Today, the United States of America, along with a multi-national force authorized by the Security Council of the United Nations began enforcement of a no fly zone over Libya. The purpose of this mission is to protect the rebels in Libya from the Armed Forces loyal to the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. I will not go into the history of this conflict except to say that the conflict has been going on for approximately one month and that during its initial phases, the rebels were at a major advantage and largely successful in gaining ground militarily. Since that time, the world has done nothing and the rebels have been systematically “cleansed” by Mr. Gaddafi and his much stronger military. We can all just hope that the “no fly” zone is not too little too late.
The main point of this article however is not really to discuss this new military operation, but to suggest that it is the beginning of a Third Front in the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict. Yes, it is a completely different battleground, but it is still in the Middle East and it involves another multinational force; this time without the United States in the lead. In fact, normally peaceloving and liberal Europe and particularly France forced the issue here. It was not President Obama or the United States. And, it must be stated for the record that this is not another battleground in the “War on Terror.” Although it can be argued that Libya has been a state sponsor of terrorism for decades. In fact, we all remember when President Reagan authorized an air-strike over Libya in the early 80’s because of that very fact. Still, it is a different issue: It is the rest of the world supporting rebels to overthrow the government.
But, what I really wonder is this: At what point do the current Middle Eastern Conflicts and the internal turmoil within the Middle Eastern countries begin to look like military action in a theater to be officially called World War III? How many countries must be involved in conflict before that moniker is officially used? What geographic percentage of the world must be engaged?
Currently a full multinational force is still fighting in, what is America’s longest war, Afghanistan. America, mostly by itself, is cleaning up the Iraqi mess which can be called the second front in the War on Terror. Afganistan is nowhere near finished. Iraq is somewhat better. The “War on Terror” is far from over and far from won. In fact, until Al Queada is completely defeated, the threat of terrorism both in the United States and abroad is still strong. Not one month goes by without some event occuring to keep that fear in the general populace.
Almost every other country in the Middle East besides Afghanistan and Iraq is now in some form of Civil Disturbance or Civil War. Two dictatorships have fallen so far: Tunisia and Egypt. Libya is in a full scale Civil War with the multinational force supporting the rebels militarily and calling for the ouster of Gaddafi. Syria has had to quell some rebels in the past few days, as has the normally peaceful Saudi Arabia. In fact, there were some reports today that the Saudi government paid billions and billions of dollars to their citizens to stop the rioting. (I guess that is the easiest solution to any problem especially if you have the money to do it.)
Additionally, almost every other smaller country in the area has had some level of disturbance as well; among them is Bahrain. In fact, the whole mess actually began with Iran over one year ago. One can only wonder what would have happened to the region had the United States and rest of the World supported the rebels in Iran last year in the same way they are supporting the rebels currently. In fact that was President Obama’s first chance to show himself as a world leader. He failed then and he appears also to be failing now because he is nowhere to be seen in this conflict. If it were not for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking part in the discussions in Europe, the Administration would be completely absent. See e.g. “Is the President Waiting Too Long to Flex His Muscles?”
This phenomenon of rebellion in the area was discussed in detail in the article published here entitled “The Great Facebook Revolution” by Michael D. Sellers. In that article, Ms. Sellers made a hypothesis that Facebook and Twitter were largely responsible for the popular rebellions in the Middle Eastern countries. This is something that I truly believe in as well. To put it simply, you can no longer supress information from the populace. It is everywhere including our cell phones. A rebellion can be arranged in all parts of a country without its leader even leaving his house.
Getting back to our discussion, officially at this point in time the continent of Africa and Asia are actively involved in military conflict. Military from North America and Europe are actively participating in the battlegrounds in Africa and Asia. The number of countries involved is growing by the day. You can call Libya the third front or you can call Libya the extension of “The Facebook Revolution.” Whatever you want to call it, it is the start of a new phase in the military conflicts that have been going on since September 11, 2001. You can even go so far as to say that it is another battleground in the war against radical Muslim which has also been going on since the same date. Or, you can even go further and say that it is a resurgence of or the next “Crusade.” I will leave that up to you. It also appears to be that Mr. Bush is looking smarter everyday. (Obama is not even trying to close Gitmo anymore either).
There are no answers here. And, in the end, this article asks a lot more questions than it answers. But, it is food for thought, is it not?
© 2011 by Frank T. DeMartini. Permission to copy will be freely granted upon request