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Hegemony, Asymmetric Warfare
|by Gaurang Bhatt, MD|
The US itself, a nascent and weak power at its inception utilized the race for hegemony between UK and France to birth its independence and exploited this strategy to secure its destined pre-eminence due to the wisdom of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Hamilton, despite their biases and internecine warfare. America proceeded to its manifest destiny from Atlantic to Pacific oceans while sheltered by Britain's maritime power and by playing Britain against France. The Monroe doctrine was the first vision of its nascent power after its dream of manifest destiny. During this period it exploited the resources of Central and South America while depriving Mexico and Spain of its territories. Its first setback was in Korea and Vietnam, as expected of any wealthy nation when the delusions of grandeur and paranoid psyche of its leaders, definitively divulged from the desires of its common citizens benumbed by affluence.
The success of early Islam was based on the lack of education, short lifespan and the immense sexual and pecuniary rewards, that it offered to an ignorant populace in a pre-Darwinian era. This explains the fervent foolishness of the crusaders as well. The unacceptable casualty rate after the misadventures in Korea and the gory portrayal of the true cost of distant wars soured the acceptability of its price to the electorate. The powers that be, including the Pentagon and the elite, then learnt from the mistakes, not to allow unbiased media coverage and this is why we have embedded reporters in the present. The repugnance to the draft, because of the children of the elite and rich being subjected to the lottery, despite the evasion of Clinton and Bush Jr., led to its abolishment. A volunteer armed force with Reagan economics, assured a large mass of have-nots available as cannon fodder to pursue the delusions of grandeur of the elite without general unrest. It needed the collaboration of a consolidated media, conniving to promote the interests of the powerful, while misinforming the naive, unintelligent public, cowed by bogus fears and stressed by the specter of personal and economic insecurity. The regulatory threats announced and implied by corrupt executive and legislative branches, were sufficient to make the consolidated media barons and spineless journalists, craven collaborators to pursue their obscene desire for riches and fame, irrespective of ethics and responsibility.
Even the rich and powerful United States, chastened to a stalemate in Korea and a defeat in Vietnam, was compelled to use the strategy of birthing, supporting and proliferating the radical Islamic Mujaheddin to combat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which has lead to the current blowback. It used asymmetric warfare against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan and reverted to the tried and successful guerrilla strategy that George Washington had used against the British to win independence. The intolerance of the American public for casualties in promoting its hegemonic, economic, political and military supremacy led to the decision to use the criminal and narco-terrorist Northern Alliance as substitute sepoys to oust the Taliban. Thus short-term goals without long-term plans and the lack of willingness to sacrifice and pay for desired goals leads to disaster ultimately. Short-term solutions, even when partially based on good intentions can backfire. The EU policies of allowing Muslim immigration were partly based on selfish motives of shortage of labor and partly to redress past sins of colonization and provide asylum on humanitarian grounds. They are now causing fear and worry on the grounds of terrorism and the failure of assimilation due to native racism and the rigid constrictive nature of Islam together with the failure of many of its adherents to develop marketable skills in a changing world and economy.
The American inability to suffer casualties has led to the lack of security and the failed state of Afghanistan and the ongoing debacle in Iraq. The paucity of finance and the sorry fiscal situation of the West add fuel to the fire of a disintegrating Afghanistan. A similar reluctance to commit larger number of troops to Iraq and the convenient self-deception that the so-called liberation of Iraq would be greeted with gratitude, has led to the current morass. The usual strategy of masking American self-serving policies under the guise of promoting freedom, democracy and trade has outlived its usefulness, after selective tariffs on steel and subsidies to vested interests and the disillusionment of Latin America and even Europe. The bankruptcy of Argentina and possibly Brazil has removed the shades from the eyes of Latin America and the world. The Pew research poll exposes the fraud and leaves America in the position of a Wizard of Oz. This explains the combined opposition of Brazil, China and India at the Cancun talks on implementing WTO rules. These large and powerful developing countries refused to take in the TRIP Trojan horse while the EU and America protected their agriculture with huge subsidies to keep out agricultural imports, while destroying developing countries' agriculture and farmers. They avoided the fate of Mexico.
The long history of propping up and keeping silent about corrupt exploiting non-democratic governments in the Middle East, North Africa, South East Asia, Congo, Philippines and Pakistan, proves the hypocrisy of America's holier than thou pronouncements. The illegitimacy of these despots and their pathetic attempts at survival, together with constricting but deeply rooted Islam in many of these countries, makes it impossible for them to restrain the Imams and Ayatollahs and leads to mosques as the only bastions of opposition like the Church in Poland against Soviet Communism. It feeds and fosters Islamic extremism as the only force to oppose the tyrannies, as the case of Iran demonstrates to the dismay of Iranians, as well as the world. Discontent will flourish in the only milieu available and thus American policies promote Islamic extremism.
