Two thousand six is coming to an end much as it began: with war, terrorism, bloodshed and moral confusion. From Afghanistan to Iraq to Somalia in the Horn of Africa, warfare continues between regular military establishments and irregular radical Islamist forces (which range from straight-out terrorist groups to private militias, death squads, warlords and criminal elements).
In the Horn of Africa, historically Christian Ethiopia has declared war -- not on the Somali government with which it is allied -- but against the Council of Islamic Courts, an Islamist entity in Somalia with probable al Qaeda connections that aspires to govern -- perhaps a la the Taliban. As of Tuesday morning, the Ethiopian attack with tanks, helicopters and fighter jets is advancing "decisively" on all fronts.
But just as American military forces moved decisively in Iraq in 2003, only to face rising irregular opposition, we probably have not heard the last of the Ethiopian/Somali conflict -- which could enflame the entire Horn and environs from Sudan to Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya and Tanzania -- as well as Somalia and Ethiopia. According to the Associated Press, some observers believe that the Horn is being targeted as the third front (after Iraq and Afghanistan) "in militant Islam's war against the West."
On the terrorist front, the Associated Press reported on Christmas Eve from London that: "Islamic militants want to attack the Channel Tunnel between England and France during the holiday season, a British newspaper said Sunday, citing French and U.S. security sources. The Observer said the French foreign intelligence service, DGSE, warned the French government of the threat in a Dec. 19 report after a tip-off from the CIA.
"The newspaper cited unidentified French officials as saying the plot was being directed from Pakistan and involved militants in western Europe, possibly Britons of Pakistani descent. ... The newspaper also said that militants with links to al Qaeda were plotting a wave of attacks on an unidentified European country, with the plot planned and run from Syria and Iraq. ... British officials warned Friday that there is a high threat of an attempted terrorist attack over the Christmas and New Year period ... "
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.