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Of states, war and Iran

10 March, 2007

By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu


War the ultimate destruction

State regarding internal affairs is either wise or unwise, nothing more, nothing less. It invokes morality if needed. Wisdom requires the state to be considerate most of the time and occasionally tough. To elaborate it we begin with our own examples. “It is not 1970s; they will not know what has hit them”, so said General Pervaiz Musharraf about the Baloch rebels. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was the most prominent among hundreds who have been hit since then. Hitting is still going on and consequently the hatred against the state is going up. After the military operation in East Pakistan whomsoever one would talk to about the negative repercussions, likely disintegration of Pakistan, the response that would come used to be terrible: we would keep Pakistan united even if we had to exterminate half of Bengali population. Result: half of Pakistan separated.

Had our state been wise it would have given financial autonomy to East Pakistan. It could have avoided war, defeat and separation. Balochistan must be given financial autonomy to avoid another catastrophe. Weren’t the Bengalis being exploited since the beginning? Aren’t the Baloch the losers in the federation? What our state does is that it chooses military options where dialogue and compromises are needed, as it did with the Bengalis and is doing with the Baloch; and makes compromises where toughness is required, as it did with the Taliban in Waziristan. Had the North not waged a war against the South on the question of slavery, the US would not have been the super power today. It would have been like one more Canada in the continent of America.

State regarding outside affairs is a larger entity. Besides, wise or unwise, it is weak or strong, and dependent or independent also. In inter-state relations morality is rarely invoked. Here too toughness and cooperation guided by wisdom form the basis of relationship. However, the weak states even if they are wise often have limited choice. The strong states even if stupid dominate. The massacre of the Indians by the forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali, Nadir Shah and East India Company are examples from not so old Indian history. India during those times was a weak state. However, after 1857 the British and the Indians acted wisely and did not fight with each other. It benefited both, and the Indians ultimately got independence peacefully.

How the Germans butchered the Polish, the French, the Hungarians, the Slovaks and many more is a European example. The weak states had no way out but to submit. An advancing Germany on the other hand should have stopped somewhere and entered into a dialogue.  It should have avoided elongation of war that it had come to know it would finally lose. And that it did not and powerful states, The US and the USSR, joined its opposition and defeated and destroyed it. How the Japanese killed the Koreans and the Chinese, and the US used atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the terrible Asian examples. Japan could have remained away from the great confrontation. That it did not and that was not wise on the part of the Japanese state. However, after the war Both Germany and Japan cooperated with the US and are reaping the harvest of wisdom. The US should not have resorted to that degree of toughness against Japan. Japan had already surrendered and there was no need of displaying beastliness through nuclear bombardment. Yet, the beastliness is a part of mankind’s evolutionary or ‘intelligently designed’ structure, and it some times comes out in a big way to express itself; needed or not is a subsequent question.

Will Iran be attacked is a decades old question. The US would do it the moment it is convinced that Iran would not abandon its nuclear weapon programme. Isolated as Iran is today, the US would not seek the UN approval. The UN’s observations that the sanctions are not working would be taken as a sufficient reason. Despite Iran’s isolation the people world over including the Americans themselves would not endorse the invasion. But, would it matter?  The American ruling establishment including the opposition is united against Iran’s nuclear enrichment business; hence for Iran there is no chance of opting for a North Korean style action.

The North Koreans tested nuclear bomb for a different purpose. They needed energy, food and capital. They were seeking a bargaining edge. The Americans knew about their intentions and also about their limited capabilities. Hence, the explosion was ignored and post-explosion agreement is under consideration. Iran on the other hand would remain for a long time an energy surplus country. It can buy whatever it needs through sale of oil and gas. Hence, if Iran’s quest for nuclear energy is seen by the Americans also for conversion to the atomic weaponry, there is logic in it, if not truth. Iran’s non-cooperation with the IAEA extends the logic even to the extent of truth. Given the nuclear enrichment capacity of Iran, a possibility of hundreds of nuclear bombs being added to its arsenal exists. The poor North Korea perhaps detonated all of its enriched uranium during the test. It is a case similar to the one of Pakistan and India.  They tested their enriched material collected over decades and returned to conventional things soon after. Poor nations have limits. Even the Chinese nuclear programme related to defence is not seen as a big threat, even by the Indians.

Iran’s case is different through one more angle.  Iran has openly and so many times expressed its deep hatred against the very existence of Israel as a country. Not only that, Iran has also been supporting Hezbollah and Hamaas financially as well as through supplies of arms. The US blaming it for supporting Shiites militancy in Iraq is another point in the charge sheet. Iran, moreover, is an ideological state and is full of emotional charge. Combine its richness, capabilities to acquire hundreds of nuclear bombs, hatred for Israel, hard-line ideology and posture of self-righteousness, the resulting entity makes Iran a suspect in the eyes of the Americans who have very high stakes not only in the oil rich region, but also the world over. A war, intentional or accidental, between Israel and Iran would bring disaster not only to the region but also to entire world. It is because of the most sacred places of the Muslims and others that are located in the region. Israel being a small country as compared to its neighbours and Iran cannot sustain a nuclear attack; it will be destroyed totally. So to save itself it would use whatever it has including 400 to 2000 nuclear warheads. A nuclear showdown of that kind would be sudden; hence intervention from others would not be possible. The neighbours of Iran including Pakistan are not ignoring the possibility of such occurrence. General Pervaiz Musharraf’s efforts backed by important Muslim majority countries to convince Iran on nuclear restraint regime were timely. 

 In case Iran chooses to remain on the nuclear path, the US is prepared and the war strategy has already been chalked out. It is certain that it will not be a war like the ones of Afghanistan and Iraq. The level of preparation as being told and seen reflects that the Americans this time would display their full strength. Required number of aircraft carriers and thousand of cruise missile would be available to the US forces in less than a month.  This Gulf war would be unique in modern times. The American navy would be in the forefront supported by the reinforcements coming from the near by bases.

The Americans may destroy all that connects a country and nation. Devastation of communication systems and economically and politically relevant areas would top their hit list.  Change of government and redefining of political system including turning Iran into a confederation are post-war agendas of the US. What is worrisome is that the beastliness of man may again come out to show its maximum. While the Israel-Iran nuclear war is a probability, the US using nuclear bombs is a possibility. Almost all war analysts are taking about it. Given the discourse of Richard Armitage on the Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and linking them with the pre and post-WW II Germany and Japan, the world should prepare itself for the bad days ahead. Iran must turn to wisdom. It is a poor and a disturbed country despite its huge oil reserves. And it has no enemies other than the ones of its own imagination.  It should spend oil income on internal development and not on the military paraphernalia that it does not need and is making it vulnerable too. Iran can live, better, without a nuclear bomb. Today it has a choice. Tomorrow it would be a different story.

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