Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ways to defeat ourselves

Ways to defeat ourselves
Ajit Doval
Jun 01, 2006
Source: Indian Express

On the face of it the two have no correlation. Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW), which has kept strategic thinkers engrossed for the last decade and a half, is about the what, why, where and how of future conflicts and possible responses. The reservation issue is an expression of anger and frustration in some of India’s bright youth against what they perceive as denial of justice and equality.
Before I explain the connection, let me explain what generation warfare is all about. Following the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 when fire arms began to dominate the battlefield, the concept of nation states started concretising and the state established monopoly on war, the first generation of modern warfare started. It involved massed manpower concentration of armies outnumbering the enemy. It lasted till machine guns and indirect fire made such tactics suicidal. The second generation warfare was based on massed fire power with heavy reliance on artillery; the tactics involving outdoing the adversary in fire power, speed and movement. The third generation warfare was based on manoeuvre and high technology exemplified by the Blitzkrieg of World War II. Later, strategic weapon systems made big wars un-winnable. Conventional wars became cost ineffective. There was no guarantee the state with superior weapons/ armies would necessarily emerge victorious (US in Vietnam, USSR in Afghanistan) and unpredictable post-war consequences could turn victories into net national disadvantage (Afghanistan and Iraq).
This takes us to 4GW, warfare in which civil society becomes the critical element of war. Societal factors within a state will influence forces both within and without — who will launch the war, against whom, how and when. Societies and governments which lose their legitimacy and credibility will be the most vulnerable. If an adversary has to destabilise and bleed a nation to achieve its strategic, political or economic ends, a fractured society will provide a ready ground to exploit the faultlines. It costs much less, can be sustained for longer and, with a few exceptions, even those who become tools of external machination are ignorant of that.
And then, there is a more serious danger within. Fragmentation of society unleashes forces which can destabilise the state, retard its economic growth, undermine the rule of law and lead to violence. How many of us are brave enough to concede that what beleaguered Punjab, J&K, Northeast and now left-wing extremist areas was to some extent a consequence of divisive politics providing openings to our external adversaries? We can ignore history’s lessons only at our peril. A fragmented society loses its national will, which is key. After all, in battles military might is used to subdue the will of a nation to enable the victor to dictate its terms of peace. Divisive politics, in the blind pursuit of power, at times ignores the impact of actions on the will of the nation. When that happens a country becomes a soft ground for launching a 4GW by asymmetric adversaries.
The guru of 4GW, William S. Lind, observed: “If nation states are going to survive they (people in power) must earn and keep the trust of the governed.” He told the American Council of Foreign Relations: “The heart of 4GW is a crisis of legitimacy of the state.” How true to the Indian model when he added, “The establishment is no longer made up of ‘policy types’. Most of its members are placemen. Their expertise is in becoming and then remaining members of the establishment. Their reality is covert politics and not the competence or expertise.” When 4GW visits them their response would be to “close the shutters on the windows of Versailles”.
India is an old civilisation but a new nation state. In the package of its rich national heritage it was also bequeathed many faultlines, prejudices and undesirable social practices. To build a strong, vibrant India, in which members of all communities could grow to their potential excellence we needed a social revolution that resisted the temptation to use these fissures to acquire and sustain power. After Independence many far-reaching laws were enacted to bring about socio-economic transformation — drastic changes in Hindu Civil Law, making untouchability a crime, abolition of zamindari, etc. They were all accepted with near national consensus. It is because the leaders of that time were genuinely interested in bringing about social transformation to build a strong Indian society — all enabled and empowered.
Why is it that the present initiative of the Government has such a divisive impact? It is essentially because no one is convinced, including the likely beneficiaries, that it has been done with bonafide intentions to bring about social justice. They feel it is meant to subserve the power interests of few, callously undermining its disastrous impact on society, its stability and security. It is the error of intentions which is at the root of the problem followed by a failure to anticipate its long-term consequences.
From a security point of view the reservation issue, particularly the way it has been handled, militates against India’s interest. It is not only about admission of some students to elite institutions. It impacts the mindset of the people belonging to different communities — rival sections of society considering their interests as inversely related. It is significant that the medicos and others spearheading the agitation personally have nothing to gain. Their admissions are not at stake. It is bad when it starts psychologically affecting our people in fields and factories, courts and police stations, cantonments and sports fields, classrooms and marketplaces. It may appear to be a harmless passing phenomenon but history testifies to the fact that social acrimonies have a cascading effect and it takes tremendous time and effort to bring about correctives.
The reservation issue is only the latest manifestation of a larger malaise: the politics of dividing the electorate — and society — on as many issues as possible till one’s own tiny segment becomes the biggest. It is the strategy of pygmies. It has to be substituted by the strategy of consolidation and integration of as many segments and interests groups as possible till one acquires the critical mass that gives legitimacy to rule. There is no dearth of issues on which, cutting across caste, communal and other divisive lines, Indian society can be consolidated and led. But that will involve vision, competence, commitment and honesty of purpose.
The writer was director, Intelligence Bureau

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Dear Sir,


These thoughts should find their way to school textbooks. This is among the most insightful of articles on this thought, on any forum, EVER!!!

Please use the full access of your latest assignment to charter a new course of consolidation for the Nation.

More Power to you

Jai Hind!