December 09, 2017

The New Era of the Proliferated Proxy War

The Strategy Bridge

Andrew Mumford 

 November 16, 2017

War in the modern world is changing. Since the end of the Cold War inter-state war has declined globally, whilst even civil wars have become a relative rarity. But war is not becoming an obsolete element of human interaction.[1] Governments and militaries around the world are simply changing the way that their strategic objectives are secured. An approximate 50% reduction in major inter- and intra-state conflicts between 1990 and 2010 belies a significant shift in global attitudes to war.[2] A heightened perception of risk, greater restrictions on military expenditure as a result of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, and a greater public aversion (in the West at least) to conventional confrontation has led to an accentuated appeal for national security goals and defence priorities being attained by other means. This is the era of indirect war by proxy.

Concerns over the increased recourse to proxy war are currently prevalent given how the West is tackling the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) in part through the delivery of large amounts of weaponry, ammunition, and money to moderate Syrian rebel groups and the Kurdish peshmerga. Furthermore, Russian military action in the Crimea in 2014 caused much consternation in the West over fears that the Kremlin was attempting to coerce its regional neighbours and expand its borders via ambiguous but aggressive military action.[3] So-called little green men—Russian volunteers, insisted Russian President Vladimir Putin—took control of key areas in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart ()

The resurgence of proxy warfare (a type of conflict long associated with the Cold War) does not reinvent the wheel in strategic terms. Indeed, in many ways contemporary proxy warfare is the latest iteration of what Sir Basil Liddell Hart labelled the indirect approach. Liddell Hart based his notion on an understanding that brains were a more effective strategic lever than brawn, arguing that indirect methods “endow warfare with intelligent properties that raise it above the brute application of force.”[4] This required focusing strategic efforts on the psychological will of the enemy, emphasising the nature of surprise. Such characteristics remain pertinent factors in understanding how states aim to degrade and ultimately destroy the capabilities of groups like ISIS, or undermine rival regional powers today. As such, contemporary proxy warfare is a modern manifestation of an indirect strategic approach.

This article reinterprets Liddell Hart’s strategy by arguing that the indirect component of modern warfare is not about the repositioning of one’s own forces for the purposes of deep strategic penetration and rear manoeuvres but the fundamental re-routing of lethal activity through a third party. The indirect element of modern strategic approaches therefore refers to both the source of the threat (something that is complicated by the use of proxies) and the ambiguous methods often utilised (that are seen as a guarantor of maintaining the plausible deniability of the perpetrator and mitigating against escalation). The strategic use of an indirect approach can manifest itself in different ways in modern proxy wars, including the use of third parties to conduct information operations, psychological operations, cyber attacks and the sponsorship of a terrorist attack through the indirect provision of money, weapons and other logistical or communications equipment. Liddell Hart himself had an undeniable tendency to selectively decide what was an example of the indirect approach at work based on its success or failure. However, all proxy wars can be considered contemporary acts of the indirect approach. If we shift our understanding of the main raison d’etre of the strategy away from broad interpretations of avoiding strength to attack weakness and towards an appreciation of the desire to avoid any direct intervention by instead outsourcing kinetic activity to a third party proxy.

BASIL LIDDELL HART AND THE INDIRECT APPROACH

As Liddell Hart’s biographer Alex Danchev noted, the indirect approach was his “signature tune.”[5] The indirect approach is encapsulated in dictums from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, including “Subdue the enemy without fighting” and “Avoid what is strong to strike what is weak.”[6] Unfairly dismissed by its critics as little more than war avoidance,  the indirect approach is admittedly a strategic ideal, but it is one that is better depicted as war displacement.[7] As Shelford Bidwell argued in the early 1970s, Liddell Hart was “a synthesizer as much as an originator,” owing much to the ideas not just of Sun Tzu, but other members of what Bidwell labels the British school of strategic thought who saw war as an art not a science, especially T.E Lawrence and J.F.C Fuller. Yet Bidwell, correctly, ultimately forgives Liddell Hart’s “exaggeration and fancifulness” because he “used an electric ox-goad to penetrate the hide of orthodox military thought.”[8]

The Art of War in a classical bamboo book (Wikimedia) and a modern book (Amazon)

Liddell Hart first enunciated his ideas on the topic in book form in 1929, followed by a further four books building on the same theme in 1941, 1946, 1954, and 1967. The last edition (titled Strategy: An Indirect Approach) sold over 100,000 copies in the US alone and was treated, as Brian Holden Reid rightly describes, as “a major intellectual event in the armed forces of the West and beyond.”[9] His theorising of modern war was borne out of a military career cut short by injury in the First World War, followed by doctrine-writing work for the Army, and as a military correspondent for the Daily Telegraphand The Times.  His works on General Sherman’s influence in the American civil war, Napoleon’s strategic legacy, and perceptions on the evolution of warfare made him a warrior-scholar of international renown. He was feted on book promotion tours and had his ideas openly embraced by the then Senator Jack Kennedy during the 1960 presidential election.[10]

Alex Danchev deftly described the ideas expounded in Strategy: An Indirect Approach as “part prescription, part idealization, part excogitation.”[11] Holden Reid argues that it embodies Liddell Hart’s “Edwardian rationalism that exalted not just reason, but truth, order, progress, judicious compromise and careful understanding.”[12] For Liddell Hart. the indirect approach had manifestly guided the British Way of Warfare (the title of his 1932 book) from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Again, Danchev’s insights on this synonymy are insightful, especially when he observed that for Britain during this three hundred year period war on land “was prosecuted by proxy, by the artful dodge of ‘lending sovereigns to sovereigns,’ and not sending an expeditionary force."[13]

THE SHIFT IN THE MODERN LANDSCAPE OF WAR WROUGHT BY THE HEIGHTENED USE OF PROXY MILITIAS AND DULLED APPETITE FOR BOOTS ON THE GROUND IN CONFLICT ZONES FROM SYRIA TO UKRAINE SHOULD GIVE US REASON TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY LIDDELL HART’S SIGNATURE TUNE...

This artful dodge has been contemporised and indeed arguably come to encompass a broader Western Way of War. The shift in the modern landscape of war wrought by the heightened use of proxy militias and dulled appetite for boots on the ground in conflict zones from Syria to Ukraine should give us reason to learn how to play Liddell Hart’s signature tune as a means of making greater sense of this new era of proliferated proxy war. An indirect approach ensures that “the business of war… [is] not position and attrition and mutual exhaustion, but analysis and paralysis and maximal preservation.”[14] The recourse to proxy war provides a strong capacity for analysis by the proxy’s benefactor given the spatial displacement from any lethal activity; a high chance for enemy paralysis given the sudden potency of their indirectly-sponsored opponent (as seen in Crimea in 2014 given the rapid successes scored by pro-Russian militias); and the most literal guarantee of force protection given the displacement of kinetic activity to proxies.

PROXY WAR AS AN INDIRECT STRATEGIC APPROACH

Proxy war can been defined as: “the indirect engagement in a conflict by third parties wishing to influence its strategic outcome.”[15] This can involve the provision of weapons, money and other forms of assistance, but crucially absolves the intervening party (often described as a benefactor or sponsor) from having to undertake its own direct military intervention in a pre-existing conflict by outsourcing the lethal activity to a proxy, such as a militia group or other national military (often labelled a surrogate). Proxy wars are fought at arms-length by those who want to simultaneously protect or expand their interests whilst avoiding the exposure and costs of a direct military intervention. As a concept proxy wars transcend the mono-causal modes of conflict that have dominated recent strategic discourse, such as insurgency or piracy. Instead, it encompasses a complex set of relationships, dynamics and processes. Proxy warfare takes place in multi-threat environments in which states and non-state actors interact (both covertly and overtly) for the purposes of extending influence, interest and, in some cases, territory via third parties. This goal does not have to be achieved through lethal means alone, and can indeed be conducted virtually in cyberspace. Historically, states have exploited specific localised events (such as a civil war) to provoke a shift in the wider geo-political environment (such as the stifling of a rival ideology in the broader region).

The War In Syria Explained (Documentary News)

At the moment, such patterns are evident inside Syria.[16] Since 2011, a myriad of foreign nations have been funding what has been labelled “a chaotic melange of fighters” inside Syria. Syria is a particularly anarchic proxy war involving a broad network of shifting Benefactor-Proxy-Agent relationships, each with different goals and desired end states. The incredibly swift rise of ISIS, combined with their disregard for any other group or country, made strange bedfellows out of the resultant anti-ISIS coalition. America found itself united with Iran and other Gulf states in the effort to quell the rise of this virulent movement and roll back the borders of this self-proclaimed Sunni caliphate. The simultaneous battle to oust Assad from power in Damascus has seen Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar channel financial assistance and weapons towards their favoured rival Sunni groups in the hope it would lead to an outcome of their liking. Instead, this indirect interference was mirrored by pro-Assad Shia groups, like Hezbollah, being sponsored by Iran. The result of this? “Saudi Arabia and Iran have been battling for regional supremacy. For a major criticism of Liddell Hart’s work, which questions how he positioned the indirect approach vis interpretations of the historical record of both world wars, see John J. Mearsheimer, Liddell Hart and the Weight of History, to the last Syrian.”[17] Beset by a disunited opposition and by a network of foreign intelligence agents, Syria has become a particularly bloody proxy battle ground symptomatic of this new era of the indirect approach.  

