Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Threatened Global Catastrophe


by John Scales Avery

Possibly as early as this autumn, Israel may start a large-scale war in the Middle East and elsewhere by bombing Iran. The consequences are unforeseeable, but there are several ways in which the conflict could escalate into a nuclear war, particularly if the US supports the Israeli attack, and if Pakistan, Russia and China become involved.

Why is the threat especially worrying? Because of the massive buildup of US naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Because of a recent incident in which a US Navy ship fired on an unarmed Indian fishing boat, killing one person and injuring three others (small incidents have often escalated into large-scale wars). Because of Benjamin Netanyahu's rush to blame Iran for the Bulgarian bus explosion, before any evidence was available. Because of Netanyahu's government's stated intention to attack Iran, despite opposition from the people of Israel. Because of President Obama's declarations of unconditional support for Israel; and because Pakistan, a nuclear power, would probably enter the war on the side of Iran.

Most probably, a military attack on Iran by Israel would provoke an Iranian missile attack on Tel Aviv, and Iran might also close the Strait of Hormuz. The probable response of the US would be to bomb Iranian targets, such as shore installations on the Persian Gulf. That might well provoke Iran to sink one or more US ships by means of rockets, and if that should happen, the US public would demand massive retaliation against Iran.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the unpopularity of the US-Israel alliance, as well as the memory of numerous attrocities, might lead to the overthrow of Pakistan's less-than-stable government. Israel's response might be a preemptive nuclear attack on Pakistan's nuclear installations. One reads that Russia has already prepared for the conflict by massing troops and armaments in Armenia, and China may also be drawn into the conflict.

In this tense situation, there would be a danger that a much larger nuclear exchange could occur because of a syystems failure or because of an error of judgement by a military or political leader. A large-scale nuclear war would be a global environmental disaster, damaging agriculture throughout the world, spreading dangerous and long-lasting radioactive contamination, and resulting in hundreds of millions of deaths, also in neutral countries.
Can we not avoid this threatened disaster by refusing to follow the suicidal and perhaps genocidal whims of Netanyahu and his government? In the film “Dr. Strangelove”, global disaster was caused by the insanity of a person in a position of power. Perhaps today, that insane person is Benjamin Netanyahu.

John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist noted for his research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. Since the early 1990s, Avery has been an active World peace activist. During these years, he was part of a group associated with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. Presently, he is an Associate Professor in quantum chemistry at the University of Copenhagen

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