Skip to comments.Obama’s security strategy ( View from Pakistan )
Posted on 06/03/2010 3:10:45 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
BASKING in the warm glow of its victory in the Cold War, the 21st century promised continued US global dominance. Americas military might and economic prowess made it appear as a colossus unlike any seen before.
Then the shocking events of Sept 11, 2001 shattered the myth of Americas invincibility and exposed it as both vulnerable and frightened. Worse, it permitted the neo-cons to push then President George Bush onto the path of disastrous wars which contributed, in no small measure, to an economic crisis that has left Americans numb.
Not surprisingly, Americas current predicament has renewed the debate of whether the days of its global supremacy are over and its decline inevitable. As Larry Summers, President Obamas economic advisor, warned before joining this administration: How long can the worlds biggest borrower remain the worlds biggest power? In Obama, however, the US may have a leader who has the intellect to appreciate what ails his country and the resolve to initiate possible remedies.
Obama made it clear, early on, that he stood for dialogue and engagement, with all countries and especially the Muslim world. This may not have represented a radical shift but was nevertheless a welcome change. In particular, his decision to appoint a special envoy for the Middle East was seen as evidence of his recognition that failure to resolve the Palestinian problem was a major factor in growing anti-American sentiments in the region.
Later, Obama gave fresh evidence of his ability to mix realism with idealism when in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech last year he criticised those who inadequately appreciate the dangers to this world and those (such as his predecessor) who were too quick to set aside American values in pursuit of security.
There has, however, been an inevitable letdown after Obamas two landmark speeches in Ankara and Cairo. The former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad indignantly wrote earlier this year that Obama has not even fulfilled one of his promises to the Muslim world. There may be an element of truth in this, especially as the US increases its presence in Afghanistan and maintains its support to autocrats in Muslim countries, while working to bring about a regime change in Iran.
Recently, Obamas first national security strategy (mandated by Congress), brought the issue back into focus. In the first such document of his presidency, Obama sought to strike a careful balance between his campaign promises and the stark reality of challenges the US faces, both at home and abroad.
He promised to build a new partnership, reduce dependence on US military might and seek to strengthen the countrys economy. To the disappointment of those who believe that military might is the solution to its problems, he argued that an America hardened by war and disciplined by a devastating economic crisis cannot sustain extended fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Of special relevance to the Muslim world was Obamas disavowal of his predecessors attachment to unilateral military interventions, making it clear that the Bush-era doctrine that fighting terrorism should be Americas over-arching object was too narrow and too traumatic a prescription.
He made it clear that the US would seek a more multilateral approach, recognising that the burdens of a young century cannot fall on Americas shoulder alone, specially as its adversaries would like to see America sap our strength by over-extending our power.
Striking a note of harsh realism, his strategy rejects Bushs world-changing ambitions and recognises the limits of American influence. Instead, the US should accept that global power is becoming increasingly defused, as evident from Obamas move to replace the G8 with the far broader G20 that includes China, India and Brazil.
However, in deference to the views of the defence community and the intelligence agencies, Obama did not explicitly rule out the option of pre-emptive strikes on countries or non-state actors considered a threat to the US. He, however, pledged to seek broad international support before resorting to pre-emptive strikes.
More specifically, what does Obamas strategy mean for Pakistan? It has dropped the language of the war on terror and no longer speaks of being engaged in a struggle with radical militant Islam. It has also rejected the worldview of the liberal internationalist establishment which has long advocated the use of force to resolve Americas problems. But it endorses much of existing US policy, though cautiously.
Obamas threat perception, however, remains focused on rogue nations, non-state actors and nuclear weapons, wherein its importance to Pakistan is ever-present in the strategy. While declaring the objective to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the paper warns that that the frontline of this fight is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Lest there be any confusion, the strategy reiterates that Al Qaedas core in Pakistan remains the most dangerous component of the larger network.
Unlike the 2006 Bush strategy, which heaped praise on Pakistan for countering Al Qaeda, this document is sharper and starker in its prescriptions for Pakistan as evident from reports that unilateral strikes on Pakistan could be considered.
Its rhetorical support for democracy in Pakistan is tempered by its own domestic needs, the first and foremost of which is the desperate need to engineer a visibly victorious exit from Afghanistan an objective which is unachievable without Pakistans complete commitment.
Admittedly, the US has to address the growing perception that it is singling out Muslims for punishment, but the strategy is a document that should be a wake-up call for our leadership. With Obama in saddle, the time for excuses, subterfuges and alibis is over. The world is fast losing its patience with us.
The challenge confronting Pakistan is truly existential. We can thumb our noses and face isolation, ostracisation and intervention leading to fragmentation, or we can rejoin the world community as a responsible and responsive state. It is our choice that will determine our destiny.
” How long can the worlds biggest borrower remain the worlds biggest power? In Obama, however, the US may have a leader who has the intellect to appreciate what ails his country and the resolve to initiate possible remedies.”
This author is nuts. Obama has created more debt by the US in his year in office than in the 20 years before that. He is the largest single money borrower of all time by almost an order of magnitude.
Certainly debt in the US is a problem. Obama is the answer only to fools and totalitarians.
i don’t agree at all with his views in so many ways....but I do agree with his last paragraph....
“i dont agree at all with his views in so many ways....but I do agree with his last paragraph....”
It’s a nice sentiment in the last paragraph. Unfortunately, Pakistan stepping up and becoming a responsible state is even less likely, imo, than Nancy Pelosi and Barak Obama becoming pro-life, pro-family, fiscal conservatives. There are far too many terrorists and terrorist symps in Pakistan for it to become a stable, non-terrorist state for the forseeable future. The non-terrorists (such as they are) have been hanging onto power by their fingernails for the last 20 years. In that situation, they are no more able to act responsibly in the tribal regions than am I, even assuming they wanted to.
The only stable government Pakistan could reasonably expect to acquire is something like Iran’s. Terrorists could rule Pakistan stably for many years.
World power is being defused because of the dick head that now occuapies the WH.
Some intellectuals think totalitarianism is humanity's stable state, and that the long-running Jeffersonian counterscript is winding down to a resolution in favor of the former. Of course, these intellectuals expect to live well in Orwell's Oceania. Relatively speaking, of course.
Even under the Bactrian Greek kings, Pakistan and Afghanistan have always lived under authoritarian governments or local khanates. They are aware of, but not about to replicate, parliamentary liberal (classical liberal) government and an open society.
I think the writer is trying to warn opinion leadership that if Pakistan doesn't stand up now -- especially after getting a dose of domestic Al-Q'aedism last year, when AQ tried to reach the capital and take down the government -- then America might turn to the Hindu card.
“I think the writer is trying to warn opinion leadership that if Pakistan doesn’t stand up now — especially after getting a dose of domestic Al-Q’aedism last year, when AQ tried to reach the capital and take down the government — then America might turn to the Hindu card.”
Sounds like what he’s saying too. But it’s like warning Pelosi, Reid, and Obama that if they don’t become fiscal conservatives, they’ll end up losing the next election and destroy America. While true, the possibility of them as fiscal conservatives is both ridiculous and impossible.