New Colonialism and the Colonial Media

The seven Middle East wars of the last two decades mark a new colonial era, driven by a failing empire. But colonization is banned these days, so an ideological cover is needed, and with today’s highly literate populations that cover is provided by an embedded colonial media, backed up by a well-paid NGO sector.

This colonial media is required to recycle the new colonial myths, that vicious predatory invasions are ‘humanitarian interventions’, that terrorist proxy wars are ‘civil wars’ led by peaceful protestors, and that the independent target nations are simply illegitimate ‘regimes’ led by evil ‘dictators’.

That is why we see the durable, if hardly plausible, stories of Palestinian resistance to ethnic cleansing as ‘terrorism’; the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan as a war for the ‘rights of women’ (thank you George W. Bush and Amnesty International) and the repeated ‘false flag’ chemical weapons stunts in Syria (simply pretexts for further intervention), as the actions of a monster president who is (for some unexplained reason) ‘killing his own people’.

The colonial media could be characterized as an embedded state and corporate media sector, which seeks to normalize imperial war and sustain the myths of colonial interventions (in face of substantial reason and evidence) while demonizing independent states and dissident voices. Some criticism is allowed, so long as it does not support the resistance.

This sector has begun to include the giant corporations which control what had been a more diverse social media.

As the weight of global political-economic relations shifts eastwards – and as US industrial and financial power slides and the dollar is undermined – Washington has tried to reclaim its imperial mantle. It is a bold and bloody last stand.

Unlike the Europeans, the USA has always cloaked its imperial projects in the language of ‘freedom’. The fact that this theme has persisted across regimes of slavery, conquest and the purchase of entire nations represents quite an achievement, in both popular persuasion and verbal gymnastics.

That legendary doublespeak can be seen at work today, in the wars against Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Those wars accompany the attempts to isolate Russia, China, and western Europe, which the paranoid American empire sees as its real competitors.

Washington’s grand strategy in the Middle East wars borrows traditional imperial aims. The first of these is to exclude potential ‘big power’ competitors from the resources-rich region, or rather to dictate the terms of their engagement.

The second is to destroy any independent political will in the region, dividing peoples with the help of its main regional agents, the sectarian and backward regimes of apartheid Israel and medieval Saudi Arabia.

While US interventions in the Americas stretch across two centuries, Washington’s first major intervention in West Asia was the 1953 coup in Iran, which imposed a US-backed dictatorship until the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

As a large, central and avowedly independent country, the Islamic Republic of Iran remains the key target of Washington and its regional minions. It has both the capacity and will to lead an independent coalition against Washington’s project for a ‘New Middle East’.

Many in the Middle East regard Israel as the principal enemy. However, this gives too much credit to the Zionist colony. As resistance leaders in Lebanon and Yemen have recently pointed out, the Zionist tail does not wag the imperial dog.

Israel does indeed contribute to colonial media and social media myth-making, but its repression at home undermines much of that.

The US-American colonial media remains central. Both major political parties are rooted in the same self-righteous ‘exceptionalism’, used to justify great crimes. The same large investment groups that dominate the US government also run the colonial media.

Yet in recent years it has been the ‘smart power’ of the ‘exceptionalist’ liberals which has proved more effective in today’s propaganda wars, attracting support from those westerners who like to see themselves as ‘saviours’ of the poor peoples of the world.

This colonial liberalism draws directly from British colonialism liberalism of the mid-19th century. ‘Civilising’ and ‘saving’ the natives are back in fashion.

By Tim Anderson
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قمة ترامب بوتين وأمن «إسرائيل»

أبريل 21, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– بالتزامن مع تصاعد التوتر الغربي الروسي إلى أقصى ما يمكن بلوغه تحت سقف تفادي التصادم المباشر، عرض الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب مرتين، عقد قمة تجمعه بالرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، فواشنطن محكومة من جهة بنتائج اختبار القدرة على إيجاد هامش للخيار العسكري يغيّر التوازنات من دون تورطها بمواجهة مفتوحة وشاملة. والتجربة بعد العدوان الأخير على سورية تقول بأنّ هذا الخيار الافتراضي لا مكان له في الواقع، فيصير أيّ عمل عسكري محكوماً بما وصفه وزير الخارجية الروسي باحترام الخطوط الحمراء التي رسمتها موسكو. ومن جهة مقابلة تضغط جملة استحقاقات على واشنطن لا تملك تجاهلها، ولا تجاهل أنّ العبور الآمن منها مستحيل من دون التفاهم المسبق مع موسكو. وهذا صحيح بالنسبة لاستحقاق التفاهم النووي الإيراني الذي يجب على الرئيس الأميركي حسم خياره تجاهه بين الإلغاء وإيجاد مخارج تفاوضية مطلع الشهر المقبل، كما هو صحيح بالنسبة للتفاوض حول السلاح النووي لكوريا الشمالية بين العودة إلى مواجهة قاسية وصعبة أو السير بالتفاوض حتى النهاية، والقرار مطلوب قبل نهاية الشهر المقبل.

