Call it whatever suits outlook and fits calculations: response to multiple provocations, dangerous escalation, preemptive neutralising strike, or act of war. Whichever it is, the bottom line is this: the deed is done, and the Iranians are reeling on the world’s stage. And from those, comes this stark sobering truth: as sure as the sun sets in the west, there will be retaliation. As to where things go from there is anybody’s guess, including the unthinkable and the uncontrollable.
The intensifying and inflaming rhetoric will now occupy the whole stage, as to who was justified, the litany of ills inflicted and absorbed, and sprawling jingoism taking full hold. The commodities markets have signaled their recognition of the gravity of the situation, with corresponding spikes in prices, and now there is watching for the next moves unfolding.
This was a long time coming and reaching this shaky stage, be it from the side of the United States or that of the Iranians. Both sides have already dug in their heels and are ready to do battle, if the words tell the tale of resolve, injured pride, and the hubris of men, who do not listen to any other, but themselves, and are willing and armed to play perilous games that can touch irreversibly countless lives.
There is a sense of deviltry in the air, of the tenseness of closing to cross swords and let the chips falls where they may. To put an end to the dodging and hedging, to heighten from a low-grade conflict to some other plane, to test the manhood of each other, to measure the pulse and will.
The sense is that the time for talking is past. The partisan politics has already taken hold, with the usual scripts being followed in the United States. One speculation, if not assertion, that is sure to be made is that (a la Bill Clinton) the incumbent US leader unleashed the military to distract from domestic personal woes by waging war on a known and despised foreign enemy.
Clinton’s Tomahawk missiles largely disrupted the sand, while on this occasion, the target rendered to eternity could not have been bigger or more satisfying.
That is why the Iranians cannot afford to calm down and stand down, as it is a monumental loss of incomparable and irreplaceable proportions.
It is the alpha takedown, the ultimate insult in terms of means and method, and the man lost. That is why for them, it cannot be allowed to go unanswered, that is why this situation threatens even from now to get out of hand. From the sensitive Straits of Hormuz imperiled to sleeper cells activated to modern warfare in all of its frightening capabilities.
Something else needs to be understood and emphasized here, which is somewhat alien to Western minds. In the always combustible Middle East region, revenge is next to piousness, if not godliness. There is no forgetting, no letting go, and neither reasoning nor logic, that dictates what are rational courses of action to be taken. It (vengeance) must be had and to the full, and thus it will come.
And, in addition to this DNA-wired characteristic, the Persians possess something unlike most other nations and they proudly possess it in spades: they are suffused with a martyr’s complex. Go all the way back in history to Cyrus and that time and come forward, and the years are stained with the readiness to answer the call to arms and to lay down in the glory of one’s own shed blood. It could be a state of where the irresistible force confronts the immovable object, and as to what happens from there is anybody’s guess, except that nobody wants to, given the volatile parties involved.
The outlook is not good, it is grim in fact. Already some of the other powerful voices across the globe have weighed in with alarms sounded, such is the terrible tautness that now takes over and determines the next steps.
To be quite frank, those steps are only going to take downward in what promises to be an inextricable morass. This stage was avoided for the longest time, but has been simmering since 1979. Looking back is not an option.
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