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It’s pop quiz time when it comes to the American way of war: three questions, torn from the latest news, just for you. Here’s the first of them, and good luck!
1. Two weeks ago, 200 US Marines began armed operations in which country?
f) Central Africa
g) Northern Mali
h) The Philippines
If you opted for any answer, “a” through “h,”you took a reasonable shot at it. After all, there’s an ongoing American war in Afghanistan and somewhere in the southern part of that country, 200 armed US Marines could well have been involved in an operation. In Pakistan, an undeclared, CIA-run air war has long been underway, and in the past there have been armed border crossings by US special operations forces as well as US-piloted cross-border airstrikes, but no Marines.
When it comes to Iran, Washington’s regional preparations for war are staggering. The continual buildup of US naval power in the Persian Gulf, of land forces on bases around that country, of air power (and anti-missile defenses) in the region should leave any observer breathless. There are US special operations forces near the Iranian border and CIA drones regularly over that country. In conjunction with the Israelis, Washington has launched a cyber war against Iran’s nuclear program and computer systems. It has also established fierce oil and banking sanctions, and there seem to have been at least some US cross-border operations into Iran going back to at least 2007. In addition, a recent front page New York Times story on the Obama administration attempts to mollify Israel over its Iran policy included this ominous line: “The administration is also considering…covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected.” So 200 armed Marines in action in Iran—not yet, but don’t get down on yourself, it was a good guess.