As the Iranians move closer to obtaining nuclear weapons, we
need to begin thinking about what this could mean for our civilization. With
only approximately one percent of shipping containers entering the country
being inspected; with our borders as porous as ever; and, with terrorist cells
around the world waiting to be activated, the United States, itself, could be
held hostage by the Iranians or even be subject to an attack from which it
would be almost impossible to recover.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already proclaimed
his desire to eliminate the United States as a force in the world. And with a new era of WMD in the hands of
fanatical mullahs or their terrorist allies, one thing is becoming increasingly
clear in the War for the Free World: We can lose. And losing doesn’t mean that our economy is
set back by a few percentage points of growth or increased unemployment; or
even suffers the death of a few thousand Americans as happened on September 11th.
The United States could be devastated even more thoroughly
than Germany or Japan in World War II: our society as we know it can be
destroyed, unambiguously, completely, perhaps irretrievably.
Terrorism has been a worldwide scourge for close to 40 years
now, and the prospects for the future – unless there is a precipitous change –
only look worse. We cannot wall up, we
cannot roof over, the United
Terrorism is no longer a matter of the 19th-century anarchist’s
revolver or the explosive parcel left in a railroad station.
New technologies, loose nukes, broken nation states, and toxic
ideologies infecting entire cultures, combined with the far flung and delicate
sinews of a modern society, make us physically vulnerable in a way that is
completely new, even as we have been made more psychologically vulnerable by a
defeatist, appeasement-minded media and intellectual elite.
The game may be played and ended in an instant. As an example: two nuclear explosions, one in
Washington, D.C. and one in New York City, and our society as we know it
ends. The capital, with its government
centers and vast bureaucracy that acts as national organizer and paymaster,
gone; New York, with corporate headquarters, and the center of the communications
and financial nervous system of the United States, destroyed.
With the threat of further attacks, there would be a mass
exodus from our cities. Even the mere
possibility of further attacks would make city life nearly impossible and sow a
terrible uncertainty that would send the economy into a tailspin and paralyze
reconstruction. Without these population
centers and the civilization that has grown up around them, our society as we
know it would be hard pressed to survive.
Even worse than a nuclear weapon may be the effects of an electromagnetic
pulse (EMP), either generated by a purpose designed weapon or given off by a
nuclear weapon exploded above the United States or even off shore. The Islamic Republic or terrorist allies
could approach undetected (Reports indicate that the Iranians have tested
ship-based missiles) with a weapon that would emit radio waves that extended
from a height of, say, 25 miles to a distant horizon that would permanently
destroy any and all electric and electronic devices – and these days that
includes everything from toasters to city water systems to military equipment –
in line of sight from the blast.
Effects would cascade across the country: Business
investment stops with the result of massive unemployment; there is no food,
clean water, fuel or electric power and perhaps worst of all, no supplies or
equipment to repair or replace damaged components. Social security checks remain unsent, ATMs go
dark, transportation and communications systems are shattered. The police would be overwhelmed, the worst
elements in society ascendant.
No matter where you lived in the United States your life
would change precipitously in mere hours; disaster would visit in only a few
days. No one in this day and age is
truly “off the grid.” A farm family
might live twenty miles outside a village ten miles from a town five miles
distant from Peoria, but that would offer no protection. They are really just the proprietors of a modern
agribusiness and are as dependent on the supermarket as any city dweller; and
likewise dependent on national energy and communications systems, electronic
banking, distant health services, and all the goods and services provided in
town and city centers that, in a hideous irony, have made modern man so
uniquely vulnerable to disaster.
It is relatively easy to destroy a society, extraordinarily
difficult, ex nihilo, to construct
one. In fact, the complexity of society today is such that no one can imagine all
the ingredients of modern life, large and small, that allow us not only to
thrive but merely to survive. Without
them, it will be Hobbesian war of all against all in a struggle just to eat,
stay warm and to survive another day.
As the world muddled toward war in the late 1930s, Winston Churchill
was reminded of a poem he had seen in “Punch” as a child:
“Who is in charge of the clattering
The axles creak and the couplings
And the pace is hot, and the points
And sleep has deadened the driver’s
And the signals flash through the
night in vain,
For death is in charge of the
The technology is outmoded, but the words and grim
inevitably remain chilling. Eighty years
and more after Hitler’s rise, civilization again faces an existential threat. Only today, if it is possible, the threat is
more acute and the stakes are even greater, and unless we completely eliminate
Islamofascism and its attendant potential for devastating terrorism, we may
well be heading for the ultimate smash: very simply, the end of our civilization.