US QDR Impacts the World Scene

Posted in United States | 01-May-06 | Author: Muhammad Aslam Khan

US Quadrennial Defense Review Report-2006 is a document that combines in it the attributes of philosophic prose of realities and phenomenal wishes studded with Mr. Rumsfeld’s impact of steely personality. It is an instrument that focuses on translating National Defense Strategy-March 2005 to a plausible ‘Operational Strategy’ for the US forces. Besides, the US Department of Defense rightly claims to be transitioning from 20th to 21st Century vintage with urgency relevant to the scale of pernicious threats posed principally by terrorism, that, when seen through references and quotes in QDR, stands personified as Al-Qaeyda, Osama bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri. It emerges crystal clear that the lone super power is confronted with multiple super challenges when its Cold War culmination-euphoria and the continental insularity have fallen major casualties at the hands of the terrorists. Taking holistic view of QDR is restrained by the enormity of its scope; only four points may be discussed briefly, other strengths and merits of the document notwithstanding:

  • At page v it reads, “We also have been adjusting the US global military force….moving away from a static defense in obsolete Cold War garrisons to….
  • President Bush’s quote at page 9 defines strategy to fight a long war against terrorists that by implication is deemed as a part of the text and a beacon to guide the planners.
  • The reservoir of ‘hope’ the QDR generates, and
  • Lastly the ‘despair’ it permeates to the peace lovers.

First point about military force strategic posture and evolution of rapid ‘surge’ capability, visible effort has been made to appease some opposing international actor(s) of Cold War era through a veiled deception by ostensibly moving away from obsolete garrisons. The ground realities point to the contrary. Analysts clearly see the beginning of an era when, instead of bases of smaller stretch, whole countries have been occupied with puppet rule on the mantelpiece. The realities of misguided operations “Iraqi Freedom” and, “Enduring Freedom” are now boomeranging on US in a pattern that has the potential to catapult the world peace. In both the areas of ongoing major conflicts, nothing has ‘endured’ except destruction and detailed devastation. Expansion of NATO, allocating additional tasks to US Central Command and US European Command, military presence in Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Eastern Europe and seeking nuclear collaboration with India have become a subject of serious controversy. Such justifications that radical Islamists are bent on destroying US culture, democracy and values are losing their propaganda weight and thus no longer a spicy recipe to sell for winning public support. All is set to point toward US imperial ‘hubris’, incidentally focused on Muslim countries, the malice Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower took pains to dismantle during the last century, that too was the work of European powers of the time against their largely Muslim colonies. QDR credibility would have gained tremendously, had it admitted its objectives to achieve the series of ‘Greater,’ or ‘Broader’ prefixed to Middle East, Central Asia and Israel, dilution of Iran and Syria, and placing Pakistan back to the non-nuclear perspective under bunch of pretexts in certain point of time, terrorism and WMDs slogans available anyway. Even Western scholars have come to see a very mystifying coincidence between the maps of war on terror and the hydrocarbon reserves of Middle East, Central Eurasia and Africa. However there is silver lining on the dark cloud, lurking on the Muslim horizon if one reads US Ambassador to Pakistan statement(The News: 5 April 2006) about Islam that it is fast expanding in America. It leaves Muslims with little pretext to hate Jews or Americans. In fact they never hated their public but the bogy threat of ‘hate’ erupts at intervals not because there is any sense in that threat and not because Islam has gone barbaric but the establishment in US and some others need such crutches to hold on to ‘chair’ by hook or crook. Large population in the West has come to recognize that Islam is a religion of peace, justice and universal brotherhood, that is why when I lament the human losses in futile wars of ‘grab and deceit’ I feel not only concerned about the innocent Muslims caught in the cross fire but also for the US, UK, Canada, Italy, Poland and German soldiers falling on the battlefield. The scathing remarks by Carla Seaquist (The Christian Science Monitor, 4 April 2006), if mine, would have labeled me as a terrorist but the justice appears to be germinating from the strata of same very culture whose rulers are intoxicated and heed no reason. She writes while castigating trundled gun of insult and provocation against Islam in Denmark, “As if! As if Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, invasion and occupation of Iraq, and other varieties of "regime change" the West envisions for the Arab world were not offense enough. And how bizarre that offensiveness is held up as civilized, rather than seen as fueling the clash.” A long time trusted US friend, Mikhail Gorbachev also feels certain that US was ‘intoxicated’ by its power and should not impose its will on others (The News: 3 April 2006). Mr. Gorbachev is a living legend who sacrificed an empire for the safe future of not only Russia but of whole Central Eurasia.

