Liberation Does Not Equal Freedom
By David Dienstag
WASHINGTON After attending one more Congressional hearing, listening to one more bellyful of dissembling "narrative", Jezail is switching gears. We are fed up and rethinking a great many things. Apparently Fox fired Judge Napolitano for this. They can only fire those who work for them, thank God. But Judge Napolitano is what it sounds like when you listen to Occupy demonstrators instead of listening to news anchors talk about the world. Fancy thatconservatives and lefties sounding the same.
Certainly, Jezail will advocate NO WAR of any kind, not even UW, (unconventional warfare), which we have advocated as a neglected tool of foreign policy for decades. We have decided that handing the right tool to the wrong people is idiotic. When you still have diplomats and academicians roaming the halls of Congress and claiming that Pakistan is an ally and that we need to fork over more billions to Islamabad to further corrupt their political system, you are making a mistake. When you buy into the House Speaker's assertion that there is progress in Afghanistan, you are a dupe. When the senior generals say that we are "winning" but all the rest of the soldiers say the opposite, it's time to re-evaluate things. That is where we are. You don't hand out loaded, effective policy weapons to corrupt policy makers and expect a good outcome. As soon as UW gains momentum as a viable policy option in Washington, our leaders will turn it into something nefarious. This is Washington. The game IS rigged; the dice ARE loaded for the people in power only. Putting a powerful weapon like UW in the hands of people who daily lie to America, rob from, and sacrifice our children is a terrible mistake.
Jezail always believed in freedom; we still do. Some of us at Jezail have had the privilege of helping to provide freedom by helping to liberate Afghanistan the from Soviets. The strategy that was employed in Afghanistan was an imperfect form of UW against an occupying army, sourced from an easily recognized external country. UW is the support, care and feeding of an indigenous, free-standing, freedom and resistance movement to liberate their own country, but from who? For a time we thought we had a model to provide America to reposition itself with the developing world in a positive way by liberating them from their oppressors. At Jezail, much energy was devoted to advocating the UW model of delivering freedom and identifying places where it might take hold abroad. For decades, the crime of advocating UW has left us ignored, slandered, or slimed by the Washington military and foreign policy establishment.
As an instrument of foreign policy, UW was fought against tooth and nail by a Washington establishment that will fight any change that means that they have to work outside of an army of security goons or even past the range of their air conditioning. If lucrative contracts for lobbying and weapons manufacturing have no place in a policy proposal, it is likely to die in Washington. We've known that and have had our noses rubbed in it for some 25 years. Now the window of time for UW has closed. Unfortunately, even as the White House announces an early exit from Afghanistan, UW is gaining acceptability in Washington. It's awful historical timing and Jezail is reversing itself as a former advocate of UW.
So what has changed?
Arab Spring has changed all that. It was the moment for genuine freedom and resistance movements to speak up. Bin Laden is dead and a policy of funding and supporting Pakistan is finally revealed to many more Americans as an enormous lie. The Muslim world has signaled that they have their own way of civil disobedience as a counter model to the violence of Al Qaeda that is very effective and that they have more important priorities than hating Americans, (which many Muslims do but it is not why they wake up in the morning). Arab Spring is about throwing off indigenous dictators, not defeating foreign occupation armies. At the same time, Americans are increasingly realizing that our foreign wars directly result in less freedom at home and open assaults on our privacy in the name of "national security". They are also painfully aware that they will have to pay for these wars and that "mission creep" is real.
With the death of Bin Laden, fear-mongering about Deobandi terrorism loses a lot of credibility and traction. From the minute that concern about Bin Ladenism appeared in America, our response has been to develop new weapons and intrusive information systems, from drones to the "Patriot" Act. that generate contracts in Washington but do nothing to provide increased security for Americans. Far less money has been spent training Americans to speak any of the languages in the regions where we are daily killing people. What does that say about our real intentions? When nations are fighting wars that have as significant a political dimension as South Asia and the Muslim world, a public diplomacy language barrier is an enormous hole in any ability to be effective. But that is how it is.
Arab Spring has certainly not been without violence. But it has largely been a lopsided affair with people in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere still holding open, peaceful demonstrations in the face of ever mounting and horrifying violence. Their main weapon is no longer the Kalashnikov. They use communications: internet, cell phones and camcorders. Americans cannot understand or join in that conversation because we don't know what they are saying. A much larger percent of people in the Muslim world, by contrast, speak English.
