Intricate dynamics of drone war strategy II
Dr. Ahsan ur Rahman Khan
The grasp of the realities of the US drone war strategy, thus attained, signifies the need for the answer to two key questions. First question relates to the change in US culture, whereby majority of US public is supporting the US acts of brutalities, like this drone war strategy; and the second relates to the objective: (1) how is it that the societal texture of US, once renowned to be liberal, peace-loving and tolerant, has transformed into a culture in which the officialdom, majority of law-makers and public alike have become the perpetrators of ruthless and murderous violence on militarily weaker nations to dictate their terms?; (2) what is the real objective of this US strategy?
Answer to the first question needs a bit of explanation, authenticated by related reports emanating from US itself. In that context, the fact has to be acknowledged that during the period of last about three decades the previous culture of US has gradually been transformed into the societal texture of militarisation; and the driving force for that change has been the power-wielding combine of the ‘Jewish-Christian’ lobby and the stake holders in the expanding US military industrial complex. During that process militarisation was made to permeate in all segments of US society, including even the schools. That process picked up momentum during the tenure of US President Bush (senior), whereby the horrific cycle of US war mongering started with the first US invasion of Iraq, with the proven falsehood of destroying weapons of mass destruction (which the whole world knows were not there at all). Thus, while the Jewish-Christian lobby found its own ideological satisfaction in the destruction of a target Muslim country (though its government was secular), the stake holders of the military industrial complex started finding a boom in their industry through the additional requirements of weapon-technological advancement and production of the military wherewithal for own consumption and for the ‘forced sales’ to the countries around the target area (eg, Saudi Arabia was made to accept military purchases from US worth a whooping about 50 billion dollars, on the pretext of a still lurking danger from the crippled Iraq as shown by US). That momentum was then never lowered by US President Bush (junior), who on the pretext of the rather mysterious destruction of the twin towers even publicly declared ‘Crusade’ (Christian’s holy war against Muslims), though he later called it ‘war on terror’.
The US invasion of Afghanistan on the concocted threat to mainland US from the small Al-Qaeda group in Afghanistan, and a second US invasion of Iraq even without a pretext, then followed to keep the US national militarism strong. US President Obama has followed the same policy with more vigour, finding new pretexts in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria also to keep on the upbeat the momentum of external military domineering of US. Besides that, the pretexts to militarily intervene in Pakistan and Iran are also on hand.
That fact of militarisation of US culture is credibly sustained by published data and documents. The brief excerpts from two of the publications and a document should, however, suffice.
Jorge Mariscal is a member of Project YANO, a San Diego-based organisation made up of veterans and activists who are working to demilitarise US schools. His report, therefore, is from the grass-root level of US society. His publication, “The Militarization of US Culture” provides a real insight to testify the aforementioned cultural change in US. He quotes scholar John Gillis who clarified that in the process of the older forms of militarisation, civil society used to be separated and subordinated to military authority; but in the process of contemporary militarisation, “civil society organizes itself for the production of violence”. Jorge Mariscal has clarified that the military culture values have been made to permeate the US society by a number of means. He has given examples of those means; to quote some: “The incursion of military recruiters and teachings into the public school system is well known. The proliferation of JROTC units in American schools began in the early 1990s and continues today. Television spots, print ads, and websites for all the service branches are sophisticated marketing tools designed to attract young people who are unsure of their future. These and other practices that glorify the instruments of real and symbolic violence will have unforeseen and long-term consequences. In the meantime, billions of dollars for the military-corporate-educational complex ($399 billion for the Pentagon alone according to the administration’s FY2004 Discretionary Budget Request), color-coded “terrorist alerts,” police and “homeland security” raids on immigrant communities, and FOX news bulletins for even the most mundane Defense Department briefing all work to create a climate of fear and anxiety that is unprecedented in US history”. He also asserted, “If we feel less safe today than ever before, it is because the entire culture has organized itself with the dual objective of either perpetrating violence or defending itself from violence”.
Tom Engelhardt, editor Huff Post Politics, in his article dated 5 July 2012 “The Lessons Washington Can’t Draw from the Failure of the Military Option” has also given detailed account of the militarisation of US culture. His article being a bit lengthy, some of the excerpts which suffice to highlight his findings are: “And yet the militarization of the United States and the strengthening of the National Security Complex continues to accelerate. The Pentagon is, by now, a world unto itself, with a staggering budget at a moment when no other power or combination of powers comes near to challenging this country’s might. In the post-9/11 era, the military-industrial complex has been thoroughly mobilized under the rubric of “privatization” and now goes to war with the Pentagon. With its $80 billion-plus budget, the intelligence bureaucracy has simply exploded. There are so many competing agencies and outfits, surrounded by a universe of private intelligence contractors, all enswathed in a penumbra of secrecy, and they have grown so large, mainly under the Pentagon’s aegis, that you could say intelligence is now a ruling way of life in Washington and it, too, is being thoroughly militarized. Even the once-civilian CIA has undergone a process of para-militarization and now runs its own “covert” drone wars in Pakistan and elsewhere. In a sense, even the military has been “militarized.” In these last years, a secret army of special operations forces, 60,000 or more strong and still expanding, has grown like an incubus inside the regular armed forces.