Second point, claiming that terrorists are to be kept on the run and starved, appears redundant by simple arithmetic. QDR projects colossal budgetary increases, revamping entire forces structure, seeks to expand presence beyond 130 countries through deployment of about 0.4 million US troops and 3 million direct employees of US Department of Defense. Ongoing plans and US achievements by contrast, have made little dent on the terrorists as is evident from their visible representative, Aymen al-Zawahiri’s fresh demeanor. In fact Usama-bin-Ladin is heard pinpointing new targets and areas of struggle to his ‘mujahideen’ in a recent video telecast. About a dozen of their major acts of terrorism the world over have forced the super power to stretch on the whole planet and also in space, for cyber war. Military ‘pundits’ can not be bluffed on giving the neutral verdict as to who retains the initiative, forcing universal attrition-prone ‘dispersion’ effect, the terrorists or the US?

Third point is about the feeble hope the document generates. Hope is characterized by the US resolve to dominate the threats through ‘deterrence posture’ that would enable her to obviate the chances of conventional mega conflagrations of which the mankind, particularly Europe bore the brunt twice during first half of 20th Century. Hope may be guesswork of a genius but guesswork after all.

Fourth concern is the degree of despair QDR permeates. When US Administration is seen committed to assure the world that global war on terror is going to be a long war, one apprehends that it has stopped just short of saying that it is “never ending war”. Those yearning for peace, and each one of us should, regret this scenario. Fear of being caught in the cross fire of the warring giants forebodes a gloom that would grip world’s ‘less-privileged’ particularly when US is seen advocating reinforcing or building up fighting capacity of its coalition governments. The recipe may work well with some trepidation if it is Italy, Poland and Britain but not the third world authoritarian countries where governments have the least popular support and survive on the resuscitation mechanism, engineered by US, thus emboldening them to wreak tyranny on innocent masses under the pretext of war on terror. Such repressive acts hatch out ready terrorists or ‘mujahideen’. Brutal massacre of innocent masses by some authoritarian regimes is going on beyond the western world fancy. Even US public may shudder on knowing it in later point of time. Instead QDR should have homed in on an exclusive strategy to tackle “terrorism” through dialogue and by striking at its roots precisely in a manner Marie Corelli did it, over a century ago(1895) with his pen, on the opening line of first page of his novel (The Sorrows of Satan) that reads, “Do you know what is to be poor?.....but really poor, downright, cruelly, hideously poor with a poverty that is graceless, sordid and miserable?...This is the grinding curse that keeps down noble aspirations….this is the moral cancer that eats into the heart of an otherwise well-intentioned human creature and makes him envious and malignant and inclined to the use of dynamite”. One would wish Mr. Rumsfeld had a couple of Marie Corellis in his team.

End to war on terror is not in the sight and QDR does not rightly commit on its time schedule but in the process the planet is drifting to the precipice that in certain point of time it may spin off the orbit of peace. Mother ‘Earth’ as a metaphor in the words of a Shakespeare’s character, ‘Portia’ in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ may turn around to ironically implore Usama bin Ladin and George W. Bush:

“O love, be moderate; allay thy ecstasy;
In measure rain thy joy; scant this excess;
I feel too much thy blessing; make it less,
For fear I surfeit”;

The author, a recipient of sitara-e-imtiaz (military), had about 32 years of military career, is a defense analyst and now pursuing doctorate since 2002 (

Brig Gen (ret) Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi is member of the WSN International Advisory Board.