By John Amoda
These two teach lessons that should be appreciated by elites who rule through regimes tailored to the measure of their persons.
They show the danger of not learning from the example of Egypt’s Mubarak. What could they have learnt from Mubarak? After all said and done, has Mubarak not fallen from power? Is he not in disgrace? Can it not be said of him, how have the mighty fallen?
The one thing that they could have both learnt from their Egyptian counterpart was how to avoid being overthrown through external regime change initiatives. Mubarak’s fall has not involved the unraveling of his regime, specially its military core. Iraq shows the intricate inter-relationship between security regimes and the structure and ordering of societies. The examples of Iraq and Afghanistan show that to overthrow a regime is a task quite different from installing a replacement regime.
Both Hussein and Gadaffi overthrew the regime in power and over time instituted replacement regimes. Both they and the NATO Alliance that have undertaken regime change projects ought to have appreciated the difficulty of creating regimes de novo and securing the same. Appreciating the lessons taught by Iraq, and the Afghanistan examples and now to be learnt from the Libyan case should inform NATO on how far they should be involved in promoting regime change in Syria. But would the Syrian government be able to avoid Gadaffi’s fatal lone-ranger intransigence at this stage of the Syrian upheavals?
What follows is an attempt at answering the question asked, for the Syrian regime has rendered itself exposed to externally induced regime war- a phenomenon quite different from internal civil war.
Saddam Hussein and Moamar Gadaffi made the strategic mistake of not embedding their regimes in democratic popular support. They were satisfied to engage global powers on a societal base of militarised regime security where the militarisation was a product of imported hardware and training.
These two regimes were regionally confrontational and hegemony-driven. Regimes structured in this way are strategically inflexible in dealing with internal unrest and diplomatically vulnerable through their external dependence on the interwined economic, military and diplomatic sectors of the international community. These attributes of the Saddam Hussein and Moamar Gadaffi’s regimes argue against their adoption of confrontational opposition to the West that is rich in the knowledge of what they do not want around and poor in the knowledge of what the peoples of the so-called Third World of Africa and the Middle East want. Libya’s Gadaffi did not sufficiently appreciate his extreme isolation from the people in whose name he governed; he did not fully appreciate the usefulness of what he learnt in the process of creating a regime, a republican regime to replace a monarchical one. He relied more on a stimulus-response adaptive national security policies to maintain his hold on power.
The concerns for regime preservation as an end in itself is almost always attended by loss of strategic creativity in sustaining regime regeneration. The Libyan National Transitional Authority has this lesson to learn. And Iraq has a lot to teach them. This fact also should be important to the NATO Alliance who have added Libya to their Iraq and Afghanistan case loads.
The Arab Spring should be recognised for what it is: It defines an end and introduces a transition; the end it defines is that of the post-Cold War Boutros Ghali agenda for peace. In the Agenda For Peace Era, the concern was that of reconciling parties in conflict; the Arab Spring has been defined as one of regional democratisation through support for internal democratic regime change campaigns.
President Obama sees this support as a support for democratic transitions led by adaptive embattled regimes and in the absence of such regimes, a transition led by the NATO Alliance. What this implies for the United Nations International Order operating through its Chapter eight regional arrangements is yet to be fully appreciated.
The African Union and the Arab League response to the Arab Spring cannot but entail strategic changes in their peace support policies and programmes.