Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Smart Power: What is it?

Matrix of smart power

From The Statesman

The Obama administration is orchestrating its foreign policy in a new key, one based not on any political ideology such as the mission of spreading of democracy as the Bush administration attempted halfheartedly, but one based on “principles and pragmatism”. Not a faith-based policy but one based “on facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice”. Thus spoke Hillary Clinton at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee, promising to use a matrix of development, diplomacy and defence, and cultural tools to achieve foreign policy goals. “USA must mobilise international support for peace through the use of smart power, the full range of tools at our disposal. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy,” Clinton said.

To protect the country from international terrorism, which continues to be a major foreign policy objective, America needs a strategy of deeper and multilevel engagement with the world. This can be done by providing international economic aid, helping build up democratic institutions and strengthening weaker states so that they don’t become safe havens for terrorists. The United States of America cannot depend only upon its overwhelming military power to contain violent, unruly people. “America cannot solve the most pressing problems on its own, and the world cannot solve them without America... I believe American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted,” she said.

Obviously, the USA is not going to give up its global role regardless of the economic downturn. The best way for the USA to exercise its influence is through the use of the power of persuasion, mutual cooperation, and commonality of national interests such as economic growth, fighting terrorism and improving education. Diplomatic power arises from the attraction of a nation’s culture and values, apart from its economic and military might.

The culture of Hollywood including pop music, blockbuster movies and exciting television programs is universally enjoyed by audiences. But that’s only a part of the American story. American society embodies a culture of entrepreneurship, transparency and freedom, necessary for the development of open marketplace.

The rise of Barack Obama, a man from elsewhere, should leave no doubt that the USA is a culture of openness and optimism that holds the prospect of self-renewal and expanding human horizons. Openness is the essence of the USA. By opening itself to Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea in the Cold War era and later on to China, the USA exercised its cultural and diplomatic power and transformed the whole region. A once-upon-a-time hostile nation such as China has been turned into a friendly if competitive global power. But the rapid economic growth of China has created new problems for which a different kind of engagement is needed. “We want a positive and cooperative relationship with China, one where we deepen and strengthen our ties on a number of issues. But this is not a one-way effort ~ much of what we will do depends on the choices China makes about its future at home and abroad,” Clinton said.

On her visit to China in 1995, she told the Fourth World Conference on Women: “It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.” Now we have to see how far she can pursue her human rights agenda especially with regard to Tibet when the USA needs China’s cooperation in stemming the global financial crisis. Once again the issue of “currency manipulation” by China to boost its exports at the expense of other developing nations is being raised. But the immediate focus of the matrix of smart power ~ diplomacy, development and defence ~ are of course Afghanistan-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine. “As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians,” Clinton said during her confirmation hearing.

In pursuit of this objective, the Obama administration has appointed two seasoned international negotiators: Former senator George Mitchell as a special envoy for Israel-Palestine; and career diplomat Richard Holbrook for Pakistan-Afghanistan, who although not covering India, nonetheless, might pay “friendly visits” to the country.

Eliminating the Taliban, Al-Qaida and their training camps in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region will need enhanced US (and NATO) hard power, which of course must be accompanied by economic and educational development of the region. But the biggest challenge in Afghanistan is to free the country not only from the Taliban but also from the drug trade.

Incorporating the soft power of development into the matrix of new foreign policy is a challenge. Joseph Nye of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government was the first to develop the concept of soft power. According to him, a country can become attractive by “co-opting people rather than coercing them”. International influence “comes from an effective aid and information program abroad,” he said. “What is needed is increased investment in soft power, the complex machinery of interdependence, rather than in hard power ~ that is, expensive new weapons system.” Fighting terrorism certainly requires both hard and soft power. But soft power “is much cheaper than coercion, and an asset that needs to be nourished”.

Just as trade with China and rising prosperity has changed the Chinese people and has given them new hopes and new dreams, a similar policy might transform Iran too, it is argued. Global communication can play an important role in changing people’s perceptions, especially when outside information challenges their assumptions and makes them think afresh.

The USA should encourage corporate America, through economic incentives and other means, to invest in poor but aspiring countries to raise hopes and dreams of a prosperous future. That should be the ultimate goal of smart power.

(The author is Professor of Communications at Norwich University.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Ascent of Barack Obama

View from the top

From The Statesesman

This is how the United States of America or any civilised nation ought to be: A nation where its people will “not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.

