There are consquences to every event and former Army officer Ralph Peters sees a strategical roadmap drawn by a cruel Mother Nature via the tragedy of South Asia’s killer tsunami.
Yes, the tsunami — the one that butchered 160,000 people (and counting). In a piece in the New York Post Peters writes of a stragegical map…literally drawn by monster waves, and tears:
THE tsunami’s devastation on the Indian Ocean’s shores offers a strategic lesson of incomparable importance. Whether or not the Pentagon’s current leadership is capable of grasping that lesson is another matter.
The Indian Ocean and its adjoining seas and gulfs form one crucial, integrated strategic theater. The region has been critical to Western dominance for five centuries. Yet, when our intelligence services or military planners consider this vast, densely populated region at all, they poke at the different parts and miss the whole.
And he hits the nail on the head when he goes on to say:
The Indian Ocean theater contains the world’s largest democracy (India), the world’s most populous Muslim state (Indonesia), the greatest concentration of oil (on the Arabian Peninsula and in the Persian Gulf), the first Muslim nuclear power (Pakistan), the most progressive economies in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) and the greatest concentration of terrorists in the world.
On its eastern extreme, this vast region is bounded by Australia, a sturdy Western outpost. To the west, the Indian Ocean laps the old Swahili Coast and the Republic of South Africa, a state on its way to becoming the continent’s first indigenous great power.
No region of the world is so complex, or so thick with both threats and opportunities. The Indian Ocean region is not only critical in detail, but has an overall importance even greater than its parts. From the vital sea lanes that once carried spices and now carry oil, to the competing civilizations on its littorals, the Indian Ocean binds together the world’s great passions, needs and dangers.
This is where Islam must â€” and can â€” change; where nuclear weapons are likeliest to be used; where the future economic potential is vast; where the bulk of the world’s heroin is produced; and where the heroin of the world economy â€” oil â€” could be cut off with a handful of nuclear weapons (think Iran, the Suez Canal and a few Arab ports).
We have failed to see the forest for the palm trees. Nature recognized what our government consistently fails to understand. The earthquake centered off the coast of Sumatra triggered deadly waves that struck Thailand and Somalia, India and Indonesia, Burma and the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Africa’s Swahili coast.
So what did the terrible events of December 26, 2004 mean?
The tsunami drew a strategic map of the 21st century. It took a tragedy to inspire serious American involvement in the region (apart from the Middle East, with which we remain rabidly obsessed). While cognizant of the horrors that brought them to Indonesia, U.S. Navy officers are relieved to have a mission at last. Largely excluded from participation in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the reactionary choices the service made, our Navy has suffered from a perception of fading relevance.
There’s more. Read it all.