US vs Islamic Militants: Invisible Balance of Power
by Sajjad Shaukat – Ferozsons (Pvt) Ltd 2005
Invisible Balance of Power begins with a review of western military history as it relates to Balance of Power theory. The latter is based on the premise that in the absence of an international body capable of enforcing international law, “balance of power” between dominant nations is the only force capable of containing wanton military aggressors with “excessive” economic and political power. Shaukat lays out the novel theory that the rise of stateless terrorist groups has created an “invisible balance of power,” which performs the same function in curbing US state terrorism as the Soviet Union did prior to its collapse.
Shaukat begins by tracing historical balance of power relationships starting with the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece, through the rise of European nation states and their complex alliances finally the Cold War balance of power between the US and the Soviet Union. During the 1945-90 Cold War period, the threat of Mutually Assured (nuclear) Destruction was responsible for a lengthy war-free period in the developed world.
Wanton State Terrorism By the US
According to Shaukat, ever since the demise of the Soviet Union, the US has felt free to blatantly and repeatedly violate international law. Among other examples, he cites
- The 1998 air strikes against Sudan and Afghanistan, condemned by Iran and China and their allies as a violation of international law.
- The 1999 air strikes against Serbia, condemned by Russia and China and their allies as “terrorism” and a violation of international law.
- The 2003 invasion of Iraq, condemned by UN Secretary General Kofi Anan as a violation of international law.
US Military Failures in Iraq and Afghanistan
Shaukat also argues that since 2003, the threat of “group terrorism” has replaced the USSR in providing a clear check on US military ambitions. As examples, he points to the US failure to achieve their objective of turning Iraq and Afghanistan into economic colonies to improve strategic access to Middle East and Central Asian oil and gas resources.
Suicide Bombings as a Rational Response to Genuine Grievance
Shaukat also disputes propaganda efforts by Western leaders to portray suicide bombers as psychologically deranged and/or jealous of western democracy and culture. In the absence of an international body strong enough to prevent the US from victimizing weak nations, he feels they are a totally rational Third World response to US state terrorism.
Suicide bombings are always a direct response to genuine grievances, usually state terrorism in the form of massive civilian casualties, shelling, random checkpoint shootings or unlawful detention and torture of innocent civilians.
Shaukat coins the term “coercive diplomacy” to describe the role this orchestrated violence plays in imposing free markets, privatization and denationalization on Third World countries).
The Concept of Moral Force
He goes on to to point out the wide support Islamic militants in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and Kashmir receive from Muslim intellectuals in the Middle East with direct experience of US “state terrorism” and “coercive diplomacy. Many of these supporters view the jihad launched by Islamic militants as a “just war,” aimed at correcting a massive injustice.
Future Dangers and Potential Solutions
Shaukat devotes a full chapter to the potential dangers the world faces from a continuation of the “invisible balance of power.” Chief among them is the real risk Islamic terrorists will access and deploy nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
I found his final chapter “Lessons for the US” the most valuable, as it proposes specific solutions for ending the highly dangerous “invisible balance of power”:
- Foreign policy needs to be based on the collective interest of humanity. There will never be economic justice in a world run by Wall Street bankers.
- The UN needs to be reformed to give it real power to enforce international law. The weak nations represented by the General Assembly must be given equal power as the Security Council, which is dominated by the countries with the greatest economic and military power.
- Secret diplomacy must end. Diplomacy must be transparent and open to public scrutiny.
- The US needs to end its current policy of “encircling” (economically and militarily) the emerging superpower China. US support of India in this exercise greatly increases the probability of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan.
- The US needs to return to incremental diplomacy and political solutions, instead of supporting state terrorism in Palestine and Kashmir – both major breeding grounds for the Islamic militants.
- The US needs to respect the traditions and values of Arab states and allow their democracies to develop from below.
- The US needs to reduce the debt burden of Third World nations, as poverty and hunger breed terrorism and remain the central obstacle to global security.
- The US must recognize that less developed nations need economic democracy prior to political democracy. Using economic aid (as well as sanctions and freezing of assets) to dictate political reform is counterproductive. It hurts ordinary people more than their leaders and only further enables terrorist recruitment.
- The US needs to give up their anti-Muslim policies, which are a major recruiting tool for terrorists.
- The US must stop using economic aid (as well as sanctions and the freezing of assets) to control political reform – this type of “coercive diplomacy” always hurts ordinary people more than their leaders – and thus further enables terrorist recruitment.
- The US needs to lead a genuine global arms reduction effort to reduce the likelihood of war.
Sajjad Shaukat is a Pakistani writer with a master’s degree from Punjab University in journalism, English and international relations. His book can be purchased for $9.09 at emarkaz.com
The only thing the U.S. seems capable of doing is creating more so-called, terrorists. How can we not have learned that our policies are the catalyst for the creation of ‘terror groups’ that are fighting back against western encroachment and domination. And I don’t blame them for fighting back. It is what I would do.
The people of the Middle East should not have to put up with our brand of ‘democracy’ being shoved down their throats whether they like it or not. How would we feel if this was happening to us? But, we don’t have to worry about that since we’re a ‘super power’, indestructible, invincible or so we believe.
