“War in its literal meaning, wrote Clausewitz, is fighting… The necessity of fighting, very soon lead men to special inventions to turn the advantage in their own favour: in consequence of those the mode of fighting has undergone great alterations; but in whatever way it is conducted its conception remains unaltered, and fighting has determined everything appertaining to arms and equipment, and those in turn modify mode of fighting, there is, therefore, a reciprocity of action between the two.” (On War, Carl Von Clausewitz (English Translation, 1908), Vol. I, pp. 84-85).
This ‘reciprocity of action between the two’ continued whether the area of influence was regional rather than global. Alexander the great sought to conquer the world, but his world was a small one. The Roman legion swept across Europe and parts of Asia and Africa, but there was more to the world than the lands where the mandate of Rome prevailed. Charlemagne, held sway over Europe, but the political Europe of his days did not extend very Far East. Ghengis Khan’s hordes galloped across Asia and parts of Europe, but their conquests were of no lasting consequence to the world at large. Napolean, dreamt of a world order that met its doom in the ashes of Moscow. Hitler was moved by similar ambition, but he too was driven back from the gates of Moscow. From Alexander to Hitler, many a conqueror set out to subjugate the world but failed. After the Second World War, the conflict of interests between Allied Powers and Soviet Russia became apparent. The authority of the old imperialist powers like Britain, France, and Netherlands had diminished to such an extent that they were soon forced to relinquish their overseas empire. Into this void stepped the only two powers, which had emerged strong and victorious out of the Second World War. The aforementioned, ‘reciprocity of action between the two’, continues to date. Therefore, America should take a look back on the history, to learn some lessons for its own good, instead of getting itself overly hubristic.
Lust for power has been the bane of mankind at least from Neolithic times. Desire for power is closely tied to economic issues. Disputes over possession of earth riches and resources have always been primary reasons for wars. For nearly fifty years, the East and the West held conflicts in check by dividing the world’s resources between them. With the end of the Cold War, this expedient lost its validity.
Once again the policies of ‘Divide and Rule’, ‘Unite and Rule’, ‘Stick and Carrot’, and the ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’ are all at a time, as per need, being very effectively applied by the US, across the globe. The driving force for doing so by America remains the monopoly of the world’s oil, riches and resources like ever before.
Although, the planet today seems awash with internal and external conflicts, only two principle type of international dangers seem to be threatening the security concerns of America: (a) attempts by one or more powers to seize vital industrial commodities like oil, and (b) attempts by some powers to gain hegemony or dominance in Eurasia, or in part of it. In fact, America is engaged in a real good deal in exploring the planetary resources as well. For the purpose, America must keep another power from building a great Navy, because control of seas is important to American security (just like occupation of others territories is so very important to ensure security of Israel and India!). Russia, Germany, Britain, France, and Japan do not pose any danger to US, but the US itself intends to pose a danger to others by seizing important resources of oil in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. And elsewhere in the CAS and South East Asia. Yet America cannot rely on its military superiority for long. Every question has an answer; because the necessity of fighting very soon led men to special inventions to turn the advantage in it in their favour! That’s why one says that the civilizations have been repetitive and cyclic. Given this fact of history and considering the presence of devastating enemy everywhere, America should avoid being excessively over confident. Other countries have evolved an equally befitting strategy keeping in view the US potential. They can achieve their goals for encountering the US expansionism by fighting the US forces indirectly, moving away from its military strength and avoiding large concentrations of own weapons and men, which can be located by the US in no time and destroyed, otherwise. No one would like to suffer the fate of Saddam who massed his army in and around Kuwait in 1991.
Whereas, during the last decade, major conventional wars between major states have been few and far between, wars against or between organizations other than states have proliferated and are proliferating. Besides, quite a few countries from Indonesia to SAARC, the CAS, and Middle East remain, at the brink of civil war. All this, in addition to occasional outbreaks of terrorism that cannot be identified with any country. Some wars after 1991 could be described as terrorism, others as guerilla, others as struggles for freedom according to UNSC resolutions, and others still as genocide pure and simple. But they do not touch the bottom line. The bottom consists of the fact that, unlike conventional wars, the conflicts in question were NOT Trinitarian, as Clausewitz notes. (Carl Von Clausewitz, on war (Princeton University Press, 1976, p.89).
The history is witnessing a major shift from Trinitarian to non-Trinitarian war, and the prediction seems to have fulfilled itself and is still fulfilling itself on an almost daily basis. Transformation of warfare, can clearly be discerned again, on an almost daily basis. Numerous new concepts have appeared out of nowhere. These are named as Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA ), the system of systems, population war, environmental war, non-lethal war, gray area war, informal war, information war (strategic and tactical), netwar, cyberwar, mediawar, neocortical war and postmodern war.
As their names suggest, most of the new forms of war either seek to come to terms with unprecedented rapid developments that are taking place in the field of computers and data processing or else to take advantage of those developments. The talk of information itself is being used as a weapon either by ourselves or by our adversaries. The former course is usually known as information warfare and may indeed have revolutionary potential. Information war, is not just to be used in order to direct other weapons but as a weapon in itself. Some commentators have painted a gruesome scenario, as faulty Chips Cause passenger aircraft to fall out of the sky, ATM machines start spewing out money indiscriminately, and telephone networks are either shut down or start misdirecting calls at random. (see, for example, R.G Molander and others, Strategic Information Warfare (Santa Monica RAND, 1996, pp. xiii, 6-9). Others believe that stock markets could be made to crash or else that the electricity supplies of entire countries could be cut off for long periods of time; perhaps leading to death of millions as the economies in question come to a grinding halt. The Command Posts being the Centres of Gravity will be most vulnerable, hence the far more need for their security.
Should the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) begin to evolve and fructify even in limited way, it will provide the USA with an unmatched interventionist capacity, which no other power or consortia of powers will be able to match in a symmetric response. US dominance over Asia will, therefore, stay for several years if not decades, because of its substantial investments, strong economic linkages and significant military presence in the continent, on land, in seas or spaces.
These issues that will impact on US policy in the Asian region’s security balance in future: continuation of US military presence in Asia, dealing with China’s military build-up against Taiwan; and confronting South East Asian stability. The US will prefer “engagement” as its basic policy towards Iraq, Middle East, China, Vietnam, Korea, and Spratly Islands.
The US is too far ahead in the information technology. Info Tech has tremendous impact on the social, political, religious, and geo-political stability of the world. Overwhelming superiority in IT can provide the US with almost instantaneous detection of targets, location and targeting, in any part of the globe, under water, on surface or in space. A different type of Cold War, on the strength of Information Weapons (IW) has emerged, hence, it is essential for countries like China, India, and Pakistan, and those of the Middle East to prepare themselves with a coordinated effort, for such an eventuality. Since America seeks the total manipulation of world oil, raw materials, and riches, entirely for itself to become an unquestioned global power for long, the EU and Japan will be quite willing to cooperate with the Asians or the Third World, to evolve a useful plan to offset the US advantages. The Challenge and Response process must as usual evoke the urge for producing the remedial inventions to counter the overwhelming superiority of the US and its proxies. Eurasia must rise to the occasion before long.