As the CIA’s drones have become the president’s private air force, so the special ops troops are his private army, and are now given free rein to go about the business of war in their own cocoon of secrecy in areas far removed from what are normally considered America’s war zones. Diplomacy, too, has been militarized. Diplomats work ever more closely with the military, while the State Department is transforming itself into an unofficial arm of the Pentagon as the secretary of state is happy to admit as well as of the weapons industry”.
Engelhardt’s assertion of the happy admission of the US Secretary of State is also validated by a document of US Department of State “Diplomacy in Action”, which contains the speech given by Secretary Hillary Clinton in the gala dinner of US Special Operations Command at Tampa, Florida on 23 May 2012. Some excerpts of Secretary Clinton’s speech are noteworthy in this regard: “So we have made it a priority to have our soldiers, diplomats, and development experts work hand-in-hand across the globe”. “To my mind, Special Operations Forces exemplify the ethic of smart power”. Admiral McRaven talks about two mutually reinforcing strategies for Special Operations: the direct and the indirect. Well, we all know about the direct approach. Just ask the al-Qaeda leaders who have been removed from the battlefield. But not enough attention is paid to the quiet, persistent work Special Operations Forces are doing every single day along with many of you to build our joint capacity. We also need diplomats and development experts who understand modern warfare and are up to the job of being your partners”.
The militarisation of US culture and the mode of its external application having thus been grasped, the answer to the second question regarding the real objective of US in its Drone war strategy becomes very clear. As already well-known, after the breakup of Soviet Union, US had openly commenced its external military domineering initiatives in many parts of the world, so as to gain and retain its control specially on world energy resources, with the focus mainly on Asia. And, the US ‘war on terror’, basically engulfing Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, was factually launched for that purpose. According to the researched data published by Eisenhower Study Group at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, the cost of human (military and civilian) losses during the decade of the US’ ‘war on terror’ amounts to an enormous total of 2,24,475 killed; 3,65,383 wounded; and 78,15,000 displaced / migrated. On part of US, it suffered 6,051 US service members and 2,300 US contractors killed; 99,065 US soldiers and 51,031 US contractors wounded; besides the economic cost of a trillion dollars. Out of this whole catastrophe, the factor which has been most perplexing for US government was the return of US’ dead bodies and wounded back to US, because the loss of their own men was becoming unbearable for American public. That problem has been greatly resolved by the US drone war strategy. Now with the application of this strategy, US can continue with its design of intervening with espionage, surveillance, cyber attacks and missile attacks in the target countries keeping those countries in a state of ‘controlled de-stabilisation’ so as to coerce those countries into political subjugation and all that without risking US’ own men.
Though at present the US government is jubilant on its newfound strategy, yet there are also certain serious implications for the world peace. Those may be summerised as follows:
a. Continuation of this strategy by US will surely provide a precedent to other power-hungry countries to apply any of the available means to intervene in their target countries a dangerous precedent which needs no elaboration.
b. Even the ‘non-state elements’ can use this precedent for their own version of ‘war on terror’ against any country and US will be naive to exclude itself from such a danger.
c. The scale of extreme hatred of masses for US and its allies is phenomenal in the countries affected by this inhuman and brutal US war mongering design; and it is increasing without let no wonder that a latest credible survey has brought forth the fact that about two-third of the once US-respecting people of Pakistan now hate US to the extent of considering it as an enemy. The similar hate wave is also surging in other countries of Asia and Africa targeted by US and its Allies. That is the most dangerous implication the ‘weapon of mass human hatred’ is far more dangerous than the ‘weapons of mass destruction’.
There are obviously very serious implications for Pakistan too. According to the aforementioned Eisenhower Study Group’s data, Pakistan has lost 3,520 members of security forces and 35,600 civilians as killed; 19,819 civilians wounded; and 10,00,000 persons displaced in the decade of the US’ war on terror. Besides that, Pakistan has also suffered immense economic losses.
However, the most serious damage inflicted by US’ war on terror’ is the eruption of very serious de-stability in our country. For us the only way out of this grave situation is the immediate initiation of the massive endeavour by the people of Pakistan to reorganise our social texture, imbued with the spirit of internal cohesion of the nation and the spirit of sacrifice for the development of our national power potential; and to effect a major change in the political setup of our country by bringing only those to political power who have the integrity of character, national spirit and vision for leadership. Fortunately, the majority of Pakistanis, specially the youth, is not only cognisant of this urgent requirement, but is also gearing up to meeting it in a spirited manner. The time for the change doesnot appear far.