U.S. and NATO military operations designed to toss Colonel Gaddafi from power in Libya were originally presented publicly in March as no-fly zone activities that would last a matter of weeks. The mission crept quickly from preventing the Gaddafi regime from carrying out retaliatory strikes against an armed insurgency to actively targeting Gaddafi and his military forces.
However, the Libyan affair is now six months deep, and a loose coalition of rebels are staging a siege against what is being billed as the last of Gaddafi's men.
But the work in Libya is incomplete, so NATO authorized an additional 90 days of military support in Libya, carrying the conflict forward into Christmas, according to the Los Angeles Times
"This decision sends a clear message to the Libyan people: We will be there for as long as necessary but not a day longer, while you take your future in your hands to ensure a safe transition to the new Libya," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as cited by the Los Angeles Times report.
But the NATO operation in Libya, estimated at more than 20,000 sorties alone, has come at considerable cost and has unfolded at a time of great economic upheaval across Europe. According to The Scotsman
, the cost of the Libyan military intervention to the United Kingdom alone could total 1.75 billion pounds.
African military expansion has not been limited to Libya. The United States, in its ongoing pursuit of Al Qaeda operatives, has quietly extended its controversial drone program to include Somalia and Yemen, as NPR reported on Monday
US drones are also operating in Libya, but the expansion into Yemen and Somalia brings their total known usage to six countries simultaneously, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
This expansion was announced at a time of limited financial resources available to the US federal government and the prospect of yet another government shutdown. The US government faces a shutdown for the third time this year, according to Voice of America
However it is to be funded, the drone expansion highlights what appears to be a growing low-grade world war.
"In some respects, in the United States we're a victim of our own counterterrorism success," Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert and professor at Georgetown University, told NPR. "We've been so effective at weakening al-Qaida's core that the threat has now migrated to the periphery — and it isn't surprising that as it has migrated to the periphery we would adopt the same tactics that we used in South Asia to address that threat."