People in Indonesia certainly wouldn't agree that the War on Terror is a strictly Middle Eastern conflict. They're having trouble with terrorist organizations like Jemaah Islamiyah.
I think this war is global. I also think that it won't be exclusively concerned with a particular variety of Islam by the time it ends.
I've posted before, about what the previous century's conflicts suggest we may look forward to.
There's a lot going on right now:
- China is re-emerging as a major world power
- Europe's nations are merging their economies into the
- European Union
- European Free Trade Association
- Russia is finding a place in the world, now that the Soviet Union is gone
Unlike every other major Industrial Age nation in the world, Russia is almost completely landlocked. Russia has coastline on the Arctic Ocean, and the Pacific. The Arctic is perhaps the least navigable of the world's oceans. The Pacific is thousands of miles from the economic center of Russia.
If someone in Russia wants to ship material in or out of the country by ship, the cargo must go across Siberia, to the Pacific, or through St. Petersburg on the Baltic or Rostov on the Black Sea.
If America was in this situation, someone in Los Angeles with a cargo to ship would have to either ship it overland to the east coast, or arrange for passage through one of two waterways: both of which are controlled by several other nations.
Russia has, understandably, found this an awkward circumstance.
Which may explain why the Russia has bombed a military airfield near the Tbilisi International Airport. Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia, and the Georgian government isn't too happy about the situation.
Russian leaders say they've got a perfectly good reason for bombing the Georgian capital.
- Russian version:
Russia has rolled troops into Abkhazia and South Ossetia to keep the peace.
- Georgian version:
Russia has invaded Georgia, in reaction to the death of 15 'peacekeepers.'
The Georgian government doesn't want to give up those regions.
If it were up to a global vote, it looks like most nations go along with the Georgian position.
Russia, however, seems to prefer a Georgia without quite as much territory as it has now. And it's bombing buildings and people in Georgia to make this point.
What About the War on Terror?!Put what's happening in Georgia today together with the eagerness Russia has shown, supporting Iran's nuclear program, and it's not too hard to see the possibility of some sort of agreement along the lines of the one that the Soviet Union made with Germany as WWII was starting. (More about this at "Putin, Ahmadinejad, Iran, Syria, Israel: Here We Go Again?" (October 18, 2007).)
I don't think it's such a stretch to think of the War on Terror as a conflict between countries that see freedom as a good idea, and organizations like Al Qaeda, which want a much more orderly and controlled world.
And, while a certain flavor of Islam tries to keep their way of life safe from men who wear trousers, women who don't wear burqas, and dogs, It would hardly be surprising if countries with a taste for more territory took advantage of the distractions, to do some grabbing while the grabbing's good.
In the news:
- "Russian tanks roll into Georgia as cities burn"
The Observer (August 10, 2008)
- "Georgia, Russia to stay at Games despite conflict"
Reuters (August 10, 2008)
- "Russia bombs airfield, masses troops-says Georgia"
Reuters (August 9, 2008)
- "Russian forces bomb airfield near Tbilisi airport"
CNN (August 9, 2008)
- "Russia: Troops in South Ossetia to enforce peace"
CNN (August 9, 2008)
- "Georgia Accuses Russia of Violating Sovereignty"
GlobalSecurity.org (April 27, 2008)
- "Abkhazia, South Ossetia's sovereignty could spark CIS crisis"
GlobalSecurity.org (February 19, 2008)