Europe may be perched above the precipice of its first armed conflict since NATO’s 78-day bombing war against Yugoslavia in 1999 and the resultant armed invasion of Macedonia from NATO-occupied Kosovo two years later.
With the formal accession of Albania into full NATO membership this April and the subsequent reelection victory (at least formally) of the nation’s prime minister Sali Berisha, the stage is set for completing the project of further redrawing the borders of Southeastern Europe in pursuit of a Greater Albania.
Preceding steps in this direction were the U.S.’s and NATO’s waging war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia a decade ago on behalf of and in collusion with the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a criminal violation of international law that terminated in the Serbian province of Kosovo being wrested from both Serbia and Yugoslavia.
Not content with expanding from 16 to 28 members over the past decade in a post-Cold War world in which it confronts no military threat from any source, state or non-state, and not sufficiently occupied with its first ground and first Asian war in Afghanistan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the world’s only military bloc – is eager to take on a plethora of new international missions.
With the fragmentation of the Warsaw Pact and the breakup of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991 NATO, far from scaling back its military might in Europe, not to mention returning the favor and dissolving itself, saw the opportunity to expand throughout the continent and the world.
Wars have brought untold horrors upon Europe over the centuries, especially the two world wars of the last one. Until now, though, the continent has been spared the ultimate cataclysm of a missile war.
Though twenty years after the end of the Cold War recent news articles contain reports that would have been shocking even during the depths of the East-West conflict in Europe that followed World War II.
A dispatch quoting a Finnish defense official two days ago bore the title “US could launch missiles from the Baltic Sea” and a U.S. armed forces website yesterday spoke in reference to proposed missile shield plans of “a big, complex, dangerous battle in the space over Europe.”
Synchronized announcements on September 17 by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the U.S. was abandoning plans to station interceptor missiles in Poland and a forward-based missile radar site in the Czech Republic are now ten days ago and information surfacing in the interim indicates that its new plans are more far-reaching than their predecessor.
Two days after the statements by the American president and defense chief the latter, Pentagon head Robert Gates, was granted a column in the New York Times.
The most representative segment of Gates’ comments is arguably this:
“I have been a strong supporter of missile defense ever since President Ronald Reagan first proposed it in 1983. But I want to have real capacity as soon as possible, and to take maximum advantage of new technologies….American missile defense on the continent will continue, and not just in Central Europe, the most likely location for future SM-3 sites, but, we hope, in other NATO countries as well….We are strengthening – not scrapping – missile defense in Europe.” 
Over the past week U.S. newspapers and television networks have been abuzz with
reports that Washington and its NATO allies are planning an unprecedented
increase of troops for the war in Afghanistan, even in addition to the 17,000
new American and several thousand NATO forces that have been committed to the
war so far this year.
The number, based on as yet unsubstantiated reports of what U.S. and NATO
commander Stanley McChrystal and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Michael Mullen have demanded of the White House, range from 10,000 to 45,000.
Fox News has cited figures as high as 45,000 more American soldiers and ABC News
as many as 40,000. On September 15 the Christian Science Monitor wrote of
“perhaps as many as 45,000.”
Since the surprise news from the White House and the Pentagon on September 17
that the United States was relinquishing plans to deploy ground-based
interceptor missiles to Poland and a missile radar installation to the Czech
Republic speculation has been rife on two scores.
First, was this move a sincere effort to “reset” relations with Russia, possibly
part of a trade-off for Russian transit and logistical support for the American
and NATO war in South Asia and for Moscow agreeing to tougher measures –
sanctions at any rate – against Iran?
Deutsche Welle ran a feature shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama’s and
Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ announcements on Thursday which included an
interview with Dr. Karl-Heinz Kamp, the research director at the NATO Defense
College in Rome, in which he described the seeming U.S. about-face as follows:
On September 17 the White House and the Pentagon, Barack Obama and Robert Gates, announced that after a sixty-day review of the project the U.S. is going to abandon plans to station ten ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and a forward-based X-band missile radar installation in the Czech Republic.
The deployments were negotiated with both prospective host countries by the preceding George W. Bush administration under the guise of protecting the United States from alleged long-range missile attacks by what were described as rogue states: Iran and North Korea.
Interceptor missiles in Poland would only be of use in protecting the U.S. if Iran possessed intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of being fired over the Arctic Ocean. No serious person has ever suggested Iran has such a capability or ever will.
