Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Next World War?

Largely unnoticed by the mass media has been a growing undercurrent in the Arabic/Muslim world:

Afghanistan has been something of a forgotten war in recent months because of the world's preoccupation with Libya and Egypt and the wave of antigovernment protests spreading throughout the Middle East. That will soon change, now that the Obama Administration is stepping up talks with the Taliban in an effort to come up with some peaceable endgame to the half-trillion-dollar war. Part of the plan is to involve nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the talks — the U.S. has recognized that there can be no lasting solution in Afghanistan without regional buy-in. But the likelihood of getting those nations' help is slim, thanks to a new war: the cold one between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The growing tensions between Shi'ite Iran and Saudi Arabia's Sunni regime indeed may turn out to be a threat not only to peace in Afghanistan but also to an Arab Spring. For some time now, Arab governments have been boosting their military spending in anticipation of this regional conflict. The Saudis in particular are feeling surrounded: in addition to a Shi'ite-dominated government in Baghdad, Syria is a key ally of Iran's (Tehran may be helping squelch pro-democratic protests in Syria), as is Lebanon's Hizballah-controlled government and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. There are also Shi'ite rebels in Yemen, which shares a long border with Saudi Arabia.

Yesterday, I speculated about incremental World War. What I couldn't get my head around was why?

Sure, there are plenty of domestic reasons for Obama to urge a world war on the planet, not least of which is how successful world wars at jump-start a lagging economy. It would shut up conservatives, as well, as they would be hard pressed to be loyally opposed to a war they supported for so long in the first place...even tho they'd try really hard.

But now, there's a reason that makes a lot more sense than Obama abandoning his senses.

If you ascribe to the belief that the Sauds and Iranians are having a mini-Cold War for hegemony over the Middle East, then the choose up game of Global Domination begins to take form. Iran would enlist Russia and China. The Sauds would get us and NATO (and don't we feel stupid now for opposing Russia's application to NATO...)

A game of Risk but with real pieces and real, well, risks.