US military policy in the year's ahead?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by hapaboy, Mar 4, 2003.

  1. Looking forward to comments on this essay.


    LET ME TELL YOU why military engagement with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad is not only necessary and inevitable, but good.

    When the United States finally goes to war again in the Persian Gulf, it will not constitute a settling of old scores, or just an enforced disarmament of illegal weapons, or a distraction in the war on terror. Our next war in the Gulf will mark a historical tipping point—the moment when Washington takes real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization.

    That is why the public debate about this war has been so important: It forces Americans to come to terms with I believe is the new security paradigm that shapes this age, namely, Disconnectedness defines danger. Saddam Hussein’s outlaw regime is dangerously disconnected from the globalizing world, from its rule sets, its norms, and all the ties that bind countries together in mutually assured dependence.

    The problem with most discussion of globalization is that too many experts treat it as a binary outcome: Either it is great and sweeping the planet, or it is horrid and failing humanity everywhere. Neither view really works, because globalization as a historical process is simply too big and too complex for such summary judgments. Instead, this new world must be defined by where globalization has truly taken root and where it has not.

    Show me where globalization is thick with network connectivity, financial transactions, liberal media flows, and collective security, and I will show you regions featuring stable governments, rising standards of living, and more deaths by suicide than murder. These parts of the world I call the Functioning Core, or Core. But show me where globalization is thinning or just plain absent, and I will show you regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty and disease, routine mass murder, and—most important—the chronic conflicts that incubate the next generation of global terrorists. These parts of the world I call the Non-Integrating Gap, or Gap.

    Globalization’s “ozone hole” may have been out of sight and out of mind prior to September 11, 2001, but it has been hard to miss ever since. And measuring the reach of globalization is not an academic exercise to an eighteen-year-old marine sinking tent poles on its far side. So where do we schedule the U.S. military’s next round of away games? The pattern that has emerged since the end of the cold war suggests a simple answer: in the Gap.

    The reason I support going to war in Iraq is not simply that Saddam is a cutthroat Stalinist willing to kill anyone to stay in power, nor because that regime has clearly supported terrorist networks over the years. The real reason I support a war like this is that the resulting long-term military commitment will finally force America to deal with the entire Gap as a strategic threat environment.

    FOR MOST COUNTRIES, accommodating the emerging global rule set of democracy, transparency, and free trade is no mean feat, which is something most Americans find hard to understand. We tend to forget just how hard it has been to keep the United States together all these years, harmonizing our own, competing internal rule sets along the way—through a Civil War, a Great Depression, and the long struggles for racial and sexual equality that continue to this day. As far as most states are concerned, we are quite unrealistic in our expectation that they should adapt themselves quickly to globalization’s very American-looking rule set.

    But you have to be careful with that Darwinian pessimism, because it is a short jump from apologizing for globalization-as-forced-Americanization to insinuating—along racial or civilization lines—that “those people will simply never be like us.” Just ten years ago, most experts were willing to write off poor Russia, declaring Slavs, in effect, genetically unfit for democracy and capitalism. Similar arguments resonated in most China-bashing during the 1990’s, and you hear them today in the debates about the feasibility of imposing democracy on a post-Saddam Iraq—a sort of Muslims-are-from-Mars argument.

    ...If you take this message from Osama and combine it with our military-intervention record of the last decade, a simple security rule set emerges: A country’s potential to warrant a U.S. military response is inversely related to its globalization connectivity. There is a good reason why Al Qaeda was based first in Sudan and then later in Afghanistan: These are two of the most disconnected countries in the world. Look at the other places U.S. Special Operations Forces have recently zeroed in on: northwestern Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen. We are talking about the ends of the earth as far as globalization is concerned.

    But just as important as “getting them where they live” is stopping the ability of these terrorist networks to access the Core via the “seam states” that lie along the Gap’s bloody boundaries. It is along this seam that the Core will seek to suppress bad things coming out of the Gap. Which are some of these classic seam states? Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia come readily to mind. But the U.S. will not be the only Core state working this issue. For example, Russia has its own war on terrorism in the Caucasus, China is working its western border with more vigor, and Australia was recently energized (or was it cowed?) by the Bali bombing.
  2. Along with the above, this other piece on somewhat the same subject has gotten some attention in the blogosphere. Thought you might find it interesting.

    I don't think the perspective contradicts the above at all:

    American might is sailing away from Europe
    By William Richard Smyser
    Published: March 2 2003 20:07 | Last Updated: March 2 2003 20:07