...THE RECOURSE TO AN INDIRECT PROXY WAR IS STRATEGICALLY CREATIVE BECAUSE OF THE WAY IN WHICH IT MAKES STRATEGIC STRENGTHS...OUT OF WEAKNESSES...

The need for a proxy war strategy that adequately balances ends, ways, and means (the traditional triptych of strategic design) requires a fundamental self-assessment of the realistic attainability of the endgame, the restriction on the number of ways it can be achieved and the availability of means. Limitations placed on any of these factors can cause a state to pursue non-conventional or irregular strategies that are indirect in nature in order to nullify any material or power disadvantages they have in relation to adversaries. All strategy, as Sir Lawrence Freedman has stated, is “fluid and flexible.”[18] The indirect approach adds uncertainty to its characteristics and it is strategically creative. Freedman reminds us that “underdog strategies, in situations where the starting balance of power would predict defeat, provide the real test of creativity.”[19] By taking the immediate belligerency out of war, via the obfuscation of responsibility for what could be construed as an act of war, the recourse to an indirect proxy war is strategically creative because of the way in which it makes strategic strengths (such as deniability) out of weaknesses (such as economic constraints and a poor conventional military capacity).

Despite its persistent presence throughout the history of warfare, proxy warfare needs to be fully sketched out and conceptually understood to avoid strategic confusion, which often arises when conflicts involving multiple competing actors in confusing political environments are conceived of using traditional concepts of war.[20] Proxy warfare takes place on multiple platforms using multiple actors. Yet by being strategically designed to circumvent situations that look like, or could lead to, conventional conflict, proxy warfare will take a position of near permanence on the strategic landscape, much like they did during the Cold War. By tackling and engaging in proxy warfare we are both perpetually avoiding and committing to a continuous conflict. For a major criticism of Liddell Hart’s work, which questions how he positioned the indirect approach vis interpretations of the historical record of both world wars, see John J. Mearsheimer, Liddell Hart and the Weight of History. Even if the prosecution and countering of proxy warfare looks like neither war nor peace, proxy wars are fought in the increasingly militarised grey area in between due to the indirect responsibility for kinetic activity inside a conflict zone.

So ingrained were proxy wars into the behaviour of Cold War superpowers within, and often beyond, their spheres of influence, that in many ways we can perceive the real front line of the Cold War not as the Iron Curtain that fractiously divided the European continent, but the so-called Third World of Africa and Asia. But proxy wars should not be seen as synonymous with the Cold War. We are entering a new era of proxy war, and thus the indirect approach, for several reasons. Firstly, the appeal of fighting an indirect war still rests on an intrinsic set of assumptions based on interest formation, ideological premises, and perceptions of risk. Collectively, this has meant that states are still reluctant to cede interest but are increasingly unwilling to bear the human and financial costs of maintaining it. The result is a heightened appeal in the use of proxies as a means of securing national interest indirectly.

Secondly, a new set of actors on the international political scene have emerged who are prime to become proxy war-wagers of the future, including private military companies and internet hackers. These new warriors are able to be co-opted by states at a point when national military recruitment is waning and defence budgets squeezed. The literal outsourcing of military operations creates obvious conditions by which states fight wars indirectly.

Thirdly, the inevitable consequence of the War on Terror on American political willingness to wage large-scale regime-changing wars is that the US will revert to engagement in proxy warfare to maximise their interests whilst minimising their political and military exposure. Additional boots on the ground, especially in the Middle East, as a corollary to airpower exposes American foreign policy to the repetition of recent follies. There are few signs emanating from the Trump White House that there is an appetite in the new administration for extensive expeditionary military engagements. Although denoting a neo-isolationist turn, it remains to be seen whether President Trump will feel inclined to preserve American interests overseas through the utility of more proxies.

Finally, we cannot ignore the role played by two key international players: China and Russia. The continuing rise of China as a global superpower raises significant questions as to how it will exert its presence internationally and whether this actually increases the likelihood of it engaging in proxy wars without damaging its trade relations with the West. Compounding this is Russia’s use of proxies inside the contested zones on NATO’s southern and eastern flanks. The coercion of regional neighbours and territorial annexation inside Crimea in 2014 by Russia has opened up a policy dilemma for the West in regards to how Russian use of volunteers creates the scope for indirect war to be waged as part of a wider hybrid war strategy.[21]

In short, it is a mode of warfare that we are likely to see more, and not less of, in the coming decades given the confluence of global power shifts, political recalibration, and strategic reassessment by key international players.[22] This places the indirect approach firmly back on Western strategic horizons for the foreseeable future.

THE NEW ERA OF THE INDIRECT STRATEGIC APPROACH

The indirect approach, as envisaged by Liddell Hart, creates the conditions whereby an enemy is forced to realise that their own strategic objectives are unattainable without the need for direct or conventional use of force. As Freedman has noted, “the logic point[s] to deterrence.”[23] Proxy warfare is a form of conflict predominantly designed to deter competitor states from staking significant strategic resources of their own. This is in large part based on acute calculations of political risk and a desire to maximise self-interest that is greater than the will of an adversary to aggressively respond. This in-built logic of deterrence is reinforced by other key components of proxy warfare, namely causal ambiguity (victim states might be deterred from retaliating in a conventional way because of the unclear lines of responsibility for the initial attack).

AS A FORM OF DETERRENCE ITSELF, THE PROSECUTION OF PROXY WARFARE BY ADVERSARIES IS ARGUABLY IMMUNE TO RIVAL FORMS OF DETERRENCE. LIDDELL HART OBSERVED OVER HALF A CENTURY AGO THAT “THE NUCLEAR DETERRENT… DOES NOT APPLY AND CANNOT BE APPLIED TO THE DETERRENCE OF SUBTLER FORMS OF AGGRESSION.”

As a form of deterrence itself, the prosecution of proxy warfare by adversaries is arguably immune to rival forms of deterrence. Liddell Hart observed over half a century ago that “the nuclear deterrent… does not apply and cannot be applied to the deterrence of subtler forms of aggression.”[24] Indeed, nuclear deterrence could indeed promote the recourse of other, more irregular, forms of conflict. The possession of nuclear weapons is therefore not enough to counter the resort to proxy warfare by competitor states, but it may prevent the escalation of hostilities that encompass direct modes of confrontation.

An indirect approach takes what Liddell Hart called “the line of least resistance” in the physical sense and the “line of least expectation” in the psychological sense. It is both ambiguous and attritional, ensuring that an enemy is weakened "by pricks instead of blows." When states perceive inferiority in their own conventional military capabilities an indirect strategy of proxy warfare may be adopted, especially if the leaders of the state feel assured that the drain on their enemies in countering acts by third party proxies is greater than the sponsorship itself.[25]

The psychological component of the initial recourse to proxy war can be found in acute perceptions of the risks involved in undertaking alternative, more direct, forms of intervention. Christopher Coker has argued that the language and methods of risk analysis are applicable to the way that modern war is understood and conducted and that war has fundamentally "become risk management in all but name."[26] Recourse to proxy warfare is, logically, an act of risk reduction. The desire by a state to avoid using overt, conventional (possibly even nuclear) force with obvious lines of responsibility denotes a decision influenced by the appeal of waging an indirect war in order to lever as much gain out of a pre-existing or newly manufactured conflict without the risk of being an outright combatant in a conventional war that is subject to normal channels of international legal scrutiny therefore reducing the chances of direct retaliation by the victim state.

