As I sit down to write this post script series, I have to leaf through many scribbled notes of over 20 years, my interactions with the major actors involved in Pakistan’s Afghan Policy and my own appraisals over the past two decades. These were not just confined to events in Afghanistan but also linked to MENAP/MENAT meaning the Greater Middle East.
For a student of strategy, the canvas was broad and events intertwined. At the heart of this ongoing study was the America’s West Asia and South West Asia policy aggressively supported by its NATO allies? These were regions that had once been civilisations, ruled the world and had deeply ingrained memories, brotherhood codes and pride that no amount of military technology could subdue or tame.
Through all these tumultuous and eventful years, the framework of my essays, analysis and papers were based on the “Forgotten Dimensions of Strategy” written by late Sir Michael Eliot Howard. His compiled essays in ‘The Causes of War’ have remained my pocket book on strategy.
According to Michel Howard, the modern strategist (USA and UK) were considered by Professor Anatole Rapoport, in a rather idiosyncratic introduction to a truncated edition of Clausewitz’s On War, called “Neo-Clausewitzians.” Every one of the three elements that Clausewitz defined as being intrinsic to war- political motivation, operational activity and social participation are completely absent from their calculations. Drained of political, social and operational content, such works resemble rather the studies of the eighteenth-century theorists whom Clausewitz was writing to confute, and whose influence he considered, with good reason, to have been so disastrous for his own times.
The abundance of military technologies and the balance of terror in nuclear calculus edged on these Neo-Clausewitzians to more and bigger military adventures. This is what happened in Vietnam and now in Middle East and Afghanistan. Pitched in asymmetrical warfare of their choosing, nuclear calculus was out of question. They reintroduced Absolutism in warfare, provoking me to write repeatedly on Neo-Clausewitzians and Absolutism.
It is unfortunate that the West ignored Michel Howard’s thesis on the overbearing nature of the forgotten social dimension of conflict while dealing with Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Had the ideas of this soldier, academician and strategist permeated beyond academic circles to strategic planning board rooms, the world today would have been very different and spared West and India finding excuses to blame someone mainly Pakistan.
Hence the series of writings since 2001 on Absolutism, Pakistan’s Future War, Middle East and Afghanistan all linked to Pakistan’s brinkmanship of successfully fishing in alligator infested waters.