Tensions are mounting in the Black Sea with the threat of another conflict between U.S. and NATO client state Georgia and Russia as Washington is manifesting plans for possible military strikes against Iran in both word and deed.
Referring to Georgia having recently impounded several vessels off the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia, reportedly 23 in total this year, the New York Times wrote on September 9 that “Rising tensions between Russia and Georgia over shipping rights to a breakaway Georgian region have opened a potential new theater for conflict between the countries, a little more than a year after they went to war.” 
Toward the latter half of last month the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, “citing officials and lobbyists in Washington,” revealed that the Pentagon would reevaluate planned interceptor missile deployments in Poland and a complementary missile radar site in the Czech Republic and instead shift global missile shield plans to Israel, Turkey and the Balkans. 
“Washington is now looking for alternative locations including in the Balkans, Israel and Turkey….” 
The news came a week after it was reported that at the annual Space and Missile Defense Conference hosted by the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville, Alabama the Chicago-based Boeing Company offered to construct a “47,500-pound interceptor that could be flown to NATO bases as needed on Boeing-built C-17 cargo planes,” a “two-stage interceptor designed to be globally deployable within 24 hours….” 
The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are expanding their nearly eight-year war in Afghanistan both in scope, with deadly drone missile attacks inside Pakistan, and in intensity, with daily reports of more NATO states’ troops slated for deployment and calls for as many as 45,000 American troops in addition to the 68,000 already in the nation and scheduled to be there shortly.
The NATO bombing in Kunduz province on September 4 may well prove to be the worst atrocity yet perpetrated by Western forces against Afghan civilians and close to 20 U.S and NATO troops have been killed so far this month, with over 300 dead this year compared to 294 for all of 2008.
The scale and gravity of the conflict can no longer be denied even by Western media and government officials and the war in South Asia occupies the center stage of world attention for the first time in almost eight years.
After NATO pledged 5,000 more troops for the war in Afghanistan at its sixtieth anniversary summit In Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Germany this April, U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the commitment as representing “a strong down payment on the future of our mission in Afghanistan and on the future of NATO.”
The Alliance offer was in addition to Obama’s own vow to deploy 21,000 more American forces to the war-wracked nation where the U.S. is waging its longest war since that in Vietnam and NATO is fighting the first ground and first Asian war in its history. A conflict that will enter its ninth calendar year next month.
On August 21 the chief of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James Conway, arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to begin the training of his host country’s military for deployment to the Afghan war theater under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
“During the meeting the sides discussed a broad spectrum of Georgian-U.S bilateral relations and the situation in Georgia’s occupied territory.”  Occupied territory(ies) meant Abkhazia and South Ossetia, now independent nations with Russian troops stationed in both.
The 2009 World Population Data Sheet published by the Washington, DC-based Population Reference Bureau states that the population of the African continent has surpassed one billion. Africans now account for over a seventh of the human race.
Africa’s 53 nations are 28% of the 192 countries in the world.
The size and location of the continent along with its human and natural resources – oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, chromium, platinum, timber, cotton, food products – make it an increasingly important part of a world that is daily becoming more integrated and interdependent.
From August 17-20 the annual U.S. Space and Missile Defense Conference was conducted in Huntsville, Alabama, which hosts the headquarters of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
Among the over 2,000 participants were the Missile Defense Agency’s new director, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James Cartwright, commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Army Lt. Gen. Kevin Campbell and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Administrator Charles Bolden Jr.
There were also 230 exhibitors present, among them the nation’s major arms manufacturers with an emphasis on those weapons companies specializing in global missile shield and space war projects. The presence of the head of NASA indicated that the distinction between the military and civilian uses of space is rapidly disappearing. As the Bloomberg news agency reported on the second day of this year, “President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the U.S.’s civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China” and “Obama’s transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration….”  The recently appointed NASA chief, Bolden, is a retired Marine Corps general.
On August 13th the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Chicago-based Boeing International announced a test of their joint Airborne Laser (ABL) missile defense system, which “successfully tracked and hit the mark earlier this month during its first in-flight test against an instrumented target missile.” 
Employing a modified Boeing 747-400F prototype airplane, on August 10 the Missile Defense Agency had the adapted commercial airliner use infrared sensors against a missile launched from San Nicolas Island, California and “found, tracked, engaged and simulated an intercept with a missile seconds after liftoff. It was the first time the Agency used an ‘instrumented’ missile to confirm the laser works as expected. Next up this fall will be the first live attempt to bring down a ballistic missile….”