Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Domino Effect - Peace in Our Time or Nuclear Armageddon?

King Abdullah of Jordan has just fired his government, including his unpopular Prime Minister. This could very well be the beginning of something called the ‘Domino Effect’. This occurs when one change results in a series of changes across the board. Much like a row of dominoes set up in line to fall one after the other when the first domino is pushed.

The phrase became very popular during the Viet Nam war in what was termed Domino Theory. The idea was that if South Viet Nam fell to the Communist North Vietnamese all the other countries of Southeast Asia would fall to Communism one after the other like dominoes. Eventually South Vietnam fell. But the domino effect never happened. If I recall correctly - only one other country fell to Communism. Cambodia. And that started happening before the Vietnam War even ended.

That was in the seventies.

It is now 2011. We have another region of the world where the domino effect might be taking place. While it is too early to predict what will happen, three countries already have a popular revolt at various levels on their hands. First Tunisia, then Egypt, and now Jordan. It remains to be seen if other dictatorships will fall to a populist revolt of their own. But unlike Southeast Asia, Communism is not the issue now. Radical Islam is. And the very existence of Israel is at stake unlike any time since 1967.

Jordan’s King Abdullah is perhaps the friendliest of all Arab leaders to Israel. But the same cannot necessarily be said about his people. For the moment he has appointed his former ambassador to Israel as the new Prime Minister. I hope that is a good sign. But it all depends on what happens next. Will this move satisfy Jordanian citizens? I don’t know. If not and Abdullah is deposed and Jordan’s monarchy falls - what will their new government look like?

Is Syria next? Saudia Arabia? What happens if all Arab dictatorships and monarchies fall? What will those countries look like in the aftermath? Will Radical Islam prevail as it has in Iran? Will hatred of Israel be the number one issue for these people? Even if the revolution is fueled by yearnings for democracy, will Radical Islam prevail anyway by sheer force of determination?

Hatred of Israel is very strong among the vast majority of the Arab populace. That hatred is constantly being reinforced by their popular culture - with books like ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and similar anti Semitic literature all over the place. Anti Israel movies and children’s programs are very popular. Then there is the ‘decades long’ indoctrination of virulent anti Israel hatred in schools and mosques all over the Arab world.

Thinking about all of that does not elicit positive feelings about the outcome of all these protests.

On the other hand, if all this is truly a desire for democracy and much bigger than Radical Islam then it is very possible that self interests will overwhelm hatred - convincing new populist governments to make peace with Israel quickly; get on with their lives and seek prosperity for all instead of turning all their energies against Israel. That is of course the best case scenario.

One thing is certain. Israel has to be fully prepared for every contingency. My biggest fear is if the worst case scenario happens. If Radical Islam takes over and they try and make good on their promise to wipe Israel off the map - Israel may have no choice but to introduce nuclear weapons as a last resort measure of self preservation.

Once that genie is out of the bottle… can World War III and a nuclear Holocaust be that far behind? That will make the last Holocaust look like child’s play.