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[The assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti and the threat it poses to Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf is the latest domino to fall along the path of total strategic failure in South and Southwest Asia by the neo-cons. Here FTW’s Military Affairs Editor takes us through the underpinnings that have shaped the certain downfall of the U.S. uni-polar New World Order. – MK]
BALOCHISTAN & THE NEW WORLD ORDER
By Stan Goff
FTW Military/Veterans Affairs Editor
© Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. This story may NOT be posted on any Internet web site without express written permission. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. May be circulated, distributed or transmitted for non-profit purposes only.
September 6th 2006, 1:25pm [PST] - on August 27, an artillery round fired by the Pakistani military found its mark on a cave in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan, bordering both Afghanistan and Iran, and killed an 80-year-old man with a magnificent white beard. His name was Nawab Akbar Bugti, and he was the leader of a popular political movement in Pakistan’s largest geographical province.
Balochistan has only four percent of Pakistan’s population, though it occupies 44% of Pakistan’s land mass. Like its neighbor, Afghanistan, it is populated by religiously conservative ethnic Pashtuns living in extremely rugged and mountainous terrain. Like its neighbor, Iran, it possesses a geologic relic in abundance: fossil fuel, in this case the Sui natural gas field that produces 45% of Pakistan’s supply. It also contains a warm water port -- Gwadar -- only 70 kilometers from the Iranian border.
The killing of Bugti has resulted in a province-wide rebellion in the very region that is now serving as the jumping off point for a resurgent Taliban, dominated by co-ethnic Pashtuns, to retake Afghanistan. This is not happy news for the Bush administration. It may be even more disturbing to the administration’s sycophant ally, Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf.
The deeper significance of this latest blunder-catalyzed rebellion, however, must be sought in a broader, more tendential account of its history.
In 1991, after shattering the vibrant, modern state of Iraq with air power, President George Herbert Walker Bush unabashedly embraced the almost Hitlerian phrase “New World Order” as the mantra of American triumphalism. Yet NWO was merely a place marker, another cheap ruse designed to paper over the fact that the US was pursuing its own most narrow interests and suggesting to the credulous that what is good for America is good for the world.
The Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), was facilitated and encouraged by the United States as a way of bleeding the Iraqis to bleed the Iranians, while the US figured out what it needed to do in the uni-polar, post-Soviet world. While the popular idea is that the US was surprised by the fall of the Soviet Union, it was only the precipitous collapse that was a surprise. Containment had been abandoned in favor of rollback during the Carter administration, when Brzezinski engineered the Afghanistan trap which was the biggest covert operation in history. The advantages of the Soviet Union as a world system stabilizer (bipolarity) were seen as lost after the US defeat in Vietnam.
The national liberation movements in the Global South had been effectively co-opted with legitimating (and completely fraudulent) import substitution strategies as cover for underdeveloped nations’ elites repressing their local populations in exchange for higher rents for their resources and cheap labor. While neither the right nor the left was willing to see it at the time, developmental modernization was running into the physical limits of so-called growth (the fraud within the aforementioned fraud). When the promises of modernization failed to materialize for the peripheries and most of the semi-peripheries, and all that was left in the ruins were alienated masses, whose very spirituality was assaulted in the name of “progress,” co-opted secular nationalism, militarized socialism, and western capitalism were all implicated, and only the latter stood to manage the aftermath.
“Modernization had attacked the spirituality of mass cultures, considering it as part of the traditional constraints on development which needed to be uprooted in the cause of progress,” writes Robert Biel (The New Imperialism - Crisis and Contradictions in North/South Relations, Zed Books, 2000). “Pre-revolutionary Iran was typical of this sort of modernizing model. With its aura of progressive cultural nationalism, which was quite phony and hollow.” (P. 255)
Even as the US was financing military-political Islam to break the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the same contradiction had risen up in their favorite regional client state and precipitated the political crisis that ended the Carter administration. The Reagan administration prioritized uni-polarity by secretly arming the Iranians to finance Reagan’s terror war against Nicaragua, and turning to the Saudis for assistance in breaking the now-doddering Soviet Union.
The Saudis dropped the price of oil -- the Soviet Union’s primary source of development capital -- by flooding the market, at the behest of CIA Director Bill Casey, and Reagan initiated Star Wars as a way of ramping up the cost of an arms race the Soviet Union could no longer afford. Casey, who developed this coup de grace strategy, never had a shade of ambiguity about his intent, or that this was a continuation of American policy that began with the Carter administration.
Uni-polarity is not an invention of the Bush II administration. It has been on the agenda since 1975. But it could not be legitimated by calling it uni-polar American world power. It had to be called, as Bush the Elder did, the New World Order…. after the Soviet Union had collapsed, and the US had given the same World a graphic demonstration -- especially with the post-surrender massacre along the Iraqi “highway of death” on February 26-7, 1991 -- of what the Order might look like in the event of disobedience.
