Every now and then I am asked why I am so interested in politics and, more specifically, international affairs. The politically correct answer (no pun intended) would be that politics touches our lives in all aspects our daily routines. But I do not usually wake people’s interest until I tell them how complicated and fascinating it can be. There are many stories unfolding that are much more outrageous than Tom Clancy novels or an episode of The West Wing.
This weekend, for example, a story went through European media outlets like a brushfire and quickly also made headlines here in the United States: Three submarines donated by Germany to Israel have been modified to launch U.S.-supplied missiles that — and here comes the kicker — have been armed with nuclear warheads.
Israel is said to have those warheads targeted at Iran, which is reportedly developing nuclear capabilities.
The German government, which delivered the submarines to Israel largely against the wishes of the general population, may be subject to a backlash from their electorate. The chancellor might be able to quell any protests by saying it was the previous government; more specifically, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who provided Israel with the submarines.
The fact that the missiles originated in the United States will only further harm the United States’ image in the Middle East, and is counterproductive to the Bush administration’s stated intention of improving relations in that region. Iran might not believe us if we tell them we had no idea the submarines could be modified to fire nuclear missiles that are now aimed at them.
To complicate matters, Israel has said that countries which are “harboring terrorists” are legitimate targets. The same argument was used to justify Israel’s recent air strikes on Syria. This vague definition could be applied to any country in the Middle East, making even the leaders of those countries that actively fight terrorism nervous.
And if there is one thing America does not need to do in the region, it is to further instill a sense of unease.
Things in Iraq are far from settled, with thousands of American troops on active duty in the strife-ridden country. President George W. Bush’s plan for other countries to provide both troops and financial aid to alleviate the burden on the United States has failed. American casualties are still occurring almost daily and even international organizations like the United Nations have been targets of recent attacks.
It is understandable that few countries are willing to take the political gamble of contributing money and troops into an unstable area whose long-term prospects of stability are still doubtful. This leaves the United States to bear the loss of servicemen and shoulder the financial burden alone.
So events that transpired thousands of miles away end up affecting our nations’ budget. The $87 billion that Bush has asked congress to allocate for the rebuilding of Iraq will balloon again. Public services like education and social security, will suffer, directly hurting citizens in this country.
There is a common misconception that events in other lands will not affect the United States, but what I am trying to illustrate is that things are more interconnected than most people realize. It may be on the other side of the world, but international affairs, especially in our self-proclaimed age of globalization, where international trade accounts for a big part of our economy, have a direct effect on each and every one of us.
And anyway, it is simply interesting to follow.
Sebastian Meyer an Oracle Opinion Editor. firstname.lastname@example.org