New York Times Oct. 6 2001
“Coalition is a bad word, because it makes people think of alliances,” said Robert Oakley, former head of the State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism and former ambassador to Pakistan.

The first world war was started by a terrorist act. It was the assasination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand while in Sarajevo.


The anti-American protests are heating up in the Arab world. George II and the press are hinting that there are other countries on the strike list.

My question is when and at what point is a world war dubbed a world war? The history books state it rather casually in retrospect. However, it’s a safe assumption that WWI was known as The Great War until we had another one. A BBC commentator in Pakistan a week after 9/11 (forgive me for not remembering the name) said that it seemed like the whole was talking about killing and dying. Seems like a world at war to me.

My other thought is that maybe the term WWIII is too frightening to utter. Einstein said that however WWIII was fought, WWIV would be fought with sticks and stones.

Personally, I want to believe that we can just drop a couple of bombs, kill the infamous Osama, not martyring him, and all will be peaceful and we can all Bush bash innocuously again.

I think a world war, in the sense of what we saw in World War I and II, would probably not happen. Modern Conventional Wars on that large of a scale, and with our technology, would bring about the end of modern civilization. Besides, I doubt that Afghanistan is a nuclear power.

However, does that mean that this isnt a world war? In the conventional sense, yes, this is NOT a world war, but, as seen with the attacks on the 11th, this is not a conventional war. Consider the targets of the taliban which include the western world and the armed forces of those respective countries. The US has military bases and troops spread throughout the world, and the “western world” includes 2 continents. That, added with the countries that have or do support terrorists (namely, Afghanistan, Libya, etc) then yes, this is a world war.

So I sympathize with your fears, but don’t feel that this war would result in a nuclear exchange because it is not the same type of world war as seen in the past.

WWII was different from WWI although as far as Europe was concerned it was basically the same alliances fighting against each other. If this turns out to be WWIII it will need to last much longer than it’ll take to find bin Laden and will have to include other countries who have been aiding and encouraging the terrorists. Since it seems that many such countries are in the middle east it is going to be hard to convince them that we are not out after Muslims.

This ain’t a World War. World War I & II were gigantic struggles between the largest military powers of the day, with battles taking place in dozens of countries in Europe, Africa, and (in the case of WW II) Asia. 8.5 million people died in WW I, and 50 million died in WW II.

The current war, on the other hand, is taking place in just one country, and while the US is the world’s largest military power, Afghanistan is a military nonentity.

From a strictly military point of view, the current operation isn’t even up to the Gulf War, which involved a more powerful opponent and a larger number of non-US troops on the US side.

are there enough enemies to consider this a “World War”?

WWIII, I don’t think so, for the reasons already posted. But if bin Laden’s twisted dream of uniting the Arab nations against the West comes true we might call this the seventh crusade.