– لا يمكن فصل إلحاح الرئيس الأميركي على طلب عقد قمة مع الرئيس الروسي عن القناعة الأميركية بالحاجة لتفاهم مع روسيا يوفر مخارج تفاوضية تواكب استحقاقات أميركية داهمة ومقبلة، ولا أمل من الفوز بها بخيار التصعيد، والمؤشرات التي حملتها زيارة رئيس المخابرات ووزير الخارجية المعين مايك بومبيو إلى كوريا ولقاؤه زعيمها كيم جونغ أون تقول بالعزم الأميركي على السير بالخيار التفاوضي الذي يشكّل التفاهم مع موسكو وبكين بوليصة التأمين لنجاحه. ويعلم الأميركيون جيداً استحالة السير بالبحث عن التفاهم مع موسكو وبكين على إيقاع قرار بحجم إلغاء التفاهم النووي مع إيران، ما يضع للقمة الروسية الأميركية المنشودة مهمّتين رئيسيتين من الزاوية الأميركية، مواكبة مساندة لإنجاح التفاوض مع كوريا الشمالية، وتقديم ضمانات تشكل مخرجاً مناسباً للرئيس الأميركي تتيح طي ملف التفاهم النووي الإيراني إيجاباً، وفي المقابل يحضر على جدول الأعمال الأميركي ما تريده روسيا سواء في سورية أو في أوكرانيا أو في ملف العقوبات.

– في الردّ على الدعوة الأميركية الأولى للقمة مع الرئيس الروسي قال الكرملين إن ليس على جدول أعمال الرئيس بوتين مثل هذه القمة. وكان ذلك تحت تأثير التصعيد الأميركي في سورية، بينما مع تجديد الدعوة الأميركية جاء الردّ الروسي مختلفاً ومسبوقاً بكلام لافروف عن التزام واشنطن بالخطوط الحمراء الروسية في العدوان على سورية، فقال لافروف عن القمة إنّ المهمّ هو ضمان نجاحها وتحديد وتحضير مسبق لملفاتها وجدول أعمالها، وخلال ساعات كان البيت الأبيض يعلن عن لقاء مستشار الأمن القومي الجديد جون بولتون المحسوب كعدوّ لروسيا، بالسفير الروسي في واشنطن أناتولي أنطونوف، والقول إنّ «البحث كان مخصصاً لحالة العلاقات بين الولايات المتحدة وروسيا ، والتأكيد على أنّ علاقات أفضل هي في مصلحة كلّ من الولايات المتحدة وروسيا»، ما يعني الدخول عملياً في ترتيبات القمة التاريخية التي ستجمع الرئيسين.

– القمة ستكون تاريخية، لأنها تلي جولات مواجهة اقتصادية ومالية وعسكرية وسياسية ودبلوماسية متعدّدة لم تُبق هوامش لم تُختبر خلالها، وصولاً إلى حافة التصادم المباشر، ولأنها تواجه الحاجة لحسم ملفات حساسة ومصيرية وخطيرة على مساحة العالم، ما يجعلها أقرب إلى قمة يالطا التي جمعت الزعيم السوفياتي جوزف ستالين بالرئيس الأميركي فرانكلين روزفلت بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، لكن هذه القمة ستختلف لجهة وضعها قواعد نظام عالمي جديد، يبدأ بترسيم التوازنات والمصالح الحيوية والتفاهم على تسويات الملفات العالقة، وينطلق لمسار سنوات من ترتيب قواعد إدارة الوضع الدولي تحول دون التصادم وتسحب فتائل التوترات، وتوجه المقدّرات المخصّصة لتخديم المواجهة لتطوير الإمكانات الاقتصادية والاستثمارية للدولتين في مجالات تشكل الصين فيها شريكهما الثالث.