The overarching purpose of the indirect approach is to reduce resistance within the mindset of enemy decision-makers. This is assured, Liddell Hart argued, through a sudden "change of front,” thus dislocating the enemy through movement in the physical sphere (which can be achieved through territorial gains made as a result of bolstering a proxy materially or financially) and dislocating the enemy commanders steadfastness in the psychological sphere due to the surprise nature of sudden enemy effectiveness (again achieved indirectly through third party benevolence).[27] As he said of the indirect strategic approach more generally, it is “closely related to all problems of the influence of mind upon mind.”[28] We should therefore expect a greater investment in information warfare and psychological operations in areas of strategic concern. The provision of large amounts of weapons and funding to an enemy’s enemy can affect the decision-making capacity of that enemy if what first appeared to be a winnable war is recalibrated to stalemate thanks to targeted indirect intervention by a third party. If, as Liddell Hart believed, “the perfection of strategy should be sought in the elimination of fighting, then the recourse to war by proxy creates such a situation by default for nations who outsource the fight.[29]

THE INDIRECT APPROACH: ON THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA

Proxy wars have been used for centuries as a way for states to indirectly manipulate the outcome of foreign wars (just look at how Catholic Spain and Protestant France flocked to support their co-religionists in the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years' War; or British support for the Confederacy during the American Civil War given the importance of the cotton trade). Indirect war has certainly had a perennial appeal. However, proxy wars are rarely stopped in a way that inter-state wars or civil wars are stopped—through either victory by one side or a mediated peace agreement. Many proxy wars tend to end because the proxy outgrows the relationship with the benefactor state. Increased autonomy for the proxy group negates the need for so much external assistance. Take Hizbullah for example. They were gradually able to independently gain enough weapons and money of their own that they weakened their ties with Iran and Syria—two countries who had been using Hizbullah to fight a proxy war with Israel. States usually take some steps to hide their involvement in a proxy war (if not outright plausible deniability, at least shrouding involvement in ambiguity), so sometimes public exposure of a state’s indirect involvement may cause such international outcry that they cease the supply of money and weapons, as we saw with the US in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

The elongation of violence is a key way in which proxy wars fulfil Liddell Hart’s belief that the indirect approach erodes an enemy’s resistance. The history of proxy wars demonstrates how third party interference causes the prolonging of the initial bi-party conflict through the creation of stalemate conditions, which can alter the strategic perceptions of the target state.[30] However, the indirect approach, and by extension war by proxy, is unlikely to ever lead to outright victory. As with all displacement activities rarely do they fulfil the ultimate objective. It lacks decisiveness, overwhelming force, or the provision of superior numbers. It can soften an enemy, erode their will, but it is not a strategy designed to produce an acknowledgeable battlefield win. Indeed, the best it can produce is a strategic impasse. Even in cases where a munificently sponsored proxy has attained its goals (take the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 in the face of potent CIA-backed mujahedeen resistance) we must not overlook additional explanatory factors, including the domestic political situation (such as the crumbling of the USSR and Gorbachev’s unwillingness to prolong the occupation) and the strategic failures of the enemy (the Soviets had settled upon a strategy of urban pacification in a predominantly rural country where the mujahedeen drew their support from). Yet the increasingly risk averse nature of politically-minded and financially constrained strategic planning has embraced the idea of an indirect approach and eschewed the idea (more out of hope than anything else) that victory comes at the price of blood.  The blood price of modern war waged by the West is now largely for proxies to pay.

Portrait of General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1865, taken by Matthew Brady (Wikimedia)

Carl von Clausewitz famously described the fog of war to define the absence of information a commander has across a multitude of levels, from the tactical to the grand strategic. Building an intelligence picture of an enemy’s intent, force structure, and weapon capabilities remains a crucial part of any strategy. But proxy warfare represents the foggiest form of war given the deliberate obfuscations that occur in hiding the identity of the benefactor state. Not knowing exactly who the enemy is presents the most fundamental of challenges to strategic formulation. To paraphrase General Sherman during the American Civil War, war waged by proxy puts the opponents on the horns of a dilemma: over-reaction looks preemptive and disproportionate if clear responsibility for an attack has not been established; but the lack of a response leaves a state open to death by a thousand cuts. This is the precarious tightrope that policymakers and military strategists must tread when determining how to respond to the use of proxy warfare by other states in this new era of the indirect strategic approach.

Andrew Mumford is an Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, where he is also co-director of the Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism. His new book Counterinsurgency Wars and the Anglo-American Alliance: The Special Relationship on the Rocks is due out in early 2018 with Georgetown University Press. His previous books include The Counter-Insurgency Myth: The British Experience of Irregular Warfare and Proxy Warfare.

The New Era of the Proliferated Proxy War

The Strategy Bridge

Andrew Mumford 

 November 16, 2017

War in the modern world is changing. Since the end of the Cold War inter-state war has declined globally, whilst even civil wars have become a relative rarity. But war is not becoming an obsolete element of human interaction.[1] Governments and militaries around the world are simply changing the way that their strategic objectives are secured. An approximate 50% reduction in major inter- and intra-state conflicts between 1990 and 2010 belies a significant shift in global attitudes to war.[2] A heightened perception of risk, greater restrictions on military expenditure as a result of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, and a greater public aversion (in the West at least) to conventional confrontation has led to an accentuated appeal for national security goals and defence priorities being attained by other means. This is the era of indirect war by proxy.

Concerns over the increased recourse to proxy war are currently prevalent given how the West is tackling the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) in part through the delivery of large amounts of weaponry, ammunition, and money to moderate Syrian rebel groups and the Kurdish peshmerga. Furthermore, Russian military action in the Crimea in 2014 caused much consternation in the West over fears that the Kremlin was attempting to coerce its regional neighbours and expand its borders via ambiguous but aggressive military action.[3] So-called little green men—Russian volunteers, insisted Russian President Vladimir Putin—took control of key areas in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart ()

The resurgence of proxy warfare (a type of conflict long associated with the Cold War) does not reinvent the wheel in strategic terms. Indeed, in many ways contemporary proxy warfare is the latest iteration of what Sir Basil Liddell Hart labelled the indirect approach. Liddell Hart based his notion on an understanding that brains were a more effective strategic lever than brawn, arguing that indirect methods “endow warfare with intelligent properties that raise it above the brute application of force.”[4] This required focusing strategic efforts on the psychological will of the enemy, emphasising the nature of surprise. Such characteristics remain pertinent factors in understanding how states aim to degrade and ultimately destroy the capabilities of groups like ISIS, or undermine rival regional powers today. As such, contemporary proxy warfare is a modern manifestation of an indirect strategic approach.

This article reinterprets Liddell Hart’s strategy by arguing that the indirect component of modern warfare is not about the repositioning of one’s own forces for the purposes of deep strategic penetration and rear manoeuvres but the fundamental re-routing of lethal activity through a third party. The indirect element of modern strategic approaches therefore refers to both the source of the threat (something that is complicated by the use of proxies) and the ambiguous methods often utilised (that are seen as a guarantor of maintaining the plausible deniability of the perpetrator and mitigating against escalation). The strategic use of an indirect approach can manifest itself in different ways in modern proxy wars, including the use of third parties to conduct information operations, psychological operations, cyber attacks and the sponsorship of a terrorist attack through the indirect provision of money, weapons and other logistical or communications equipment. Liddell Hart himself had an undeniable tendency to selectively decide what was an example of the indirect approach at work based on its success or failure. However, all proxy wars can be considered contemporary acts of the indirect approach. If we shift our understanding of the main raison d’etre of the strategy away from broad interpretations of avoiding strength to attack weakness and towards an appreciation of the desire to avoid any direct intervention by instead outsourcing kinetic activity to a third party proxy.

BASIL LIDDELL HART AND THE INDIRECT APPROACH

As Liddell Hart’s biographer Alex Danchev noted, the indirect approach was his “signature tune.”[5] The indirect approach is encapsulated in dictums from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, including “Subdue the enemy without fighting” and “Avoid what is strong to strike what is weak.”[6] Unfairly dismissed by its critics as little more than war avoidance,  the indirect approach is admittedly a strategic ideal, but it is one that is better depicted as war displacement.[7] As Shelford Bidwell argued in the early 1970s, Liddell Hart was “a synthesizer as much as an originator,” owing much to the ideas not just of Sun Tzu, but other members of what Bidwell labels the British school of strategic thought who saw war as an art not a science, especially T.E Lawrence and J.F.C Fuller. Yet Bidwell, correctly, ultimately forgives Liddell Hart’s “exaggeration and fancifulness” because he “used an electric ox-goad to penetrate the hide of orthodox military thought.”[8]

The Art of War in a classical bamboo book (Wikimedia) and a modern book (Amazon)

Liddell Hart first enunciated his ideas on the topic in book form in 1929, followed by a further four books building on the same theme in 1941, 1946, 1954, and 1967. The last edition (titled Strategy: An Indirect Approach) sold over 100,000 copies in the US alone and was treated, as Brian Holden Reid rightly describes, as “a major intellectual event in the armed forces of the West and beyond.”[9] His theorising of modern war was borne out of a military career cut short by injury in the First World War, followed by doctrine-writing work for the Army, and as a military correspondent for the Daily Telegraphand The Times.  His works on General Sherman’s influence in the American civil war, Napoleon’s strategic legacy, and perceptions on the evolution of warfare made him a warrior-scholar of international renown. He was feted on book promotion tours and had his ideas openly embraced by the then Senator Jack Kennedy during the 1960 presidential election.[10]

Alex Danchev deftly described the ideas expounded in Strategy: An Indirect Approach as “part prescription, part idealization, part excogitation.”[11] Holden Reid argues that it embodies Liddell Hart’s “Edwardian rationalism that exalted not just reason, but truth, order, progress, judicious compromise and careful understanding.”[12] For Liddell Hart. the indirect approach had manifestly guided the British Way of Warfare (the title of his 1932 book) from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Again, Danchev’s insights on this synonymy are insightful, especially when he observed that for Britain during this three hundred year period war on land “was prosecuted by proxy, by the artful dodge of ‘lending sovereigns to sovereigns,’ and not sending an expeditionary force."[13]

THE SHIFT IN THE MODERN LANDSCAPE OF WAR WROUGHT BY THE HEIGHTENED USE OF PROXY MILITIAS AND DULLED APPETITE FOR BOOTS ON THE GROUND IN CONFLICT ZONES FROM SYRIA TO UKRAINE SHOULD GIVE US REASON TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY LIDDELL HART’S SIGNATURE TUNE...