The use of force in Latin America, Serbia and Iraq made the second tier nations, painfully aware that to prevent American interference and intervention in their countries and domestic affairs, it was essential to have WMDs to threaten America with unacceptable casualties. This has led to WMD proliferation. The ridiculous overlooking of unacceptable Pakistani transgressions, while preaching from a pulpit of anti- proliferation has removed any moral ground for America to stand on. The overwhelming power of America and its unrestrained use for selfish purposes, has led to increased terrorism as the only form of asymmetric warfare to combat its strategy. Israel is already facing the predicament of such an ill-conceived strategy. A recent article in Foreign Affairs points out that the successful use of precision bombing also requires ground troops to sequester opposing forces into a target area for the success of massive aerial bombardment. States with sufficient technical and financial wherewithal opt to develop nuclear weapons and missile technology to neutralize American military superiority.
Nuclear weapons retaliation deters America from attacking. North Korean and Iranian decisions prove it. The desperate urge to acquire surface to air and long-range missiles by Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan is to prevent decimation by airpower and retain credible threats. American policy of using air superiority to bomb infrastructure in the two Iraq wars and Serbia has speeded up the process of the arms race. Thus weaker nations strive to develop anti-aircraft defenses and missiles despite the failed, selective and self-serving efforts of the developed countries to dominate via the Missile Technology Control Regime. China with a clear understanding of American strategy counters it by rogue sales of missile and nuclear technology. This in its turn has pushed America to propound the new proliferation security initiative, tighten the missile technology controls and spend enormous resources for anti-missile ballistic defense and new bunker busting deep penetrating mini-nukes. Interestingly, Islam originated asymmetric warfare in the Middle Ages. The English word assassin is derived from Hashishin, a band of Muslims who smoked hashish and incited its followers to kill prominent opposing leaders and Sultans to achieve political ends, a strategy very similar to that of the CIA in Chile, Guatemala, Vietnam, etc.
Many Indians keep repeating like a broken record why it is in the interests of America to switch allegiance to India and punish Pakistan. They are either naive or are inhaling too much. America's prime fear is nuclear-armed terrorists and therefore it is compelled to go along with Pakistan. Furthermore as its overlooking of Pakistan's support for terrorism in Kashmir and nuclear proliferation in the world has shown, it needs Pakistan for entry by sea and land and airspace access rights, to approach and control landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia and their potential energy resources. They cannot be reached via the Persian Gulf and Iran, because of the latter's unremitting belligerence and neither China nor Russia are likely to provide a way to Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan. This is why America has bases in Tajikistan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan and is wooing Georgia.
It is downright ridiculous to hope for fulfillment of Indian pipedreams of America abandoning Pakistan, to embrace India. Except for foolish religious zealots oblivious of this life and wedded to the pie in the sky of afterlife, it is history, geography, expediency and necessity that dictate Realpolitik. Maybe Indians should read the Mahabharata carefully and try to understand its message. The principled Karna perished prematurely. America's second nightmare is shortage of oil and thus it wants to establish control of the Caspian and Central Asian energy resources. Its third nightmare is the rejection of its hegemony by independent military, economic and political initiatives by the economically stronger Japan and Europe, particularly because of its waning economic might. This is why it wants a stranglehold on their energy supply. This is why it invaded Iraq and wants bases there, apart from the Norquist plan of running such large deficits that future liberal Democrats would have no room or money to provide greater services and the Conservative mantra of enriching porcine donors by letting them feed unchallenged at the trough of a deficit spending treasury. This is why China is making overtures to Kazakhstan and investing in Sudanese and Nigerian oil. This is why Japan is paying to build a Russian pipeline from its far east to Japan. This is why Europe wants to court Russia and secure safe natural gas energy supplies.
A similar counterstrategy is evolving in trade and finance. The US dollar became the international reserve currency after WW2 due to American economic supremacy. Exchange rates were fixed and the dollar had fixed gold convertibility. During the Vietnam war, when America started running huge deficits due to a profligate guns and butter policy of LBJ, De Gaulle demanded gold for his dollar holdings. Nixon devalued the dollar and suspended convertibility to gold for most parties. America has continued increasing deficit spending and rising consumption, and reduced savings has led to trillions of dollars of depreciating IOUs. To combat this the Europeans created a common reserve currency in the Euro after the demise of the Soviet Union freed them from conventional and nuclear threats. Their parting of ways from American policy in Iraq and Israel is the natural subsequent outcome. The showdown will come with the British referendum on joining the EMU, which Britain is wary of joining because of Thatcher's Draconian reforms of national pensions. France and Germany are beginning to curtail their unsustainable generous social benefits, but the ethnic Anglo-Saxon ties of Britain, its racist and isolationist insularity and its delusions of nostalgic grandeur to preserve its Empire status if not by its intrinsic strength then by association with the new empire of America is reminiscent of the old adage, 'Sic transit Gloria mundi'.
