Friday, May 8, 2009

A new way of thinking: The Afghanistan War

“War represents the supreme failure of nations to resolve their differences. From a strictly pragmatic standpoint it is the most inefficient waste of lives and resources ever conceived by any creature on the planet. This crude and violent way of attempting to resolve international differences has taken on even more ominous overtones with the advent of elaborate computerized thermonuclear delivery systems, deadly diseases and gases, and the threat of sabotage of a nation's computer networks. Despite the desire of nations to achieve peace, they usually lack the knowledge [bold and underline not in the original] of how to arrive at peaceful solutions.” Jacque Fresco

However, despite the calamity and risk that a nation assumes in waging war, in our zeitgeist war will always continue to be on the horizon. They say that war is the result of failed diplomacy. The problem is that nations make war part and parcel of their diplomacy, with war in the forefront of all possible strategies to resolve international differences. It seems to always be used in the context that “all options are on the table,” as if that is a diplomatic thing to say.

Diplomacy and war are antonymous. The dictionary defines diplomacy as the art or practice of conducting international relations, as in negotiating alliances, treaties, and agreements -- tact and skill in dealing with people. Considering war in the context of diplomacy should be the furthest from the mind and not entertained at all. An act of War should only occur in defending ourselves, as with anytime one human finds it necessary to kill another in self-defense.

America will never acquire the knowledge to arrive at peaceful solutions if there is never an attempt to do so. We need to gain the same body of knowledge to solve conflicts peacefully as we have gained to solve them militarily. America seems to be reluctant in assuming the risk in diplomacy, as they are to accept willingly the risk of war. The warrior mindset informs Americans that it is more effective to kill than to talk.

Talk, which by no means should be considered in setting up a process of communication – diplomacy -- with non-states, for with whom would you talk? The actors in non-states have no direct means of controlling those who merely share their ideology; there is no direct span of control accountability within which an individual leader could be held responsible. One might say, what about bin Ladin? Well I am not sure. We are holding bin Ladin accountable for the crimes and atrocities committed by al-Qaeda and deservingly so, but I don’t believe he has the span of control with which we credit him, and he has such an incorrigible focus on terrorism, military action is the only course of action.

The Iraq War was conducted preemptively because the Bush Administration viewed Iraq as a potential threat; war against the Afghanistan Taliban and their harboring of al-Qaeda, who were directly responsible for 9/11, has been taken in our self-defense; at this stage in our evolution, it is the only step that could be taken. Globally we are not united and so we do not have sufficient resources or collective knowledge to act effectively. For example, if we were united we could use the theory of overwhelming force to conquer any insurrection in or on any country by another. In my mind, that is the promise of the United Nations.

Therefore, I believe our action against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups should be based on a multilateral agreement to act against these groups. The action may occur within a state or include international action, depending on the degree of terrorist activity or insurgency, either by police action, paramilitary action, with a well-balanced action of soft power and hard power. This strategy would be carried out by NGO groups working within the communities of the affected territory combined with action by culturally trained and military trained Special Forces. The antiquated strategies of belligerent threats and antiquated military tactics are not appropriate, and even useless in the changing nature of American power, and especially in consideration of America’s relationship with the world community.

The Obama Administration, Robert Gates, General Petraeus, and the Pentagon seem to be working in that aforementioned strategical and tactical direction. The strategy must include considerations other than military.

A new approach to handling conflict is badly needed. In some manner or form the aforementioned new strategy and tactic may be a stepping-stone on our evolutionary path to global order and world peace.