This artful dodge has been contemporised and indeed arguably come to encompass a broader Western Way of War. The shift in the modern landscape of war wrought by the heightened use of proxy militias and dulled appetite for boots on the ground in conflict zones from Syria to Ukraine should give us reason to learn how to play Liddell Hart’s signature tune as a means of making greater sense of this new era of proliferated proxy war. An indirect approach ensures that “the business of war… [is] not position and attrition and mutual exhaustion, but analysis and paralysis and maximal preservation.”[14] The recourse to proxy war provides a strong capacity for analysis by the proxy’s benefactor given the spatial displacement from any lethal activity; a high chance for enemy paralysis given the sudden potency of their indirectly-sponsored opponent (as seen in Crimea in 2014 given the rapid successes scored by pro-Russian militias); and the most literal guarantee of force protection given the displacement of kinetic activity to proxies.

PROXY WAR AS AN INDIRECT STRATEGIC APPROACH

Proxy war can been defined as: “the indirect engagement in a conflict by third parties wishing to influence its strategic outcome.”[15] This can involve the provision of weapons, money and other forms of assistance, but crucially absolves the intervening party (often described as a benefactor or sponsor) from having to undertake its own direct military intervention in a pre-existing conflict by outsourcing the lethal activity to a proxy, such as a militia group or other national military (often labelled a surrogate). Proxy wars are fought at arms-length by those who want to simultaneously protect or expand their interests whilst avoiding the exposure and costs of a direct military intervention. As a concept proxy wars transcend the mono-causal modes of conflict that have dominated recent strategic discourse, such as insurgency or piracy. Instead, it encompasses a complex set of relationships, dynamics and processes. Proxy warfare takes place in multi-threat environments in which states and non-state actors interact (both covertly and overtly) for the purposes of extending influence, interest and, in some cases, territory via third parties. This goal does not have to be achieved through lethal means alone, and can indeed be conducted virtually in cyberspace. Historically, states have exploited specific localised events (such as a civil war) to provoke a shift in the wider geo-political environment (such as the stifling of a rival ideology in the broader region).

The War In Syria Explained (Documentary News)

At the moment, such patterns are evident inside Syria.[16] Since 2011, a myriad of foreign nations have been funding what has been labelled “a chaotic melange of fighters” inside Syria. Syria is a particularly anarchic proxy war involving a broad network of shifting Benefactor-Proxy-Agent relationships, each with different goals and desired end states. The incredibly swift rise of ISIS, combined with their disregard for any other group or country, made strange bedfellows out of the resultant anti-ISIS coalition. America found itself united with Iran and other Gulf states in the effort to quell the rise of this virulent movement and roll back the borders of this self-proclaimed Sunni caliphate. The simultaneous battle to oust Assad from power in Damascus has seen Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar channel financial assistance and weapons towards their favoured rival Sunni groups in the hope it would lead to an outcome of their liking. Instead, this indirect interference was mirrored by pro-Assad Shia groups, like Hezbollah, being sponsored by Iran. The result of this? “Saudi Arabia and Iran have been battling for regional supremacy. For a major criticism of Liddell Hart’s work, which questions how he positioned the indirect approach vis interpretations of the historical record of both world wars, see John J. Mearsheimer, Liddell Hart and the Weight of History, to the last Syrian.”[17] Beset by a disunited opposition and by a network of foreign intelligence agents, Syria has become a particularly bloody proxy battle ground symptomatic of this new era of the indirect approach.  

...THE RECOURSE TO AN INDIRECT PROXY WAR IS STRATEGICALLY CREATIVE BECAUSE OF THE WAY IN WHICH IT MAKES STRATEGIC STRENGTHS...OUT OF WEAKNESSES...

The need for a proxy war strategy that adequately balances ends, ways, and means (the traditional triptych of strategic design) requires a fundamental self-assessment of the realistic attainability of the endgame, the restriction on the number of ways it can be achieved and the availability of means. Limitations placed on any of these factors can cause a state to pursue non-conventional or irregular strategies that are indirect in nature in order to nullify any material or power disadvantages they have in relation to adversaries. All strategy, as Sir Lawrence Freedman has stated, is “fluid and flexible.”[18] The indirect approach adds uncertainty to its characteristics and it is strategically creative. Freedman reminds us that “underdog strategies, in situations where the starting balance of power would predict defeat, provide the real test of creativity.”[19] By taking the immediate belligerency out of war, via the obfuscation of responsibility for what could be construed as an act of war, the recourse to an indirect proxy war is strategically creative because of the way in which it makes strategic strengths (such as deniability) out of weaknesses (such as economic constraints and a poor conventional military capacity).

Despite its persistent presence throughout the history of warfare, proxy warfare needs to be fully sketched out and conceptually understood to avoid strategic confusion, which often arises when conflicts involving multiple competing actors in confusing political environments are conceived of using traditional concepts of war.[20] Proxy warfare takes place on multiple platforms using multiple actors. Yet by being strategically designed to circumvent situations that look like, or could lead to, conventional conflict, proxy warfare will take a position of near permanence on the strategic landscape, much like they did during the Cold War. By tackling and engaging in proxy warfare we are both perpetually avoiding and committing to a continuous conflict. For a major criticism of Liddell Hart’s work, which questions how he positioned the indirect approach vis interpretations of the historical record of both world wars, see John J. Mearsheimer, Liddell Hart and the Weight of History. Even if the prosecution and countering of proxy warfare looks like neither war nor peace, proxy wars are fought in the increasingly militarised grey area in between due to the indirect responsibility for kinetic activity inside a conflict zone.

So ingrained were proxy wars into the behaviour of Cold War superpowers within, and often beyond, their spheres of influence, that in many ways we can perceive the real front line of the Cold War not as the Iron Curtain that fractiously divided the European continent, but the so-called Third World of Africa and Asia. But proxy wars should not be seen as synonymous with the Cold War. We are entering a new era of proxy war, and thus the indirect approach, for several reasons. Firstly, the appeal of fighting an indirect war still rests on an intrinsic set of assumptions based on interest formation, ideological premises, and perceptions of risk. Collectively, this has meant that states are still reluctant to cede interest but are increasingly unwilling to bear the human and financial costs of maintaining it. The result is a heightened appeal in the use of proxies as a means of securing national interest indirectly.

Secondly, a new set of actors on the international political scene have emerged who are prime to become proxy war-wagers of the future, including private military companies and internet hackers. These new warriors are able to be co-opted by states at a point when national military recruitment is waning and defence budgets squeezed. The literal outsourcing of military operations creates obvious conditions by which states fight wars indirectly.

Thirdly, the inevitable consequence of the War on Terror on American political willingness to wage large-scale regime-changing wars is that the US will revert to engagement in proxy warfare to maximise their interests whilst minimising their political and military exposure. Additional boots on the ground, especially in the Middle East, as a corollary to airpower exposes American foreign policy to the repetition of recent follies. There are few signs emanating from the Trump White House that there is an appetite in the new administration for extensive expeditionary military engagements. Although denoting a neo-isolationist turn, it remains to be seen whether President Trump will feel inclined to preserve American interests overseas through the utility of more proxies.

Finally, we cannot ignore the role played by two key international players: China and Russia. The continuing rise of China as a global superpower raises significant questions as to how it will exert its presence internationally and whether this actually increases the likelihood of it engaging in proxy wars without damaging its trade relations with the West. Compounding this is Russia’s use of proxies inside the contested zones on NATO’s southern and eastern flanks. The coercion of regional neighbours and territorial annexation inside Crimea in 2014 by Russia has opened up a policy dilemma for the West in regards to how Russian use of volunteers creates the scope for indirect war to be waged as part of a wider hybrid war strategy.[21]

In short, it is a mode of warfare that we are likely to see more, and not less of, in the coming decades given the confluence of global power shifts, political recalibration, and strategic reassessment by key international players.[22] This places the indirect approach firmly back on Western strategic horizons for the foreseeable future.

THE NEW ERA OF THE INDIRECT STRATEGIC APPROACH

The indirect approach, as envisaged by Liddell Hart, creates the conditions whereby an enemy is forced to realise that their own strategic objectives are unattainable without the need for direct or conventional use of force. As Freedman has noted, “the logic point[s] to deterrence.”[23] Proxy warfare is a form of conflict predominantly designed to deter competitor states from staking significant strategic resources of their own. This is in large part based on acute calculations of political risk and a desire to maximise self-interest that is greater than the will of an adversary to aggressively respond. This in-built logic of deterrence is reinforced by other key components of proxy warfare, namely causal ambiguity (victim states might be deterred from retaliating in a conventional way because of the unclear lines of responsibility for the initial attack).