These words of Martin Luther King Jr., a leader who was in many ways Gandhian in his non-violent methods in leading the civil rights movement for seeking justice and equality, and whose birth anniversary preceded by a day the inauguration of the first black man to grace the White House, have characterized the emerging American dream. It is a dream of transcendence and self-renewal and it makes us wonder what President Barack Obama, this man of hope and transformation, will do now that his dream has come true. What America is going to be, what it does or does not do, under President Obama will have serious repercussions for the world. No metaphor can capture its immensity but one might say that the USA is not only a moral force for freedom and equality but it is also the hub and the driving engine of global the economy. And to a great extent the USA is the single most important determinant of peace in many parts of the world. America’s misfortunes do not necessarily mean blessings for other nations. Its decline and fall will not leverage others to rise. The whole world is watching whether Obama, having raised himself by his bootstraps and having transcended all the prejudices of race, religion and colour, can prevent the US and the world economy from sliding into the abyss of depression. This is the dream he might not have dreamt while aspiring for the White House.

The American people have been very generous with him and, suspending their disbelief, they have trusted him. They have listened to his promise of change though in the beginning of his political campaign, the meaning of the slogan “change” or “yes we can” had a different context and connotation. On the minds of the American people in the early days of his political ascent was the disastrous consequences of the Iraq War which in the beginning they had willy-nilly supported but later on ~ when casualties began to rise and troops began to return home, some in body bags and others mangled, limbless and traumatised, and they saw no end to the fighting ~ wanted to get out of at all cost. Billions of dollars could have been spent elsewhere, the American people argued with the wisdom of hindsight. They said, in poll after poll, this is not what America ought to be doing.

The American people responded heartily when Obama shared his new vision of building a city of hope on a shining hill. Mostly, it was the promise of change from the senseless brutality and stagnation of the endless war. But Iraq surprisingly began to stabilise and the possibility of a US withdrawal became closer to reality, perhaps because of the new strategy of surge that George W. Bush initiated. And the success of the surge further raised hopes that the same sort of strategy might work in Afghanistan also, though the problem is much more complicated because of the fact that Pakistan’s Islamic militants enjoy sanctuaries in the tribal frontier region bordering that country.

But late last year, when the financial market crashed and blue chip banks, brokerage firms, mortgage lenders and insurance companies started to sink, the American people began to wonder whether Obama will be able to pull them out of the black hole of economic despair.

Getting out of Iraq or bombing the Taliban and Al-Qaida in the Afghanistan-Pakistan non-state region with remote-controlled drones seemed much easier than restoring faith and trust in the economy. The despair ~ the enemy within ~ which resulted from the loss of trust in financial experts, rating agencies and the self-correcting mechanism of the marketplace has been gnawing and eating into the American spirit of optimism in spite of the massive bailout already in place.

The $350 billion out of $700 billion that Congress authorised for the bailout of collapsing financial institutions and for stabilising the marketplace had very little effect on the economy. The Senate would not have trusted the Bush administration with the remaining $350 billion but it released the amount when Obama asked for it, hoping that he could do it. But the lawmakers also know that the Obama administration will need much more than that amount and so Democrats in the House are working on a massive new economic recovery plan of $850 billion with the hope of stopping the economy from spinning into a downward spiral. This multi-pronged approach including salvaging key financial institutions to unfreeze credit, giving people tax credit so that they can start spending again, and finally investing in infrastructure to create jobs, will hopefully stabilise the economy, restore people’s faith in the system and eventually trigger economic growth.

When Americans work and consume, the economic wheels in Europe, China and India and rest of the world will begin to spin again. Will President Obama be up to the job of saving the United States of America from economic depression? Perhaps that is what Martin Luther King meant when he asserted the supremacy of one’s character rather than the circumstances of one’s birth.

(ND Batra is professor of communications at Norwich University)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tagore's Jogin-da


A poem by Rabindranath Tagore, (1861 AD to 1941 AD) Nobel Laureate of 1913.

Translator: RAJAT DAS GUPTA, Calcutta
rajatdasgupta@yahoo.com & rajarch@cal3.vsnl.net.in
‘Phone: 91 33 2571 3699 & (M) 9874135773

Poem: Jogin-da (=Jogin the big brother) of the book ‘Chharar Chhabi’ (=Pictures in Rhyme) written in 1937, 4 years before the death of the Poet.

