No Civilisation Has Lasted For Ever; No Power Has Achieved All It Desired
Dr. S.M. Rahman
The reactionary power propensity represented by Bushes, Dick Cheneys, Rumsfelds, whom Robert Jensen in his article ‘N-Weapon abolition requires death of US empire (Dissident Voice, reproduced in the Nation, June 20, 2010) describes as Reckless Hawks, compared to Obama, Bidens and Clintons who are relatively Reasonable Hawks. Hawks nevertheless!! The Reckless lot is ‘psychotic, whereas the Reasonable ones are cynical. What is that impels US policy makers – Republicans and Democrats alike to follow Wilsonian security paradigm as against Jeffersonian. Dismayed by the over ambitious, awfully disastrous pre-emptive US doctrine propounded by George Bush and Co,, the new incumbent Obama has been advised by the ‘pundits’ and statesmen to steer foreign policy a bit different from that of his predecessor. Walter Russell Mead based on the Carter analogy argued in the recent issue of Foreign Policy; “Obama”, he says, “needs to reconcile a transcendent Wilsonian vision of US foreign policy, with a competing Jeffersonian world view that focuses on the pitfalls of imperial overstretch” (All the Presidents Dreams by Richard Bart, The National interest, No. 106, Mar-Apr 2010).
Zbigniew Brezezinski – who was serving as Security Advisor to President Carter – a Hawkish policy propeller, just as Henry Kissinger was to Richard Nixon. How to take full control of Eurasia, after the end of Cold War, was Brezezinski’s strategic ambition in order to perpetuate USA’s absolute control over the world through a Power Chess Board paradigm. He is a bit critical of Obama – perhaps being ‘wishy washy’ and raising lot of expectations rather than “strategic breakthroughs”. He needs to be, “tenacious” and ‘energetic’ according to him, to be ale to ‘realize’ the goals he has already elaborated. Left to himself, perhaps, he would have followed what Nixon did in the context of Vietnam under the advice of Henry Kissinger. It was although a painful decision, but he did extract USA from the “Vietnam morass”, as the useless war was exceedingly becoming unpopular, besides creating an economic nightmare, entailing colossal budget deficit. Obama’s oscillation between ‘power’ and prudence is due to the mounting pressures of the Hawkish groups – the remnants of Bush era and the Military Industrial Complex, which promotes military interventions, as its market strategy. The ‘merchants of death’, have led to the transformation for the world, as if it were a replica of Greek tragedy.
At the end of World War II, USA emerged as an undisputed global power, though through act of ‘nuclear barbarism’ on Japan, not due to military requirements but to convey a message indirectly to “Soviet Union” to accept a step lower than that of USA, in the ‘power-pecking order’ of the world. Is it not a pathological and a dehumanized sensibility that depicts the US strategic mind set? A military historian has calculated that there were 39 incidents of “nuclear black mail”, of which 30 were made by the US officials. This, in essence depicts the so called civilizational face of USA, which Bush was so boastful about in justifying his ‘pre-emptive military doctrine’, which essentially was predatory in nature, to defend the most exploitative economic system of Capitalism and the West’s over accentuating greed to consume disproportional share of the global wealth. What else is globalization?
“Strategic contentment” is not what US and its allies tend to pursue. Despite the affluence and military power, USA had attained, the State Department’s policy planning staff in 1947 (as quoted by Robert Jenson) very explicitly conveyed: “To seek less than preponderant power would be to opt for defeat. Preponderant power must be the object of US policy.” The ‘preponderant power’ essentially is that it rules the world and that USA calls the strategic shots and determine the “terms of the global economy, to others, who can not reconcile to the domination, must be prepared to face annihilation. No other system would be acceptable and therefore, throughout the Cold War the myth of Communism was created to make the gullible public phobic about the dreadful ideology. It was not the media onslaught that led to the fall of Soviet Union. The strategic blunder did it, which it committed by invading Afghanistan, not realizing that Afghan territory is predisposed to sucking great empires – sort of eastern version of ‘Bermuda triangle’ (Analogy made by General Asad Durrani) in his write-up Making Sense in AfPak (Newsletter, issue 8, Thinker’s Forum (TFP).
The legacy of military intervention is much deeper into the recesses of US mind. The greatest strategist, Gen George Kennan in his secret memo in 1948, had very forcefully advocated: “The day is not far off when we will have to deal in strategic power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.” Therefore all the rhetoric of Bush, to justify the invasions, like the promotion of democracy, respect for human rights and preservation of western values, are the gimmicks, the empire builders use as “icing”, on the geopolitical cake they bake, to trample the ‘sovereignty’ of nations and access of American companies to their resources, exclusively for USA and it allies and not for others. This is what neo-colonialism is all about. At least the old colonialists had some responsibility towards the colonialized but for the neo-colonialists, it is power without responsibility and for the “sufferers”, it is “exploitation without redress.” It is in this context, one can see how ruthlessly drone attacks are made in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan, without any accountability and “who-cares-approach.” The most treacherous weapons like Bunker
Busters were used to break the “will” of the Afghanis, but ironically their physical territory was smashed to pieces but their ‘soul’ remained intact. They are as adamant to achieve freedom, no matter how ruthless and devastating is what the US military planners have termed ‘counter-insurgency’, to justify induction of more and more soldiers, for launching a new ‘surge’.
The US track record of compulsive war mongering is indeed mind-boggling. From 1945 to 1999, the US had conducted all out military interventions against over 70 nations, to serve USA’s domination, and cook up enemies to justify the aggression. After the peril of communism receded into the background, the US military mind was in the search of new threats. “Several specters of ‘doom’ came to the fore: ‘rogue states’, weapons of mass destruction and most dangerous of all “Islamic terror.” (Beyond the war on Terror, by Nafaz Mosaddeq Ahmed, p-11.)
Obama in his NSS (National Security Strategy) is much too keen to contain the fiscal deficit, which is likely to reach $ 1.5 trillion. Containing the deficit requires avoiding ‘over-reach’. Good for you Mr. Obama to realize after the debacle and a colossal economic loss. As a face-saving device, he reiterates: “To disrupt and defeat Al-Qaeda and its affiliates remains the key strategic objective of the US, which is to be achieved through a ‘judicious use of American power both military and civilian.” In his NSS, he has narrowed down his ambition by saying that the war is not against Islam but Al-Qaeda.” Obama should ponder who created Al-Qaeda? The world cannot be hoodwinked by the gobbledygook or semantic rigmaroles. If ‘exit’ from Afghanistan is too painful to acknowledge, or ‘withdrawal’ call it ‘process’ or whatever. But define it. How and when? The dialogue with the Afghans is the imperative. Evasiveness is moral cowardice.
Dr S M Rahman is Secretary General FRIENDS, a Think Tank established by General Mirza Aslam Beg in Rawalpindi. He has authored several books and is a regular contributor to www.oly.com.pk