Hang on, –back up a bit, guys. I know that all of you follow the news –who can afford not to these days–, but I think you’re all forgetting a couple big components that made the incursion by Pan Moslem Forces into US territory even possible. True only a relatively very small number are on the ground in the mountains of North Carolina, and elsewhere throughout the Southeastern United States
But don't forget, the Coalition is formed from an immense tapestry of intersecting alliances. It certainly appears to be on the verge of collapse at any given, it nevertheless draws its influence and numbers from every member country of the following four economic alliances and organizations:
* Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
* Organization of Islamic the Conference (OIC)
* Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
* Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF)
Those countries are as follows:
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):
Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam
Organization of Islamic the Conference (OIC):
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei-Darussalam, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen
Of course, the OIC's participation is the principal reason the Pan Moslem Coalition is labeled as such –'Pan Moslem'. Personally, I don't think it’s the correct descriptive. After all, the alliance includes a heterogeneous range of religions and nations. You’ll even find a substantial number of Hindus and Christians in their ranks. It so happens that India –with 827 million Hindus– provides a larger percentage of troops than any of the other member countries. In fact, the Indian Army has total troop strength of around 2.5 million, and that makes it the second or third largest standing army in the world, depending whose counting and on what day.
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC):
Algeria, Angola, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Norway†:
Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF):
Algeria, Bolivia, Brunei, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway†, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad & Tobago, the UAE and Venezuela
About Norway†: Norway is neither a full member of either OPEC or the GECF, but retains observer status in both. Nevertheless, this tenuous connection drives the alliance it now keeps with the Pan Moslem Coalition. Plus, though also a member of the EU (some might say ‘despite also being member of the EU) Norway also shares a separate alliance with Indonesia, which some suspect both countries consider more important than their regional alliances with ASEAN or the European Union, respectively. Hey, would anyone be surprised to learn that future energy security carries more political weight than any other commonality with any other country.
But add to this tapestry of collective grievances, the fact that the Coalition also receives tacit support from every country that abides by the oil embargo (on the United States). Such nations include –to varying degrees– nearly every country in the world save parts of Africa, South America and Canada. The Russians and Chinese also supply the Coalition with arms.
Furthermore, control of both Ascension Island and Diego Garcia by the Coalition gives PMC Forces not just two convenient pit stops en route to the Americas. But together, the two islands give the PMC –if not complete operational control of the NAVSTAR Global Positioning Satellite system–, some sporadic degree of influence over access to the constellation of Medium Earth Orbit satellites, resulting in degraded GPS data. This naturally puts the Americans at a great tactical disadvantage.
So sure, only a few hundred men survey the Appalachian Trail, but a million or more soldiers wait offshore, –from Ascension Island to Venezuela, and on ships throughout the Caribbean and US eastern seaboard.
Plus, one by one, key figures with believed associations to Neo-Crusader organizations are being extradited in the dead of night and transferred to black sites in the Indian Ocean, removing any ability they might have previously had to further influence the course of current events.
Now, none of this is to say that the Coalition still has anywhere near the military capacity of the United States, which is admittedly immense, and in a class by itself. But were the US to actively engage the PMC on American territory, it would get very messy, indeed. Bush may not mind the accidental killing of a few thousand civilians in order to snare an Al-Qaeda operative here and there, as long as they die an ocean away from the Beltway, but nobody thinks he’ll take such chances in America’s own backyard.
On the other hand, if I were diplomat attached to a nation member of the Pan Moslem Coalition, I would be very nervous indeed about what actions the American Administration may take once the order to evacuate our Special Forces units from the Appalachian Trail is given. Because at that point, after the last man leaves, I don’t think the current US administration will give a flying fig what kind of collateral damage they might wreak on foreign shores.
Just look at Iraq.