Entry for November 12, 2007: Apocalypse soon?

Friends, I hope you had a good weekend. On Saturday, 10 November 2007, Janice and I drove down to Hartford, Connecticut, for the latest Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. There was more fine art but fewer food vendors than at the fair we attended in Boston the previous weekend.

Unfortunately, I've been fighting a bad cold since then, but we did manage to take down our Halloween decorations yesterday. We also watched a bit of The Next Iron Chef America on the Food Network and Ninja Warrior on G4. Even with genre television soon to be affected by the writer's guild strike, I've still got more than enough shows and comic books to catch up on.

Tonight, I'll be attending a free theatrical screening of Battlestar Galactica: Razor. While I've become disenchanted with the dour revisionist take on the 1970s military space opera, I am curious about the backstory in the long break between the SciFi Channel's official seasons. I also hope that the strike won’t affect my other favorite shows, such as Heroes, which are just picking up steam in terms of plot this autumn.

Unfortunately, I'll be missing the Star Trek: "the Menagerie" cinematic event tomorrow night because of the regularly scheduled D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" fantasy session. Next weekend, I plan to attend the Super MegaFest in Framingham, Mass., and screen the computer-animated Beowulf, perhaps on 3-D IMAX. On the other hand, I may have to work, since Thanksgiving is fast approaching.

Mindful of the sacrifices of past and present soldiers and their loved ones, the real-world news from Pakistan and the Middle East, combined with apocalyptic scenarios in shows like Heroes and BSG (see image above) have led me to consider the following scenario:

A few years from now, conflict continues in southwestern Asia. Pakistan (which already has nuclear capability) and/or Iran (which is working on obtaining such capability) is dominated by an anti-Western militarist theocracy. A missile strikes Tel Aviv, killing many thousands immediately and affecting millions of people. Arab and Muslim populations rally to the cause, even if it's against their own self-interest.

Israel and the U.S. retaliate in kind, destroying entire cities. Of course, dwindling Mideast oil reserves become inaccessible to the rest of the industrialized world, causing widespread economic and environmental hardship. Russia, unhappy with the use of such weapons near its southern frontier, tries to broker a cease-fire with support from the European Union but fails and is drawn in. China and India are eventually also pulled into the conflict because of fallout, refugees, and crumbling regional stability. Millions more die from disease, starvation, and erupting religious/ethnic strife.

Domestic opinion in the U.S., as in other capitalist democracies, is torn, but a grim resolve sets in, especially after terrorist attacks resume in/on U.S. cities. National security, civil liberties, and even the ability of large nations to feed themselves are all disposable as warfare deepens and humanity devolves into armed bands.

How can this not unlikely doomsday scenario be avoided? The U.S. has provided billions in military aid to numerous parties in the Middle East, in the vain hope of strengthening regional security, supporting allies, and guaranteeing access to oil. Increasing defense spending without accountability is probably not the right solution. Nor is research in autonomous combat robots, which goes against the warning of numerous science fiction novels and movies, the answer.

We should be aware that the current presidential campaigns in the U.S. have higher stakes than the usual partisan conservative/Republican vs. liberal/Democrat wrangling. Both sides should agree that avoiding the situation outlined above is a high priority and should propose meaningful, if difficult, solutions, ranging from serious multiparty negotiations to true nation-building over years, to more careful and thorough applications of force than those we're currently engaged in. There's still time to avert disaster and build a safer, more stable world!

On a lighter note, my next post will cover my current favorite comic books…