by Dmitry MININ
PPD 13: Obama Personally Responsible for Dire Fallout of «Arab Spring»
The Middle East is a good example of Washington’s hypocrisy. The US-inspired «Arab Spring» hit the region like a sand storm resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of people left crippled and homeless, and the direct material damage measured in billions of dollars. These obvious facts made America stop praising its policy and saying that the tumultuous events had positive impact on such countries as Libya, Yemen etc. Now the United States is trying to mend fences with Egypt, a country that has lived through a real national tragedy.
Nobody rushes to take on the responsibility for staging the recent great upheavals, though it’s easy enough to see who was behind those events – the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by President. Since August 2010 the NSC worked out a number of political directives signed by President to prompt the «democratization» of the region. The presidential policy directive (PPD) №11 was followed by PPD №13 to address the issue of «Political and Economic Reform in the Middle East and North Africa». 2)
The both documents are permeated by hypocrisy. In words the United States cared about the well-being of the people, in reality it was strengthening American dominance in the region. What made the «democratization» in the Middle East all of a sudden come to the fore and hit the agenda of the White House? The answer is clear – it was the Obama’s preference for greater use of soft power as an instrument of foreign policy. The personality of the President himself was to be an important element of this policy. The very fact that an African American took office as the country’s chief executive was to favorably change the attitude towards the United States of the developing world which accounts for the predominant majority of world population. But polls conducted in 2010 showed that Obama was popular in Europe, not in the Middle East or Asia, where people watched the deeds instead of listening to the words. They could see that little was changed in practice. From Egypt to Pakistan Obama did not get very far from Bush Jr. whose ratings were extremely low. The White House has never been prone to self-criticism. This time it believed that once the people in those countries had little respect for the USA, the image could be corrected with the help of changing the regimes which Washington did not find to be trustworthy enough. As a result, the peoples of the countries hit by the «Arab Spring» went through great suffering just to improve the rating of one man! But it never improved!
The political directives of US President are not theoretical theses. Each of them sets concrete goals and contains a list of steps to be taken by corresponding agencies to achieve them with the funds allocated for the purpose. The fulfilment of assigned tasks presupposes the allocation of many millions of dollars. Congressional approval is required in case bigger sums are needed for the accomplishment of missions set by the directives. From point of view of importance, PPD-13 can be compared with the National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) signed by President Harry Truman, the document which involved a decision to contain and possibly weaken the Soviet Union. The directive is still classified; the only thing public has access to is the number, the date and the name of the document. But one can guess what the directive says by having a look at similar documents that had appeared before, as well as studying the subsequent unraveling of events. The street protests were made look spontaneous. This effect is achieved because the center that controls the process keeps out of any public attention making its existence known only once at the phase of decision making and issuing corresponding orders. Then multiple US government and non-government organizations, as well as propaganda bodies, start to act using broad formal and informal connections. Private companies join in. They all are involved in the activities to make protests spread around while being skillfully controlled at the distance. No individuals responsible for organizing events can be traced; they may not even know each other. Sooner or later «managed chaos» is to accomplish the mission. «Collateral damage» resulting from such subversive actions is either paid little attention to or outright ignored. Normally the results are hardly satisfactory, even according to the assessment of organizers. In the majority of cases the countries hit by protests are subject to destruction. Ukraine is a good example. It could have learned the lesson from the previous cases when PPD 13 was implemented. It’s a pity Ukraine has failed to take a page out of the book of other states subject to the actions taken in accordance with this directive. Experts believe that the Arab Spring, which turned into the Arab Winter, has had huge costs. One estimate made in late 2014 put the loss at $800 billion with the real costs likely to be higher and enduring. 3)
At present it may exceed one trillion dollars, a huge sum.
The US campaign aimed at the «democratization» of the Middle East has given birth to such monsters as the Islamic State. But Washington stubbornly continues to adhere to the failed policy. For instance, as far back as the April of 2011, the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of the Committee on Homeland Security held hearings on the possible threat posed to the United States by the protests in the Middle East and North Africa. Back then the experts speaking in the name of administration and «independent» scholars assured the lawmakers that Al Qaeda and the related groups had no relation to the grassroots protest movements across the region and the United States would do the right thing by lending a helping hand to the youth staging protests on the streets to demand democratic changes.
Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress (a think tanks close to the administration), who served as a consultant to numerous U.S. government agencies, private corporations, and nongovernmental organizations on projects in more than two dozen countries, told the committee about Al-Qaeda’s irrelevance in the uprisings. He said the United States should not be concerned over Al Qaeda too much and it should embrace new political leaders in the region. Philip Mudd, Senior Research Fellow, New America Foundation and former deputy director of the counterterrorism program at CIA, said the position of Al Qaeda has been weakened since September 11, 2001. According to him, «…it suffered a few setbacks. One is they killed too many innocents». Mudd emphasized that, «The second thing they have lost in the last 3 months is the opportunity to tell recruits that they can be recruited to go back into a place like Egypt and oppose a corrupt regime». Such «estimates of experts» made possible the appearance of the Islamic State, a much more odious and powerful group than Al Qaeda. With the persistence worthy of a better cause the White House continues to trudge the desert of the Middle East going nowhere in particular.
William Pfaff, warned about possible mistakes the US could make while implementing its Middle East and North African policy. According to him, «One might think any new American strategy to reform the Middle East would universally be regarded as folly, even in Washington. What the previous attempts accomplished was destruction and the generation of seething hatred of the United States in much of the Islamic world—and as well, if you will, the «New Caliphate.» Washington has now appointed itself leader of still another and predictably unsuccessful military intervention, in which tens or hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, if this continues, may eventually die». 4)
It seems to be absurd. Washington is insincere when it tries to organize and lead the crusade against the creature of its own making under the disguise of concern for the well-being of others. It’s easy to see how the evil could be effectively opposed. The way to do is to stop endless irresponsible adventures to make other states and the whole regions dance to the tune played by the United States.
Perhaps in future historians will make head or tail of it. No way could such an important document as PPD 13, the directive that has brought about such terrible consequences, be kept away from public eye. Like it happened many times before, there will be a leak of information after a new president takes over. But the would-be revelations will be largely scholastic. It’s much more important to determine the degree of responsibility for the great damage done by «Arab Spring» now than somewhere in the future.