Author : Vikram Sood

Originally Published 2006-03-28 12:31:04 Published on Mar 28, 2006
The US National Security Strategy of March 2006 is an upgraded version of the 2002 version, which had come about after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The present one seems to be a slight rethink of its predecessor, but the essentials are the same. Introducing the new doctrine, President Bush had declared rather grimly, ¿America is at war.¿
The new solar system
The US National Security Strategy of March 2006 is an upgraded version of the 2002 version, which had come about after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The present one seems to be a slight rethink of its predecessor, but the essentials are the same. Introducing the new doctrine, President Bush had declared rather grimly, "America is at war." He referred to a war-time national security strategy to counter the rise of terrorism and said that America had an unprecedented opportunity to lay the foundations of peace. Ironically, the day he spoke of having brought peace and democracy to Iraq, US aircraft were pounding that country in some of the biggest air raids in recent months. 

The new doctrine is a tacit admission of the failure of unilateral preemption and also a denial of the true reality in Iraq. It, therefore, gives a rallying call for the spread of democracy and freedom as a means for extending US influence and interests while retaining the right for preemptive action to defend these objectives. The US "will seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it; to influence events for the better instead of being at their mercy". 

Given the magnitude of potential harm that adversaries could cause with their choice of weapons, the US could not let them strike first. The doctrine of pre-emption is intact. Iran is a major threat, tyranny has continued in parts of the world, Russia and China were not free enough and India was a country of growing importance willing to share its global responsibilities alongside the US. 

This new doctrine arises from a rethink in nuance by the State Department and the Pentagon in the aftermath of failures in the last four years. Paradoxically, this very failure in Iraq means that the US has to stay on in the region, for withdrawal now would be construed as defeat in the Islamic world. This is another reason why regime change in Iran has to be attempted. 

The US Department of Defence Quadrennial Review (QDR) of 2006, released in February, is a 20-year battle plan and speaks of the requirement to wage long wars. It pays particular attention to the growing military might of China and seeks to follow a policy of encouraging peaceful economic growth of China. Simultaneously, American forces should be ready to maintain forces capable of sustained operations at great distances into denied areas. 

The QDR takes into account the threat from international terrorism, which requires complex operations of long duration involving the US military openly as well as clandestinely in multiple countries. The 'war on terror' became the 'global war on terror' and is now 'the long war'. Thank you very much, says the military-industrial complex, for now the Long War can go on and on. Spending $ 693 billion for US defence in the next budget is an example. 

The Pentagon's own new counter-terrorism strategy requires that US special operations forces be deployed in US embassies abroad. They would collect and act on intelligence relating to terrorist threats to US interests with a capacity to operate in dozens of countries simultaneously. They would also train foreign militaries. 
Thus, while counter-terrorism, tackling growing Islamic radicalism and preventing the spread of WMDs is a Pentagon priority, "shaping the choices of countries at strategic cross-roads", like China and India, remains an important US security interest. The Pentagon retains its position as the world's largest spender on defence; its expenditure is more than that of the next 18 biggest spenders, including the EU, West Asia, Russia, India, China and Japan. The US policy is going to be increasingly Pentagon-driven. 

According to Thomas P.M. Barnett (The Pentagon's New Map) the world has a 'functioning core', which is integrating into the world of globalisation. This includes India, China, Japan, Russia, the EU, North America, Chile, Brazil, Ar gentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The rest of the world - the entire Islamic world, Africa, parts of Latin America and Central Asia - is a 'non-integrating gap' disconnected from the rest and subject to instabilities. The thesis is that decreasing this disconnectedness and increasing connectivity in the functioning core of globalisation would ensure lasting peace. 

This disconnectedness can be cured through deconstruction and reconstruction. This is the kind of thinking that went on in Washington as late as in mid-2005. William Pfaff had disclosed in the July 4, 2005, issue of the American Conservative that, "A new Bureau of Reconstruction and Stabilisation in the State Department is charged with organising the reconstruction of countries where the United States has deemed it necessary to intervene in order to make them into market democracies. The bureau has 25 countries under surveillance as possible candidates for Defence Department deconstruction and State Department reconstruction. The bureau's director is recruiting 'rapid-reaction forces' of official, non-governmental and corporate business specialists. He hopes to develop the capacity for three fullscale, simultaneous reconstruction operations in different countries." The point is not whether this is feasible or serious but that such schemes are actually being considered and planned. 

The Pentagon thesis of long wars and global reach is not really contrary to the policy of regionalism enunciated by Condoleezza Rice when in January this year she explained how US global policy would operate. She spoke of promoting democracy and greater US engagement in the emerging power centres in Asia, Africa, South America and West Asia in preference to Europe. Yet, she singled out "good partners like Pakistan and Jordan", neither of which are democracies. The gap between intentions and practice continues. 

The new US foreign policy doctrine of 'transformational diplomacy' is not just about reporting the world as it is, but about replicating Nation-States into US clones. Postconflict multinational reconstruction and stability teams consisting of lawyers, engineers and economists will be deployed. It is more about access diplomacy. Arab analysts point out that US embassy officials have been visiting government buildings in countries to which they were posted to monitor the progress of irrigation, healthcare and other development projects sponsored and funded by US aid agencies. Soon there were whispers that American directives to local government agencies on purely sovereign concerns were being received. 

There are many who believe that India's path to greatness lies through Washington and that the US is going to help India become a major power. Similarly, they also believe that when the US talks of new centres of power and balance of power, it means balance of power with the US. What this really means is that the US will remain the centre of the universe while the others - China, Russia, India, Japan and Brazil - will revolve equidistant from the US. These regional powers would ideally be balanced with each other, though that may require corrections through Pentagon or State Department interventions from time to time. No power should be weaker than the other and no power should be strong enough to challenge the US in this scheme of things. 

The strategy of pre-emption and the conduct of a long war on terror along with a renewed urge to democratise the world is part of the ultimate goal of spreading economic globalisation, with the US undoubtedly as the leader. In the months and years ahead, the test of Indian diplomacy and strategists would be to maximise gains from proximity to the US and minimise loss of independence of policy that a partnership with the rich and powerful inevitably threatens to bring.

The author is Advisor to Chairman, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

Source: Hindustan Times, New Delhi, March 28, 2006.

* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.
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Vikram Sood

Vikram Sood

Vikram Sood is Advisor at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Sood is the former head of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) — India’s foreign intelligence agency. ...

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