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Countdown to a Showdown

What Better Way to Dispel Denial?


The following excerpts are from a Newsweek magazine article published on January 23, 2006 and the follow-up article published on January 25th. It was marked up and sent to us on by one of our more faithful cooperators.  They were originally called to our attention on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, just in time to publish it on that day.

Now, eleven years later the Countdown to Showdown is almost completed. When you read the quotes below you will see that to the Iranian powder keg a more serious one has been added - the North Korea powder keg. All else remains the same - living in denial and swamped by mostly modified news reports which are enhanced by "an apparent desire for apocalypse in some quarters".

Key quotes:

"If Armageddon happens, those who survive will look back and see the warnings - so many of them - that were somehow lost from view in the numbing rush of 24/7 news. They will remember that Iran pushed ahead with a nuclear program it claimed was peaceful, although no one (not even some of those who defended its right to do so) really believed that was the case. People will recall the growing sense of urgency as threats were leveled against the mullahs, sometimes from unexpected quarters. Who had thought the French would be the first to say publicly they'd use limited nuclear strikes to retaliate against terror attacks and protect access to vital natural resources? Who could have mistaken Israel's seriousness when Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told a conference in Herzliya that his country "must have the capability to defend itself, with all that that implies, and this we are preparing"?


If all this sounds alarmist, well, it should. The risk of fatal errors grows every day. Add the influence of messianic fanaticism in Tehran, Jerusalem and, yes, Washington--an apparent desire for apocalypse in some quarters--and it's hard to have confidence in common-sense solutions defusing this nuclear crisis. (Might the Vanished Imam figure in negotiations? Or the Second Coming? One shudders to think.) It seems we can't even trust the self-consciously secular rationalists of France. When President Jacques Chirac, 73, said last week that the alternatives of "inaction or annihilation" were unsatisfactory, and a third way could be limited nuclear strikes, he may have been playing to a domestic audience. Or he may have been dreaming about his legacy. He might have been just an old man trying to prove he's still got some juice. But Chirac is a commander-in-chief with the authority to launch some 300 warheads, and you shouldn't wave those kinds of things around unless you're ready to use them.

So where do things go from here? As the historian Barbara Tuchman pointed out half a century ago:  "Men will not believe what does not fit in with their plans or suit their pre arrangements." They will march off to wars as if the conflicts were divinely preordained instead of badly misjudged; they will blame fate - or bad Countdownintelligence - instead of their own stubborn ignorance. History is full of examples, the Iraq invasion of 2003 being only the most recent. The question before us now is how to keep Iran from being the next."

Full articles at: Countdown to a Showdown - Newsweek Politics - - Part I and Part II

Originally published on July 16, 2006- Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel - European Union

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