The great world powers slipped into World War I without really wanting it. But they had been arming themselves for years, so all that was needed was but a spark – such as the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne – to detonate a powder keg filled to the rim.
A lot of explosives had accumulated
not only in the arsenals of the
Quite a few military men and politicians at the head of states did, of course, suspect the calamity that the
Today the world is being driven again,
but nowhere in the world is the impending war greeted with enthusiasm, neither by the United States nor by its rivals. Not even by the American President. It is difficult to believe Donald Trump, because he mixes truth and falsehood at his own discretion, but we may trust that he does not want to start a war with Iran, because until now he has largely kept his promises to his electorate – and one of these promises was the reduction of US-military presence outside its borders. So why is the current American President showing the world such an unpleasant face? Why has the US since George W. Bush ceased to be what it has been for so long, namely a shield for Europe, to which it owed its freedom and prosperity during the second half of the past century?
After completing his ten-volume history
of human civilizations in 1961, Arnold Toynbee remarked that the “American Empire” had two characteristics that distinguished it from its predecessor the British Empire at that time already extinct for about two decades: abundant military bases and an emphasis on generous economic aid for its allies. In a policy “unprecedented in the history of empires,” America was making “her imperial position felt by giving economic aid to the peoples under her ascendancy, instead of… exploiting them economically.” Yes, the USA was by and large a milder hegemon than all previous great powers.
The Pax Americana created at the end of the Second World War was soon to prove an advantage for most of its satellites in the first three to four post-war decades. US-historian Alfred McCoy notes that “at the end of World War II, the United States invested all its prestige and power in forming nothing less than a new world order through permanent international institutions — the United Nations (1945), the International Monetary Fund (1945), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (1947), predecessor to the World Trade Organization….”
We should emphasize the role
of the United States as a force for peace and order before we talk about its current president and the danger that he so massively and so wantonly conjures – doing away with the reputation of a great nation in the eyes of world opinion. Immediately after taking office, the new lord of the White House committed the unforgivable stupidity of counteracting almost all of his predecessor’s rulings. Obama had gone to great lengths, with the help of his allies, to negotiate a treaty obliging Iran to use nuclear power exclusively for civilian purposes and to submit to monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Trump tore the treaty apart and, in this way, frivolously gambled away the prestige of the United States as a contracting partner that could be relied upon. How can we believe a state where each president cancels the commitments of his predecessor?
And still worse the incredible naivety
of transferring business practices to international politics! The predominant criterion when concluding commercial deals is the benefit each party derives from it. No competitor, even if seeing a pistol aimed at his chest, will risk his life for a few dollars less
The pistol, in this case,
does not just consist
But now, Trump has still gone
one step further. It was not enough for him to choke the economy of Iran. Since the beginning of this year, he uses the military in order to ensure that his message is understood correctly. Two aircraft carriers have recently been stationed off the coast of Iran, plus strategic bombers B-52, together with stealth bombers F-35 and a rapidly growing number of US soldiers. They are currently being relocated to the Persian Gulf.
Only a politically blind, highly egocentric
But just as Donald Trump knew
how to drive once again the people of Venezuela into the arms of their incompetent autocrat Maduro, he now unites the people of Iran behind their leadership – even though the country and its inhabitants have never been as badly off as they are today. Trump is a master at not making America the number one country, as is his avowed intent, but at making enemies all around. Abe Shinzo, the Japanese prime minister, is still a rare exception. On June 13, he tried to putty the broken porcelain, but he had no more success than Heiko Maas, the German exterior minister. Ayatollah Khamenei
Now the enemies are facing each other
with loaded pistols. No one can retreat without losing face. How is Trump going to recall his aircraft carriers without being ridiculed by the world as a paper tiger? And how can the regime of the Ayatollahs give in without losing the support of the population and being laughed at as a weakling? Unlike business, it is about honor and national prestige that nations are driven to war. These notions have never gone out of fashion between them – neither in the US nor in Iran. Trump steered his country into this stalemate not because he wanted this war, but because he makes rash decisions and is therefore unfit as a responsible leader of the world’s greatest power.
I think that war is inevitable, but that is of course no more than a personal opinion – fortunately history has never allowed prophecies to become true with absolute certainty.
For the time being, each of the two opponents
is still waiting for the stupidity of the other, i.e. for the first act of aggression, so as to have a pretext for striking with unmitigated power: the Iranians with simultaneous rocket attacks on all American bases and ships; the Americans with immediate strikes by their stealth bombers on all Iranian military positions and radar stations. As of now, acts of provocation are already occurring. Today, on 13 June, two oil tankers were fired upon in the Gulf of Oman. We may assume that there are quite a lot of war mongering groups that long for a conflagration and even want to bring it about at any price. After all, we should not forget that many people in countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen
America’s military will, of course,
win the war against Iran in a few weeks, but Donald Trump will not be able to win
Trump has issued the slogan “America First”
We may find it hard to blame him for that. Every statesman is obliged by his oath to benefit above all his own country. True statesmen, however, always refrained from shouting this intention from the rooftops but wisely concealed it. This is not the current president’s way; in fact, he could do more harm to his country and the world at large than any previous one. Only a miracle may still prevent the fire of war from flaring up in Iran, the Strait of Hormuz from being mined, and Europe from plunging into chaos due to severed oil supplies.
Miracles are not at all impossible,
a kind of miracle is visible even at this very moment as hardly anyone seems to suspect the demons that are ready to pounce on us. Indeed, many will reject these lines as pure scaremongering. Hopefully, these people are right!