On June 26 the West’s war against Libya reached its hundredth day. Launched on March 19 with a barrage of bombing raids and Tomahawk cruise missile attacks conducted by American, British and French warplanes, ships and submarines, control of military operations, including a naval blockade of the Mediterranean nation and the deployment of special forces in the country’s east, was ceded by U.S. Africa Command to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 31.
In the interim the Western military bloc reports that its aircraft have flown over 13,000 missions under the auspices of so-called Operation Unified Protector, including more than 5,000 combat-related sorties. Daily tallies are posted on NATO’s Allied Command Operations (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) website as though they are public service announcements. The practice is rather bellicose braggadocio, rank rodomontade; boasting of the Alliance’s ability to control the airspace of and pummel at will a now all but defenseless nation of six and a half million inhabitants.
In late May deputy commander of the Russian General Staff General Igor Sheremet was quoted by RIA Novosti as warning: “We expect Western countries to have at least 80,000 cruise missiles by 2020, including about 2,000 of them nuclear-powered.”
Although over 200 sea-launched cruise missiles were expended in the opening days of the now over hundred-day assault against Libya (100 on the first day), the U.S. and its NATO allies will have a plentiful supply, an almost inexhaustible arsenal, of high-speed, long-range guided missiles capable of being equipped with conventional and nuclear warheads for attacks against any nation or combination of nations targeted by the West for regime change, invasion and occupation as was done with Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya over the past 12 years.
With the permanent presence of warships and submarines assigned to the U.S. Sixth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, both headquartered in Italy, and combat aircraft based in the same country and other Mediterranean Sea states, and with British, French, Canadian and other NATO members’ vessels stationed there in the weeks leading up to the campaign against Libya and since (including the Charles de Gaulle, the only non-American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier), the armada assembled in the Mediterranean makes it the most heavily militarized sea in the world.
It represents a decade-long development (NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor naval patrols in the Mediterranean will be ten years old on October 4) which is steadily expanding into the Black and Arabian Seas. In the first case with two U.S. guided missile cruisers deployed off the coasts of Romania, Ukraine and Georgia and nearly two months of U.S. Marine Corps-led Black Sea Rotational Force war games in Romania in recent weeks and, in the second, permanent American and NATO warship deployments in the Red and Arabian Seas from the Suez Canal to the Bay of Bengal in an expansive war front that includes Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On June 21 the newest and oldest U.S. aircraft supercarriers (all eleven such vessels in the world are American), USS George H.W. Bush and USS Enterprise, with their carrier strike groups and carrier air wings, passed each other in the Bab el-Mandeb strait connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea. The Enterprise was returning to the Mediterranean and the George H.W. Bush arriving from the same location. American carrier strike groups consist of an aircraft carrier, at least three other warships and an attack submarine; a carrier wing includes several squadrons: 60 or more fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
The Suez Canal remains the conduit through which U.S. warships cross from the Sixth Fleet’s area of responsibility to that of the Fifth Fleet: The Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and East African coastline south to Kenya.
Egypt’s Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces he heads up are just as obliging to American global military ambitions as was the former Hosni Mubarak government.
Two centuries ago the British writer and critic William Hazlitt denounced, with a degree and depth of indignation absent in current times, what he aptly called the systematic patrons of eternal war.* He was fortunate to be spared living in the 21st century which, ushering in a new millennium, has not witnessed a single year without the Pentagon and NATO conducting military interventions and waging wars outside the territories of its member states. In Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The Napoleonic Wars ended in the fifteenth year of the 19th century. One contemporary war alone, that in Afghanistan and Pakistan, will last at least for the first fourteen years of this century and probably longer, with more wars like the current one against Libya to follow.
Commemorating the beginning of the first millennium of the Common Era, the Catholic Church begins its December 25th mass with the Christmas Proclamation, which contains these words:
In the one hundred and ninety–”fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty–”second year from the foundation
of the city of Rome.
The forty–”second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace…
The second millennium, though not without violence, was largely without war until the First Crusade of 1096.
The third began with war, which has continued uninterruptedly from South Asia to the Middle East and Africa.
A world inured to –” reconciled to –” wars of aggression as an innate part of the human condition would be wise to heed the words of Alfred Tennyson’s 1850 poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells”:
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.