The scenario I put into "No Tears for Mecca" is a worse-case scenario, one that we hope we never see. However, unless something happens pretty quickly to de-fang Iran and North Korea, to encourage some sort of moderate Islam sprreading through the Middle East and re-unify Korea under what is now South Korea, I am afraid some version of it it may happen.
To move toward moderate Islam, though, will require a re-interpretation of the Koran, perhaps on the basis of saying much of it is "satanic verses" like the one sura already so regarded.
What is really interesting is that nominal Muslims by the thousands are becoming educated enough to actually read the Koran.....and they do not like what they read. Muslims who regard themselves as faithful to a compassionate and merciful god are finding out that that is not the god of the Koran, and that the Mohammad described there is not someone to emulate.
An Imam on Al-Jazeera estimated 62 Muslims per hour, 24/7, or over 540,000 per year, are leaving Islam for Christianity. That is not quite a flood, but it is a significant crack in the dam. The hand of God maybe at work here. The problem for the Muslim fundamentalists is that their heinous actions now make the news worldwide, more self-respecting.
Muslims do not want to associate themselves with those actions, and they are turning elsewhere. A natural place they can turn is to the prophet previous to Mohammad, or Jesus. The Internet is giving
them all the Koran and ahadith, the Bible and the Torah, and the commentaries from all sides, and they are making up their own minds. A senior Muslim professor of Islam at Al-Ahzar University in Cairo became a Christian, and changed his name to Mark Gabriel.
Now he ministers to Muslims wanting to leave Islam. Perhaps if something of a lid can be kept on the problem they will educate themselves into the 21st century, but the crazies who lop off heads are the worst enemy of nominal Muslims.
If Iran hits Israel with nuclear weapons I certainly expect Israel to hit back with everything they have.
There is an ironic sidebar to Iran hitting Israel with nucs: with the prevailing winds the fallout will blow straight back over Teheran and Isfahan.
What I hope can be done is to somehow enable the current student and young professional population in Iran to topple the fanatics, throwing the mullahs out and establishing a secular government. There actually is some hope of that. That will be much more acceptable to the Iranians than if they get attacked from outside, by Israel or some kind of Western alliance.
A pre-emptive attack from outside would more likely bring them together. However, if it looks as if Iran is about to attack, there will be no choice for the U.S. or Israel, we will have to attack.
As long as I am waxing rhapsodically hopeful tonight, I would not be at all surprised to see a sudden coup d'etat in North Korea, with the generals and other officers doing away with Kim Jong Il. Yes, the soldiers get special privileges and rations, but they all also have families, many of which are starving. Like Gorbachev allowing the Iron Curtain to fall, doing nothing to stop it, it may be just be a matter of time before North Korea collapses.
The South will have a hard time re-building them, but I have been to South Korea, I know they are amazingly resilient and resourceful, and I have every faith all of a re-unified Korea will modernize within eight years of the North collapsing. It will be a new Wonder of the World.