The national security state and the post-Cold War era

The Cold War formally ended in 1990 and the Soviet Union, an adversary of the US for more than four decades, disintegrated in December 1991. These developments were seen as a triumph for the US national security state against the Soviet Union, and the US became the sole superpower in the world. Governments in Washington, both Republican and Democratic, believed that the national security state helped the US "win” the Cold War. Consequently, the US retained its national security state model during the post-Cold War era. According to Anthony Lake, the National Security Advisor in the Clinton administration, “now the US’s enemies are extreme nationalists and tribalists, terrorists, organized criminals, coup plotters, rogue states, and all those who would return newly free societies to the intolerant ways of the past” (Steel 1997, 3). Nevertheless, the Clinton administration decided, when passing Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 25 in May 1994, that the US would only participate in UN peacekeeping missions if they were in its national interests (PDD/NSC 25, 1994). This meant that the US would not intervene in conflicts and civil wars within such states when it was not in its national interest to do so.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 somewhat modified this state-centric national security approach. But by declaring a “war on terror,” the Bush administration lent impetus to the idea that would be a military solution to the challenge of transnational terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration expanded the parameters of the national security state and substantially increased military expenditure. Moreover, the security policies adopted during the Cold War were largely intact and continued in the “global war on terror” (Patman 2015). For example, the US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to topple the Taliban regime. In 2003, the US also overthrew Saddam Hussein’s autocratic regime in Iraq after its invasion. Thus, the Cold War national security state was adapted and developed during Bush’s war on terror.

But the 9/11 terrorist attacks also exposed the limitations of this state-centric national security approach. President Bush believed that the US must militarily pre-empt any potential threat to the US homeland and de-emphasized the use of diplomacy in the struggle against Al-Qaeda. In this vein, both academics and practitioners believed that the invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake for the US, due to its strategic, diplomatic, and economic costs (Patman 2009). The major problem with the national security state was that the “global war on terror” was always more than a military battle and required a multifaceted approach to counter terrorist groups on both ideological and political fronts. More specifically, the “war on terror” involved winning hearts and minds through tackling grievances and discrediting terrorists and their prescriptions for such problems (Patman ed. 2006).

After campaigning against President Bush’s national security approach, President Obama attempted to change the direction of this policy after taking office in Washington. He tried to redefine US exceptionalism and showed more enthusiasm for multilateral security initiatives. Subsequently, the US leadership emphasized the resolution of different international and local conflicts through diplomacy means. According to Professor Robert G. Patman (2015),

The Obama administration largely jettisoned the “war on terror” rhetoric, withdrew all US combat troops from Iraq, attempted a more even-handed stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, escalated the ideological battle against Islamic terrorism, intensified the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their strongholds of Afghanistan and Pakistan, pledged to reinvigorate diplomacy, ruled out US military intervention in the Syrian civil war, and sought, where possible, to negotiate directly with longstanding adversaries like Iran, North Korea, Cuba or Venezuela.

Although the Obama administration attempted to change the modus operand! of the US national security state, it is still intact, as the US-led a limited military operation against the autocratic regime of Muammar-al-Gaddafi in Libya in March 2011, with the support of international coalition (Cooper 2011). President Obama also authorized the US special operations forces deployment in Syria to complement his air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in October 2015. Moreover, the US has intensified its campaign against the ISIS and other terrorist groups in North and West Africa as well as in Afghanistan and

Pakistan. In fact, at the end of Obama’s presidency, the US military was involved in more countries than when he took his office in January 2009 (Delman 2016). Thus, the US national security state is still in place despite the US leadership’s periodic efforts to change its national security policies.

It is important to note that states adopt a national security orientation because of a variety of factors, including the international security environment, geostrategic location, internal politics, and economic capabilities. Some states pursue more autonomous strategies, and others may be constrained by key societal interest groups, legislators, and the public. It also depends on the available national resources, as some states have abundant economic means, while others may have limited resources. Some states largely rely on internal balancing by military modernization, and others look towards alliances and collective security (Ripsman and Paul 2005). For instance, in terms of power projection, a global power will maintain at least a global outreach such as the US and Russia, whereas a regional power such as India and Turkey will typically confine its efforts to its neighbourhood (Steel 1997, 2). Thus, states draw their perimeters on the bases of their power and circumstances.

While the US national security state model may have been a poor fit for some developing countries, it is fair to say that this approach has a certain utility in the context of analyzing Pakistan’s state behaviour and its foreign and security policies during and after the Cold War. From the time of its establishment as an independent state in 1947, Pakistan perceived an external security threat from neighbouring India. Consequently, Pakistan largely adopted the national security state model, because of both evident local and regional threats and a permissive Cold War security environment which enabled Pakistani military elite to link their own security concerns with those global concerns associated with the American perception of the Soviet threat (see details in Chapter 2).

Nonetheless, Pakistan encompassed many of the key features of the US national security state but there were also significant points of departure. Like the US in the early post-1945 period, Pakistan put itself on a permanent war footing against an external threat from India immediately after its inception in 1947 and allocated a lion share of the government expenditure from the national treasury. However, the US military remained under civilian control in principle whereas the Pakistani military elite acted more independently. Pakistan’s experience of national security state was shaped by the country’s strategic alliance with the US during the Cold War. However, Pakistan’s national security state approach exhibited distinctive features of its own development based on the dominating role of the military elite right at its inception and the parochial economic interest of armed institutes (See Chapter 2).

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