AS A FORM OF DETERRENCE ITSELF, THE PROSECUTION OF PROXY WARFARE BY ADVERSARIES IS ARGUABLY IMMUNE TO RIVAL FORMS OF DETERRENCE. LIDDELL HART OBSERVED OVER HALF A CENTURY AGO THAT “THE NUCLEAR DETERRENT… DOES NOT APPLY AND CANNOT BE APPLIED TO THE DETERRENCE OF SUBTLER FORMS OF AGGRESSION.”

As a form of deterrence itself, the prosecution of proxy warfare by adversaries is arguably immune to rival forms of deterrence. Liddell Hart observed over half a century ago that “the nuclear deterrent… does not apply and cannot be applied to the deterrence of subtler forms of aggression.”[24] Indeed, nuclear deterrence could indeed promote the recourse of other, more irregular, forms of conflict. The possession of nuclear weapons is therefore not enough to counter the resort to proxy warfare by competitor states, but it may prevent the escalation of hostilities that encompass direct modes of confrontation.

An indirect approach takes what Liddell Hart called “the line of least resistance” in the physical sense and the “line of least expectation” in the psychological sense. It is both ambiguous and attritional, ensuring that an enemy is weakened "by pricks instead of blows." When states perceive inferiority in their own conventional military capabilities an indirect strategy of proxy warfare may be adopted, especially if the leaders of the state feel assured that the drain on their enemies in countering acts by third party proxies is greater than the sponsorship itself.[25]

The psychological component of the initial recourse to proxy war can be found in acute perceptions of the risks involved in undertaking alternative, more direct, forms of intervention. Christopher Coker has argued that the language and methods of risk analysis are applicable to the way that modern war is understood and conducted and that war has fundamentally "become risk management in all but name."[26] Recourse to proxy warfare is, logically, an act of risk reduction. The desire by a state to avoid using overt, conventional (possibly even nuclear) force with obvious lines of responsibility denotes a decision influenced by the appeal of waging an indirect war in order to lever as much gain out of a pre-existing or newly manufactured conflict without the risk of being an outright combatant in a conventional war that is subject to normal channels of international legal scrutiny therefore reducing the chances of direct retaliation by the victim state.

The overarching purpose of the indirect approach is to reduce resistance within the mindset of enemy decision-makers. This is assured, Liddell Hart argued, through a sudden "change of front,” thus dislocating the enemy through movement in the physical sphere (which can be achieved through territorial gains made as a result of bolstering a proxy materially or financially) and dislocating the enemy commanders steadfastness in the psychological sphere due to the surprise nature of sudden enemy effectiveness (again achieved indirectly through third party benevolence).[27] As he said of the indirect strategic approach more generally, it is “closely related to all problems of the influence of mind upon mind.”[28] We should therefore expect a greater investment in information warfare and psychological operations in areas of strategic concern. The provision of large amounts of weapons and funding to an enemy’s enemy can affect the decision-making capacity of that enemy if what first appeared to be a winnable war is recalibrated to stalemate thanks to targeted indirect intervention by a third party. If, as Liddell Hart believed, “the perfection of strategy should be sought in the elimination of fighting, then the recourse to war by proxy creates such a situation by default for nations who outsource the fight.[29]

THE INDIRECT APPROACH: ON THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA

Proxy wars have been used for centuries as a way for states to indirectly manipulate the outcome of foreign wars (just look at how Catholic Spain and Protestant France flocked to support their co-religionists in the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years' War; or British support for the Confederacy during the American Civil War given the importance of the cotton trade). Indirect war has certainly had a perennial appeal. However, proxy wars are rarely stopped in a way that inter-state wars or civil wars are stopped—through either victory by one side or a mediated peace agreement. Many proxy wars tend to end because the proxy outgrows the relationship with the benefactor state. Increased autonomy for the proxy group negates the need for so much external assistance. Take Hizbullah for example. They were gradually able to independently gain enough weapons and money of their own that they weakened their ties with Iran and Syria—two countries who had been using Hizbullah to fight a proxy war with Israel. States usually take some steps to hide their involvement in a proxy war (if not outright plausible deniability, at least shrouding involvement in ambiguity), so sometimes public exposure of a state’s indirect involvement may cause such international outcry that they cease the supply of money and weapons, as we saw with the US in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

The elongation of violence is a key way in which proxy wars fulfil Liddell Hart’s belief that the indirect approach erodes an enemy’s resistance. The history of proxy wars demonstrates how third party interference causes the prolonging of the initial bi-party conflict through the creation of stalemate conditions, which can alter the strategic perceptions of the target state.[30] However, the indirect approach, and by extension war by proxy, is unlikely to ever lead to outright victory. As with all displacement activities rarely do they fulfil the ultimate objective. It lacks decisiveness, overwhelming force, or the provision of superior numbers. It can soften an enemy, erode their will, but it is not a strategy designed to produce an acknowledgeable battlefield win. Indeed, the best it can produce is a strategic impasse. Even in cases where a munificently sponsored proxy has attained its goals (take the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 in the face of potent CIA-backed mujahedeen resistance) we must not overlook additional explanatory factors, including the domestic political situation (such as the crumbling of the USSR and Gorbachev’s unwillingness to prolong the occupation) and the strategic failures of the enemy (the Soviets had settled upon a strategy of urban pacification in a predominantly rural country where the mujahedeen drew their support from). Yet the increasingly risk averse nature of politically-minded and financially constrained strategic planning has embraced the idea of an indirect approach and eschewed the idea (more out of hope than anything else) that victory comes at the price of blood.  The blood price of modern war waged by the West is now largely for proxies to pay.

Portrait of General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1865, taken by Matthew Brady (Wikimedia)

Carl von Clausewitz famously described the fog of war to define the absence of information a commander has across a multitude of levels, from the tactical to the grand strategic. Building an intelligence picture of an enemy’s intent, force structure, and weapon capabilities remains a crucial part of any strategy. But proxy warfare represents the foggiest form of war given the deliberate obfuscations that occur in hiding the identity of the benefactor state. Not knowing exactly who the enemy is presents the most fundamental of challenges to strategic formulation. To paraphrase General Sherman during the American Civil War, war waged by proxy puts the opponents on the horns of a dilemma: over-reaction looks preemptive and disproportionate if clear responsibility for an attack has not been established; but the lack of a response leaves a state open to death by a thousand cuts. This is the precarious tightrope that policymakers and military strategists must tread when determining how to respond to the use of proxy warfare by other states in this new era of the indirect strategic approach.

Andrew Mumford is an Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, where he is also co-director of the Centre for Conflict, Security and Terrorism. His new book Counterinsurgency Wars and the Anglo-American Alliance: The Special Relationship on the Rocks is due out in early 2018 with Georgetown University Press. His previous books include The Counter-Insurgency Myth: The British Experience of Irregular Warfare and Proxy Warfare.

Autonomous Weapons: Man’s Best Friend


Matthew Hipple 

 December 9, 2017
The Strategy Bridge

This essay is part of the #WarBots series, which asked a group of academics and national security professionals to provide their thoughts on the confluence of automation and unmanned technologies and their impact in the conduct of war. We hope this launches a debate that may one day shape policy.

“Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.”

As early as 1599, Shakespeare’s turn of phrase for Anthony in his play Julius Caesar tacitly acknowledged a 200-year-old human acceptance of autonomous war machines. What is a militarily employed dog other than, as autonomous weapons are defined by DOD Directive 3000.09, “a weapon system that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator.” As modern-day ethicists agonize over the autonomy’s ascendance, they ignore 2,600 years of wartime employment of autonomous, self-replicating killing machines that are by popular opinion still our best friend.

"Scout Dog" by Augustine G. Acuna (U.S. Army Combat Art Program/Wikimedia)

The first wartime dog deployment records date to 600 B.C. with Anatolia’s King Alyattes setting “his strongest dogs upon the (Cymerrian) barbarians, as if they were wild animals.” Contemporary Assyrian stone reliefs in Iraq show shield bearers joining combat alongside an armored mastiff. Since then, man’s oldest autonomous weapon has seen combat from Marathon to Kursk to Vietnam and Afghanistan. Contemporary U.S. military working dog programs employed as many as 2,500 dogs for missions ranging from explosives detection to security.

We torture ourselves over trusting mechanical autonomous killing systems in which our control is virtually total. The lethality, the decision-making software, the fail safes, and specific purposes and points of employment are all determined precisely by our engineers and operators. The programming and engineering necessary to create an effective high-functioning autonomous kill-capable machine, while difficult, are instantly reproducible on an industrial scale once mastered. Meanwhile, our most trusted companion runs a base software combining indeterminate Pavlovian influences and ancient instinct. The training that suppresses or harnesses these non-operator inputs in pursuit of human objectives is difficult, imperfect, and unique to each animal—and even then with the potential for over-ride during critical moments. And yet, as long as we recognize the capabilities and limitations of either autonomous system—they can be our greatest companion. The oldest autonomous weapon in humanity’s arsenal patrols our cities, lives in our homes, and protects our children while the human operator is away. History has taught us not to be afraid.

