The US strategic mind is obsessed with dominance. A constant drift from a measured military response to countervailing strategic dominance is visible. At the heart of such thought is the containment and control of Eurasia in which Pakistan constitutes the formidable Southern Front.
The past 50 years have witnessed the gradual rise of neo-strategists who believe that use of covert violent activities can achieve political objectives both in tandem and whilst bypassing the defence establishment. They reflect aspirations of cartels, energy giants and economic czars riding the technological edge.
This primacy of civilian leadership over military affairs ignited a new debate during the Korean and Cold Wars, especially in formulation of evolving nuclear doctrines. The mathematicians and social scientists were the first generation of civilian nuclear strategists. At the extreme, Ken Booth had hypothetically assessed a development as scary as ‘nuclear absolutism’.
Though the world is still spared such a doomsday scenario, the tip of the iceberg is visible when civilian controlled intelligence and long arm establishments operating under directives of the highest echelons of US policy resort to organised violence through covert means world over (see Seymour Hersh’s article on assassination of Hariri and Benazir Bhutto). Operating outside the Congress and Senate select committees, it erases and violates those transition points in the policy spectrum where a considered decision is made by statesmen to resort to limited violence in tandem with other means. Entire theses of Quincy Wright and Julian Lider (the two modern scholars on war) are thrown overboard when limited interventions become Burnout Wars for countries.
In Iraq such interventions not factorised in the military plans, were lethal, and counter productive. The methods varied from precision munitions to drones and stage managed acts of violence. Placement of highly trained civilian disguised security companies in zones of interests, served multiple objectives including rapid reaction, assassinations and toe hold operations. Sometimes these instruments worked in tandem with CENTCOM.
The danger in such a policy is the creation of schisms and strategic dysfunctionalism within the establishment. It also leads to complications in unity of command amongst interacting and inter-nation armed services. The latest example is the almost simultaneous release of Kerry-Lugar Bill and McChrystal Report. The former safeguards Indian interests for long-term political objectives while the latter sees Indian role an impediment to military operational progress. CENTCOM wants additional troops for a victory while the State Department wishes to hang around long enough to achieve other objectives.
This is called ‘shaping the environment’. The craft began with the Berlin Airlift, manifested in revolutions and counter revolutions of South America and is now the war for Pakistan. Such interventions are well thought, complemented by deliberate and articulated leaks, narratives of threat perception, assessments by the media and research organisations, economic arm-twisting and diplomacy. Fault lines and vulnerabilities of target nations are exploited and locals like Chalabis/Khalilzads rented. The game played with remarkable alacrity continues; as does the attrition of Pakistan.
It creates a ‘coercive strategy of compellence’ forcing Pakistan to cede its lesser interests in order to preserve a larger one. They bend minds; give leads for the future while the covert arms move around to prove just that. Then they say, “You see, we kept telling you. Now do that in order to keep that.
Seymour Hersh’s reporting is loose pot shot from the hip. Something in it appeals to every mind. The article is so heavily loaded that any event remotely connected to Pakistan can be linked and the worthy journalist vindicated. The article implies many disconnects. While Pentagon appears to be extremely close to GHQ, the State Department wishes to manipulate it to a point of total subordination albeit on behalf of the Pakistani political establishment. Hersh implies a deep Pentagon-GHQ link to create a distrust of the armed forces amongst the people (Pakistani audience). Sinisterly, he admits that this link though close is intriguingly deceptive (US Audience). He also opens a debate on an ethnically Punjabi dominated army. By implication it also means projecting Punjab as the villain for centrality in Pakistan’s fabric. Next, within this Punjabi Army, the religiously motivated elements appear to lie in wait to seize control of nuclear weapons and join hands with Al Qaeeda/ Hizb ut- Tahrir for a Nuclear Islamic Caliphate. This is a total falsification proved by the public and media ratings of military operations inside Pakistan and the high casualty rate of officers and men. Similarly, a bigger joke is the alleged involvement of one of the country’s insignificant and peaceful minorities in training to become a counter terrorist organisation.
By default, credit is also due. In his quest
to stretch imagination, Hersh has laid bare the mistrust that Pakistani establishment and people have of US policies, a measure of which Hilary Clinton got in her confidence building and fact finding visit to Pakistan. It also reflects the patriotism of Pakistanis and how they covet their national aspirations.
Washington Post takes a snipe at Pakistan-China Relations and nuclear proliferation to exert diplomatic pressure as counter weight to US cooperation with India. It also seeks to deflect Pakistani attention from the on going Indian preparations for a thermo nuclear test. It is an attempt to weaken Pakistan’s resolve of a matching response through diplomatic pressure and significant US presence n Pakistan.
Greig Miller of Los Angeles Times, through deliberate scoops seeks to discredit both the Pakistan Army and ISI as cash hungry organisations willing to sell mothers for dollars.
So why and who in USA is doing what it does? The answer is Sothern Front. However, in entirety this policy is confronted (as long as India is co-opted) with challenges from Islam as the centre piece of Pakistan’s Ideology; the armed forces that will rise to the call of the last battle; and Pakistan’s nuclear capability. The three are conjoined by the people of Pakistan and will be a force multiplier when push comes to shove. If that happens, it will be the mother of all wars.
The sentiments of hate rife amongst Pakistanis are not religiously motivated. They are a reaction to the hate strategy unleashed on the region after 9/11. Talibanization and Al Qaeeda are broad dumping grounds for all types of resistance and crime. A hail of cruise missiles, daisy cutters, bunker busters and air strikes were unleashed on the Pashtuns of Afghanistan. Pakistan through well timed mobilisation by India was prevented from sealing its borders with ethnic proximate Afghanistan.
The entire backwash flowed into Pakistan. Within a generation, the most valued ally was reduced to ‘where all roads cross’.
USA feels that short of a general outpouring, at an opportune time they would have a Chalabi in Pakistan to facilitate their objectives. But USA elects to ignore that in long drawn wars of attrition, the Forgotten Social Dimension of Strategy calls the final shot.
Now while Pentagon goes hunting good Taliban for reconstruction from the cinders of the pyre, it engages the very people it maimed with daisy cutters. Some even delink them from Al Qaeda; which has now moved to sanctuaries of Pakistani Militants (an aggregate of militants, local chieftains, war lords and sectarian militant outfits some led by western/Indian trained agents).
Through crafty constructs, USA disgraces Pakistan and its institutions that have served it best for many decades. The latest tirade against Pakistani institutions was beefed by a letter from Obama, to the President of Pakistan asking to raise the intensity of operations pending increase of force levels in Afghanistan, an assessment repeatedly pointed by me in my articles.
So what do people and statesmen of Pakistan make of all this. I would say, “Seek Peace with Pride, but if ABSOLUTISM strikes, be prepared for the Last Battle”.
Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired brigadier of Pakarmy, research analyst and political economist. He is well known in international research forums and makes regular contributions to TV Channels and press Media. He writes regularly for English dailies.