“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  (George Santayana, Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense, Scribner’s, 1905, page 284)


As we close in on the last month of a ‘What Can Happen Next’ year, Iran has bobbed like a cork in water to the center stage of our Media Circus, once again.  This week, a likely staged, ‘demonstration’ of ‘students,’ got very ugly when the British Embassy was invaded by obviously hired stooges and thugs, and we were all reminded of 1979 and it’s possible effects on our 1980 US elections all over again, here on the eve of 2012, our next US election year.  Everything old is new again.

But, this time, the whole Middle East is involved.  The Arab Spring birthed a Summer, and now Fall, in which instability in previous dictator-run Arab countries, and in currently still-dictator-run countries like Syria, is the rule now rather than the exception.  Our ally, Israel, is suddenly surrounded with a most unstable Egypt, an internally hemorrhaging Syria, a Gaza and Lebanon run by terrorist groups who vow over and over to push Israel into the Mediterranean, and now an Iran, which seeks ever to provoke.  It is clear now that Iran either has the Bomb, or will have it very soon, despite what appear to be covert activities, both in cyberspace, and on the ground – a series of explosions, and a scientist’s murder in Iran’s closely guarded nuclear bomb manufacturing facilities – under, shall we say, unusual circumstances.

The drumbeat for a military response to Iran is becomes louder by the day.  Will Israel take the matter into it’s own quite capable hands, Entebbe-style?  Will the US, in some way, perhaps as we did in Libya, intervene?  How about a NATO action?  This was muddy enough before the invasion of the British Embassy; now it is positively, mind-bogglingly, complicated and impenetrable.

Too many dominoes are poised, ready to fall, whichever direction this may take.  Iran is not a country ruled openly, or clearly, by it’s supposed, golf-jacket-clad, leader – observers who know, believe that the unelected Mullahs are firmly in charge – the same Mullahs, or their heirs, who brought us the 1979-80 US hostage crisis at our own embassy there, and some would say, the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, as a result of President Carter’s handling of the ill-timed crisis.

A nuclear-armed Iran poses a threat that few can deny or ignore.  Iran actively supports multiple terrorist groups, as we well know.  How long before nukes fall into the hands of those terrorist groups?  An attack of a military nature on Iran will unleash at least threats, if not the reality, of those terrorist groups being set to do what they do best, act like a swarm of angry bees at a picnic – perhaps right here in a US city.  The Dr. Strangelove specter of what happened to all that unaccounted-for fissile nuclear material since the Soviet Union went the way of the Carrier Pigeon some 20 years ago, and what Dr. A.Q. Kahn’s Wal-Mart of Nukes sold to whom, is a thought which is most disturbing for our own safety and, indeed, for the continuation of our very way of life and our basic freedoms in this country.  And, should a US city be the situs of a suitcase nuke carried by a Hezbollah fanatic, ready to die (along with thousands, maybe millions, of innocent humans simply trying to get through their day and week) for whatever could possibly motivate somebody to conduct such uncivilized destruction, then all bets are truly off. The aftermath years of 9/11 will look like a walk in the park compared to what will happen here and abroad after such a deadly scenario.  The horror tales can spin on and on . . . but they do come back into the head when you wake at 3AM, and make the mistake of thinking too much, instead of falling back to sleep . . .

This is all pretty scary stuff, but that was not my point in writing here.  My point is that a whole lot of concerted and cooperative effort on the international level is going to be necessary to deal with whatever Iran thinks it is up to – our troops are leaving Iraq, it’s next-door-neighbor to the West, very soon.  Iran and Iraq fought a nearly decade-long war under Saddam’s dictatorship in which millions were killed on both sides, and fought it to a stalemate.  By removing Saddam, we may have done Iran the biggest favor by de-stabilizing their main, next-door rival – now, we have to deal with that, and also deal with Iraq’s confused multi-party politics and inability to organize an effective government, lest Iran succeed in finally taking control of Iraq from within, something which they could not accomplish despite all the killing of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

To the East, we fight on in Afghanistan, though we are no longer sure why we continue to prop up such a corrupt government there and it seems like there are now more Al Queda located in Pakistan, our supposedly ally, than in Afghanistan.  With the recent accidental attack on Pakistan’s troops by NATO forces in the aftermath of the incredible success of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, but at the great consternation of the Pakistani government (who we feared might sabotage the mission, so we did not tell) – it is a real unmitigated mess there too these days.

Perhaps world leaders should be compelled to read, and re-read, Barbara Tuchman’s 1963 classic and Pulitzer-prize-winning Guns of August, detailing all the improbable events and bizarre alliances which led up to Europe stumbling into the killing fields of World War I.   World leaders of today need to be reminded, every now and then, that God-awful international messes can all too easily turn into world wars, or at least mass armed conflicts claiming the lives of oh so many of our young people, whether actually intended or not, and whether we see them coming down the road towards us, or we don’t.