Sunday, June 13, 2010

From Franklin Spinney in Counterpunch

...According to the Jerusalem Post, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, just threatened to sink any Turkish warship carrying (Turkish Prime Minister) Erdogan, if it was escorting another flotilla of aid ships trying to break the blockade of Gaza. The threat is serious, because it was made on Israeli Army Radio, an outlet for policy pronouncements intended to lather up the Israeli citizens for battle.

...An Israeli attack on Turkey would be also an attack on the NATO Alliance. Under the terms of the NATO Treaty, such an attack should trigger what is known as an Article 5 response -- an attack on a NATO ally is an attack on all. This is what the US used to justify a NATO response to 9-11 in Afghanistan, even though the Afghan case was far less clear than the Turkish-Israeli imbroglio, because the Taliban was at most an accomplice to the 9-11 crime and may not have known about it in advance. If Israel carries through on its threat to attack a NATO warship, it would be a clear act of war. If the US (and the rest of NATO) does not respond, you can kiss NATO and Turkey goodbye... Nobody could ever trust the United States to live up to its formal treaty obligations. Our relations with Russia and China would be weakened dangerously, and Iran's position in the Middle East would be strengthened. The fall of dominoes would go on in all sorts of directions.

To borrow the unforgettable words of British Foreign Minister Edward Grey in the fateful summer of 1914, "the lights are going out all over" the Middle East, in NATO headquarters, and in the White House (assuming they were turned on). If Erdogan presses forward with his public promise to be on another Gaza aid ship or an escorting Turkish warship and if Israel acts on its threat to sink the ship carrying him, then like the chain of events of August 1914, the march to war could very well take on a life of its own.

Franklin Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon.

I think this essay is overly dramatic. I don't expect WW3. Instead the crisis will be settled. But I wonder if anyone in Washington realizes how serious this could be, or how serious the other problems the US faces are: global warming, the Gulf spill, the worldwide economic crisis...


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