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