– يبدو أمن «إسرائيل» القضية الوحيدة العالقة التي يصعب بلورة حلّ تفاوضي سريع حولها، فمن جهة تواجه «إسرائيل» تصعيداً فلسطينياً لا تملك موسكو مفاتيح التحكم به، سيبلغ الذروة منتصف الشهر المقبل بتزامن ذكرى اغتصاب فلسطين مع نقل السفارة الأميركية إلى القدس، ويتزامن كلّ ذلك مع تصعيد إيراني إسرائيلي غير مسبوق، بحيث يبدو سقف الممكن هو ترك التطورات ترسم السياق، فسقف ما يمكن لروسيا فعله هو الوقوف على الحياد في المواجهة الإسرائيلية الإيرانية المقبلة، بينما تستطيع واشنطن تبرئة ذمّتها أمام الإسرائيليين بكونها منحتهم حلم القدس بنقل سفارتها، ويكون الاحتواء المزدوج من واشنطن وموسكو لمنع الانزلاق إلى مواجهة كبرى حاضراً لخيار أحادي هو فتح مسار الحلّ السياسي للقضية الفلسطينية والصراع العربي الإسرائيلي بما يشبه مدريد ثانية بينما على المسار السعودي يبدو التحضير لتفاوض سعودي إيراني الخيار الذي يتقدّم بمساعٍ عُمانية تحت عنوان الحرب على اليمن.

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Will the Saudi deterrence succeed after Boukamal and before Hodeidah? هل ينجح الردع السعودي بعد البوكمال وقبل الحديدة؟

Will the Saudi deterrence succeed after Boukamal and before Hodeidah?

Written by Nasser Kandil,

نوفمبر 17, 2017

هل ينجح الردع السعودي بعد البوكمال وقبل الحديدة؟

It seems that the bilateral imposed by facts, realities, and balances of forces based on the exclusion of any American – Saudi – Israeli foolishness that may lead to major war on one hand, And on the other hand, it based also on the need of this alliance which loses its sites successively for a war which it must choose its location, circumstances, and its calculations well in a way that ensures not to go to forbidden major war on one hand, and which ensures on the other hand  a valuable adjustment in the balances of forces which are strongly  in favor of the axis of the resistance, through its governments, its forces, its Russian ally, and the results of all the previous battles.

All the hypotheses for this complicated equation have been presented, as the experience of Kurdistan and supporting the secession in it with all its temptations, Boukamal, and the hypothesis of a limited war in the southern of Syria or in the southern of Lebanon. All of these are shortcuts for the comprehensive war. The intension on an American red line that prevents the convergence of the Syrian and the Iraqi armies and the forces of the resistance in Boukamal means getting involved in a war with Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and the popular crowd of Iraq supported by Russia, while to stand firmly to protect the secession project in the Iraqi Kurdistan seemed a way that its end would be an open war with Iran, Iraq, and Turkey at least, while the war in the southern of Syria or in the southern of Lebanon will put Israel under the pressure of thousands of missiles from Lebanon ,Syria, and Iran.

The wars are not determined by the imprudent sons or those who took adventures and lost gambling as the loss in the war of Yemen, especially in an accurate moment that does not bear fatal mistakes, all the mistakes can be deadly, just for that each of the US President Donald Trump,, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the Head of the occupation government Benjamin Netanyahu practices his game in his own  way but within controls and boundaries that are drawn by the US decision-makers from the military and intelligence who master studying maps, drawing plans, defining tactics and controls, and expanding and narrowing margins.

The Americans as well as the serious players on the geographical area that witnesses related wars from Russia in the north to the Gulf in the south and from Iran in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, and which includes major players as Iran, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel deal with this area as a modification of the concept of the traditional region which is known by the Middle East. Everyone knows without public recognition that the area of the five seas which the Syrian President talked about as a vital range of policies and strategies ten years ago is the new regional framework of the new world, and an alternative to what was known with the heart of the old world, it includes the Arab East and the northern of Africa as a description of the meaning of the Middle East which locates in the center of the major regional countries as Turkey, Iran, and the Gulf. The Americans tried to modify it by naming it the Great Middle East adding these countries to it, but they were surprised by the Russian involvement in the conflict and its turning into a regional player in it.

On the analysts and planners’ maps, the vital ranges of the five seas seem like that, In the Caspian Sea, the conflict has been resolved in favor of the major players in it; Russia and Iran, while the countries which locate along the sea are under Russian –Iranian cover such as Kazakhstan which  is hosting in its capital Astana the solution dialogues for Syria led by Russia, and Azerbaijan whose its president participated few days ago in a trilateral summit with the Russian and the Iranian Presidents in Tehran to announce a strategic cooperation network with Russia and Iran. In the Black Sea where the traditional conflict is between the two poles of the sea; Russia and Turkey and on its usage, the Syrian war has formed an arena for the maturity of Turkey and its reading of its interests, alliances, and its national security in a way that made it a part of the Russian-Iranian system at the regional level, despite its presence internationally in the NATO. In the Mediterranean Sea there is no place for small wars since it is the international lake in which the major players are present face-to-face. In the Gulf, where the American presence is face-to face with the Iranian one the adventure is not allowed. So the Red Sea is the only available battlefield under the controls of avoiding the Great War, and the seeking to modify the balances simultaneously.

