My friend J. is on a trip to the middle east, and I'm worried about her.
A skirmish that is looking more and more like war broke out between Israel and Lebanon a few days before J. left on her journey, which includes stops in Dubai, Kuwait City, and Tehran, before she heads to her ancestral provinces in north-western Iran and to the shores of the Caspian Sea.
She won't be anywhere near Israel or Lebanon. But conflicts expand, and borders close, and I can't help but worry that she won't find it easy to return.
Some folks in the media are theorizing that Iran is pulling the strings in Lebanon. They theorize that Iran's fundamentlist leaders ordered Hizbollah to carry out the cross-border raid that began the current spate of fighting. And though an article I read in Time Magazine suggests that the attitude of the person in the streets of Tehran toward Hizbollah ranges from indifference to resentment, it's not a terrible stretch to imagine Iran becoming more directly involved in the growing conflict. Under conditions like that, a nation can shut down pretty quickly.
Each time the fighting flares up in the middle east I wonder if we are staring down the barrel of the beginning of World War III. This time, the shady connections between the Israel-Lebanon conflict on the one hand, and Iran on the other, coupled with the aggressive nuclear rhetoric of Iran's president Ahmedinejad, have me more worried than ever.
Now, too, I have a personal reason for concern. I want J. to come back safe.