From the Saddam Hussein’s “Smoking Gun” of to Kim Jong Un’s Mushroom Cloud

The Second Gulf War began following an intensive search for the Iraqi ‘somking gun’, which was never found.  Many have reasoned that Iran itself assisted in getting rid of the evidence, as it has been proposed that weapons of mass destruction were transferred to Iran. However, depite the fact that the smoking gun was not found, a coalition of states, led by President George W. Bush, invaded Iraq, with the intetion of ridding the world of a man who scoffed at the global system, and served as a threat to his own people and neighbors.

Saddam Hussein was deposed and hanged, and the message was not lost on other dictators. There can be no doubt that the resoluteness to attack Iraq “enlightened” Muamar Qadaffi to end his nuclear ambitions. There was a general feeling that such activities would no longer be tolerated.

However, as time passes, the American stance of gobal sheriff, which was then held by George Bush, has been weakened, and the world has become a type of anacrchy. The question of a smoking gun, a smoking missile, or smoking warhead has become less relevant, as dictators do not feel any need to hide their rogue activities. Simply, the world is burying its head, refraining from reacting to serious threats, as recent actions by the young dictator of North Korea illustrate.

The term “history repeats itself” is a phrase well known by all and continually shown to be true; but despite this, the world is always caught unprepared for new threats, which are, in essence, repetitions of historical patterns.

The 1930s were the pinnacle of a new type of politics. Neville Chamberlain convinced the West that threats could be dealt with through compromise, and that barking dogs did not necessarily bite. The world fell in love with his conciliatory promise of “peace in our time”.

Years of conciliation and lack of bravery resulted in Chamberlain being granted honors around the world, as the man who had prevented world war. Today, as we mark the Holocaust, it is clear that Chaimberlain’s actions did not prevent war, but instead brought about immesurable tragedy to the entire world.

Again today, we hear slogans and threats from North Korea, while the war machines are advancing and being tested. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s young dictator, does not even hide his intentions, while the world hesitates in fear. A new style of global politics, in which threats and violence are accepted, has become commonplace. Leaders of the West perceive the cost of reaction as being too high, and have difficulty justifying resolute action to their publics.

Just as the world does not view HAMAS’s missile fire on Israel’s southern communities as justification for Israeli military action, just as Iranian threats to destroy Israel do not justify a preventative war, so the world stands immobile as the rogue state of North Korea continues to develop and test a nuclear arsenal. The world has lost its willingness, and only seems interested in buying time and temporary quiet. A reaction, in the end, will be necessary – however, it may come too late, causing far greater damage.

The world must return to a more basic and principled understandings of such threats, and we must must remember what happened to us 70 years ago.

The meaning of the phrase “never again!” must never be compromised or forgotten.


About the Author
Dr David Altman is senior vice-president at the Netanya Academic College and vice-chair of the college's Strategic Dialogue Center