China is on the Red Sea in Djibouti, while Iran is on the Red Sea in Eritrea as the Americans, the Saudis, and the Israelis said. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel is on the Red Sea directly, but Yemen and Egypt alone have control on the sides of the Red Sea, so resolving the US domination on the two sides of the Red Sea the northern and the southern is achieved by imposing the Saudi presence in the north on the coast of Yemen, because it prevents turning the Egyptian presence in the south into a neutral settling role, while the staying of the Yemeni coast under the control of the Yemenis especially the port of Hodeidah keeps the Egyptian role Egyptian and prevents its involvement in the international and the regional equations and the considerations of its balances, especially because the battle of Bab Al-Mandab is not resolved but by having control on Hodeidah.

Therefore, the war is the war of Hodeidah. In Lebanon the equation is to link the acceptance of the Saudi cover of a settlement that recognizes the victories of Hezbollah in Syria in exchange of the acceptance of Iran of a settlement in Yemen that recognizes the victories of Saudi Arabia after resolving Hodeidah, where the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri becomes under a Saudi decision a deterrent preemptive to protect the project of the virtual settlement after the war of Hodeidah. While in the field there is a Saudi preemptive escalation against Iran as a virtual deterrence for any Iranian involvement in the war of Hodeidah. The beginning is the announcement of the closure of the Yemeni territorial water and linking the missiles that target Saudi Arabia from Yemen with an Iranian role and making the port of Hodeidah a title for this linkage.

The war of Yemen is the well-considered limited war to prevent a major war which the American and the Israeli know that they do not have the ability to get involved in, because if Saudi Arabia controls on it,  then it will be a gain for the whole alliance, and if it does not control on it, Saudi Arabia will bear the consequences of the of the defeat alone since it received a lot of money in advance as a compensation for the cover of its campaign against its neighbors and seizing their wealth.

The Yemenis say that they do not need Iranian intervention to protect their capabilities in Hodeidah, since their missiles to the Saudi depth in case of the outbreak of war will deter the Saudis from continuing their tampering with fire.

Everyone says that by the end of this year the wars will end, and settlements will start, so Syria goes to war of recapturing Raqqa and Idlib, supported by Iran and Russia, even if it collided with the Americans and the Turks, while America and Israel sent Saudi Arabia to occupy Hodeidah provided that not to collide with Iran.

After drawing and resolving the balances of the Red Sea, the equation of the Gulf becomes clear, and the Mediterranean Sea will host the summits of the major settlements in the area of the five seas.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

هل ينجح الردع السعودي بعد البوكمال وقبل الحديدة؟

نوفمبر 9, 2017

ناصر قنديل

هل ينجح الردع السعودي بعد البوكمال وقبل الحديدة؟

– تبدو الثنائية التي تفرضها الحقائق والوقائع وموازين القوى، قائمة على استبعاد أيّ حماقة أميركية سعودية «إسرائيلية» بحرب كبرى، من جهة ومن جهة مقابلة، على حاجة هذا الحلف الذي يخسر مواقعه تباعاً، إلى حرب عليه أن يحسن اختيار مكانها وظروفها، وحساباتها، بحيث تضمن عدم الانزلاق إلى الحرب الكبرى الممنوعة من جهة، وتضمن تعديلاً ذا قيمة في موازين القوى الراجحة بقوة لحساب محور المقاومة بحكوماته وقواه وحليفه الروسي، بنتائج المعارك السابقة كلها.

– وضعت على الطاولة للبحث عن جواب لهذه المعادلة المعقدة، الفرضيات كلّها، من اختبار كردستان ودعم الانفصال فيها، بإغراءاتها كلها، والبوكمال بكلّ ما تعنيه، وفرضية حرب محدودة في جنوب سورية او جنوب لبنان، وكلها بدا أنها طريق مختصر للمواجهة الشاملة، فالإصرار على خط أحمر أميركي يمنع تلاقي الجيشين السوري والعراقي وقوى المقاومة في البوكمال يعني دخول حرب مع سورية وإيران وحزب الله والحشد الشعبي في العراق، ومن ورائهم روسيا، والوقوف بحزم لحماية مشروع الانفصال في كردستان العراق بدا طريقاً نهايته القريبة حرب مفتوحة مع إيران والعراق وتركيا على الأقلّ، والحرب في جنوب سورية أو جنوب لبنان ستضع «إسرائيل» تحت ضغط آلاف الصواريخ من لبنان وسورية وإيران.

