The war on Syria was prepared a long time ago and it builds on a new military doctrine

Hieronymus Bosch: The Harrowing of Hell

By Pål Steigan.

A widespread misconception about the war on Syria is that it started after the 2011 rebellion had been clamped down by the country’s authorities. This misconception is sustained by the corporate media, because it serves military and political purposes. Syria was targeted by the US at least ten years earlier. In 2002, when George W. Bush held his speech on “the axis of evil”, the warriors in Washington already had Syria in their telescopic sight. Back then, the enemies were named North-Korea, Iran and Iraq. (1) Later that year, Under Secretary of State, John R. Bolton – now National Security Advisor – added Syria, Cuba and Libya to the list.

The Norwegian original was published here. Translation: Anne Merethe Erstad.

Network centric warfare – the model for the new wars of chaos

Prior to this, admiral Arthur Cebrowski, computer expert and advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been working to transform the US military doctrine and adapt it to the information-age. Along with John Gartska in Joint Chiefs, he wrote the article “Network-Centric Warfare: Its Origin and Future”. In 2001 Donald Rumsfeld incorporated this strategy into the US military doctrine. In hindsight it’s possible to recognise the war on Syria as the first war adopting this doctrine completely.

What is the nature of this doctrine?

Controlling through chaos

Cebrowski and Gartska’s starting point was the technological changes, the expansion of computer power and a tremendously increased access to information, changes taking place both in the US and the global society – and new military technology.

In their opinion they had to move the attention from platforms to networks, to perceive participants as parts of ever changing eco systems instead of being independent subjects, and they stated the need for commando systems and decision making to be adapted in order to survive ever changing eco systems.

In this kind of war the right to command has to be distributed throughout the network and decisions can be made by commanders who operate independently, but share the goal.

“Network-centric warfare is associated with the behaviour of people in a network environment during the time of war, and human behaviour will directly influence the result.” (Cebrowski A. Transforming Transformation – Will it Change the Character of War?)

The writers tried to connect new insight into human behaviour in a network – where information is accessible via new technology and where information, intelligence and operational goals can be distributed throughout the system.

This mode of thought is also influenced by experiences from big corporations and the financial sector, where top executives are supposed to lead self-managing groups toward a common goal. A few years after the Cebrowski-Gartska article was published, this was expressed by Vanessa Druskut and Jane Wheeler in “How to lead a self-managing team” (2004).

Controlling the narrative is everything

When the specific decisions are to be distributed throughout a network, controlling the narrative is everything. In such a system it is crucial to cultivate the attitudes and the motivation as well as developing the ability to act independently within the central strategy. The top commanders in such a war need to secure the ideology, the values and the motivation more than making the decisions in every actual combat situation.

In the world of Cebrowski and Gartska most of the planet is in a state of chaos, and may very well remain so. They outline a model others have named “Chaordic Organizations”, that is, chaos and order combined. The combination of chaos and order is a reality; the trick is to master this combination. And then controlling the narrative becomes more important than ever. The art of storytelling has always been important in order to win a war. However, when the war is to be distributed through a network, militarising the narrative becomes necessary – to a much higher degree than before. The media becomes more than an important channel for the military strategists; it becomes the first division of the war.

The war against Syria – the first war of its kind

In 2003 George W. Bush signed what has been called Syria Accountability Act. This act granted the president authority to wage war against Syria when it suited him – without seeking congressional approval.

In 2010 the US, France and Great Britain signed the Lancaster House Treaties, in which France and Great Britain were assigned duties in future wars – as later demonstrated in Libya and Syria. These were the three countries taking the initiative to the UN resolution 1973, which established  a “no fly zone” in Libya and which became the platform for the illegal war against Libya – where Norway headed the destructions, as is well known.

Of course, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council were included in this system and developed their own varieties of the main strategy as well.

The war on Iraq didn’t offer an easy victory for the US – Dick Cheney had given the Americans false expectations about that. The war was hell on earth for the Iraqis, but inflicted major casualties on the US as well. The military leaders were not tempted to repeat this method. This is why, in Libya, but even more so in Syria, one chose Cebrowski and Gartska’s network model. Of course, it was all coordinated through “Friends of Syria”, but at the same time the various participants were allowed to play out their own parts. This is what enabled the US to lead from the back seat. Naturally, US commanders and advisors were present in the commanders’ rooms and they provided training and instruction. But the war could be fought by mercenary armies, paid and motivated above all by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and The Emirates. In such a network model Israel could play its part too, although behind the scenes. Norway was assigned the task of financing the “rebels”, that is the jihadists’ infrastructure, their administration and their health care to the tune of 1.3 billion US dollars. And the US could arm and pay the Kurds to do their part of the job.

And the media sold the stories of the war

The main narrative in the war on Syria is “the rebellion against the dictator”. This is a story with a hint of the “progressive”; it’s almost “radical”, even. It’s easily sold to a liberal and bourgeois public in the West, and at the same time the Islamists could choose their own – and totally different – interpretation of the goal of the “rebellion”. This has already been disclosed and covered in detail by

Ruling through chaos

In this kind of warfare it is not even necessary for the empire to win. To the military industry, the continuous war is a far better business concept. You produce “failed states” and rule through chaos. This way you make sure to eliminate rivals and you prevent super power competitors from gaining a foothold – read: Russia and China. This way the empire can manage with a lot less of its own military forces – you can outsource the war to private enterprises and Islamist mercenary armies and you can make sure you still get access to the raw materials.

Putting millions of people to flight is not just a consequence of warfare, but a goal in itself. It contributes to the chaos over which the empire can rule and take advantage of, either to tear down the European models of society or to make it impossible for countries like Syria to get back on their feet. This is – also – why the empire clings to Syria. The West has lost, but refuses to give in because the powers of the empire do not want a reconstructed and well run Syria.


Read also:

The art of storytelling in times of war

Psychological warfare, false narratives and deception


(1) Corrected.


Dersom du vil støtte kan du bruke betalingsløsningen vår:
En annen mulighet er å overføre til donasjonskontoen vår via nettbank: 9001 30 89050
Du kan også vippse til: 116916

Tusen takk!









KampanjeStøtt oss
Forrige artikkelKina oppgraderer Afrika
Neste artikkelStrategisk nederlag for Israel: Syria får avansert luftforsvar
Pål Steigan. f. 1949 har jobbet med journalistikk og medier det meste av sitt liv. I 1967 var han redaktør av Ungsosialisten. I 1968 var han med på å grunnlegge avisa Klassekampen. I 1970 var han med på å grunnlegge forlaget Oktober, der han også en periode var styreleder. Steigan var initiativtaker til og første redaktør av tidsskriftet Røde Fane (nå Gnist). Fra 1985 til 1999 var han leksikonredaktør i Cappelens forlag og utga blant annet Europas første leksikon på CD-rom og internettutgaven av CAPLEX i 1997. Han opprettet bloggen og ga den seinere til selskapet Mot Dag AS som gjorde den til nettavis. Steigan var formann i AKP(m-l) 1975–84. Steigan har skrevet flere bøker, blant annet sjølbiografien En folkefiende (2013).