Mother and child under atomic attack at Hiroshima. For all the fear we have of totalitarian extremist regimes aquiring atomic weapons, it was a democracy that dropped them.
I enjoy answering comments that are thoughtful and show some effort in researching a subject. I believe “Rocker” here has contributed reflections on my Niall Ferguson series begun back on the Ides of March (15 March) that deserves an equally thoughtful response.
Many people read Hogueprophecy around the world. It also has its readers in high places in Teheran, Tel Aviv and Washington DC. Our journey of discussion about what options are available today and how these might alter the future as consequences if acted or not acted upon, can influence that future – hopefully towards a positive direction.
You’re right…Ferguson doesn’t seem to bring the 360 degree historical perspective you’d expect him to. That doesn’t mean he’s 100% wrong either – strategically, we are out of good scenarios and down to trying to find the least/worst one – and hope. Hope that a totalitarian regime with a strong apocalyptic/messianic bent, and that has articulated a desire to “wipe the Zionist regime off the map” is not serious. I think if I were an Israeli Jew I might be a little less sanguine/blase about that.
I have consistently respected Niall Ferguson as a historian and commentator. And you are right, Rocker, he is not 100 percent wrong in his Newsweek article arguing in favor of Israel’s military option taking out Iran’s nuclear weapons’ aspiration. Being half right makes what he wrote worse than if he was 100 percent wrong. Being half-witted with the facts establishes the engine block for a motor of mass minded populism that can see a nation and a civilization march down the wrong and bloodiest pathways of the future.
Take for instance Adolf Hitler’s arguments about the Versailles Treaty that ended the First World War. Germany was forced to sign it in 1919. Hitler was correct when he said Germany had been stabbed in the back with a treaty that unfairly put all the burden of and reparations for the First World War squarely on the German people’s shoulders. Thus Germany’s economic collapse after the war was biblical as was the suffering of the people, which included widespread famine and a breakdown of ordered society. It was also a fact that the German Army had not been defeated before the Armistice on 11 November 1918. It was true that leftist radicals and communists behind the front at home undermined order in the streets of Germany once the Kaiser and his Imperial German government began its collapse.
Masters of the "big lie" the Nazis were not the only regime that can talk people into wars using fact to promote a fictional conclusion to conflict.
One can build an argument with a whole lot of truth and fact, but if your argument builds an initial momentum to your point using truth to come to a wrong and biased conclusion, you are making facts support a temple of the big lie based on shifting sands of half-truths. Hitler built his argument on facts to support a lie that Jews and their Bolshevik allies were behind betraying Germany to the allied wolves behind the civilized niceties of the Versailles Treaty and that economic punishment and disorder was a pan-Jewish plot to keep the superior German Aryan race down.
Niall Ferguson certainly is not a Hitler, yet for me his article betrayed a straying away from a historian’s objectivity. His words had a lot of charge in them. He could not resist the impulse to color facts in the sheen of a Judeo-Christian, Western bias against Iran without looking in the mirror.
The Western angst about leaders possessing weapons of mass destruction we deem culturally alien, dangerous and unscrupulous is not new.
In the late 1940s, the terrifying prospect that godless and amoral Soviet communists might possess atomic bombs drove American commenters to words of alarm little different from Ferguson’s Iranian Ayatollah phobia. In the end, when it came to keeping their finger off the nuclear doomsday trigger for decades of a Cold War standoff, the totalitarian communist regime in Moscow did about as good a job as the so-called “good guy” US democracy in Washington DC.
Soviet Premier Khruschev was the Ayatollah-with-a-bomb of his day during the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s.
Commies with A-Bombs were as intolerable to Americans then as Iranians with nukes are to many Israelis and Americans now. Fears then, like now, worry a bone about evil regimes starting an arms race – an odd idea, really, because up to now only democracies with nukes start arms races.
The American arsenal had already stockpiled 200 to 250 of them by the time the Soviets lit off their first test bomb in 1949.
Another democracy, Israel in the 1960s, introduced these evil weapons of mass destruction into the Middle East region where no one had sought them before. I find it ironic that both democracies reached the threshold of 200 to 250 atomic bombs in their arsenals just at the time or prior to the time their chief adversaries, Russia and Iran, either test fired one, as in the former’s case, or may be thinking of building one, as in Iran’s case.
A Commie with The Bomb loved life because he did not believe in an afterlife so he was less compelled to use one. The Iranian leadership has religion, believes there is a place to go after everything is blown to bits, and irradiated. You might think that makes them more irrational if possessing atomic weapons than death fearing Marxists. Do not end your concerns by dwelling on Iran alone. Consider the irational potentials of leaders of democracies who might unilaterally strike Iran.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini, supreme leader of the Iranian Revolution.
When Ayatollah Khamenei is praying for the imminent return of the final prophet of Islam, the Mahdi, Netanyahu and many Israelis also pray for the imminent return of Immanuel (the real Messiah, not this Jesus fellow). Until recently, the last president of the United States openly and happily admitted he talks to God and Jesus, both of whom sent “answers.”
A month after Bush occupied Iraq, he told Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, that God had told him to invade Iraq, “and I did.”
There is a whole lot of apocalyptic conditioning under the surface brewing in the hearts of all potential combatants in this hypothetical strike on Iran. It is drummed into our heads how trigger happy are the totalitarians; yet, no totalitarian regime has ever used atomic weapons so far. You have to watch out for the freedom loving democracies using them “freely.”
FACT: Democracies unilaterally use atomic weapons on others.
FACT: America started the arms race, not the Soviets.
FACT: When leaders who have or are presumed to be seeking atomic weapons say kooky, open ended, things you could get a dangerous overreaction.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad several years ago mused publicly about erasing Israel from the map of history. That statement more than any other may have set in motion Israel’s march to war with Iran.
President Reagan in 1983 had his Ahmadinejad moment too.
Ronald Reagan acting crazy in a political cartoon.
It came in a speech when he called the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire”. He did not go as far to say “wipe them off the map”. Actually, Ahmadinejad did not imply the destruction of Israel either. Both men were speaking rhetorically about a hated regime they both believed had not the moral grounds and political viability to sustain a state. What would bring about their doom was left open to interpretation.
Still, musing about Israel someday disappearing off the “map of history” or the Soviet Union being an evil empire that will eventually be eradicated (leaving open the means) will trigger an overreaction from Israel and the Soviet Union.
In Moscow the Soviet leaders thought Reagan had lost his marbles and might actually have used the speech to prepare Americans for setting up to strike Russia. For the first and only time in the Cold War, Moscow openly contemplated a preemptive first strike on the US rather than hold to their defensive second strike nuclear posture.
I think they had good reasons to be concerned, if one looks at historical precedents. Democracies seem to find lofty excuses to light people up with atomic weapons. A Soviet atheist in 1983 was also faced with an American President who believed God spoke to him and indeed even believed and said openly that he could be the final US president before the Christian Apocalypse began.
Atheists do not rush to drink the God cool-aid of Reverend Jim Jonestown solutions. They do not have in their belief system an apocalyptic step before the Messiah comes. They do not have a heaven to go to after this sinful world is destroyed.