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"Today every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or madness."
John F Kennedy

Kennedy spoke in reference to nuclear exchanges between The USSR and the US. The important history here is that in opting for a cold- instead of a hot- war, Kennedy and Khrushchev followed a relatively peaceful, if nervous, path for resolving societal differences. The same formula could work today. All it would take is more more patience by Washington.

Radical Fundamentalism has become the terror of our times. In particular Wahhabism and its variants are trying to drive the world into Armageddon.

Firmly rooted in most Islamic states, Wahhabism has influence everywhere there are Muslims. Its roots are especially deep in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia.

In Pakistan, a succession of corrupt dictators effectively ceded public education to the Wahhabis who now operate some 8000 madrassas, religious schools. Madrassa curricula emphasize Islamic instruction that glorify jihad and martyrdom. Hatred of the non-Islamic world comes with that.

General Musharref took power in a coup. He must now stay alive for a time if he wishes to begin turning the tide. His path is perilous--having forsaken the Taliban and permitted Americans to operated bases on Pakistani soil. To the devout, Musharref is now an apostate to be killed on sight. Two attempts on his life have been made in recent times.

By any reasonable standard, Pakistan is not yet a democracy where political parties vie for power via elections. Democracy will never come to pass unless a middle class develops that can not only demand democracy but sustain it. A second condition is that Islam must reform and recognize that separation of Church and State is in the long-term interest of Islam itself.

Iran is another potential igniter of an apocalypse. A near-nuclear power by slow but steady effort, Iran is in position to become a full fledged nuclear power by 2010.

North Korea already is one and is yet another trigger point.

In the background are Israel and India. Each is a tempting target that would might well return fireballs if sufficiently provoked by conventional means.

Maybe Machiavelli was not too wrong:"Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions."


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