite-Sunni venture between Iran, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda against the West has also been evident on many occasions:

· In an indictment against an al-Qaeda operative responsible for the attack on US embassies in Tanzania and Nairobi that resulted in hundreds of fatalities, the US Justice Department alleged that bin Laden had "stated privately … that Al-Qaeda should put aside its differences with Shiite Muslim terrorist organizations, including the government of Iran and its affiliated terrorist group Hezbollah, to cooperate against the perceived common enemy, the United States and its allies..." Thus, the indictment explained: "Al-Qaeda also forged alliances … with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States".[12]

· The 9/11 Commission states: "senior Al-Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives. In the fall of 1993, another such delegation went to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon for further training in explosives as well as intelligence and security."[13]

· In a statement published by the US attorney General following the Al-Qaeda bombing of the Khobar Towers, it was charged that "elements of the Iranian government inspired, supported, and supervised members of the Saudi Hezbollah. In particular… the charged defendants reported their surveillance activities to Iranian officials and were supported and directed in those activities by Iranian officials".[14]

· There are even reports that on July 26, 2002, bin Laden and his family received safe harbor from Iran as American forces began closing in on him in Afghanistan.[15]

At Iran's annual "World Without Zionism" conference held in October 2005, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad told his audience, "We are in the process of an historical war between the "world of arrogance" and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years". He elaborated by emphasizing, "the annihilation of the Zionist regime will come... Israel must be wiped off the map... and God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism". "Very soon", he proclaimed about Israel as a "stain of disgrace [and] will vanish from the center of the Islamic world — and this is attainable". [16]

Many naïve observers dismiss the militant Islamic zeal for conquest as the outcome of frustration and will pass with time. This is a dangerous mistake. Unchallenged, this ideology will grow with time. If Iran develops nuclear weapons it will be the first time in history that an extreme ideology bent on destruction of "infidels" and world domination will have nuclear weapons.[17]

The former Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, was recently approached by a 12 year old social studies student in New York. The youngster asked the former Prime Minister if he could give him a statement to bring back to class that summarizes the current state of international affairs. In response, Mr. Netanyahu said, "today is 1938 and Iran is German" and pointed out that the main difference is that today's Iran is not leaving any room for doubt concerning her intentions to make use of weapons of mass destruction.

Confronting the Threat

Iran can and must be stopped. It is the pressing issue of our time as Iran strives for nuclear weapon capability and reiterates its intent to use it against the West. The Iranian threat intertwined with that of the global terrorism jihad, calls for a joint international effort of defining and confronting the threat.

The internationally accepted definition of war is "the wide spread use of force, between sovereign States, by means of their military"[18]. That definition is outdated as it ignores terrorism. Yet, the "jihad" that has been launched against the "infidels" is undoubtedly a global war and should be confronted as such. In fact, President Bush has said that the war against global jihadism is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.[19] The international community should recognize this struggle and act accordingly.

The unrevised American policy concerning Iran, and their terrorist allies was made clear by President Bush in his State of the Union Address: "Iran aggressively pursues [weapons of mass destruction] and exports terror," Bush declared, "while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom. ... States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world".[20]

The diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to refrain from pursuing nuclear capabilities have been fruitless, and have only provided Iran with more time to plan and develop weapons of mass murder.

The free world can not limit itself to talk while Iran plots to kill.

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