The most dangerous leader in the world today
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-11-29
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu should be considered the world’s most dangerous leader today. It’s not because of what Bibi Netanyahu and Israel are capable of inflicting but because of what Bibi Netanyahu and Israel could ignite - a far greater conflict than just an Israel-Iran War that could extend all the way here.

Alone, Israel might not even be able to defeat Iran. The Israelis should remember the heavy price they paid for the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel War that was fought in Lebanon. That was a shocking experience for Israel. A mere neighborhood bully stopped this mighty tiny Jewish state that had managed to outwit and outfight its large hostile Arab neighbors. In that encounter with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel wasn’t even dealing with a country like Iran or Syria but with a terrorist group. Indeed, war is a high-risk business.

This experience with Hezbollah may have been providential in that it reminded the Israeli leaders of their own vulnerabilities. There are no odds in war because any side can win. The 1281 Mongol invasion of Japan and the Spanish 1588 invasion of England were thwarted by storms and the grit of patriots defending their native land. Had the Spanish Armada landed sans any trouble on English soil, Spanish could have been the lingua franca today instead of English. Imagine our call centers answering with ola or buenas tardes.

Bibi Netanyahu represents the hawkish elements among the Israeli leaders. He gets his political base from those seeking a leader who will ensure the protection of Israel against its many threats in the region. American support for Israel had enabled the tiny Jewish state to become a regional superpower. Today, Israel maintains one of the most powerful armed forces in the world, with capabilities largely disproportionate to its small population.

In a November 5 interview over Israel’s Channel 2, Netanyahu asserted that he was ready to attack Iran in order to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons — even without the approval of the US. “When former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel, was it with the consent of the Americans? When former Prime Minister Menachem Begin bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor, was that with the consent of the Americans?” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu added: “If someone sits here as the prime minister of Israel and he can’t take action on matters that are cardinal to the existence of this country, its future and its security, and he is totally dependent on receiving approval from others, then he is not worthy of leading. I can make these decisions.”

There’s a big complication though should Bibi Netanyahu get Israel to attack Iran. Russia and China had vowed to aid Iran in the event of such an attack.

A combined Russia and China aiding Iran would become a great American nightmare. The pressure of the powerful Jewish lobby would compel the US to support Israel and take on Russia, China and Iran. It could lead to a conflict that could be fought in many other theatres — the West Philippine Sea among the likely battlegrounds.

Bibi Netanyahu has to be feared and watched very closely because as reported on CNN by Israel’s top journalist Ilana Dayan during a recent interview by Christiane Amanpour — Netanyahu gave the order in 2010 to attack Iran. Luckily for the world, the army chief and the head of Mossad (Israeli Intelligence) refused to execute the order. They both realized the dangerous consequences — which could lead to a bigger war. This refusal by the army and Mossad chiefs also demonstrates the US influence on Israel.

An US-backed Israeli attack on Iran could be interpreted by Russia and China as a move to monopolize the oil in the Middle East and that’s something Russia and China cannot allow. Some would say that it would likely be a small, contained conflict and that Russia and China wouldn’t be actively involved. That’s to be doubted.

Russia and China might also think that this is the best time to fight a US-backed Israel. The US is facing a fiscal cliff and this would be the worst possible time for the US to go to war. With Russian support, Iran could shut off the Strait of Hormuz and cause a worldwide oil delivery shortage. The dire effect on national economies is unimaginable, especially at this time when many countries are encountering negative growth.

In World War I we saw how a seemingly insignificant assassination that was clearly the work of Serbian fanatics got all the major powers into The Great War. Up to now the effects of World War I are being felt. World War I ended the monarchies in Russia, Turkey, Germany and Austria.

Incapable of fighting in a mechanized war, Russia became of one of the biggest losers of World War I. The Bolsheviks executed all of the Russian royal family — the Romanovs — and Russia changed overnight from a monarchy to a communist state.

Bibi Netanyahu is the world’s most dangerous leader today, not because of Israeli military capability per se, but because he could create the disorder that will bring major powers into conflict.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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