Military Rationale in the Middle East
British Defense Secretary John Hutton (L) in Nov. 2008 said the war in Afghanistan was as vital to protecting the United Kingdom's interests as the two World Wars.
"We hope Mullah Mohammad Omar Akhud joins the peace process," President Karzai said to mark the Muslim Eid holiday.
Hope is one thing, constructive dialogue another and armed conflict the reality in Afghanistan—none of which are realizing political stability, and all of is which rendering the nature of militancy in the region questionable. Is the rationale driving military methods applied to Middle Eastern conflicts blocking channels of political accord from developing?
The Afghanistan and Israeli conflicts, for instance, may well have different causes defining their conflicts, but in essence both states form a composite of governments in the Middle East subject to military rationale on local and international levels. Past military interventions and subsequent reconciliation processes in the region, especially those based on ceasefires and territorial partitions, have not produced systemic cohesion in the Middle East. War zones bedevil the area. The depth of warfare in the region is itself a causal dynamic to the intractable nature of conflict in the Middle East, but it is the military rationale at question here—basically because it has become extensive and pervasive, with conflicts manifesting rather than resolving.
Too many questions are arising over the inadequacies of military strategies to resolve Middle Eastern conflicts to ignore, particularly on Iraq and now Afghanistan. The concern is that military reasoning has become the common denominator between Middle Eastern regimes and Western democracies. If so, international methods applied to resolve Middle Eastern conflicts, most notably of Afghanistan and Israel, could in fact, be perpetuating the dynamic of war.
Instead of understanding extensive processes of political rationale between state systems, many Middle Eastern regimes have evolved into military dictatorships. It's a legacy—a common denominator of military rationale that could be compounding both theocratic and sectarian discord already manifest in the region.
"Due to the Iraqi experience, Iranian strategists further understand warfare," Dr. Ali Omidi of Isfahan University wrote recently in Iranian Diplomacy.
Well, it's not just local regimes, which augur military training and active combat as the modus operandi for security; and state divisions for political stability. The nuclear divide between theocratic Iran and Israel could also be a consequence of strategic defense initiatives of democracies within the international state system, thereby detracting from democratic legitimacy—its ability, that is, to function beyond the state border, and in the case of Israel, within it as well.
The military framework of rationale has been applied to the region by international powers for centuries. Professor Clive Williams of the Strategic Studies and Defense Unit at the Australian National University points out that, with 14 million Pashtun in Afghanistan, they can fight ad infinitum. Strategically that suggests some sort of partition for a political resolve, which demographics portend as dominated by the Pashtun anyway.
The reasoning has no direction of systemic accord. The geopolitical framework of rationale can provide it. For example, applying the continental framework of geographic imperatives, especially on resources, gears the reasoning for general sustainability. There's a global imperative, transcending the strategic divide here, primarily because resource management in the 21st century involves the geopolitical coordination of resources at the planetary level.
Defense imperatives of militarizing territorial partitions, however, could factor more to major powers using the predominant strategic framework of rationale of the international state system, especially regarding the Middle Eastern continent. Division, after all, underpins the strategy of defense implicit within the military rationale, and defending the territorial partitions has today become an economic imperative for the industry of defense. For this reason, strategy as currently applied could condone conflicts.
Increasing fighting forces and defense hardware always seems the priority with Afghanistan, rather than progressing the regional framework of political infrastructure. According to Al Jazeera, Pakistan's northwest region is seen by America as a training ground for fighters. Twenty one drone attacks hit the area in September, the highest monthly number. They're now a source of tension. Does that not augur greater defense industry rather than a political resolve? The prevailing line of reasoning points that way—towards the dynamic of warfare and its general direction of war.
After all, increasing defense technology has never resolved Middle Eastern conflicts in the long term. Consider when Afghanis were trained as Mujahdeen to use stinger missiles against Soviet forces, when the area was a cold-war zone. Increasingly sophisticated defense technology may work in the short term, but the strategies underpinning them also propound the fighting spirit and boost defense industries, it seems, rather than political progression. Predicating technological advances on conflict basically feeds the general dynamic of warfare.
In practice do they not devolve the systemic cohesion Middle Eastern politics requires? Defense systems are defying regulated authority. Obtaining superior defense systems and finding ways to fight better resonate in the Middle East more than progressive regulative authority. The drone attacks, for example, are throwing Pakistan's state sovereign rights over its borders out the window, rendering international law irrelevant. Well, if the U.S. military expects fighting the Taliban to be the Pakistan army's priority rather than flood reparation, where again is the broader context of resource management in the picture?
The regional framework is becoming critical for global coordination on these environmental disasters. Without applying it, strategies based on division remain the predominant form of reasoning, thereby driving technologies designed to destroy humanity rather than ameliorate environmental disasters.
Devoid of a solid basis of political accord within the regional state system, notable shortcomings amongst policymakers both locally and internationally keep surfacing from the military rationale. Reports are increasingly contradictory:
"If the Taliban are ever to reintegrate into society then President Karzai has to prove himself a wartime leader," Anthony Loyd reported for The Times of London. "Unless the government can reconcile Taliban fighters to the peace process, military gains are lost."
It doesn't work both ways, apparently. How can military rationale realize a cohesive political system if military gains remain the benchmark of accord? The Taliban operates likewise. So the fight goes on, with military gains mounting on both sides, eroding broader political development.
The inconsistency of the rationale lends its strategy to political spin. One week The Times cites irreversible momentum in favor of U.S. and NATO forces before mid-term elections in America. Another week NATO generals say by every metric standard the war is being lost by the International Security Assistance Force. Lieutenant Colonel Benchoff of the 101st Airborne Battalions summed up the confusion. "We are enmeshing an aggressive American culture with a developing Afghan military culture," he said.
Political strength requires channels of transparency, mandated accountability and extensive authority. Objectives geared to systemic security rather than strategic defense could open them. These don't seem possible while covert intelligence remains the central means of communication and military rationale the general framework of reasoning. Already regional channels of communication exist via the Taliban. Transnational jihad has forged them. So the question is, can NATO apply them geopolitically? Without systemic political mechanisms in place, geared to the global level, these avenues of insurgency may not reflect well on a U.S. withdrawal.
On the other hand, constructing mechanisms of regional imperatives within the state parliamentary framework is a process denoting political progression. The regional generation and regulation of resources—water, for example—is all-inclusive involving state accord. The infrastructure for regional regulation of water systems concerns local, state and regional input. It's the same today with energy resources. The industry of fossil fuels, both trading in them and relying them to meet basic energy needs, has become a cause of rising carbon levels at the global level.
One way or another this concerns installing basic electrical needs to local communities within a war zone. From the Pashtun highlands to Kabul and Kandahar, realizing these basic services still comes down to Taliban and ethnic leaders' participation within the Karzai government. Without it, regional realities of declining resources cannot be addressed. Neither drone technology nor military training can realize these basic services, nor prevent environmental disasters such as Pakistan's flood.
There's no Middle Eastern framework of resource regulation while Afghanistan is a war zone. The regional system has no causal international application on the world's declining resources without these basic geo mechanisms in place at the state level. Putting them in place requires all political angles of systemic accord for a U.S. troop withdrawal, from the local to the regional, to the inter-regional and global framework. There's no room for the "Talibanization" of the state under such comprehensive coordination. And Al Qaeda and the Taliban could always be militant radicals of warfare if they're not given a political option to interact otherwise.
Laurelle Atkinson is a geopolitical analyst in Australia.
View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for Laurelle Atkinson.