For a decade, American soldiers have been fighting a doomed COIN strategy against various arms of the ISI and our own diplomats have covered for and continue to cover for the ISI. Al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and now the LeT have all been proven to be largely creations and instruments of the ISI. These movements have been killing American service people for a decade, and our own State Department has been denying this and back pedaling, spinning, and lying about it for longer than most Americans realize. Finally, Americans are beginning to ask questions. Finally, many people in the military are as well.
Jezail had, for years, advocated for the reintroduction of the original concepts of supporting freedom and liberation movements with the Unconventional Warfare (UW) doctrine. Its effectiveness has been proven and even improved in isolated operations. Unfortunately, as soon as the smoke of battle clears, policy becomes dictated by the appetites of U.S. bureaucracies, politicians and their patrons. It's an old game that doesn't seem to have an end date.
When, in 2001, the U.S. attacked Afghanistan, a very few American soldiers were able to organize and effectively lead a much battered resistance to victory and liberation against the Taliban. It was a stunning military and political victory, if marred by a significant war crime at Dasht-i-Leili. It achieved victory with very little cost to the American people. It used off-the-shelf technologies and supplies. Jezail never advocated attacking Afghanistan. But we did derive some satisfaction in seeing indigenous people take back their country from the Taliban and their Pakistani masters. It was, for us at Jezail, a real vindication of UW concepts. Ditto for Libya in some ways. But the aftermath has been a profound disappointment. The aftermath is the really hard part. It's not our responsibility, but once a victorious objective has been achieved, chaos ensues because each victory for "liberation" may or may not liberate a people from this or that dictator, but the victory only solves one layer of strife in a society. The Egyptians bravely shook off Mubarak. Now they have the Army and each other to deal with. Libya is a fragile, violent anarchy that could explode into sectarian strife. When we finally leave Afghanistan, no one predicts peace.
All the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put Egypt, Afghanistan, or Libya together again. That is for them to decide and the last ten years of wallowing around in Afghanistan have proved it. Jezail disavows the next UW movement in the military because we smell a rat. It is motivated by profit and career ambition. These "freedom" movements are old. They are not run by young volunteers; they are run by people on salaries, paying pricey school loans, who have career ambitions to more of the same on fatter salaries. Right there, ideals take a back seat to expediency. The new UW movement is gaining momentum in the Pentagon because it is the one of the few games left to them.
Additionally, we have been reminded by Arab Spring as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, that regime removal only puts the subject country or region at a new and unpredictable place. Very often, it lifts the lid for sectarian violence and downright meltdown like Mogadishu, Beirut, or Afghanistan. The resulting messy vacuum only tends to suck us back in with a police action or nation building and there we go again... Even if that doesn't happen, all one has to do is to look at how flummoxed and conflicted our own Department of State has been to the Egyptian revolution to realize that they are isolated and incompetent. They put themselves there by rapaciously sucking up to Mubarak. There is no room at Foggy Bottom for
imaginative position papers, and they don't game out strategies very
well either. Plenty of other people saw the Egyptian revolution
coming. It was commonly regarded as inevitable. Only our diplomats
could maintain deliberate blindness for decades and not even dare
think of a world without Mubarak. Only the stewards of our foreign
policy could have delivered America to the place it finds itself now.
Now imagine how these same diplomats would perform if they were to be
faced with the mission of conducting a "friendly" or supportive
policy toward a successful freedom movement in, say, Balochistan.
(After spending 30 years as house pets for the Pakistani Army and the
ISI, the result might be hilarious.) You don't have to look far to
see what that would look like: Egypt. Now imagine that this UW
success repeats itself in many places in the Muslim world that are in
freedom fights. That's a lot of gasoline to throw matches at and hope
that our foreign policy machinery will be able to manage.
Think the scenario of multiple UW involvements is remote? Imagine if
K Street figured out how to make money off of it by accepting
payments tied to natural resources or energy and mineral extraction.
That is what one Baluchi organization offered for services in
Washington. That could definitely result in some impressive policy
momentum. Are you scared yet? We are.