Japan has chosen to prop up the dollar to prevent further increase in domestic unemployment but with North Korean nuclearization, it is only a matter of time before Japan rearms and steps out from underneath the American nuclear umbrella. Furthermore its increasing trade with China and South Korea, which is bringing it out of the deflationary spiral of a decade, and its failed militarist, but successful economic policy of the Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere is beginning to pay dividends. The Japanese finance ministry has announced that it will not buy dollars to keep a lid on the rise of the yen. China which is compelled to take in US IOUs to provide employment to its masses and prevent social unrest, has opted for a fixed exchange rate between its and Hong Kong's currency in relation to the dollar. This is how it partially insulates itself from the damage of a depreciating dollar.
India and other Asian countries hold huge dollar reserves that they are forced to invest in US treasury securities, which yield one percent while their dollar holdings have lost ten percent of their value in the year. Once again their need to export to maintain employment and to fulfill their need to acquire technology, compels them to re-lend the dollars to America to cover its current account deficit and continue its profligate ways, ultimately jeopardizing the entire world economy. The forcible opening of markets to promote mercantilist policies led to Colonization in Asia and Africa and Commodore Perry's ultimatum to Japan and the British forcible dumping of opium in China. A similar policy of subsidies to domestic agriculture by the EU and America with tariffs and quotas on low-tech exports like textiles has led to bankruptcy of Mexican, Indian and African farmers. This led to failure of Doha, Cancun and Miami talks and the formation of a new group by Brazil, China and India to prevent self-serving protection by developed countries while forcing the developing countries to accept the new economic slavery based on the technological superiority of the multinational financial behemoths and their wedge of intellectual property rights.
Thus every smart country tries to wean itself from the dependence of trade with America leading to accumulation of depreciating dollars that it is forced to re-lend to America to sustain its profligate consumption. This is why commodity prices including gold, silver and oil have soared. America still has one trump card up its sleeve. It is its ability to massively overproduce agricultural commodities that are the prime desire of newly affluent countries seeking greater meat consumption necessitating soy-meal ands corn to feed the pigs, chicken and cattle, the desirable edibles for countries with rising affluence. Thus the increase in the prices of agricultural commodities is as inevitable to improve America's trade balance, as the long-term rise in prices of industrial and precious metals and energy is equally inevitable to satisfy the rising demand in China, India and much of the aspiring and successful developing world. Every smart country is also trying to develop punishing air defenses to prevent American air superiority from devastating its infrastructure and population and an intercontinental land and sea based nuclear deterrent to restrain America especially after its recent announcement of the option to use nuclear weapons preemptively, even against non-nuclear states and its intent of developing bunker-busting mini-nukes.
Evolution once again provides a parallel. The profligate, unrestrained and improper use of antibiotics has led to the development of resistant bacteria posing a threat to mankind. The bacteria can do this because they proliferate faster and are capable of transferring immunity across species, read ethnic background. Islamic terrorists are doing the same by higher birthrates in belligerent and immigrant populations of Western nations and forming alliances with other groups and transferring know-how and intelligence. America is wedded to the Spencerian half-truth of survival of the fittest by misinterpreting fittest as the smartest. Thus it develops new low yield bunker busting nuclear weapons and missile defenses, forgetting the essential fact that even a good mutation does not ensure its propagation and establishment in the gene pool. It can be overwhelmed by chance as the sorry history of extinction of the trilobites and dinosaurs proves. There is another antidote. The forgotten half of Darwinism is low-tech bacteria can survive simply by speeding up and increasing the rate of reproduction to flood the environment like periodic cicada. Furthermore America forgets that it is dealing with sentient creatures, intelligent enough to be capable of premeditated design and yet programmed by their religious beliefs to die for their misguided tenets. This is a formidable combination, likely to lead to American victory or defeat, both Pyrrhic. It may be a sorry solace to the creationists and their faith in creation by design that their enemies have abandoned chance and utilize for combat, malevolent design as insurgents in Afghanistan, Iraq and Spain show with their use of asymmetric warfare. The redeeming factor for America and the world is that its policies and government are subject to the vagaries of choice by an electorate wise or foolish and subject to its own interest. With time it is surely destined to see the light and attain wisdom. The only real question is when, and will it be soon enough to save America and the world. The answer from the history of evolution is, it never promised any species a rose garden and its mills grind slowly and exceedingly small, but inexorably to dust and extinction!
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