. August 2, 2006 SouthAmerica: The current article just published on tomorrowâs newspaper in Manila, Philippines (they are ahead in time than NY, USA) â Ask the question: âHas WW III begun?â If so, are we going to look back a year or two from now to the summer of 2006 and consider it a quiet time around the world? ************** Manila Standard Today Published: Thursday, August 3, 2006 âWorld War III?â By Antonio C. Abaya HAS World War III begun? There has lately been some speculation in the international media that World War III may indeed have begun without many people realizing it. This interpretation is sparked by the escalating violence in Lebanon, between the Israeli military and the Hezbollah, and the real possibility that it could spiral out of control, dragging more and more combatants into the fray. As of this writing, the Israelis have rejected calls from the international community, including the secretary-general of the United Nations, for an immediate ceasefire. Instead, the Israelis announced a unilateral 48-hour stop to their aerial pounding of southern Lebanon to allow humanitarian aid to be trucked in and civilian refugees to be trucked out of the battle zone. But this 48-hour suspension of aerial bombardment did not apply to tank and artillery pounding and, at any rate, has since lapsed. And Israeli ground units are about to go in strength into Lebanon to kill or push out Hezbollah guerrillas from a swath of southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, some 20 km north of the Israel-Lebanon border. Their strategic goal is to establish a no-Hezbollah zone, some 20 km deep, to keep the guerrillas from firing more Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, which they will not occupy (as they did in 1982-2000) but will turn over to an international peace-keeping force as soon as that force is organized and put in place. With their vastly superior firepower, there is no doubt that Israel will achieve this strategic goal, perhaps within six or seven days. Guerrillas usually will not sit down and wait to be overrun by a superior force. They tend to melt away and blend with refugees, to fight again another day in another place. In the meantime, the Israelis are losing the battle for the hearts and minds, especially after the massacre at Qana in which some 54 civiliansâ37 of them childrenâwere killed, apparently by Israeli smart bombs laser-guided to their target from the video-ed trajectory of rockets fired from the immediate vicinity of the civilian refuge. No amount of regret and explanations is going to erase from the memory of millions of TV viewers worldwide the images of broken bodies of children being pulled out of the rubble. More importantly, even Lebanese Christiansâ pro-Israel during earlier clashes with the Hezbollahâare now so incensed at the Israelis that they will no longer be a moderating influence on the politics of that ravaged country. Israel is fast running out of friends, which probably does not bother them one bit as long as they continue to enjoy the bottomless military protection and unflinching political support of the Americans. But pushing the Hezbollah 20 km north of the present border does not really give the permanent security that Israel wants and needs. It merely buys them some more time before the Day of Reckoning finally comes. Almost certainly, the âsecret weaponâ that Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nassrallah was boasting about early in this present crisis, is a guided missile that can hit Tel Aviv and/or Jerusalem. The Hezbollah used thisâsaid to be an Iranian-made cruise missile, the C-802â to hit and cripple an Israeli warship that was bombarding Beirut last July 15. The C-802 has a maximum range of 130 km. That means that it, or something similar to it, can be fired from almost anywhere in Lebanon, north of the Litani River, and still hit Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, with its devastating maximum payload of 600 kg of explosives (or chemical or bacteriological agents). (The smart bomb that flattened the 3-storey civilian refuge in Qana was almost certainly a US-supplied 500 lbâor 230 kgâbunker buster.) Whenâno longer âifââthe Hezbollah decide to use this secret weapon, next week, or next month, or next year, the Israelis are not likely to respond by just crossing the Litani River to points north. They will likely respond by bombing Syrian and Iranian targets, the latter by taking off from American air bases in the Iraqi desert. Their use of tactical nuclear bombs cannot be ruled out. So, has World War III begun? In his newsletter dated Aug. 1, the Wall Street financial consultant, Dr. Martin Weiss, talks about a âlow-level World War IIIâ because of âmultidimensional, multicultural fissures, and many of these fissures have already rupturedâ¦ or seem about to do so soon.â He sees President George W. Bushâs global war on terrorism, combined with âspreading regional wars like weâve seen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon,â like some ink blots spreading and connecting and merging with each other. Weiss sees these fissures as economic, ethnic, cultural, religious, historical and military. âIn the past, each fissure was on a different plane, with differing consequences, occurring at different times. Now the globe seems to have rotated in such a way that the fissuresâ and the anger that they generateâare coming into dangerous alignment.â I myself wrote an article Has World War III Begun (Sept. 27, 2001), barely two weeks after 9/11, in which I noted that the conflict between Christianity and Islam dates back to the Moorish invasion of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century and occupation until the end of the 15th century, the various Crusades in the Holy Land from the 11th to the 13th centuries, and the rise and fall of the Ottoman Turkish Empire from the 14th century (the Turks almost captured Vienna in the 16th) to the 20th century (when the British defeated the Turks in Palestine in 1917 and thus inherited the problem of the Jews returning to Zion after they had been driven out by the Romans in the year 70 A.D.) The clash between Christianity (or its secular equivalent in the 21st century) and Islam is exacerbated by the fact that these two religions are intrinsically messianic, meaning their believers are not only convinced they hold the One True Faith, but are also motivated to convince other people to convert to their faiths. (George W. Bushâs inner drive to spread âfreedom and democracyâ everywhere is that secular equivalent.) I wrote about this in another article titled Islam vs Christianity (Sept. 6, 2002). For the Europeans, World War II began on Sept. 3, 1939, after the Nazi Germans invaded Poland. For the Americans, World War II began on Dec. 7, 1941, after the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the American fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor. In September 2000, one year before 9/11, the neo-conservative movement in the USâled by such worthies as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, etc. who became the Keepers of the Faith when George W. Bush became President in January 2001â issued a manifesto calling for a more aggressive US military policy to take advantage of the US being the sole superpower left after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This advocacy groupâcalled Project for the New American Century or PNACâcalled for some major new policy directions, the uppermost being âto establish full military control of the Middle East.â Wolfowitz, who has since been moved to the World Bank, is said to have planned the invasion of Iraq as early as 1997, more than five years before the actual hostilities. The neo-cons, however, realized that it was going to be hard to sell the idea to the American public, and they said in their paper that they needed âa new Pearl Harborâ to justify their more aggressive military stance. Fortuitously for them, the Al Qaida struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon one year later, giving them the ânew Pearl Harborâ that they wanted and needed. I also wrote about this in Understanding Bush (Oct. 15, 2003) and succeeding articles. So, yes, it can be argued that World War III has began, though on a low level, and the first blow was struck by Al Qaida on 9/11 in Manhattan and Washington DC. Since then, blows and counterblows have been struck, sometimes by proxies, in such diverse places as Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Aden, Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam, Israel, Pakistan, Kashmir, Indonesia, the Philippines, southern Thailand, Somalia, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Mumbai and now, Lebanon. It is actually more global than World War I. .