The future just got uglier
By Ralph Peters
New York Post
May 21, 2010
The world changed this week and we yawned. Our government and media utterly failed to grasp the meaning of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey nuke deal.
Undercutting the sanctions-lite bargain Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thinks she has with Russia and China was the least of it.
We're so obsessed with the single (albeit important) issue of terrorism that we're missing profound global realignments and the rise of grave new threats.
Iran's "agreement" to ship a slice of its enriched-uranium pie to Turkey for reprocessing is pure gamesmanship. We expect that from Iran. The alarming part is that, this time, Turkey and Brazil are in on the game.
Erdogan: Turk aims to follow once Iran breaks atomic ice. (EPA)
The ludicrous terms of this con-job have long since been overtaken by events. Brazil's President Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan aren't trying to stop Iran's nuke program.
They're eager to facilitate it.
What Brazil and Turkey just did wasn't intended to impede Tehran, but to make it harder for Western powers to impose sanctions. Both countries want Iran to run interference for them.
Once Iran gets the bomb and takes the (slight) heat, Brazil and Turkey both intend to go nuclear.
Brazil wants vanity nukes to cement its position as South America's hegemon, a regional alternative to the US. Turkey's slow-roll Islamist government dreams of a new Ottoman age -- as it turns from the West to embrace the Muslim states it ruled a century ago. After easing Tehran's path to the bomb, Ankara will claim that it needs its own nuclear capability to maintain regional stability.
But the coming widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons will be profoundly destabilizing. Each Middle Eastern country, especially, that goes nuclear increases the probability of a nuke exchange exponentially.
As Western states fantasize about a "nuclear-weapons-free world," their developing-world darlings are scrambling like mad to develop nuclear arsenals. And we don't get it.
Which leads to the second problem with our asleep-at-the-wheel foreign policy (content to equate Arizona's human-rights record with China's): New alliances are developing that are already destabilizing our strategic architecture -- even without nukes.
Let's connect a few of the Iran-Turkey-Brazil dots:
* Iran and Brazil share close ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and support other left-wing movements in Latin America.
* Russia sells arms to Iran and Venezuela. Iran supplies weaponry to Hezbollah and Hamas. Venezuela equips Latin narco-terrorists and guerrillas -- to which Brazil turns a blind eye -- and backs Islamist terror.
* While artfully dismantling Turkey's once-secular constitution, Ankara increasingly supports radical-Muslim causes abroad. Turkey's new embrace of Iran is paralleled by a growing intimacy with Russia, as well.
* After flirting with Israel, Turkey chose Syria (whose regime also seeks nukes) as its neighborhood partner. Syria cooperates with Iran in support of Hezbollah and Hamas -- and has deep ties to Russia.
* China's working hard to strengthen its strategic ties with Brazil and Venezuela, and Beijing's already Iran's staunchest defender on the international stage.
* What do Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, Syria and even our "NATO ally" Turkey have in common? They're all resentful of American power and want to see Washington taken down several notches.
In the depths of the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement was a sorry joke in which rhetorical grandstanding and leftist economics stopped development in its tracks for decades. Member countries hurt themselves far more than they annoyed us.
The emerging constellation of alliances will mean a lot more trouble. Not least, because so many countries will have nukes.
Several years ago, I wrote that, despite the end of yesteryear's superpower confrontation, our military's going to find itself on a nuclear battlefield, after all -- either smack in a war, or running a gruesome cleanup operation. The odds of that happening will soar as proliferation worsens.
And we are not prepared.
Rising and troubled states alike are embracing nuclear arms, power alignments are shifting profoundly, and our national priority is to provide electricity to Afghan hovels.
The consolation is that Afghanistan, at least, will never be a nuclear power. It will simply be surrounded by them.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Endless War."