And we should not be afraid now. Machines imbued with algorithmic autonomy are more controlled than the biological intelligence of a dog. Mere autonomy is a land-mine, doing no more than as explicitly designed—it is not the independence of intelligence, as with a dog, dolphin, or Skynet. Assuming this debate is new, or undecided not only ignores our 2,600 years of canine combat, it also disregards the 100 year old closed debate on mechanical autonomy. From the Hewitt Sperry Automatic Airplane project of the First World War, to the 1944 ASM-2-BAT radar-guided glide bomb, to the loitering munitions of today—autonomous weapons are standard fare. Autonomous, non-human systems have been assumed and accepted for almost half of written history. The expansion of autonomous mechanical systems specifically has been an acknowledged and accepted goal for the last century.

The contemporary difference is that we’re replacing our mechanical kill vehicles’ tendency toward suicide with re-usability. This inability to see today’s developments as extensions of the past is best demonstrated by the strange reaction to Iran’s Yasir suicide drones in 2014. The suicide Yasir was treated as a new or innovative military development—but those familiar with over-the-horizon weapons would recognize the Yasir as nothing more than a cheap, slow-speed guided missile. The opportunities provided by capable remote systems and reusable drone platforms blind us, destroying the weapon taxonomy allowing us to understand and debate properly.

Further, we seek to expand this already-accepted autonomy with discrete target identification processes. Those who fear robots that can loiter in wait for specific people or aircraft forget our modern fire-and-forget systems utilize rudimentary heat, radio signals, or generic radar return. Western “killer robot” developers pursue new, more conservative systems of discrimination combining electro-optical, infrared, radar, and and other imaging profiles to determine the use of force. We are moving closer to the ancient and advanced targeting systems of our war-fighting dogs, and away from the crudity of the autonomous killing machines of the past 100 years. The fears of the killer robot skeptics are not unique to autonomy, rather they are the fears of misuse common to any conventional weapon system.

U.S. Air Force military working dog Jackson sits on a U.S. Army M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle before heading out on a mission in Kahn Bani Sahd, Iraq, Feb. 13, 2007. (SSgt Stacy L. Pearsall/U.S. Air Force Photo)

The question is not whether autonomy is appropriate, but how much can we can train or design the systems to handle, and to what scope of tasks. Regional powers such as China and Russia are all embracing that arc of history—bolstering their anti-access doctrinesor mitigating their demographic death-spiral. Any western campaigns to stop killer robots will not change the march of warfare and weapons development. It will only hold us back, and cost lives. Dogs have been our allies at home and at war for thousands of years. Machines with autonomous kill capability have been in our arsenals for almost 100 years. Lethal autonomy is not inevitable; it is already ascendant and sanctioned with half of human recorded history—and man’s best friend—behind it.

Matthew Hipple  is an active duty naval officer and graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. A co-founder and former President of the Center for International Maritime Security, now he’s an OK dad and annoying husband. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government

December 08, 2017

Open letter to Pervez Musharraf

https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ChanakyaCode/an-open-letter-to--pervez-musharraf/

December 4, 2017, 2:00 PM IST SD Pradhan in Chanakya Code | World | TOI

 

 

 

Dear General Musharraf,

Please accept my congratulations on your becoming the Chairman of ‘the grand alliance of 23 parties’ that you have formed recently, revealing your political ambitions. I also wish to convey my sincere thanks to you for confessing your close links with Hafiz Sayeed, Lashkar–e Taiba (LeT)/ Jammat ud-Dawa (JuD) terrorist outfits operating from Pakistan during a TV discussion on ARY News programme-11th Hour.

This is what the Indian security establishment had learnt long ago. I was most gratified with this statement as it confirmed my assessment about you made at the time of your taking over as the Chief of the Pakistan Army.  I was certain about your masked political ambitions and your nexus with the terrorist outfits. Actually the same thing you had stated earlier in your interview to Dunya News in October 2015. The difference this time was that you plainly mentioned that ‘you like them and they are fond of you and that you are the biggest supporter of LeT/JuD’. While this was known to us since long, the timing of the statement to coincide with the release of Hafiz Sayeed unmistakably reveals your motivation. You expect that Hafiz would now be able to play a crucial role in the Pak politics. He has the support of the most powerful instrument in Pakistan i.e. the Pak Army. I need not tell you about the links between the Pak Army and Hafiz as you know it better than others being a former COAS of the Pak Army. Ms Imaan Hazir Mazari, the daughter of Ms Shireen Mazari of Tehreek-e-Insaf party and an anti-India hawk, has aptly pointed out that there is now no difference between terrorists and the Pak Army. She was responding to the Pak Army’s surrender to the Tehreek-e Labaik recently on the anti-blasphemy protests. In fact the relationship between the Pak Army and terrorists has transformed in recent times. Earlier the Pak Army had terrorists as their unofficial army, now the terrorists have a formal army. Pakistan has in real sense become ‘Terroristan’.

Your assessment is that now Hafiz would contest elections and would either form the government or would be in a position to influence the formation of the new government and also in the selection of the Pak head of the state/government- a position you desperately want for yourself. This is the undeclared agenda of your 23 party grand alliance. Nothing wrong in having that aspiration, though this contradicts your declaration made soon after the coup in 1999. One thing that all admire in you is that you don’t try to hide your ambitions. This is the difference between you and late General Zia-ul Haq. Whereas Zia effectively concealed his ambitions and arrogance behind a veneer of humility, you make no effort to conceal your personal ambitions.

Your above attribute had helped Sri Satish Chandra in 1998 the then Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan to make an accurate assessment about you. Since this is available in public domain (Kargil Review Committee Report, pp. 140-141), I can easily share it with you. He had informed the Indian Ministry of External Affairs after meeting you that you were ‘an ambitious and scheming individual’, ‘a hardliner on India and your elevation does not bode well for India-Pakistan relations’ and that though you were a nominee of the then PM Nawaz Sharif, you could act against him either to install another civilian government or frontally take over from the government’. The Indian assessment, made before the Kargil operations, was that you would not toe the line of Nawaz Sharif on India after some time and would remove him from power. The accuracy of this assessment was proved by the subsequent events.

Your other interesting attribute was observed by your former boss late General Asif Nawaz Janjua, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). During the first tenure of Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister, he used to describe you as “Tricky Mush” for your belief that you could fool all people for all time. By now you may have learnt that this is not true. But Jihadis are your creation and you can easily fool them to get what you aspire for.

Perhaps you will have to do more to convince Hafiz and other terrorists that you played a crucial role in building terrorist outfits as the unofficial portion of the Pak Army. You with the support of other officers like Lt. General Mohammed Aziz Khan and Major General Mahmud Ali Durrani, had created a dreaded army of terrorists which was euphemistically called the Army of Islam. This nomenclature was changed into International Islamic Front in the post -1998 period. You had an extremely close relationship with Osama bin Laden. You used him against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and in 1988 against Shias when they demanded an independent Karakoram State in Gilgit. Laden and his members of the outfit massacred a large number of Shias there. And your rise was only due to Laden.  I was amazed like many others to see your progress in the Pak army. In the initial years after you joined the Pak Army, there was nothing special about you with several adverse remarks being made by some of your superiors. In fact, you have admitted this in your book entitled “In Line of fire”. Your rise began with your selection by Zia as the terrorist breeder to the Pak Army. But for Laden it would have been impossible for you to rise up to the position of COAS. It would not be wrong to say that you are the creation of Osama bin Laden.

After the US launched war against Taliban and Al Qaeda, you provided the latter with much needed shelter. About 150 top Al Qaeda leaders were kept in Pakistan and then sent to Bangladesh in disguise and were brought back later. Osama bin Laden was provided with a safe house right in Islamabad. You may have thought of presenting him in case the US pressurised you to do more on terrorism. You had been giving senior and lower ranking expendable Al Qaeda terrorists from time to time whenever there was intense pressure from the US. Presenting the known terrorist to US in instalments was a process that gave you vast funds and support to you to continue in the important positions in Pakistan (combining President-ship with the COAS). You handed over Abu Zubaida, one of the top Al Qaeda terrorist, and 27 other members of the Al Qaeda to the US authorities in 2002. Then in 2003, you presented Khalid Sheikh Mohammad of Al Qaeda linked with the 9/11 attacks in the US and in 2005 Abu Faraj al–Libbi to the US authorities. There were several lower level terrorists of Al Qaeda who were given to the US. All of them were in Pakistan. Does it not suggest the kind of patronage given by the Pak Army/ISI to Al Qaeda and other terrorists? The terrorists are still enjoying shelter in Pakistan making it the epicentre of international terrorism.

But as far as the US was concerned you fooled them and earned several billions of dollars in the name of war on terror. You launched several sham operations with exotic names like OP Anaconda, OP Mountain Lion, OP Snipe, OP Condor, etc. and used that fund against India. No doubt for some time you acted as a juggler who could play with five balls with two always in your hands. These five balls were Pak political parties, terrorist outfits, US, China and India. This was based on your abilities to mouth lies without any hesitation.

But keeping Osama bin Laden in Islamabad was your mistake. He was on the radar of US and other countries. Twice Al Zawahiri after attending top level meetings at the Pak –Afghan border came to Islamabad raising suspicion that Osama was in that region. These meetings also included the ISI officers whom you always projected as the retired rogue elements. The US knew about it but took action only after further confirmation.