What the US discovered, however, and is still discovering, was that it is not capable of managing uni-polarity. This is a knowledge that cannot be acknowledged, and there is the rub… as they say. Regardless of its attempt to restructure the world system, to establish the New World Order, the uni-polar boss, the US, remained a state in a system where a dominant state can only manage an inter-state system.
The state is dominated above all else by a territorial logic, secondarily by a military logic, and finally by an administrative logic. The economic logic that supports the Northern elite, i.e., American capitalists and their business partners, however, cannot be restrained by territorial boundaries. Capital accumulation restricted to one country, or even one region, eventually experiences its own limits in the forms of overcapacity and the class antagonisms that come to the surface with mass unemployment and dispossession. The accumulation process requires two key inputs that concretely characterize the New World Order: new exploitable peripheries to absorb the crises that politically threaten elites within the core, and energy.
David Harvey, in his book by the same name as Biel’s (The New Imperialism, Oxford University Press, 2003), points out:
What Arrighi refers to as the ‘territorial’ and ‘capitalist’ logics of power are rather different from each other. To begin with, the motivations and interests of agents differ. The capitalist holding money capital will wish to put it wherever profits can be had, and typically seeks to accumulate more capital. Politicians and statesmen typically seek outcomes that sustain or augment the power of their own state vis-à-vis other states. The capitalist seeks individual advantage and (though usually constrained by law) is responsible to no one other than his or her immediate social circle, while the statesman seeks a collective advantage and is constrained by the political and military situation of the state and is in some sense or other responsible to a citizenry, or, more often, an elite group, a class, a kinship structure, or some other social group. The capitalist operates in continuous space and time, whereas the politician operates in a territorialized space and, at least in democracies, in a temporality dictated by an electoral cycle. On the other hand, capitalist firms come and go, shift locations, merge, or go out of business, but states are long-lived entities, cannot migrate, and are, except under exceptional circumstances of geographical conquest, confined within fixed territorial boundaries. (P. 27)
In the US attempt to manage uni-polarity by imposing an inter-state system of administration (political and economic) on the rest of the world, it was faced with a new military and political reality that is confronting the limitations of a state in the face of non-state actors, and the limitations of a state (conventional) military in the face of non-state, yet organized, military actors who are not constrained by territorial logic. The very non-state forces that were used for the rollback of the Soviet Union have proven as impervious to their former sponsors as they were to their former enemies.
September 11th proved something to us, but we were so fixated on the images and our own visceral reactions that we largely failed to grasp what had been proven. The developed world, the metropolitan core countries, and especially the uni-polar lead actor, the United States, is now territorially trapped, not only in tall buildings (the targets of 9-11 were not designed to inflict the maximum casualties, but for their strategic and symbolic value); we live adjacent to thousands of nuclear, chemical, and biohazardous facilities that cannot be militarily secured and that are essential for continued capital accumulation -- each and every one of them, in the words of Gordon Thompson, a pre-deployed weapon of mass destruction waiting to be activated by an enemy. Moreover, we are utterly dependent on an infrastructure of vulnerable electricity grids and a long-distance economy entirely built around personal automobiles that require uninterrupted and massive inputs of oil. The territorial logic of the US state sits atop this territorial reality at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Somalia had already shown the United States that “[I]f the problem of social dislocation takes a military expression, it may give the impression that it would be solved by military intervention, but practice has shown that this is not the case.” (Biel, p. 259) This is not merely the case for the core, put for peripheral client states as well. Now the United States has failed in its attempt to impose a client state where a recalcitrant state was summarily shattered by military force, and it is facing a world historic military-political defeat in Iraq, even as it finds it almost impossible, politically, to extricate itself.
We may be witnessing an epoch that will be seen by future historians as the obsolescence of the uni-polar dominant state in the capitalist world system even as it is born. The rebellion in Balochistan is symptomatic of this phenomenon, and at the same time territorially within the vortex of this strategic crisis for the United States.
“The chickens,” as Malcolm X once said, “are coming home to roost.”
Musharraf has lived in political purgatory ever since 9-11. On the one hand, Pakistan has a substantial population of Pashtuns who are sympathetic to the Taliban who remain hostile to Musharraf for his acquiescence to the US. His own security and intelligence apparatuses are full of political Islamists, and the two attempts on his life in December, 2003 were almost certainly inside jobs, or his locations during each would not have been known. The attack that killed Bugti, speculates Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief, was intentionally committed by members of the Army, against orders, with the goal of destabilizing Musharraf.
Already, a state of virtual martial law has been imposed, as protests have spread to Karachi. The American FBI, that was operating in Balochistan, has been effectively neutralized, and there are suggestions that well-armed Balochi nationalists will soon be assisting in a fresh Taliban offensive against NATO occupation forces.
The old regionally coherent order in South and Southwest Asia, strategically essential to the inter-state system as a whole, is in jeopardy. Welcome to the New World Order.