Under the media radar, an amazing but true development: “Preventive war” will now be prevented.
Six years too late, the neocons’ grip on U.S. foreign policy has finally been broken — by the Pentagon itself.
A new U.S. Army field manual has officially put the kibosh on the Bush-Cheney regime’s self-proclaimed “preventive war” doctrine that it used to justify the Iraq invasion.
As a major new guide for U.S. military officials, FM 3-07: “Stability Operations specifically changes policy by calling for embracing “joint effort” with the rest of the world.
FM 3-07 repudiates the Bush Doctrine of unilateral war-making.
This drastic change in policy — because that’s what this new document represents — has been practically ignored by the press. Even if there were no Wall Street war, its import would probably have been ignored.
Remember all that White House/Pentagon prattle about “regime change”? Here’s what the new manual says:
Repeating an Afghanistan or an Iraq —forced regime change followed by nation-building
under fire — probably is unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Of course, this new, gentler Pentagon doesn’t go so far as to announce the manual as a repudiation of the Bush Doctrine. But that’s exactly what it is. (See the manual (PDF) and the Pentagon’s press release.)
Here’s a key passage in FM 3-07:
America’s future abroad is unlikely to resemble Afghanistan or Iraq, where we grapple with the burden of nation-building under fire. Instead, we will work through and with the community of nations to defeat insurgency, assist fragile states, and provide vital humanitarian aid to the suffering.
So, now we’re going to “work through and with the community of nations”? That doesn’t sound familiar. And we’re officially not looking to do any more Afghanistans or Iraqs?
Next thing you know, we’re going to start following the Geneva Conventions.
Officially, at least — and that really does mean something — the U.S. is rejecting bluster and embracing “soft power”:
Achieving victory will assume new dimensions as we strengthen our ability to generate “soft” power to promote participation in government, spur economic development, and address the root causes of conflict among the disenfranchised populations of the world. At the heart of this effort is a comprehensive approach to stability operations that integrates the tools of statecraft with our military forces, international partners, humanitarian organizations, and the private sector.
Stop to consider the Army’s even talking in one of its key guides for generals about trying to “address the root causes of conflict among the disenfranchised populations of the world.” They’re putting flowers in their own howitzers (OK, so maybe they’re not quite doing that).
Another big shift: FM 3-07 gives “stability operations” equal rank with “offense” and “defense.”
Such a rejection of the Bush regime’s rigidly held preventive-war doctrine is an astonishing occurrence while Dick Cheney is still vice president. But these days, he’s no doubt out of the loop. And as for the Wall Street war, it’s doubtful that Cheney is even trying to whisper commands in Henry Paulson‘s ear. (Of course, maybe Cheney’s busy trying to connive a McCain victory.)
The new field manual would have never happened while such hawks as Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Doug Feith roamed the Pentagon hallways.
It even strongly implies that the government has learned something from its disastrous Iraq venture and increasingly scary Afghan war:
Field Manual 3-07, Stability Operations, represents a milestone in Army doctrine. It is a roadmap from conflict to peace, a practical guidebook for adaptive, creative leadership at a critical time in our history. It institutionalizes the hard-won lessons of the past while charting a path for tomorrow.
Hard-won lessons, yes. That not to say that we have won either war. But this document should help rein in future White Houses from attempting invasions of future Iraqs.