– الحروب لا يقرّرها الصغار ولا يرسم دوائرها الهواة، خصوصاً الذين خاضوا مغامرت ومقامرات خاسرة كحرب اليمن، خصوصاً في لحظة دقيقة لا تحتمل الأخطاء القاتلة. وكلّ الأخطاء يمكن أن تكون قاتلة، ولذلك يؤدّي الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب وولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان ورئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو لعبة كلّ منهم بأسلوبه، لكن ضمن ضوابط وهوامش يرسم حدودها صنّاع القرار الأميركي من رجال الجيش والمخابرات، الذين يجيدون دراسة الخرائط ورسم الخطط، وتحديد التكتيكات والضوابط، وفتح وإغلاق الهوامش.

– يتعامل الأميركيون، ومثلهم اللاعبون الجديون كلّهم على رقعة جغرافية تشهد حروباً متصلة، تمتدّ من روسيا شمالاً إلى الخليج جنوباً، ومن إيران شرقاً إلى البحر المتوسط غرباً، وتضمّ لاعبين كباراً مثل إيران وروسيا وتركيا والسعودية و«إسرائيل»، باعتبارها تعديلاً لمفهوم الإقليم التقليدي المتعارف على تسميته بالشرق الأوسط، وينطلق الجميع من دون إقرار علني بذلك، من كون منطقة البحار الخمسة التي تحدث عنها الرئيس السوري كمدى حيوي للسياسات والاستراتيجيات قبل عشر سنوات، هي الإطار الإقليمي الجديد، لقلب العالم الجديد، كبديل لما عُرف بقلب العالم القديم، ويضمّ المشرق العربي وشمال أفريقيا، كتوصيف لمعنى الشرق الأوسط، الواقع في قلب كتل إقليمية كبرى هي تركيا وإيران والخليج. حاول الأميركيون تعديله بتسمية الشرق الأوسط الكبير بإضافة هذه الكتل إليه، ففاجأهم الدخول الروسي لقلب الصراع والتحوّل إلى لاعب إقليمي فيه.

– على خرائط المحللين والمخططين، تبدو المجالات الحيوية للبحار الخمسة كما يلي، في بحر قزوين، حيث اللاعبان الكبيران روسيا وإيران، حسم الصراع لصالحهما، مع انضواء الدول المشاطئة للبحر تحت مظلة روسية إيرانية، كازاخستان التي تستضيف في عاصمتها أستانة حوارات الحلّ في سورية بقيادة روسيا، ومثلها أذربيجان التي شارك رئيسها في قمة ثلاثية قبل أيام مع الرئيسين الروسي والإيراني في طهران للإعلان عن شبكة تعاون استراتيجية مع روسيا وإيران، في البحر الأسود حيث الصراع التقليدي بين قطبي البحر واستخداماته، روسيا وتركيا، شكلت الحرب السورية ساحة إنضاج لموقع تركيا وقراءاتها لمفهوم مصالحها وتحالفاتها وأمنها القومي، بصورة جعلتها جزءاً من منظومة روسية إيرانية على المستوى الإقليمي رغم وجودها دولياً في حلف الأطلسي، في البحر المتوسط لا مكان لحروب صغيرة فهو البحيرة الدولية التي يتواجد فيها اللاعبون الكبار وجهاً لوجه، وفي الخليج حيث الوجود الأميركي الإيراني وجهاً لوجه أيضاً لا تجوز المخاطرة، ليصير البحر الأحمر ساحة الحرب الوحيدة المتاحة، ضمن ضوابط تفادي الحرب الكبرى، والسعي لتعديل التوازنات في آن واحد.

– الصين على البحر الأحمر في جيبوتي، وإيران على البحر الأحمر في اريتريا، كما يقول الأميركيون والسعوديون و«الإسرائيليون»، والسعودية ومصر و«إسرائيل» على البحر الأحمر، مباشرة، لكن اليمن ومصر وحدهما يمسكان كلّ من جهة بعنق البحر الأحمر، فحسم السيطرة الأميركية على عنقَيْ البحر الأحمر الشمالي والجنوبي، يحققه فرض الوجود السعودي شمالاً على سواحل اليمن، لأنه يتيح منع تحوّل الوجود المصري جنوباً إلى دور حيادي تسووي، أما بقاء الساحل اليمني يميناً خصوصاً في ميناء الحديدة، فيبقي الدور المصري مصرياً، ويمنع ترصيده في المعادلات الدولية الإقليمية وحسابات توازناتها، خصوصاً أنّ معركة باب المندب لا تحسم إلا بالسيطرة على الحديدة.

