Monday, September 28, 2009

Defending Against, or Mobilizing for War?

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009.

When Israel insisted that it would "do anything it felt necessary" to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, it was reminiscent of how some nations in the past confused, and even replaced, the concepts of defending against war with mobilizing for war. For more than forty years, European nations had lived at peace. At the turn of the 20th century, however, this soon changed. They started to glorify military power and define national greatness as mobilizing for war. The rush to field large standing armies and build naval armadas, so as to dominate the seas, created a false sense of security. It also ignited wars, actually two world wars.

Before the Second World War, this dangerous mentality enabled military leaders like Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Emperor Hirohito, and Francisco Franco, to establish totalitarian regimes. There is a clear difference between defensive strategies that promote peace, and offense initiatives that creates economies dependent on selling armaments and producing wars. Mobilizing for war, especially when a threat has not been verified, always defeats peace. For example, Iran insists its nuclear enrichment program is only for civilian purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency too insists a nuclear weapons program does not exist. And yet lately there has been a flurry of Israeli military activity.

The U.S. and Israel just held joint naval exercises and missile tests in the Pacific Ocean. The Arrow interceptor missile was tested in response to a possible attack from Iran and Syria. During the drill, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton refused to rule out a pre-emptive Israeli military strike on Iran. This comes after the heels of Israel's largest-ever military exercise, a "doomsday" scenario according to Israeli officials. Israel's entire armed forces and civilian population were mobilized against imaginary missile attacks, bombings, biological warfare, and riots. The psychological impact of such war mobilization drills must surely be devastating.

Before the doomsday scenario, Israel's air force launched a four-day drill simulating its ability to combat Iran. Evidently, Israel replicated strikes from Iran, which is located over 1,000 kilometers away. Since it was the largest aerial display of militarism to date, some are worried that it was a practice run for a future strike against Iran. Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that President Barack Obama ordered him to update the plans for a strike on Iran. He insisted that "all options are on the table" with regards to a potential attack. This contradicted his earlier statements that the U.S. was doing everything it could to prevent a potential attack against Iran.

Israel has also been updating its air force with U.S. F-35 jet fighters that can penetrate Russian air defense systems. These new stealth fighters, built in the U.S. by Lockheed Martin, are expected to be the most-advanced fighter jets in the world. Back on land and in the sea, Israel has been maneuvering warships through the Suez Canal, including its Dolphin-class submarine. Israel's Dolphin-class submarine is armed with deadly nuclear tipped cruise missiles. The quickest route for its naval flotilla to attack Iran is through the Suez Canal.

The "crippling actions" US Secretary of State Clinton warned of may actually be Israel and the U.S. mobilizing for and instigating a war, instead of showing an unwillingness to fight. Together, they spend more money on their national defense than the top twenty-five countries in the world. (This includes China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Great Britain, and Iran.) Proportionally, they have more individuals under arms. Therefore, it seems odd when they call on other countries to completely disarm. And are military expenditures, including the ongoing U.S.-Israeli Defense Forces training exercises that are simulating missile attacks from Iran, really for defense or keeping a population in perpetual fear?

Before the outbreak of World War I, and as Europe was mobilizing for war (instead of defending against war), Frederic Passy, a peace activist and future Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said, "Though no one wants to attack, and everybody protests his love of peace and determination to maintain it, the whole world feels that it only requires some unforeseen incident, some unpreventable accident, for the spark to fall in a flash...and blow all Europe sky-high." Will Israel's war mobilization, backed and funded by the U.S., do the same to the Middle East?

And what about Israel's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and place all of its nuclear facilities under the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards, including 75 of its own nuclear warheads? With threats of an "unequivocal answer" by October 1, "crippling sanctions", and an imminent attack against Iran, let's hope the "guns of August" do not turn into the "guns of October". But then again, if you prepare and plan for peace, you will have peace. If you prepare and plan for war, you will have war. And answers come in many different forms. Unfortunately, they can sometimes be fatal.