[Translator’s note – In our childhood our hot favourite was ‘Thakurmar Jhuli’ (=The Granny’s Bag), a book of tales by Dakshinaranjan Majumdar. Dakshinaranjan had picked up the stories hot from the Grannies’ mouths as they would tell their grandchildren at bedtime in rural Bengal of yore. The stories comprised King, Queen, Prince, Princess, other royalties, commoners like woodcutters, weavers, hermits etc. along with demons, ghosts, flying horse, chariots, peacock boats etc. with boundary between reality and fantasy lost, or rather rendered irrelevant, manifesting various human weal and woe, strife, impediments to achieve life’s ambition etc. which would hypnotize children, the audience to these from their grannies/elders, and for the latter these stories were unfailing to tame the kids and glue them to the bed when it would be time for it. This book was fore worded by Rabindranath Tagore and only he could pen such a superb foreword. As Tagore wrote, initially he had a lot of apprehension about the scripts produced before him by Dakshinaranjan as he had taken up a difficult task of capturing a fugitive treasure from our life that so much nourished the imagination of the children of Bengal which is being gradually left dry of what was possibly the best gift of their childhood with a blend of their elders’ affection (irreplaceable by the modern ‘idiot box’ packages). But Tagore gave Dakshnaranjan his unreserved compliment having performed this difficult task so well. He concluded his foreword with the proposal of launching an institution based on Dakshinaranjan’s ‘Thakutmar Jhuli’ for training of the modern grannies in story telling to their sibling kids.

In the olden days story tellers abounded Bengal though they are now an effaced specie. I am inclined to believe that ‘Joginda’ is a first hand experience of the Poet in his childhood and not merely his imagination. Tagore himself was a great story teller and even in the form of a poetry as may be seen here. This story is also an example how amusing and enjoyable an inconsistent story, bordering rigmarole, can be. This is another dimension of the Poet’s boundless talent which never rejected the lighter aspects of life amidst his engrossment with those profoundest, particularly towards the end of his life when he wrote Jogin-da.]

Born at Dehra-Ismail-Khan
Jogin-da had traveled many a town western,
And villages too on survey work,
While in military service stark.
At last settled among the children;
While by sheer age he was olden.
“I’ll endure not your torture”;
Aloud daily he would declare.
The very next day he would look for
Those very lads and lasses at his door;
And call out, “where’s Tunu and Khonki,
Hey Bhaju, a wild monkey”.
At his voice formidable
The locale would tremble,
Only around him to get
The greedy children to satiate –
Some with marble, some with picture
Or lozenge as one would fervour;

Those were mere bribe
At his court their attendance to subscribe.
If Kajli would grieve without reason,
A sweet Pan (1) in her mouth he’d slip in. (1)
Many a granddaughter he had
Or so they were he’d fad –
Like Pagli, Patli and Janguli –
Some to get him Khayer (2), some Kasundi (2) (2)
Or home made lemon drink,
By their mothers, that with his taste would link.
Till then with physique robust,
At sixty plus his youth did last;
Smile on his lips, eyes bright
The face a ripe mango, age didn’t blight;
Wide forehead, hair thin,
The moustache, his renown had been.

As the day would be over,
The lamp on the stand would flicker;
At the road’s turn, the Gardner
Would hawk aloud garlands of flower.
At his face we would stare
With our docile behaviour.
The evening, the bell would greet
Ringing at the temple of the street.
In those days, the evenings
Were true ones, to-day it seems;
Then was not invented the electric
The daylight to mimic.
At the corners of the room
The darkness would loom;
Amidst that faint light
In tales our minds would flight.
As a story he’d begin to mint
We’d allow him no stint;
True or false whatever pleased he,
Would cook up however flimsy.
Even geography
Would go topsy-turvy;
Funny it was nevertheless
Though devoid of base.
I give a story below
With my ability low
To do in his style
With many a hue all to beguile.

Past Hosierpur the Chhandousi bound train
Left Sarhora at half past one again.
At dawn sped past
Bundelsor and Amlorisarsar pretty fast.
By the time it arrived Firozabad,
Jogindada’s appetite was well bud;
So popping in his mouth fast
Pakouri (3) and hot gram with gust; (3)
When the King of Jounpur appeared
With many a bodyguard
Attendant and elephant herd;
A big parasol upon him held –
At once on Dada’s head
The minister put a crown and did implore,
“Prince, how long Motimahal you’ll abjure,
Do come back, restore our heart” –
And the bugles and drums played up in concert.