Shelby, your comment forces me to reflect that US state terrorism is directed against its own citizens, especially those who are poor or have dark skin. In the criminal justice system, our militarized police force, the barbarous death penalty and wholesale incarceration is clearly directed at poor and minority communities who rarely have the financial means to defend themselves in court.
You are right It is and has been this way since the founding of this nation. However, we are controlled via hypnotized by bright shiny objects, turned into zombies by the pill mills or incarcerated for minor offenses or rendered homeless, jobless and therefore, hopeless. We’ve been successfully dealt with and it didn’t take much effort.
If anyone is surprised by the mess in Iraq, I don’t know where the hell they’ve been. We all should have seen that coming. What was the greater evil, the U.S. invasion or Saddam Hussein?
We have seen clearly how the global elite accumulate and discard allies at will. Yesterday’s friends with benefits…Mujahedin, Gaddafi, Saddam, OBL…are today’s mortal enemies. Ideologies are also fluid as Islam plays the role of modern day scapegoat that Judaism occupied in fascist Germany. I think it’s important to keep in mind that the elite are no respecters of borders, ideologies or ethnicities. This includes the U.S. which will be discarded by the elite once it’s no longer useful in it’s role as the enforcer for the elite’s will. Solidarity must therefore be global in nature. Good article you’ve shared, as always.
Fluid ideologies? According to Michel Chossuduvsky, the US is currently backing both sides in Iraq: http://libya360.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/the-destruction-and-political-fragmentation-of-iraq/
Great perspective ,the word in dire need to consider.60% of world’s population need to be educated ,trained and supplied with what it takes to move to the 21st.century.Thank you for following my blog.Best regards.JMS
Good point about the need to educate the global population. The issue, I think, is figuring out the best way to do that.
Terrorism: Reality of Invisible Balance of Power
In his book, first published in 2005, Sajjad Shaukat has taken present ‘different war’ as an interaction of ‘state terrorism’ led by the United States and the ‘group terrorism’ by the Al Qaeda or Islamic militants. It is notable that a number of authors have written books about the 9/11 tragedy, but ground realities developed in accordance with the book. After seeing the main title, some people think that the book is against the US or its western allies, but without any prejudice, he has discussed both the sovereign and non-sovereign entities on parallel lines in this research-based book. On the one hand, he has pointed out Al Qaeda’s ambush attacks, targeted killings, beheadings etc., while on the other, he has mentioned special operations by the US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and CIA-tortures cells in various small countries. In this regard, missile strikes by the drones on Pakistan’s tribal areas and elsewhere amounts to state terrorism, which are being responded by the internal backlash…suicide attacks and hostage-takings by the Muslim radicals. Shaukat has proved that both the warring parties kill innocent civilians through ruthless terror.
Giving references of the power-theorists like Machiavelli, Hobbes, Morgentahu, Kissinger etc., Shaukat has written that power factor or use of force has failed in this different war which took origin from the privileged and unprivileged status quo led by the most developed states and the less developed countries respectively.
Shaukat has introduced new ideas about the issues relating to the Islamic ideology, Jihad, Western World, liberalism, power diplomacy on the Third World by the US-led major countries, globalization, harsh conditions by the IMF and World Bank, causes of suicide attacks etc.
Particularly, future observations of the author like a prolonged war, failure of military paradigm by the state actors in coping with the non-state actors, increase in US cost of war, rise of more terrorism, unsuccessful mission of NATO in Afghanistan, plane plot in UK, the defeat of Israel in 2006 war by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, international financial crisis, warlike situation between America and Iran, Syria and Israel including other developments like Israeli attacks on Palestinians, similar forms of state terrorism in the Indian-held Kashmir, occupation of Iraq’s areas by the Jihadists-ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) have proved correct.
Indicating the failure of coercive diplomacy, the author has also predicted that that in case of a protracted war with the insurgents, the US bargaining leverage would reduce on small countries. It happens so, as North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Turkey have rejected American undue pressure on a number of issues and matters. Besides, Russia and China have stood together to cope with the US-dominated world order, and now, strongly favour a multi-polar world. America’s decision not to attack Syria in 2013 due to Moscow’s stand, and Russian control of Crimea might be cited as example.
Shaukat also gave positive suggestions to the US, but President Obama did not act upon them. Therefore war on terror has resulted into more implications as already mentioned by the author. For example, he elaborated that Al Qaeda fighters have been creating economic instability in the world through their subversive acts, giving a blow to the larger economies of the US and the developed nations.
The book emphasized the solution of key disputes like Kashmir and Palestine which remains breeding grounds of terrorism. He also suggested that realism (power factor) must be reconciled with idealism, which is essential for world peace and geo-political interests of the US-led developed countries and those of the small countries by reforming the system of the UN. Shaukat warns that otherwise, “Invisible Balance of Power” will culminate into “calash of civilizations.”
It is due to the present scenario of war against terrorism—which already pointed out by the author that the publisher reprinted the book after nine years.
Thank you for your comment, Ahmed. The book gives a wealth of examples to justify Shaukat’s theories. And you’re right. They certainly hold true in 2014 as much as they did in 2005.
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