National Security

International Security & 2013

By Rana Athar Javed

Maintaining international security for the US and NATO in the year 2012 became an end in itself, a nearly full-time invasions and engagement of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in strategic zones superseded the considerations for peace and general political stability. From the horns of Africa to Asia Pacific and, from Yemen to Afghanistan, the coalition and alliances of armies failed to give priority to coalition partners’ preferences. Not responding to strategic importance of coalition members, the regions are left with tales of bruised economy, territorial fragmentation and loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives at the hands of terrorists and a reality of low-intensity civil wars in various parts of the world.

Two crucial points have to be noted regarding the worsening international security situation: First, with lack of compromise and consensus between the so-called warring factions/rebels/militants/terrorists etc. & the US, the state of international security can be deteriorated in 2013. Second, the unstructured expansionism, and a strategy of procrastination and partial solutions will undermine the national consensus over unjustifiably supporting a paralyzed international security policy.

The US coalition system and military alliances has managed to produce a strange and dysfunctional political partners – are often lead to intra-and-inter-factional rivalries. Although such antagonism is considered as part of the “double game”, and often the main partner is to be blamed for any significant foul play (e.g. blaming Pakistan for everything that goes wrong in Afghanistan). In 2013, the US and NATO will ensure continuity of talks with Taliban in Afghanistan and prepare further rounds of harsh sanction regime on Iran. While it will accept the participation of Pakistan in successful negotiation process with Taliban in Afghanistan, its core objective will sought to keep Pakistan out of “grand peace process” in the region. The legendary Pak-military on occasion would be acknowledged, and its willingness to participate in joint operational strategy would become central to “rescue & withdrawal” planning of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

The premier discourse about stabilizing Pakistan will inherently be attached to its national affairs including accountability and counterterror strategy. Through the forums of international security and military strategists, a limited assessment about the failures of US in Afghanistan will be used to make decision on subduing Iranian threat, and potential appropriate military and economic measures against its nuclear program. Thus, use of force, for example air raids and Special Forces Operations will be presented as the “only” option left to install a pro-Arab and Western government in Syria and, subsequently containing Iran – the responsibility to take such extreme measures would be placed upon political brinkmanship of Iranian leadership and popular public opinion in the Western capitals.

The ongoing inability of the Muslim world to forge a meaningful consensus to promote democracy and a nepotism free society means that hard-pressed social issues, especially youth unemployment and radicalization will generate further risks for international security, and hence strict visa screening regimes, and unnecessary racial and religious profiling at campuses and urban neighborhoods. Lack of effective cultural knowledge about different Muslim communities living in the US and Europe, for example remains contributing factor to the overall politicized international security policy-making.

This conclusion also impacts opinion of state authorities and thereby a significant impact on the perception of Muslim minorities in Western countries.  Even in the developed nations, the true ability of international security specialists remains to be seen, as the death and destruction “only” in Islamic countries is viewed by Muslim population as a national humiliation and thus mounts pressure on democratic countries, especially the US to demonstrate a better international security strategy – expect future erosion of authority of the US, which virtually become dependent on the cooperation of small and powerless Muslim countries (e.g. Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen).

With the exception of Pakistani people who gallantly sacrificed more than 40, 000 of their fellow citizens, soldiers and security personnel, other Western and Muslim countries have yet to show an aptitude to wield prestige and sacrifice, at least not to the level of neutralizing international security threats. As befits a wartime public opinion, Pakistan is an important player in the stabilizing process of Afghanistan and subsequently the wider South Asia, although still faces a major smear campaign and negative perception about its role in war on terror. This should be changed in 2013 because many international security specialists believe that previous propaganda techniques of the US and international press against Pak-military and ISI have been highly ineffective and counterproductive.

Moreover, the US and coalition partners have been suffering from heavy political, financial and military constraints. A delay or refusal to accept the genuine role of Pakistan as “part of solution” will be just detrimental to the entire coalition system and will restrict the goodwill of NATO only to Afghanistan. This development will not only lead to repeat of crisis after Iraq/Libyan war, but will also produce a very “weak” coalition against future risky security projects of the US.

For domestic political reasons, the US Public Relations (PR) system is highly efficient, but has been somewhat politicized since 9/11. The growing crisis of credibility of Afghan government, Indian influence in Afghanistan, the US build-up in Asia Pacific, and around Iran will partially be considered as the sources of threats to international security, rather than stability drivers. Therefore, the ability of the Obama administration and its NATO allies will be tested in dealing with popular Israel pressure to attack a nuclear Iran – and protect Israel from so-called terminating Iranian threat. In both cases, the direct/indirect US involvement would further jeopardize its credibility as relevant peace broker and sponsor of maintaining international security.

In short, the US is a full time in charge of international security threats some of which are being “precooked” by its own policies, many important decisions therefore needs to be taken to maintain international security, especially through encouraging strong, credible, capable and democratic leadership in the developing countries, a strategy that can become a blueprint for stability in 2013.