05 June 2008America’s Next Wars |
What global hotspots will the next administration send American troops to?
By: Matt Fay
With the current disastrous wars taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is hard to imagine that other wars would be possible. While many are currently pointing to the possibility of military strikes against Iran – a distinct possibility, but unfortunately, there are those still agitating for military action still elsewhere in the world. Due to a foreign policy based on interventionism, imperialism, and militarism; the fact that the U.S. military is already active in over 130 countries around the globe; and that there are still those that believe it is in the world’s best interest for America to spread “freedom” at the point of a bayonet; the odds of military conflict continue to climb. None of these potential conflicts are set in stone, and hopefully none will come to fruition.
Here is a list of potential conflicts, in their descending order of likelihood:
Republican nominee John McCain has expressed his desire to kick “revanchist” Russia out of the G8. NATO ally Estonia often has disputes with Moscow; President Bush has pushed for the former Soviet Republics of Georgia and Ukraine to be admitted to NATO – bringing the military alliance right up to Russia’s doorstep; and in Georgia two breakaway regions – South Ossetia and Abkhazia – are supported by Russia, while American neoconservatives believe that the U.S. should intervene on behalf of Georgia. Let’s keep our collective fingers crossed that World War III does not break out on behalf of Estonia, South Ossetia, or Abkhazia.
Since 9/11 American troops have worked as advisors to the Philippines’ military in their struggle against a group known as Abu Sayyaf – an Al Qaeda affiliated group. The ties to Al Qaeda are tenuous at best as Abu Sayyaf is more of a group of violent criminals than a jihadi insurgency. War is unlikely in the Philippines, but it should never be forgotten that nearly 50 years ago military advisors were sent to a strip of jungle to fight an insurgency…and that one didn’t work out so well (I’m talking about Vietnam in case I’m being too subtle).
Pakistan is still our ally in the “War on Terror”, despite the fact that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are comfortably ensconced in Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan. This is an unlikely war, but that could easily change if radical Muslim elements in Pakistan, loyal to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, were to gain control of the Pakistani parliament or presidency – Pakistan being the only Islamic country with nuclear weapons.
Al Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Mahgreb (AQIM) is a largely overlooked Al Qaeda affiliate. This may be because AQIM is largely a localized phenomenon – having formed from a nationalist insurgency. There are many who believe that AQIM is actually an invention of the Algerian government as a way to attract funds from the U.S. government in order to “fight Al Qaeda.” At the same time, Osama bin Laden himself has said that he can “….send two Al Qaeda operatives to any corner of the earth to raise a flag and America will come running.”
With the “War on Drugs” still in full swing, it may only be a matter of time before the U.S. government decides they want to take the necessary steps to fight a “war.” The corrupt, right wing government of Columbia is backed financially and militarily by the United States. On the other side, the FARC rebels are a left wing insurgency supported by Columbian drug cartels, and now allegedly supported by leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. As everyone knows, there are many in the U.S. government who would love to swat the annoying mosquito that is Hugo Chavez (but let’s hope instead they realize the futility of the “War on Drugs” and just end it).
With many issues over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program being wrapped up by the so-called “Six Party Talks”, the reasons for restarting hostilities on the Korean Peninsula are shrinking daily. Then again, with an unstable leader like Kim Jong-Il still in power in North Korea, thousands of American troops stationed in South Korea, and American neoconservatives still pushing their “democracy through regime change” agenda – there is no reason to think that war is not still a possibility.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain have all recently signed a letter pledging to “take action” on the genocide in Darfur - what type of action is not specified. U.N. sanctions are unlikely to be affective due to China’s economic interests in Sudan, and its veto in the U.N. Security Council. The situation in Darfur is an epic tragedy, but it is not a threat to the security of the United States. Unfortunately, that no longer seems to matter as a prerequisite to American military action. The mainstream political establishment – both Republicans and Democrats – have fully embraced the idea that the U.S. military should be the world’s policeman.
A proxy war is already being fought in Somalia at this very moment. The U.S.-backed Ethiopian army invaded to oust the Islamic Courts government that had brought some semblance of order to that war torn country. U.S. cruise missiles have been routinely lobbed into civilian areas with the supposed targets being Al Qaeda leaders (one of those infinite Al Qaeda “third-in-commands”). If the Islamist forces in Somalia, aided by their Islamic allies in Eritrea, begin to push back too hard against the Ethiopian military, it may be a “boots on the ground” situation with American troops in the line of fire.
Taking into consideration the recent negotiations between Syria and Israel over the status of the Golan Heights – which Israel took from Syria in the 1967 war – the likelihood of a U.S.-Syrian conflict has dropped dramatically. But, with the volatility of the region, the possibility of a conflagration should not be discounted. Syria, apparently, just missed the cut as being named a charter member of President Bush’s “Axis of Evil”, and the Assad regime has long been one targeted for overthrow by the neoconservatives. If they retain positions of power in the next administration, an attack on Syria could still be in the offing.
20% of American oil will be coming from the Niger Delta in 2012. Nigerian rebels attack Shell refineries on a near daily basis, killing and taking western oil workers hostage. Over two thousand square feet of swamp land is probably one of the few places less pleasant to fight than the Iraqi desert. With the Nigerian government unable to contain the activities of these rebel groups, it may only be a matter of time before the U.S. political establishment decides they need to send in their favorite tool of foreign policy (i.e. the U.S. military) to deal with the situation.
“Everyone wants to go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran” is allegedly a “battle cry” of the neoconservatives as an example of their drive for evermore regime change. The United States congress has recently passed a resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization – opening up the president to pursue them militarily under the authorizations passed following 9/11. Despite the National Intelligence Estimate released in December 2007 that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons plan and that the IAEA has stated that no fissile material has been diverted for military purposes from their civilian energy program, the political establishment – led by the Bush Administration – has continued to rattle their sabers toward Iran. They claim that there will be “grave consequences” for Iran if they do not stop their uranium enrichment activities. President Bush has even gone so far as to invoke the specter of “World War III” to describe these consequences.
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