The matter was like this –
For thirteen years the prince was amiss
Absconding the palace
Soon after his wedding took place;
As at Nathdoara forest
He went on prey’s quest;
No more found since then
Queen Mother’s tears in vain
Rolled down to turn her blind
As the royal agents failed him to find
On their wild goose chase
With only rumours as their base.
To Pindidadankhana, Lalamusa they had been
Also Ludhiana and Punjab; but yet to be seen
Guljarpur, to be combed later
While visit to Rawalpindi was to their despair.

The antecedent- Jogindada at Hatras junction
With tea, bread munches on.
Quite well did he dine
While breeze from the field was fine.
Suddenly a Jounpur spy
With folded hands and respect high
Asks, “where’s your home Your Highness!”
Dada thought the honour splendid, and no less;
So, better his identity he’d suppress
And only the spy to impress
By his behaviour
That he was the Prince of the empire –
And, with royal signs so many –
God! The spy had never seen in the body of any!

Five months passed thereafter,
Message went to Jounpur of their lost treasure.
In the station Dada was relaxed quite
Till the mystery took height –
While a Gurkha infantry saluted him –
That a guard of honour he did deem.
And the station thronged with Sikhs and Afgans
Escorting him to Itarsy or so with slogans
In his glory in Urdu and Persian,
There from to Mainpuri then Lachmonjhola was their sojourn,
With Sehnai (4) played all the way, on palanquin magnificent (4)
Shouldered by ten bearers with twenty five more contingent.
At Bhatinda stinted for a look,
To the South spotted Dada Vindhya (5) by fluke. (5)
Right there they served drink of green mango,
Reached Jounpur when the afternoon Sun was low.
Here, at the threshold of coronation
Jogindada put his brake on.
With his laugh evasive, said –
“In the process to my gram popping they put paid;
Alas brothers! And that’s all I’ve to tell”;
“That won’t do! Won’t!” the boys in a babel
Said, “Finish you must!”
And thus Joginda cut it fast.
Said he, “Lucky it didn’t finish,
So I’m still alive as I did wish.
In three days I was through –
A Prince, if you just knew
What it is to be! Daily
To eat Parathas (6) soaked with Ghee (7) (6) & (7)
How can endure that a timid Bengali?
The shining Nagra (8) bruises the feet, (8)
The turban a porter’s load indeed –
It’s no joke to bear with these;
So, only to escape these I did please.
Further, on hearing the Prince’s Hindi (9) (9)
None as Hindi they suspected it to be.

On the day of Ramlila (10) festival holy (10)
Far in the town performed ecstatically,
The slack guard brought fortune –
As for escape the moment was opportune.
And this Bengali
In a marathon run did flee
Straight to Bengal and that very night
To Dacca took his flight.
And the spy did earn Rupees ten thousand
Though with his ears boxed, at the end
Had to refund the whole sum
As the rumour to Dada did come.

“Why did you return!” we shout;
Jogindada smiles a bit to end the rout.
And half the night as we retired to bed,
The towns he’d named muddled our head.
If I forget the country’s all address,
I’ll reminisce Joginda’s tale with geographic mess.

(1) Pan- beetle leaf with spice which is often an addiction with the Bengalis.
(2) Khayer- is an input spice for Pan while Kasundi is a tasty sauce made of mustard.
(3) Pakouri- a fried snack made of pulses and flour.
(4) Shenai- A type of flute played in various festivals like wedding etc
(5) A mountain range.
(6) Paratha- made of flour in disk shape, generally quite heavy.
(7) Ghee- Indian buffalo milk butter.
(8) Nagra- A gorgeous footwear for the royal persons.
(9) Hindi- The common language of North India. Bengalis are ill at ease with Hindi and they are laughing stock in North India for the funny way they speak this language.
(10) Ramlila- A widely performed festival of North India with grandeur.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Letting Satyam fail is not an option

Salvaging Satyam

From The Statesman

Is Satyam Computer Services Ltd, India’s fourth largest information technology company that specialises in business software and back-office services, too important to be allowed to fail? What kind of rescue does it need? Can India handle the truth coming out of companies like Satyam?

What a shame! Last September, the World Council on Corporate Governance awarded Satyam Computer Services the “Golden Peacock Global Award for Corporate Governance.” Now the company is in disgrace for fraudulent accounting practices, which actually began to be exposed when the World Bank banned the company for eight years from doing business with it because of the allegation that Satyam had installed spyware on the bank’s computers and indulged in other illegal behaviours. Satyam huffed and puffed and demanded apologies from the Bank and threatened legal action. And now the revelation of fraud by the company’s storied chairman has begun to adversely affect the reputation of India’s entire outsourcing industry. Corporate India has never been de-hyphenated from rest of the world and in fact depends and thrives on the goodwill of others. It has nothing but its reputation and therefore needs extreme vigilance.

