Americans and Pakistanis protesting against drones


Co-partnering with the US to end drone attacks! ?

By Dr. Haider Mehdi 

Understanding a bit of political psychology might help Islamabad to engage constructively with Washington to stop the US drone strikes on Pakistani territory and a nearly decade-old consistent violation of this country’s sovereignty as well as profane transgressions of international laws and humanitarian norms.
Until and unless foreign policy makers and defense managers in Islamabad  fully comprehend the political behavior of the entire American political establishment inclusive of the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon, Islamabad’s attempts to bring Washington to the negotiation table to cease drone strikes will fail and the American deliberately organized violence against this country will continue unabated. Consequently, political turbulence all over Pakistan will intensify. Stopping drone attacks on Pakistan is the first and foremost step towards bringing peace, and a major challenge to Sharif’s government to effectively deal with domestic terrorism in Pakistan. Islamabad must prevail on Obama’s Administration to stop carrying out aerial warfare against this country – supposedly a front-line ally of this global superpower.

Pakistan’s incumbent leadership needs an intensive analytical application of political psychology to help understand the political behavior of the US political-military establishment and then, equipped and knowledgeable of how the American mind works, deal effectively with the Obama Administration. Political psychology can help “to understand… contexts (global-political events) that are influenced by beliefs, motivations, perception, cognition… and attitude formation” of a player in a political relationship. Successive Pakistani administrations over a period of several decades have completely failed to understand the beliefs, motivations, perceptions, and attitude formations of its American ally, and consequently have failed in developing a US-Pakistan relationship based on equality of nations and mutual interests.

Let us put some facts on the table:

1) The US is a superpower that sees its political-economic interests paramount in the conduct of its global political strategy. It has always supported complacent political leaderships all over the Third World (Pakistani successive leaderships have rated top in this contest) that help realize the American global policy objectives with more intensity than their own national interests, notwithstanding the empty rhetoric of democratic ideals and sloganistic speeches for propaganda purposes and public consumption. The US has unmatched media-cum-psychological manipulative superiority in this context.

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2) The traditional diplomacy of “Balance of Power” among nations is a dead concept now. In the present-day world, it is the “Power” of military technology that dictates inter-state relations. America and its Western-European allies are great advocates of this global political system. In the immediate past, drone warfare technology has greatly enhanced the US’s “Power” of its global political-military expansion. Hence, the 21st century US political-military leadership perceives itself unchallenged in the global arena, unmatched in its omnipotent and unilateral “Power” to shape the global political environment subjected to their dictates. No wonder then, since the start of the 21st century (dubbed as the “American Century”),  US military-political interventions in the Islamic World have increased on a monumental scale (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Central Asia, etc. and now in Syria, to name a few). And these consequential and arbitrary interceding in the affairs of other nations will continue unabated.

3) US aerial warfare technology is here to stay indefinitely. Let us be realistic: drones are not going to go away – they add tremendously to the American military “Power” to wage electronic warfare from remote-controlled locations far away – safe from an adversary’s military response. No wonder then only the other day, the US-Western allies called for the development of European drone programs.

4) In addition, Washington has been equipped for decades with the political determination, financial resources, and the knowledge that leadership in the Third World can be easily persuaded (with some exceptions) into complacent roles (for various reasons, Pakistan being a prime example for over six decades). This important factor adds to the US “Power” to organize a global political system in accordance with its exclusive agendas.

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5) The US has tremendous leverage on nearly all international institutions (UN, IMF, World Bank, etc.) to carry out its unilateral political will with impunity and in disregard of international laws (the so-called international community always bends to American pressures).

So, the important questions are: What can political psychology tell us about the 2013 Obama Administration’s mindset on global issues and, most specifically, its drone strike strategy against Pakistan? How can Islamabad constructively engage with Washington to manage a shift in the US policy of drone attacks on Pakistan’s territory?

The application of political psychology analysis will illustrate to us that the 2013 White House, the US State Department, and the Pentagon are all on the same page: It is perceived in the ruling circles of America that the US is still an imperialist power and is entitled to shape global politics according to its whims. It has the “Power” of military technology to impose itself on world events, and above all, it has the right to do so. The US political-military establishment also perceives that “Power” is the only arbitrator to conduct international affairs – and the US has unprecedented “Power” at its disposal to morally justify its use.

Such is the cognitive development, perceptual belief system, motivations and attitude formation in the corridors of power in Washington D.C. (as well as in London, Paris, Bonn and Rome).

Barack Hussein Obama is not a bad guy – but Islamabad has to remember that he is a product of the same cognitive system that makes America so awesomely apathetic to the people and nations which refuse to tow its line.

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So how does Islamabad engage in a co-partnership with Washington to end drone attacks on Pakistan?

First: Islamabad must recognize the fact that traditional diplomacy is dead. For example, summoning the US diplomats to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry to protest against a drone strike (as it recently did)  is a meaningless diplomatic ritual in the context of this conflict.

Second: Pakistani diplomats and foreign policy officers (retired and present) should not be the government functionaries formulating foreign policy vis-à-vis the US. They have complacent views by the nature of their training. They are more inclined towards procedures rather than process. They lack the perceptual vision to deal with conflict resolution from “Outside the Box” solutions. Hence, such diplomats should be kept away from giving their input in dealing with the US.

Third: It is the incumbent political leadership in Islamabad that has to take a fresh initiative to engage directly with the US leadership to resolve the drone issue.

Fourth: Islamabad will have to amass massive public demonstrative support for its anti-drone initiative to impress on Washington that democratic Pakistan can no longer afford a dual government policy on this issue (as has been done in the past decade).

Finally: Islamabad will have to create a “Threat Perception” for US interests for next year’s withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan.

A co-partnership is a process in which all parties have equal stakes: Islamabad must be categorically unambiguous in communicating to Washington that Pakistan will do its part to ensure the safety of American troops as long as the Americans remove the main impediment to the said conflict immediately: Stop drone strikes on Pakistani territory. Stop violating this country’s sovereignty. Stop the covert and overt so-called “war on terrorism” against Pakistani citizens.

The Pakistani nation has had enough of it: Let us be co-partners in its resolution!