– الحرب إذن هي حرب الحديدة، والمعادلة هي، في لبنان ربط قبول تغطية سعودية لتسوية تعترف بانتصارات حزب الله في سورية، بقبول إيران بتسوية في اليمن تعترف بانتصارات السعودية بعد حسم الحديدة، وتصير استقالة رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية سعد الحريري بقرار سعودي استباقاً رادعاً، لحماية مشروع تسوية افتراضية ما بعد حرب الحديدة. وفي الميدان، تصعيد استباقي سعودي بوجه إيران، لردع افتراضي لأيّ دخول إيراني على خط حرب الحديدة، والبداية إعلان إغلاق المياه الإقليمية اليمنية، وربط الصواريخ التي تستهدف السعودية من اليمن بدور إيراني، وجعل ميناء الحديدة عنواناً للربط.

– حرب الحديدة هي الحرب المحدودة والمحسوبة، منعاً لحرب كبرى يعرف الأميركي و«الإسرائيلي»، أن لا قدرة على التورّط فيها، فإنْ فاز بها السعودي صارت كسباً للحلف كله، وإنْ لم يفز يحمل نتائج الهزيمة وحده، وقد نال تعويضه مالاً كثيراً سلفاً بتغطية حملته على أبناء عمومته و«تشليحهم ثرواتهم في ليلة لا ضوء قمر فيها».

– يقول اليمنيون إنهم لا يحتاجون تدخّلاً إيرانياً لحماية قدراتهم في الحديدة، وإنّ وابل صواريخهم على العمق السعودي إذا اندلعت حرب الحديدة سيتكفل بردع السعوديين عن مواصلة اللعب بالنار.

– يقول الجميع إنّ نهاية العام، موعد نهاية الحروب، وانطلاق عام التسويات، فلذلك تذهب سورية لحرب استرداد الرقة وإدلب ومعها إيران وروسيا، ولو تصادمت مع الأميركيين والأتراك، وترسل أميركا و«إسرائيل» السعودية لاحتلال الحديدة شرط عدم التصادم مع إيران.

– بعد رسم وحسم توازنات البحر الأحمر تتحدّد معادلة الخليج، ويستضيف البحر المتوسط قمم التسويات الكبرى، في منطقة البحار الخمسة.

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The Superpower That Fought Itself—And Lost

by William J. Astore

131210-N-VC599-169 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 10, 2013) Ships from the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group simulate a strait transit. The strike group is conducting a pre-deployment evaluation. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

When it comes to the “world’s greatest military,” the news has been shocking. Two fast U.S. Navy ships colliding with slow-moving commercial vessels with tragic loss of life.  An Air Force that has been in the air continuously for years and yet doesn’t have enough pilots to fly its combat jets.  Ground troops who find themselves fighting “rebels” in Syria previously armed and trained by the CIA.  Already overstretched Special Operations forces facing growing demands as their rates of mental distress and suicide rise.  Proxy armies in Iraq and Afghanistan that are unreliable, often delivering American-provided weaponry to black markets and into the hands of various enemies.  All of this and more coming at a time when defense spending is once again soaring and the national security state is awash in funds to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars a year.

What gives?  Why are highly maneuverable and sophisticated naval ships colliding with lumbering cargo vessels?  Why is an Air Force that exists to fly and fight short 1,200 pilots?  Why are U.S. Special Operations forces deployed everywhere and winning nowhere?  Why, in short, is the U.S. military fighting itself — and losing?

It’s the Ops Tempo, Stupid

After 16 years of a never-ending, ever-spreading global war on terror, alarms are going off in Asia from the Koreas and Afghanistan to the Philippines, while across the Greater Middle East and Africa the globe’s “last superpower” is in a never-ending set of conflicts with a range of minor enemies few can even keep straight.  As a result, America’s can-do military, committed piecemeal to a bewildering array of missions, has increasingly become a can’t-do one.

Too few ships are being deployed for too long.  Too few pilots are being worn out by incessant patrols and mushrooming drone and bombing missions.  Special Operations forces (the “commandos of everywhere,” as Nick Turse calls them) are being deployed to far too many countries — more than two-thirds of the nations on the planet already this year — and are involved in conflicts that hold little promise of ending on terms favorable to Washington.  Meanwhile, insiders like retired General David Petraeus speak calmly about “generational struggles” that will essentially never end.  To paraphrase an old slogan from ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” as the U.S. military spans the globe, it’s regularly experiencing the agony of defeat rather than the thrill of victory.