Just Imagine! PricewaterhouseCoopers, the company’s auditors, certified that the company was flush with cash (more than $1 billion) when actually it was scratching the bottom of the barrel. Satyam was supposed to be like the shining company on a hill. But now it has turned out to be just like another fraudster and ranks with one of the worst American companies like WorldCom that went bust a few years ago.

Ramalinga Raju, Satyam’s founder and former chairman, who has an MBA from Ohio University, should have known how corporate heads get chopped off in the United States. He should not have forgotten the fate of WorldCom. In July 2005, the former chief executive, Bernard Ebbers, of WorldCom whose $11 billion fraud dumped the telecommunications company into bankruptcy, was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison. The former financial chief officer of the company, Scott Sullivan, who pleaded guilty and testified against his former boss, told the jury that he had warned Ebbers that accounting adjustments, creative accounting or cooking books could not be justified. Ebbers told him nevertheless that the company had to “hit the numbers,” and meet the financial and revenue targets. Ebbers of course blamed his underlings for the fraud, said to be one of the largest in the US corporate history. When WorldCom real earnings could not meet the forecast, Ebbers asked that the accounting department to “adjust the numbers.”
Corporate accounting department are notorious for spinelessness. Outside auditors want to retain their clients and sing the company’s song. Wall Street analysts and financial journalists (some of whom work as unpaid employees of big corporations rather than watchdogs of public interests) went along with the web of lies woven by WorldCom team until the whole edifice began to collapse in 2000; and the share price crashed.

Ebbers’ personal fortune was also tied with WorldCom’s market share price and in order to keep it high, he raised analysts’ expectations. One cannot get away with lies for too long, but sometimes the price a company and eventually the public pay is too high; and the damage to the reputation is irreparable. It seems Satyam was re-enacting the WorldCom old play. Good corporate leadership is essential, but the news media and shareholders should not turn company founders and CEOs into national icons.

Corporate leaders rise to power on the promise of raising profits, market values and corporate growth but they should be watched where they are taking the company. Boards of directors need to play a bigger role in the running of the companies and their interests should go beyond maximising profits.

No one should be allowed to get away with excesses. What goes through the brilliant heads of these brilliant people that they begin to think of themselves as unbeatable once they sit on the top floor is beyond anyone’s comprehension. Riding a tiger by a circus man may be fun to watch but not when a company CEO does it. India needs to pay attention to corporate governance which is unfortunately based on secrecy and authoritarianism, not on internal checks and balances.

In contrast, democratic governance is based on a healthy distrust of people in power. The built-in checks and balances along with a free Press have kept politicians from abusing power by exposing them to public ridicule, threatening to impeach them or put them in jail. Presidents, state Governors and legislators have been disgraced because of their abuse of power.

Watch the unfolding American drama of political corruption in Illinois where Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested (and let out on bail) on the charge that he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder. He has been impeached by the Illinois House and faces trial in the state Senate.

The democratic system does not leave the functioning of the political system to the innate goodness of the people seeking power. Nor is good behaviour left to any kind of special education or training in ethics course work in schools or colleges. The temptation of power or the compulsive need to maintain the company’s public reputation trumps everything else; so transparency and accountability are indispensable to corporate governance. That unfortunately is not the case with financial markets where most middle-class people, whether Americans, Indians or Chinese, are vested through their pensions and other retirement accounts.

Today, we live in a world where corporations influence and control most of our activities. We are at the mercy of transnational corporations like Satyam that employ thousands of highly educated people and are integrated globally with hundreds of other companies.

Letting Satyam fail is not an option for India; nor is its nationalisation, though temporary takeover by the government to stabilise the company and restore global confidence may be essential. After all, no one has questioned the quality of products and services that Satyam provides to the corporate global. Its intellectual and technological foundation is strong. But to avoid clockwork corporate scandals, India needs a culture of skepticism not corporate myth-making. The news media through its investigating reporting should assume the role of outside auditors.

