Charles Krauthammer looks at recent events in the Middle East and sees a single hand behind them all: Iran. That's something a lot of people have been saying for quite some time, of course, myself among them. But he likens the quickening pace of incidents to the rumblings of a volcano before it erupts. He does not think it will be very long before it does. He starts off with the recent Israeli airstrike on something in Syria, but pulls all the other loose threads together as well.
Apart from the usual suspects — Syria, Iran, Libya and Russia — only two countries registered strong protests to the Israeli strike: Turkey and North Korea. Turkey we can understand. Its military may have permitted Israel an overflight corridor without ever having told the Islamist civilian government. But North Korea? What business is this of North Korea's? Unless it was a North Korean facility being hit.
Which raises alarms for many reasons. First, it would undermine the whole North Korean disarmament process. Pyongyang might be selling its stuff to other rogue states or perhaps just temporarily hiding it abroad while permitting ostentatious inspections back home.
Second, there are ominous implications for the Middle East. Syria has long had chemical weapons — on Monday, Jane's Defence Weekly reported on an accident that killed dozens of Syrians and Iranians loading a nerve-gas warhead onto a Syrian missile — but Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Syria.
Tensions are already extremely high because of Iran's headlong rush to go nuclear. In fending off sanctions and possible military action, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has chosen a radically aggressive campaign to assemble, deploy, flaunt and partially activate Iran's proxies in the Arab Middle East:
There are rumblings from all around Israel. Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas as well as direct Iranian involvement. All pretty well unchallenged by the West. I have pointed out that I believe that the weak and ineffectual response by Europe and the US to Iranian provocation is making war more likely, not less. The only hope is real and effective sanctions. Not that such things would stop Ahmadinejad. He is, quite frankly, insane. He has openly expressed his desire to bring about an apocalypse. Once he has a bomb, he will use it. The result will be a disaster for the Middle East and for the world.
UPDATE: Thanks to Tobin Harshaw at the New York Times Opinionator blog for linking this. Tobin, I rather hope I am overstating it, but I'm also rather afraid that I am not.