Tuesday, May 4, 2010

US has lost control of 'managed chaos'

Kiren Aziz Chaudhry at Informed Comment: Seriality refers to groupings of apparently random events that seek to achieve goals that are actually quite stable. Seriality identifies the underlying thrust of policies that are redeployed repetitively, the surface manifestations of which are neither causal nor coincidental. Synchronicity, in contrast, describes temporal confluences when vivid and meaningful patterns of seriality coalesce... In both serial patterns and synchronic moments, there are winners and losers. The former produces lingering conflicts; the latter fundamentally reshapes the terrain of global power...

Destabilization is easy to arrange. But, for two important reasons, US seriality in Af-Pak is not going to coalesce into the synchronic moment when the shattered and war-torn region finally submits to hosting the pipeline that would deliver energy to the West via the Indian Ocean and overtake the Chinese in Central Asia.

First, public sentiment in the global south has permanently turned a corner. This is not because American rhetoric about democracy and freedom has rung hollow for some time now, or that the neo-liberal economic agenda has been discredited on a global scale. It is because China provides a new pedagogy of capitalist development that is vastly more attractive than the American promise of (largely undelivered) freedoms. The inconvenient truth about freedom delivery was announced... in 2006, when the erstwhile Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board wrote a book with that one memorable sentence: 'The Iraq War,' said Greenspan, 'is largely about oil.'... The world is finding new ways of articulating and deploying power that, by virtue of being plainly and brazenly self interested, are actually attractive. The Chinese do not invest in Africa to promote democracy; everyone knows it; and Africans are thankful for it.

Second, like the grab-and-go model of US international economic transactions, the American geo-strategic strategy of 'managed chaos' is broken beyond repair. This is the strategy by which chaos is first created and then set on a preferred course. The problem for the US is that the American will to manage is not matched by capacity... The nefarious arms of the US military machine are pursuing radically different strategies that are more often than not at odds with each other... The ever more fragmented covert, private and informal combatants in the pay of US taxpayers have no idea what they are doing. Chaos, in other words, has become the internal (dis)organizational idiom of the American military machine. Starting with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 the very core of US military command and intelligence agencies incrementally lost control over the activities of ever more mysterious agencies they are supposed to coordinate and oversee.
Image source here.