(ND Batra is professor of communications at Norwich University)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Afghanistan and the new military doctrine

Afghanistan and the new military doctrine

From The Statesman
It is unthinkable that President-elect Barack Obama would give up on the historic legacy of the US as the most decisive and responsible global power in spite of the rise of others, for example, aspirant China and resurgent Russia. Just look at the people the man has brought into his cabinet. They are not here to chant the Requiem for Uncle Sam.
President Bush’s Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who will continue in the Obama administration, recently wrote in the Foreign Affairs that “to fail ~ or to be seen to fail ~ in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to US credibility, both among friends and allies and among potential adversaries”. Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton would hardly disagree with Mr Gates when he says that because of its poverty, bad neighbourhood, hostile geography, “Afghanistan in many ways poses an even more complex and difficult long-term challenge than Iraq ~ one that, despite a large international effort, will require a significant US military and economic commitment for some time”. And that could be for years to come.
Mr Gates’s national defence strategy is more comprehensive and goes far beyond what his predecessors had attempted. For example, one of the most serious problems a first-class power like the US military faces is how fast they can move forces from one trouble spot to another.
The answer: Swift and lethal forces, equipped with precision-guided weapons, with on the spot intelligence-gathering by a network of satellites, troops that can be air-dropped or parachuted to a battle zone bypassing traditional beachheads. Lighter and faster forces can finish wars in much less time with less collateral damages and fewer civilian casualties, especially when they are networked with computerised communication, Global Positioning System, unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles, and remotely controlled drones that can provide real-time battlefield pictures like a steady eye in the sky.
It worked in Iraq in the beginning when the war was conventional. Swiftness was achieved through optimum cooperation among Special Forces, Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force so that they acted as one blended and cohesive yet flexible force, a strategy which the Pentagon should institutionalise according to Mr Gates. But the military strategy of “shock and awe”, unfortunately, created the grand illusion of quick victory that in fact became a terrible strategic and political burden because American forces were not trained for the unconventional war unleashed by a decentralised networked enemy; nor were they ready for social reconstruction. The US forces could not find the brain of the enemy because its brain was dispersed throughout the network. Much more than a smart military doctrine was needed. The so-called Rumsfeld doctrine of “shock and awe” proved disastrous. The Powell doctrine, which is meant to avoid a Vietnam like imbroglio, is based upon a set of questions that include: Is a most vital US interest at stake that must be protected? Can we commit sufficient resources, an overwhelming force, for example, three-to-one, to win the war? Are our objectives well defined? Can we sustain the commitment, if it is a prolonged one? Will the public and Congress support?
Neither the Rumsfeld doctrine nor the Powell doctrine is applicable to the Afghanistan-Pakistan situation.Nor has it any universal applicability. Major-General Julian Thompson, a visiting professor at King’s College, London, writing in the Observer at the time of Iraq war wondered: “Would the Rumsfeld doctrine work against a first-class enemy?” Would the Rumsfeld or Powell doctrine work if Russia were to re-claim its former Soviet territories, for example?
The Al-Qaida doctrine of asynchronous warfare, the essence of terrorists’ strategy, which is still going on and is breeding in places like Pakistan, has made nonsense of every military doctrine.
The United States needs a new paradigm for dealing with the world.
As Mr Gates says: “Terrorist networks can find sanctuary within the borders of a weak nation and strength within the chaos of social breakdown. A nuclear-armed state could collapse into chaos and criminality. The most likely catastrophic threats to the US homeland ~ for example, that of a US city being poisoned or reduced to rubble by a terrorist attack ~ are more likely to emanate from failing states than from aggressor states.”
The Mumbai terrorist attacks should leave no doubt that Pakistan as a failing state poses as much threat to the US as it does to India. Quoting defence scholars Frank Hoffman and Michael Evans, Mr Gates says that the new defence strategy must take into account “the lethality of state conflict with the fanatical and protracted fervour of irregular warfare,” and “wars... in which Microsoft coexists with machetes and stealth technology is met by suicide bombers”.
That has been India’s tragic experience. While Pakistan’s nuclear threat holds back India from taking defensive-offensive measures, its professionally trained terrorist groups under a cloak of charities and NGOs have been causing havoc.
The ISI-supported Taliban and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan-Pakistan cannot be cowed down to submission by traditional military strategies. The enemy has to be tracked down “hilltop by hilltop, house by house, block by bloody block”, says Mr Gates, for which “the United States needs a military whose ability to kick down the door is matched by its ability to clean up the mess and even rebuild the house afterward.”
While the Pentagon is “re-programmed” to become a force of creative destruction, Mr Gates has not forgotten the much larger threat on the horizon: China’s developing mastery of space and cyberspace, satellite warfare and cyber warfare. Nor should India.
(ND Batra teaches communications at Norwich University)