Geopolitical notes from India
M D Nalapat
IF the humbling of the European country of Serbia through bombing raids be excluded, NATO has not won a single war since its inception, and has indeed lost every conflict it has entered into, especially since 1999. Of course, perusing books by trans-Atlantic “scholars” or television channels from that and affiliated zones, this fact gets obscured by coverage that is misleading and mendacious. Channels taking their cue from government sources, such as CNN or BBC, lead in giving viewers only what the chancelleries of the countries they are based in want them to see. They have, in effect, become an external publicity cell of the State Department in the US or the Foreign Office in the UK, although the fiction that these countries have a free press is mentioned by them and by their admirers repeatedly when comparing such media to those in the target countries of NATO.
If media in Russia is overwhelmingly on the side of Basher Assad in the Syrian war, to take an example, the media in the US or the UK has been overwhelmingly mobilised in favour of the “moderate fighters” battling Assad, almost all of whom are Wahabi and share that sect’s distaste for European civilisation, although for tactical reasons, such an opinion is being kept hidden from view while the flow of assistance from NATO and its regional partners in the Middle East continues. In early 2011, this columnist warned that the fighters challenging Muammar Qaddafi in Libya were Wahabi ultras. This view was based on an analysis of the literature and speeches of some of the leaders of the NATO-backed revolt. Almost entirely, such tracts were filled with bile against Qaddafi but the reasons given for the same were not the absence of democracy in Libya or Qaddafi ‘s verbal sallies against US and its European allies.
The reasons these “moderate freedom fighters” of Libya gave for their antipathy to Qaddafi was the latter’s refusal to convert Libya into a Wahabized State by blocking the education of women and making what they defined as religious law the basis of the jurisprudence of the State, stoning and amputation included. Many of the tracts used violent language to describe not only the regime in Tripoli but the trans-Atlantic partners as well. Clearly, neither the many speeches nor the pamphlets the “moderate freedom fighters” penned were taken seriously by NATO, else it would have been obvious what the future of Libya under the control of Wahabi militia would be. These fighters have defeated NATO by ensuring that the country over which they have near-total control has become an incubator for Daesh and a funnel through which hundreds of thousands seek entry into Europe. After the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1919, the 2011 “Arab Spring” gave NATO the illusion that the alliance could once again establish control over the Arab “street” through its control of social media platforms.
A telephone call to Palo Alto or to Seattle ensures that web filters get redone so as to generate kind of news and (mis)information that NATO regards as helpful to its objectives. There was recently a mock fight between Apple and US authorities about access to a phone belonging to a terrorist. A flood of media reports appeared that claimed that the US corporation was defying even the FBI “in order to protect privacy of owner” of each of handheld phones marketed by that company. Intention behind this imaginary fight was to ensure that buyers of such phones believed that Apple would protect their privacy. The reality is that each transaction on such instruments is open to scrutiny by US authorities, as indeed are transactions on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Hotmail, Yahoo and other platforms based within NATO alliance. Of course, platforms based in China have an even greater transparency to local authorities, as do others based in Russia.
What is noteworthy is that the NATO powers claim that their practices are different, when in reality only their “message spin” is. The Chinese or the Russians do not bother to conceal their access to modern methods of social interface and communications the way NATO does, even while it ensures the exile of an Edward Snowden or a Julian Assange, neither of whom would have become a fugitive had the US and Australia enforced the principle of freedom of speech.
Given the anger within intelligence agencies in the US about the way in which Bill and Hillary Clinton have traded access to decisions for cash, it would not be surprising if it were discovered that Wikileaks indirectly got its evidence against Hillary Clinton from intelligence agencies much closer to home than Russia’s Federal Security Bureau. Given the anti-Trump bias of the US media, it was not surprising that much of the media commentary about the episode concerned the origin of the documents rather than the truths they revealed about a campaign fixated on no other ideal than power. Those who were heartened by Donald Trump’s following the example of Churchill and Roosevelt in focussing on the prime threat rather than dissipating energies in subsequent conflicts were taken aback when General Flynn, who is billed as his closest national security advisor, made remarks about Turkey that ignore the reality of the situation in that country.
Some of Flynn’s paid consultancies influenced this lack of realism about a country where Daesh has been mutating, thereby diverting him from the steely realism of Candidate (now President-elect) Trump. It is a disgrace that Mosul and Raqqa have yet to be captured by NATO forces, a setback explainable only by the way in which that alliance is hitting at Daesh with one arm and nourishing its warriors with the other, of course under a different label. The problem with NATO is that the alliance lacks a single focus but is instead driven by a cluster of agendas, some mutually exclusive.
The consequence is a mishmash of policy, the exact nature of which depends on which faction within the alliance has the advantage over the others at that particular time. They are seeking to fight Daesh by committee, not the best way to wage a war. President Abraham Lincoln prolonged the US civil war by at least a year because of his refusal to replace incompetent commanders in time and to enforce clear priorities rather than seek to mediate between rivals. And it is on the issue on which he was resolute, the Emancipation Proclamation, that he has earned a place of honour in human history. Unfortunately for the war on potentially the most destructive terror force in the world, NATO is showing in its battle with the scourge the same vacillation and misreading of ground realities that it has demonstrated in past conflicts, all of which it has in effect lost.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.