By: Peter Chamberlin
“The masters have realized that if they can deal directly with the organ-grinder, then why waste time dealing with the monkey?”
The Afghan war is a controlled experiment in conflict management. The one-sided nature of the war, what the generals call “asymmetrical conflict,” means that one side has the latent military power to utilize enough force to decisively win the battle, but chooses to not escalate the violence to adequate levels.
There are two alternatives to this total pacification solution–status quo, where the major force accepts a stand-off situation; or various limited warfare strategies. In Afghanistan, the US and NATO have chosen the limited warfare option, in order to limit damage to our image, or reputation in world opinion, while pursuing pipeline plans to their completion in Central Asia and Pakistan.
Completing “the mission” before economic collapse overtakes us will eventually force our leaders to embrace the total war solution. They understand this; it has always been the plan. The cost of this solution will be paid in massive collateral death. It will be unavoidable in the end. Such a move will do serious damage to America’s image in the court of world opinion, seriously undermining any agreements or understandings based on trust.
This ugly truth reinforces the idea of fighting a controlled conflict in Afghanistan; relying on political indicators to determine acceptable levels of violence. This has allowed the creation of a public perception that the limited war, in itself, can accomplish the goals of the mission. Nothing can be further from the truth. We are on a path to total war, unless unforeseen developments derail the secret plans.
The methods used to wage counter-insurgency operations are limited by political indicators, as well. The “hearts and minds” component to these operations is of greater strategic importance than the actual fighting. Battles are waged in a manner that seeks to win support from the population which is enduring the actual fighting. A successful political seduction helps to keep the conflict limited and manageable.
Whoever is doing the actual fighting must be made to look as though they fit in. Their attacks upon the insurgents and the propaganda campaigns directed at them, must alienate the militants from the local tribals. The tribes which are being hit must be made to want see the militants separated from them, taken away and killed, even if they are relatives. This justifies the creation and support of militant counter-forces, tribal militias and paramilitary assassin units. It also requires national and international disinformation operations, coordinating government and media messages of denial, to refute news which escapes the battlefield black-outs. The psychological dissonance caused by these operations disrupts public reactions which might upset control of the conflict.
On the battlefield, the practice of limited warfare operations requires a constant juggling of combat and information operations, in order to prevent losing tactical control of the warfare, allowing the scales to tip towards the total war solution. Such a loss of control of the psywar would be seen as a battlefield defeat by strategists seeking to manage the conflict.
These strategies of limited warfare and conflict management prevail on both sides of the Durand Line, meaning that they are practiced by both the American, as well as the Pakistani generals. This accounts for Pakistani support for the Taliban, on both sides of the border. There is only one “Taliban,” whichever side of the border they are on. If Gen. Kayani and his subordinates support the Afghan Taliban, then they support the “Pakistani Taliban (TTP),” as well. If Pakistan is helping the Taliban attack NATO forces, then it is also helping the TTP attack Pakistanis, even if the support is indirect.
In Pakistan, the Taliban militants are a tool, used by the Army to maintain control over the Pakistani people and their troubling moves towards actual democracy. Gen. Kayani has made it clear to President Karzani that he has the power to end or escalate the conflict there (SEE: The huge scale of Pakistan’s complicity). He has the same power and influence inside Pakistan. The militants/insurgents who wage war against Western troops inside Afghanistan, are the same people (or they are connected to the same people) who attack civilians and mostly Frontier Corp. personnel inside Pakistan’s tribal regions.
Army policies of promoting limited war have spawned an epidemic of lawlessness, which has given rise to militant groups outside of Pakistan’s control, including those who wage war against the Army itself. Most of the terror attacks upon actual government targets are revenge attacks by current and former client groups who are used to carry-out official policy on the covert level in Kashmere, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
But the Hegelian policy of fighting war by promoting war is rapidly reaching a point of reversal, where terrorist promotion must be countered by means of actual terrorist suppression. When the terrorism fostered and promoted by both Pakistan and the United States increases to such levels of intensity that they threaten to upset the balance of the managed conflict, then it will become necessary to use severe suppression tactics upon the insurgency.
We are rapidly approaching the point of no return, where the managing powers lose control of the greater conflict and insurgencies escalate out of control, leading inevitably to a global conflagration. Before the US loses its economic advantage in an uncontrolled global economic collapse, it must act militarily to achieve the war’s true mission—that of securing the gas and oil and the pipeline routes from Central Asia to the port at Gwadar.
Gen. Kayani understands the true timeline and its implications for him, as well as the rest of Pakistan. This is the motivation that has driven him to undertake the operations in Swat and S. Waziristan. It is the force behind the Army’s PR offensive in Balochistan.
Neither the Pakistani nor the American limited warfare operations now unfolding in Balochistan will succeed in pacifying local resistance to development plans, or in reducing attacks to a manageable level. For good reason, it has been said that the Balochs are the Palestinians of the Pakistani struggle. There is about as much chance of Pakistan bombing the will to resist out of the Baloch psyche as Israel has of pacifying the Palestinian resistance using the “Iron Wall” tactics of Ariel Sharon.
Direct action missions are keyed to escalate the conflict. The escalation desired to warrant a large-scale military pacification operation, is already in the works. Gen. Kayani cannot resist these plans without losing his position. It is in his best interests (and in his mind it is in Pakistan’s best interest) to facilitate Pakistan’s transition into American plans. Instead of opposing the escalation on Pakistani soil which he knows is coming, he is doing everything in his considerable power to make it possible.
To this end, Kayani plays his role as “organ-grinder” and the civilian leadership dances to the master’s tune which he keeps cranking-out.