To President Donald Trump (and so many other politicians in Washington), this unsavory reality suggests an obvious solution: boost military funding; build more navy ships; train more pilots and give them more incentive pay to stay in the military; rely more on drones and other technological “force multipliers” to compensate for tired troops; cajole allies like the Germans and Japanese to spend more on their militaries; and pressure proxy armies like the Iraqi and Afghan security forces to cut corruption and improve combat performance.

One option — the most logical — is never seriously considered in Washington: to make deep cuts in the military’s operational tempo by decreasing defense spending and downsizing the global mission, by bringing troops home and keeping them there.  This is not an isolationist plea.  The United States certainly faces challenges, notably from Russia (still a major nuclear power) and China (a global economic power bolstering its regional militarily strength).  North Korea is, as ever, posturing with missile and nuclear tests in provocative ways.  Terrorist organizations strive to destabilize American allies and cause trouble even in “the homeland.”

Such challenges require vigilance.  What they don’t require is more ships in the sea-lanes, pilots in the air, and boots on the ground.  Indeed, 16 years after the 9/11 attacks it should be obvious that more of the same is likely to produce yet more of what we’ve grown all too accustomed to: increasing instability across significant swaths of the planet, as well as the rise of new terror groups or new iterations of older ones, which means yet more opportunities for failed U.S. military interventions.

Once upon a time, when there were still two superpowers on Planet Earth, Washington’s worldwide military posture had a clear rationale: the containment of communism.  Soon after the Soviet Union imploded in 1991 to much triumphalist self-congratulation in Washington, the scholar and former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson had an epiphany.  What he would come to call “the American Raj,” a global imperial structure ostensibly built to corral the menace of communism, wasn’t going away just because that menace had evaporated, leaving not a superpower nor even a major power as an opponent anywhere on the horizon.  Quite the opposite, Washington — and its globe-spanning “empire” of military bases — was only digging in deeper and for the long haul.  At that moment, with a certain shock, Johnson realized that the U.S. was itself an empire and, with its mirror-image-enemy gone, risked turning on itself and becoming its own nemesis.

The U.S., it turned out, hadn’t just contained the Soviets; they had contained us, too.  Once their empire collapsed, our leaders imbibed the old dream of Woodrow Wilson, even if in a newly militarized fashion: to remake the world in one’s own image (if need be at the point of a sword).

Since the early 1990s, largely unconstrained by peer rivals, America’s leaders have acted as if there were nothing to stop them from doing as they pleased on the planet, which, as it turned out, meant there was nothing to stop them from their own folly.  We witness the results today.  Prolonged and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Interventions throughout the Greater Middle East (Libya, Syria, Yemen, and beyond) that spread chaos and destruction.  Attacks against terrorism that have given new impetus to jihadists everywhere.  And recently calls to arm Ukraine against Russia.  All of this is consistent with a hubristic strategic vision that, in these years, has spoken in an all-encompassing fashion and without irony of global reach, global power, and full-spectrum dominance.

In this context, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the full scope of America’s military power.  All the world is a stage — or a staging area — for U.S. troops.  There are still approximately 800 U.S. military bases in foreign lands.  America’s commandos deploy to more than 130 countries yearly.  And even the world is not enough for the Pentagon as it seeks to dominate not just land, sea, and air but outer space, cyberspace, and even inner space, if you count efforts to achieve “total information awareness” through 17 intelligence agencies dedicated — at a cost of $80 billion a year — to sweeping up all data on Planet Earth.

In short, America’s troops are out everywhere and winning nowhere, a problem America’s “winningest” president, Donald Trump, is only exacerbating.  Surrounded by “his” generals, Trump has — against his own instincts, he claimed recently — recommitted American troops and prestige to the Afghan War.  He’s also significantly expanded U.S. drone strikes and bombing throughout the Greater Middle East, and threatened to bring fire and fury to North Korea, while pushing a program to boost military spending.

At a Pentagon awash in money, with promises of more to come, missions are rarely downsized.  Meanwhile, what passes for original thinking in the Trump White House is the suggestion of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, to privatize America’s war in Afghanistan (and possibly elsewhere).  Mercenaries are the answer to Washington’s military problems, suggests Prince.  And mercs, of course, have the added benefit of not being constrained by the rules of engagement that apply to America’s uniformed service members.

Indeed, Prince’s idea, though opposed by Trump’s generals, is compelling in one sense: If you accept the notion that America’s wars in these years have been fought largely for the corporate agendas of the military-industrial complex, why not turn warfighting itself over to the warrior corporations that now regularly accompany the military into battle, cutting out the middleman, that very military?

