In furthering my study of peace agencies I delved further into the US Institute for Peace. The USIP held a conference in January, “Passing the Baton — Foreign Policy Challenges and Opportunities Facing the New Administration.” I figured that would be a good place to start.
The event convened nearly 1900 participants and a “high-level, bipartisan group of current and former U.S. foreign policy officials and practitioners.” The web site which recorded the results of the conference featured several photos of one paticipant in particular, General David Petraeus in his uniform with its many rows of colorful ribbons. A peace institute conference on “Foreign Policy Challenges and Opportunities” featuring a warmaker! That was a clue to some of what followed.
The conference included panel discussions of several topics. I was particularly interested in Morning Panel 3: “Stabilizing War-Torn States: Goals and Guidance for a New Administration.” This panel included an army general (not Petraeus, another one), a “senior program officer” from USIP and a university assistant professor.
Here are some extracts from the panel report:
Seven years after entering Afghanistan, the United States is still in search of a winning strategy. In the absence of a basic framework to guide strategy and execution, civilian and military actors have stumbled through peace and stability operations time and again.
At the dawn of a new presidential administration, however, two new doctrinal manuals seek to fill that gap – the U.S. Army’s new Field Manual 3-07 Stability Operations and the U.S. Institute of Peace’s (USIP) draft Guiding Principles for Peace Operations. Both manuals are unprecedented in scope and provide a baseline set of principles for engaging in these missions – FM 3-07 for the U.S. military and the Guiding Principles for U.S. civilians. The documents also embrace a common strategic framework resting on five common end states for peace and stability operations: a safe and secure environment, the rule of law, stable governance, sustainable economy and social well being.
The two manuals [are] major achievements in the long path to increasing U.S. success in war-torn countries . . .increased success in future missions will depend on improving U.S. civilian capacity to operate in these missions and allow the military to assume its support role. . . .create an enhanced foundation for civilian operations in these missions
Now I noticed right away that in my studies of peace agencies, at least this one, the USIP, I would have to learn some new lingo. Some Newspeak. So I took some of the key ‘peace’ phrases and translated them into normal English, Oldspeak you might say. Here they are:
key phrases (in Newspeak) and my tranlations (into Oldspeak):
*entering Afghanistan = bombing of villages
NOTE: This phrase — “entering Afghanistan” — brought back something I had read about the US “entering Afghanistan.”
A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting —
“What causes the documented high level of civilian casualties — 3,000 – 3,400 [October 7, 2001 thru March 2002] civilian deaths — in the U.S. air war upon Afghanistan? The explanation is the apparent willingness of U.S. military strategists to fire missiles into and drop bombs upon, heavily populated areas of Afghanistan.”–
Professor Marc W. Herold, University of New Hampshire
*civilian and military actors = US invasion force with civilian support, actors in a war-play
*peace and stability operations = bombing, shooting, incarceration, assassinations etc. to conquer the people in the invaded country and build a new nation, i.e. peace and stability are really war and instability
*war-torn countries = places where a lot of stuff is blown up and a lot of people die, or are maimed, incarcerated and displaced
*military to assume its support role = destroy stuff so the civilians can build a new nation
*a basic framework to guide strategy and execution = new manuals prescribing military and civilian occupation procedures in invaded countries
*end states for peace and stability operations = a destroyed, conquered, submissive client state
*future missions = more invasions, bombing and killing to build new nations
I think I’ve made some progress in understanding peace lingo and Doublethink. I now understand that destructive wars, in peace lingo, are “peace and stability operations,” for example.
Memories of George Orwell’s 1984:
The Party is progressively implementing a new version of English, aptly named Newspeak. Newspeak has superseded Oldspeak, which is the type of English known to us today. . . .Should the Party’s plan of implementing a strongly reduced variety of language be carried out to the full, they would have succeeded in removing an essential aspect of being a human, i.e. the free will. As mentioned in the quote above, the ultimate goal was that speech would simply issue from the larynx, and would at no point involve brain activity. . . . .Doublethink is a manner of thinking and arguing that fundamentally alters the rules of logic, as it involves having a somewhat flexible approach to facts.
What bothers me is that the “peace” that is advocated by people speaking this peace lingo is the peace of the grave for many of the inhabitants subjected to a US military invasion, including “future missions”. Perhaps I’ll get over it. Not.
Anyhow, moving on, there was “Morning Panel 4: “Confronting or Engaging Iran” with six panelists.
Here’s an opportunity to use my Newspeak and Doublethink. Will the US future missions include entering Iran with civilian and military actors for peace and stability operatons using the new winning strategy, with the military in a support role in another war-torn country? (Please note how well I have mastered the peace lingo.)
Let’s take a look at Panel 4’s “Policy Conclusions”
Panelists generally agreed that the U.S. must engage in direct dialogue with Iranian officials. To ensure the success of engagement efforts, panelists recommend the following actions by the Obama administration:
1. Announce explicitly that military options are not under consideration.
2. Reiterate that the U.S. will talk to any nation without preconditions.
3. Do not link overtures to Iran to changes in its leadership.
4. Create clear incentives and concrete rewards for Iranian concessions.
5. Devise a strategy that takes into account the unpredictability of Iranian politics.
6. Deploy confidence-building measures, such as releasing Iranian prisoners in Iraq.
7. Use a multi-track approach in engaging Tehran on various points of disagreements.
8. Renew talks with Tehran on Iraq and include Iran in a regional consortium of states to build and coordinate broad support for stability and peace Iraq.
Well, hallelujah, Panel 4 didn’t suck up to the military like Panel 3. They also spoke in plain English and promoted real peace rather than Panel 3’s bogus “peace and stability”! Kudos to Panel 4.
So there is hope, after all, in the peace biz, and in any case I’m better prepared for their peace lingo and the people that use it to create their own reality through Doublethink. They’re out there. We need to recognize what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and call them on it, because they think we are suckers to be reality-based.
As Ron Suskind wrote several years ago in an article about George W. Bush:
The [senior adviser to Bush] said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
“Actors” — now where have I heard that before?
Don Bacon is a retired army officer who founded the Smedley Butler Society several years ago because, as General Butler said, war is a racket. For other articles written by Don Bacon go here.