And despite such a close relationship you denied your acquaintance with Osama. When Larry King of the CNN asked you in his programme immediately after the 7th October 2001, about your relationship with Laden, you replied without batting an eyelid, “I had never known him.” When Larry King persisted by asking you, “You mean, you have never met him?” You replied “Never” without hesitation. Your ability to speak lies is remarkable. You had admitted that you had been speaking lies in ‘national interests. You are known for speaking with forked tongue. This was the main reason for the Indian policy makers to remain suspicious about your real intentions.

I admit that you have a remarkable capability for training and motivating terrorists. The terrorists trained by you fought in Afghanistan in all parts of India. You had motivated several of them to act as suicide bomber- a rare achievement. The terrorists and serving officers sent to Kargil knew well that most of them would have to sacrifice their lives but they accepted the task assigned by you. I am sure due to your this ability, Hafiz Sayeed and others like him would be happy to use your this skill.

We in India were surprised when you stated that you were prepared to talk at any level, at any place and at any time with India. In the Indian security establishment there was a feeling that it was a ploy to embarrass the Indian leadership, which eventually proved to be correct. However the then Indian PM decided to invite you for a summit in Agra hoping that what both the countries could not achieve earlier, could be achieved then. Significantly, this was after your Kargil operations and the conversation between you and your chief of the staff that revealed your sinister designs towards India. It was indeed a very magnanimous approach of the former Indian PM Vajpayee. You have placed the entire blame for the failure to issue a declaration on India in your book, which is not correct.  You know it better why it could not succeed. Reacting to your allegation in the book, the former PM Vajpyee clarified on 26th September 2006, “…during our talks he (Musharraf) took a stand that the violence that was taking place in Jammu and Kashmir could not be described as ‘terrorism’. He continued to claim that the bloodshed in the state was nothing but the people’s battle for freedom. It was this stand of General Musharraf that India just could not accept and this was responsible for the failure of the Agra summit.” In addition, if India wanted action against Dawood Ibrahim, there was nothing wrong in it. During the Agra Summit, you tried to wriggle out of the past bilateral agreements reached at Shimla and Lahore and insisted on Pakistan’s right to support the jihadi terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir, whom you described as freedom-fighters and not terrorists.  I was once again proved to be correct in my assessment made prior to the summit. Unfortunately, some senior editors whom you had addressed and a few others who had only limited knowledge created confusion by making public statements that helped you in projecting your view point.

I would like make a few comments on your book “In line of Fire” which I read with great interest. Your critics in Pakistan pointed out that you had deliberately chosen the title after the 1993 Hollowood movie by the same title, which was about a lone secret service agent, who stood between life and death for the US President. Through the book, you have sought to convey a message to the US and the Western world: ‘Me or the jihadi deluge—you have no third option’. This was based on your desire to project to the world that you were the saviour of Pakistan and in case you were not allowed to continue as the President the world would see complete control of jihadis in Pakistan. On this, let me quote a Pak analyst Amir Mir on your traits. According to him people in Pakistan perceive you as a “self-obsessed and power-hungry man, who would go to any extent to remain in power”. I think none can disagree with this. However the problem is now that you want to hug jihadis. And the thrust of your book is that only you can save Pakistan from Jihaids. Neither Hafiz nor Maluna Masood Azhar would like such utterances. Should you not think of writing another book and this time you should reflect your love and respect for persons like Hafiz?

In addition, the book contains several lies. Let me point a few. You have mentioned in your book that Omar Sheikh was not involved in the assassination of Daniel Pearl but Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the then No. 3 in Al Qaeda was the main culprit. Your view was based on the statement of one Fazal Karim of Lashkar-e- Jhangvi “who held one of the Pearl’s legs but did not know the name of the person who had actually slit Pearl’s throat”. All he could say was that he was “Arab- looking”. Can someone believe it?

Your narration of Pak proliferation network is very interesting but full of lies. You placed the entire blame on A Q Khan highlighting that the entire operation was one man’s job. You very cleverly tried to put the blame on some Indians who were employed at Dubai by A Q Khan. Is it not surprising that there were no investigations about these “vanished Indians” by any international agency? Obviously it was the product of your highly fertile and calculative imagination. Let me quote a British intelligence report on the Pak proliferation activities during the period of A Q Khan. The British intelligence report in 2005 pointed out that almost 100 Pak organisations including the Pak High Commission in London assisted Pakistan in its nuclear quest. Pakistan had established a network of front companies to purchase and smuggle out its components to finance such activities. This clandestine effort was known as the “Operation Butter Factory”. And you did not know. Really? I would like to point out that according a study by David Albright of the Institute of Science and International Studies in 2015, the proliferation network of Pakistan still continues. He has observed that Pakistan is heavily dependent on outside supply for many key direct and dual use goods for its nuclear programme and maintains smuggling networks with entities willing to break supplier country laws to obtain these goods. It was not A Q Khan who was responsible for the supply the designs of P1 and P2 centrifuge to Iran and Libya and several other countries but the entire Pak security establishment was part of this operation. You don’t have to bother: the proliferation network was there and it is still there fully functional. Only poor A Q Khan was made to apologise and at that time you could fool US into believing that only Khan was involved. You had to find a scape goat. There is no mention in your book about George Tenet’s (then Director of CIA) meeting with you on the links of scientists belonging to Umma Tameer-e-Nau (UTN) a Pakistani NGO with Al Qaeda for which he had to make an unscheduled visit to Pakistan and you cunningly tried to project the Al Qaeda’s links with the Russian loose nukes. You have also omitted deliberately the Pak linkages with North Korea which were leaked in October 2002. Pakistan’s clandestine collusion with North Korea to help the latter develop a uranium enrichment capability in return for the supply of long-range missiles to Pakistan had continued despite the public leakage of the details of this collusion.

I cannot say how the US would react to your manoeuvres to come back to power. The US knows your close links with terrorists. It is also concerned about the possibility of nuclear weapons of Pakistan falling into the hands of terrorists. It was during your time the outfits like Al Qaeda and LeT were trying hard to acquire WMD capabilities with the help of UTN scientists. In their perception such a possibility would become distinct if you come back to power. President Trump is different from his predecessors. The US now finds that there is continued nexus between the ISI and terrorists. While outlining his South Asia Policy on 21st August 2017, President Trump slammed Pakistan for its continued support to terrorist groups and claiming to be fighting against them. He warned Islamabad of consequences if it continued to do so. He further stated, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.” He has sent a firm message to Pakistan to re-arrest Hafiz. You have responded by saying that this is an insult to Pakistan. This must have been liked by Hafiz. You have gained some brownie points.

For India, it does not matter whether you come to power or Hafiz. Pakistan is now in the grip of fundamentalist parties and the Pak Army’s recent surrender to the Tehreek-e Labaik reflects this. It will continue to be a ‘Terroristan’ unless the Pak Army is forced to sever its links with terrorists. India is also well aware of your duplicity. While the talks were going on to resolve the issue between the two countries, an senior ISI officer during your visit to Bangladesh met ULFA leader Paresh Barua and offered him substantial assistance to continue his anti-India activities. That you had never been sincere in improving relations between the two countries is well known. In fact your approach towards India is strongly motivated by your desire to avenge what you look upon as Pakistan’s humiliation at the hands of India in 1971 in Bangladesh and in Siachen in 1984. You had justified the 1999 Kargil operation on this basis. This is the perception of the Pak Army as a whole.

It is up to Pakistanis to decide to give you a chance again or not. I am sure that some saner elements in Pakistan must have realised that you made Pakistan a failed state and the epicentre of international terrorism. In the BRICS conference its Joint Declaration this year mentioned the names of Pak based terrorists organisations- JeM and LeT- along with other global terror groups like Haqqani’s network, Islamic State and Al Qaeda. The country is getting diplomatically isolated. Today whereas Pakistan is seen as a failed state, Bangladesh which was a part of Pakistan, respected for its economic development in the comity of nations. Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank network for the poor is now an example for other countries. The younger generation in Pakistan is now becoming active which does not like terrorism. Hence they are not likely to support you. I have quoted Ms Imaan Mazari’s comments above. Another person has also spoken against you. Naela Quadri Baloch, the head of the World Baloch Women Forum, cited your comments made in the television interview in her letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and requested him to designate you a global terrorist. The women in Pakistan may not have forgotten that you had stated that women get raped to get visa for Canada. They may go against you.

But one thing I must admit. If you come back to power, the Pakistan politics would become lively and interesting. You are perhaps the most dramatic political leader of Pakistan. You have a superb capability for communication and that is your asset. You can be compared with Hitler and Goebbels in communication skill. According to them, what was important was not how credible your statement, but how credible your way of saying what you say. You also believe in this.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

BLOG

Chanakya Code

Ensuring national security transcends strategic, military, diplomatic, economic, social and technological factors. The internal security situation remains grim with insurgencies, terrorism and Maoists acquiring dangerous proportions. The external security environment too reflects growing threats. Chanakya was a great security thinker of ancient India, who provided pragmatic solutions to protect the State. These concepts are extremely relevant in today’s security environment. Like Chanakya's thinking, this blog covers all the national security aspects - not only politico-military but also non-military dimensions that contribute to the strengthening of national power.