Hammering a Cloud of Gnats

Erik Prince’s mercenaries will, however, have to bide their time as the military high command continues to launch kinetic strikes against elusive foes around the globe.  By its own admission, the force recent U.S. presidents have touted as the “finest” in history faces remarkably “asymmetrical” and protean enemies, including the roughly 20 terrorist organizations in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations.  In striking at such relatively puny foes, the U.S. reminds me of the mighty Thor of superhero fame swinging his hammer violently against a cloud of gnats. In the process, some of those gnats will naturally die, but the result will still be an exhausted superhero and ever more gnats attracted by the heat and commotion of battle.

I first came across the phrase “using a sledgehammer to kill gnats” while looking at the history of U.S. airpower during the Vietnam War.  B-52 “Arc Light” raids dropped record tons of bombs on parts of South Vietnam and Laos in largely failed efforts to kill dispersed guerrillas and interdict supply routes from North Vietnam.  Half a century later, with its laser- and GPS-guided bombs, the Air Force regularly touts the far greater precision of American airpower.  Yet in one country after another, using just that weaponry, the U.S. has engaged in serial acts of overkill.  In Afghanistan, it was the recent use of MOAB, the “mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon the U.S. has ever used in combat, against a small concentration of ISIS fighters.  In similar fashion, the U.S. air war in Syria has outpaced the Russians and even the Assad regime in its murderous effects on civilians, especially around Raqqa, the “capital” of the Islamic State.  Such overkill is evident on the ground as well where special ops raids have, this year, left civilians dead from Yemen to Somalia.  In other words, across the Greater Middle East, Washington’s profligate killing machine is also creating a desire for vengeance among civilian populations, staggering numbers of whom, when not killed, have been displaced or sent fleeing across borders as refugees in these wars. It has played a significant role in unsettling whole regions, creating failed states, and providing yet more recruits for terror groups.

Leaving aside technological advances, little has changed since Vietnam. The U.S. military is still relying on enormous firepower to kill elusive enemies as a way of limiting (American) casualties.  As an instrument of victory, it didn’t work in Vietnam, nor has it worked in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But never mind the history lessons.  President Trump asserts that his “new” Afghan strategy — the details of which, according to a military spokesman, are “not there yet” — will lead to more terrorists (that is, gnats) being killed.

Since 9/11, America’s leaders, Trump included, have rarely sought ways to avoid those gnats, while efforts to “drain the swamp” in which the gnats thrive have served mainly to enlarge their breeding grounds.  At the same time, efforts to enlist indigenous “gnats” — local proxy armies — to take over the fight have gone poorly indeed.  As in Vietnam, the main U.S. focus has invariably been on developing better, more technologically advanced (which means more expensive) sledgehammers, while continuing to whale away at that cloud of gnats — a process as hopeless as it is counterproductive.

The Greatest Self-Defeating Force in History?

Incessant warfare represents the end of democracy.  I didn’t say that, James Madison did.

I firmly believe, though, in words borrowed from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that “only Americans can hurt America.”  So how can we lessen the hurt?  By beginning to rein in the military.  A standing military exists — or rather should exist — to support and defend the Constitution and our country against immediate threats to our survival.  Endless attacks against inchoate foes in the backlands of the planet hardly promote that mission.  Indeed, the more such attacks wear on the military, the more they imperil national security.

A friend of mine, a captain in the Air Force, once quipped to me: you study long, you study wrong.  It’s a sentiment that’s especially cutting when applied to war: you wage war long, you wage it wrong.  Yet as debilitating as they may be to militaries, long wars are even more devastating to democracies.  The longer our military wages war, the more our country is militarized, shedding its democratic values and ideals.

Back in the Cold War era, the regions in which the U.S. military is now slogging it out were once largely considered “the shadows” where John le Carré-style secret agents from the two superpowers matched wits in a set of shadowy conflicts.  Post-9/11, “taking the gloves off” and seeking knockout blows, the U.S. military entered those same shadows in a big way and there, not surprisingly, it often couldn’t sort friend from foe.

A new strategy for America should involve getting out of those shadowy regions of no-win war.  Instead, an expanding U.S. military establishment continues to compound the strategic mistakes of the last 16 years.  Seeking to dominate everywhere but winning decisively nowhere, it may yet go down as the greatest self-defeating force in history.

Reprinted, with permission, from TomDispatch.

TomDispatch regular, William Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and history professor.  His personal blog is Bracing ViewsFollow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower WorldCopyright 2017 William J. Astore

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