Seeds of war from the Hindustan Times : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Seeds of war

Shali Ittaman

In the year 2000 draft on future threats to world peace, US Secretary of State Colin Powell devoted a good part to defining the dangers of "fourth generation warfare", known also as stateless war. Little did he suspect, in the following year his country's defences would be surprised by its horrors.

On September 11, four civilian aircraft were hijacked by "suicide squads of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda" and crashed into buildings that symbolised America's economic and military might. The attacks were calculated to hurt America's pride…, the killing of people was perhaps only incidental to the scheme.

Though the world community condemned the violence, it missed asking a few critical questions:

Who created the "evil called Osama bin Laden" and where and how does he derive his power and influence? What is it that makes some people take their own lives for the sake of their mission? Why are people in certain parts of the world excited to violence by the name and image of America?

In the answers to these questions lie pointers, not just to some of the biggest threats to international stability, but also to the country - America - which has had a hand in perpetuating many of these threats.

In an interview at an Afghanistan outback in 1998, Osama bin Laden answered, at least in part, some of these critical questions. He said: "They (Americans) rip us of our wealth and of our resources and of our oil. Our religion is under attack. They kill and murder our brothers. They compromise our honour and our dignity, and dare we utter a single word of protest against the injustice, we are called terrorists."

It is a summary of malice which is heard from many quarters of the world today; only that many of these voices of protest are too feeble in comparison to the organised "terror protests of the Islamic world".

The religious connotation in the use of the phrase Islamic world is, however, misleading. The conflict is not over God. At best it represents a cultural battle between what America stands for and what the various schools of Islam (madarasas) propagate.

Concealed, however, in these protests, is the greater tumult of poverty in certain parts of the world, and the fear of 'America', the torchbearer of the developed western world, cornering for itself the depleting natural resources of the world.

Thus indeed, if America forces a lasting war on Afghanistan, these basic problems will come to the fore, exacerbate and become factors by themselves for waging and prolonging war.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 03, 2001


Continued from above.

Rumblings of the big war

The world today is fast moving towards a situation in which "ecological deterioration will eclipse ideological conflict throughout the world". Resources are diminishing in Africa, dispute triggered by land scarcity is reaching a flash point in Latin America and West Asia is getting parched by the year.

Whereas these conflicts are often attributed to ethnic differences, they have environmental underpinnings. "The number of wars resulting from growing populations and environmental decline is rising sharply", says Ajay Verma, a resource mapping expert, who has spent many years as project head with Tata Energy Research Institute.

"We are seeing such outbreaks even in India. Cauveri has been a thorn in the side of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for long. Punjab, Haryana and Delhi have fought over water sharing… In Bihar, we see acrimony climb between various castes for control over resources such as well water and land… Orissa fights for its daily bread … Such issues have also heightened differences between India and its neighbours".

In fact, a US government study Environmental Considerations in Military Operations, found that water is at the heart of the West Asia crisis. "In the West Bank, population growth in the Jordan River basin increased demand for the scarce supply of fresh water. Over pumping the aquifers depleted the water supply and degraded some aquifers by causing saltwater intrusion from the Mediterranean. Because 40 per cent of Israel's ground water originates in the former occupied territories, Israel sought to protect its water supply by limiting water use during the occupation of the West Bank. The stringent restrictions on water use imposed upon Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon became another point of tension in the conflict..."

The danger of such problems reaching a flashpoint is becoming all too real because civil conflicts are being enlarged across national boundaries by groups or nations with vested interests in the regional economies.

This danger is typified by the situation in West Asia, and is manifest in the current Afghan crisis - a crisis worse compounded because of the deleterious influences of:

Crime and Proliferation of advanced technology and weapons (Also see)

-- Martin Thompson (, October 03, 2001.

US State Department analysis

Today, we must recognize that ours is a world without front lines. The potential method of assault goes well beyond a terrorist with a truck full of conventional explosives. Weapons of mass destruction, cyber attacks, directed energy weapons, indiscriminate-improvised explosive devices, and information operations can all appear at once where distinctions between foreign and domestic, cyber and physical, criminal and military are sufficiently blurred and ambiguous.

This post-modern conflict may be so ambiguous and continuous that the conventional operational environment may all but disappear as a means of describing the setting of conflict. As William S. Lind et al noted in Oct 89 Gazette, "the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts.

The distinction between civilian and military will disappear. Actions will occur concurrently throughout all participants' depth, including their society as a cultural, not just a physical, entity.

Major military facilities, such as airfields, fixed communications sites, and large headquarters will become rarities because of their vulnerability; the same may be true of civilian equivalents, such as seats of government, power plants, and industrial sites (including knowledge as well as manufacturing industries). Success will depend heavily on effectiveness in joint operations as lines between responsibility and mission become very blurred".

The Middle East is a place where a host of troubling facts and agendas collide, intersect, overlap, and reinforce each other complicated by ethnic strife, terrorism, border conflicts, religion, and access to water.

This mix of fanaticism and low-tech delivery methods that defeat high tech defenses is the mark of fourth generation warfare. The terrorists' next strike is not a question of "if", but of where and when. Adversaries will challenge when and where they can, using whatever means available. The power of the high impact media and instant global communications magnify the importance of single attacks.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 03, 2001.

Hindus tan Times

-- Martin Thompson (, October 03, 2001.

"The distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point." I believe that.

-- JackW (, October 04, 2001.


-- Swissrose (, October 04, 2001.

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