AUTHOR

SD Pradhan

S D Pradhan has served as chairman of India's Joint Intelligence Committee. He has also been the country's deputy national security adviser. He was chairman of the Task Force on Intelligence Mechanism (2008-2010), which was constituted to review the functioning of the intelligence agencies. He has taught at the departments of defence studies and history at the Punjabi University, Patiala. He was also a visiting professor at the University of Illinois, US, in the department of arms control and disarmament studies. The ministry of defence had utilized his services for the preparation of official accounts of the 1971 war and the counterinsurgency operations in the northeast. In the JIC/National Security Council secretariat, he was closely involved with the preparation of the reports of the Kargil Review Committee and the Group of Ministers on national security as also with the implementation of their recommendations. His publications include two books and several articles

Balochistan: Naela Quadri Baloch demands release of all Baloch women, children from 'Pakistan's torture cells'

*WBWF demands release of all Baloch women, children from 'Pakistan's torture cells'*

ANI | Updated: Dec 08, 2017 21:46IST

Vancouver [Canada], December 8 (ANI): The World Baloch Women Forum (WBWF) has condemned the abduction of Baloch leader Allah Nazar's sister Noor Khatoon and demanded immediate release of all Baloch women and children from Pakistan's torture cells.

"We have learnt that Baloch leader Dr Allah Nazar's sister Noor Khatoon was arrested and taken away by Pakistani security forces, whereas his cousin Sahib Dad was killed and dumped. Dr Nazar's wife and children were also arrested by Pakistani forces last month. They were later released with much fanfare after mounting pressure from Baloch groups. This is not the story of Nazar's family alone. It has been the story of every Baloch family since 1948," said Prof Naela Quadri Baloch, head of WBWF, in a statement.

She added that systematic discrimination, dehumanisation, persecution, demographic marginalisation and neglect of basic development needs is all that the people of resource rich occupied Balochistan has seen in Pakistansince 1948.

Naela noted that the lives of the common Baloch people are being made worse by routine abductions and targeted killings.

_"The plight of the Baloch people has worsened ever since the launch of the China-sponsored China Punjab Economic Corridor (CPEC) as Pakistan assured of Chinese support and stocked with Chinese arms now believes that it has a licence to kill,"_ she said.

_"Earlier, the American patronage and weapons were used by Pakistan to kill and dump the Baloch,"_ she further said.

Asserting that indigenous Baloch people had already suffered growing marginalisation due to the influx of Afghans and Punjabis, Prof Naela said now due to the growing Chinese interest, the problem has assumed much larger proportions around the 'Corridor of Misery' that the CPEC is, land is being occupied and people are being displaced at a faster rate than ever before in Balochistan.

She said that Baloch people are left with no other option than to resist Pakistan's vicious state policy with all available means and resources.

Prof Naela added that the Baloch people will continue their peaceful and principled resistance and struggle for self-determination despite Pakistan's attempts to destroy the middle ground for the civil society through curbs on peaceful assembly, clampdowns on NGOs, curbs on independent media, attacks on Human Rights defenders, state censorship, draconian anti-terror laws, state-sponsored vilification, surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances.

*"We no longer want to remain within Pakistan controlled by its mercenary and genocidal army. Pakistan, which is in every way an artificial geographical construct as was Yugoslavia, is using draconian measures to control three of its four provinces that want to leave. The world has to decide on which side it is,"* she said.

She called on global community to be on the side of unjust as Pakistanis an oppressive state which also happens to be one of the epicentres of global terrorism and narcotics trade.

*"The world has to act before it is too late. To begin with, the UN can send a fact finding mission to Balochistan to hear from the people on the ground. That is the least we expect from the world,"* she said.

For decades in Balochistan, economic exploitation through the plundering of natural resources, and the systematic economic, social and political exclusion of indigenous Baloch people, has become a norm.

In addition to this, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression are used as covert tools to brutally repress the peaceful struggle for justice, rights and equality of the Baloch.

Reports say at least 8,000 Baloch are still victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan, while 1,500 such victims were killed and dumped, according to human rights organisations. (ANI)

December 04, 2017

International experts support Baloch activist's call for designating Musharraf as global terrorist

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/international-experts-support-baloch-activists-call-for-designating-musharraf-as-global-terrorist/1202416

THE NEWS SCROLL03 DECEMBER 2017  Last Updated at 10:38 PM

International experts support Baloch activist's call for designating Musharraf as global terrorist


New Delhi [India], Dec 4 : International experts have come out in support of Prof Naela Quadri Baloch, head of the World Baloch Women Forum (WBWF), who had urged the United States to designate former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf as Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).

A German activist and supporter of the Baloch cause, Claudia Heidelberg, told she supported Prof. Quadri Baloch.

"I join Prof. Naela Quadri Baloch in requesting the US to designate Pervez Musharraf as a global terrorist, after coming out openly in media that he supports labeled terrorist organisations by UN Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)," Heidelberg said.

The German activist called for an investigation by competent authorities in European Union countries to probe Musharraf's association with these terror organisations.

"Musharraf is not a private citizen and his words need to be taken seriously, it is utterly disgraceful on his part for open admiration, and support for a terrorist organisation," Heidelberg said, adding, "His remarks calls for an investigation by competent authorities in EU countries to probe his association-level support that he might have rendered to the LeT till date."

Heidelberg termed Musharraf as "butcher" for his alleged involvement in the murder of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti.

"Musharraf is known as the butcher of Balochistan; his hands are soaked with blood of Baloch. The world has not forgotten his role in murder of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti," the German activist said, adding, "His ruthless use of US weapons against the Baloch was admitted in the past by the former governor of Balochistan."

Heidelberg also urged the EU member states to ban Musharraf's entry into their countries.

"I think it makes sense to request on behalf of my NGO BalochistanProject to urge all EU member states to deny him any right to enter into EU. I will inform my foreign minister about this and expect my colleague Reza Hossein Borr will inform the government of the UK as well," the German activist said.

"His comments have shown his criminal mindset that is not only a threat to the regional peace but to the whole international community," Heidelberg further said.

The German activist emphasised that terrorist organisation like the LeT and the JuD were uniting with the IS and the Taliban.

"These terrorist groups are uniting with international terror groups like the IS and the Taliban. Europe must undertake effective measures against such dangerous figures like Musharraf and send a message to all such individuals," Heidelberg

Echoing similar sentiment, a former research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, Dr Robert Darius, said Musharraf must be tried in the International Court of Criminal Justice.

"Gen Musharraf, the butcher of Balochistan, must have a trial in the International Court of Criminal Justice and must give back the money he took out of Pakistan in the form of charity to the poverty stricken people of Balochistan," Dr Darius said.

"The free world must teach a lesson to this type of ruthless generals who butcher innocent people and rob their own people," he added.

Dr Darius said that the US State Department would serve the cause of human rights by designating Musharraf a terrorist.

"The US State Department will serve the cause of human rights and counter terrorism by designating the butcher of Balochistan, Gen Musharraf, as a leader in promoting terror and death in Balochistan!" he said.

"Musharraf's actions, while he was in-charge, promoted terrorism beyond Balochistan," he added.

Ealier, responding to a question about having an alliance with JuD chief Saeed, Musharraf, in an interview to Pakistan-based Aaj News channel, had said, "So far, there have been no talks with them but if they want to be part of the alliance, I would welcome them."

The former military ruler had last month announced the formation of a grand political alliance after a consultative meeting between representatives of around two dozen political parties, including the Sunni Tehreek, Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Mr Musharraf's own All Pakistan Muslim League (APML).

However, several parties dissociated themselves from Musharraf's Awami Ittehad alliance after he announced the formation of a "grand alliance" of 23 parties.

According to media reports, two major partners of the alliance - the Pakistan Awami Tehrik and the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen - denied being part of the coalition headed by Musharraf.

Saeed, who continues to be an influential person in Pakistan's certain religious groups despite being an internationally-designated terrorist, announced on Saturday that he would contest the general election in 2018.

The announcement comes days after the Lahore High Court ordered his release from the house arrest.

However, the JuD chief did not disclose anything about the constituency he would like to contest from.

Though, the JuD formed Milli Muslim League (MML) in August when Saeed was detained in Lahore, the party yet to be recognised by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Saeed is a wanted terrorist by India and the United States for his alleged role in masterminding the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that claimed 166 lives. He even carries a bounty of 10 million USD (approx. Rs 66 crore) on his head for his role in the attack.

Musharraf had recently called himself as the "biggest supporter" of the LeT and its founder Hafiz Saeed.

Speaking on Pakistan's ARY News, Musharraf said, "I am the biggest supporter of the LeT and I know they like me and the JuD also likes me."

The former president added that he was always in favour of terrorist action in Kashmir, and the LeT and the JuD were the biggest forces to take on the Indian Army in the state