Special Warfare 3: ‘proxy wars’, current objectives, the Ukrainian case and the broad front against the US imperialism

Special Warfare 3: ‘proxy wars’, current objectives, the Ukrainian case and the broad front against the US imperialism

In the third part of our interview with Adnan Akfırat, author of the book Special Warfare in Pentagon and CIA Documents, we discussed the characteristics of “proxy wars” and the many applications of Special Warfare from Afghanistan to Türkiye. In this chapter on the current objectives of Special Warfare, Adnan Akfırat assessed whether the US has a power commensurate with its objectives, covering a wide geographical area from the Asia-Pacific to West Asia and South America, and providing numerous examples.

  • The role of “proxy wars” in the Special Warfare,
  • What the Special Warfare has carried out in Afghanistan,
  • The broad front against US imperialism
  • The Special Warfare in the “allied countries” of the US
  • The possibility of the third world war and the regional wars

Proxy wars as a part of the theory of Special Warfare

When Barack Obama became president, the US released a doctrine that later known as the “Obama Doctrine”. The doctrine stated that it is very difficult and costly to keep regions the US wanted to keep under control in line and that the USA has learned this the hard way. And thus, the US would intend a new way called “proxy wars”. Do you think that this creates new ways and techniques in Special Warfare?

I think this is not a novel thing that can be addressed as “Obama Doctrine”. In fact, this is one of the greatest achievements of all Social Democrats in the world in the Democrat Party in the US. By marketing an already existing structure as new with the help of media, they are trying to cover for the weaknesses. Don’t you think they had “proxy wars” in Bush’s term? They did. Take PKK as an example. PKK survived with the help of the US since 1991. With the US invasion of Iraq, PKK got stronger. When Ocalan was captured in 1998, PKK was about to be terminated, they didn’t have the power to ignite terror in Türkiye. But after the second invasion of Iraq in 2003, PKK got stronger again.

“Proxy wars” already exists in the theory of Special Warfare. While it was first being defined in 1947, the US was developing formulations for proxy wars. After US failures in wars of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, they proposed the Obama doctrine to cover them. This is not a novel thing. It’s a type of cold comfort in the process of retreat. Instead of saying “we can’t do this’, they are saying “we will rule with proxy wars”.

Special Warfare in Afghanistan

As I mentioned in the book, one of the most prominent examples of this is the training of Mujahids by CIA in Afghanistan in 1983. This was the costliest operation of CIA that year. CIA used Afghanistan as a base for training guerillas and they sent fighters they recruited from all around the world to Afghanistan. They trained Chechen, Bosnian and North African militants in Afghanistan and then sent them to their respective countries to ignite terror there. Some of them were called “Arab Afghans” and they heavily facilitated terrorism.

In February 1997, the time when the Turkish Army took the power, there were protestors trained in Afghanistan who were capable of battling the police in so-called “headscarf protests”. It was Duane Claridge, arguably the greatest American spy of all time, who was the head of the operation run in Afghanistan. Claridge has also significance for Türkiye: he is the mentor of both Hiram Abs and Mehmet Eymür. When you look at it, they founded a counter-terrorism department in CIA, and right after that Mehmet Eymur founds a counter-terrorism department in the Turkish intelligence agency and he himself runs it. When you look closely at these counter-terrorism departments, you actually see that they are not anti- but for-terrorism.

There is no change in the level government for Gladio to maintain the Special Warfare in Obama’s, Bush’s or Trump’s time. The competition among them determines the competition among the ruling classes, but Gladio keeps functioning the in the same way. But if Trump comes back to the power and challenges them, it might create the possibility of Gladio’s relative control.

The current target of Special Warfare: Russia, China and ‘autocratic governments’

Can you mention some of the areas, countries, and issues that Special Warfare focuses today?

Firstly, China and Russia were named as new enemies in the new NATO strategy document that was approved at the last summit in Madrid. Additionally, there are governments that they refer to as “autocratic governments” but they don’t name them. In fact, the are of focus of the Special Warfare was declared in this strategy document. Against Russia, China, Türkiye, Iran, Hungary, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Syria and Iraq.

The Philippines is a good example of the current power of the US. The Philippines served as a shining example of traditional American democracy. Because America had “brought democracy” to the Philippines. Then Rodrigo Duterte took a stand against the US using the Philippines against China and has refused to act in accordance with American wishes in the South China Sea. Thus, Dudarte suddenly became an “autocrat”.

But the good news is that the forces or countries that the US is hostile to are gaining more and more popular support. The general trend in the world is not in the direction the US and the SUPER-NATO chiefs. A more equitable, fairer, more peaceful and mutually beneficial “win-win” cooperation between peoples is gaining ground. A process in which cultures nourish one another without exclusion, different civilisations fuse and strengthen the demand for a just international order… Therefore, the Gladio’s room for manoeuvre is shrinking.

‘83 percent of the world population did not join sanctions against Russia’

To return to your question, the countries where the Special Warfare will be intensified are those that NATO has identified as enemies. But the US has deadlocks. They imposed very heavy sanctions on Russia forcing the European Union to do the same. But 83 percent of the world’s population, 74 percent of the world’s surface area and 62 percent of the world’s GDP did not join these sanctions according to data from March.

In the Pacific, the US has established a quadrilateral organization called QUAD, comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India. They identified India as the cornerstone of this. But at the very time when the Russia’s operation in Ukraine started, the Indian Prime Minister went to Russia and met Putin. So the US has no power to force India to impose sanctions on Russia.

Special Warfare within allies”

In light of this outlook, it seems that the US will be obliged to intensify the Special Warfare, even among the powers and countries closest to it. In this context, the assassination of Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe is seen as a Special Warfare operation. Japan is one of the two countries that the US occupied after the Second World War. The other is Germany. Looking at Germany, being a country in Europe and due to the endless public resistance to the US in Europe, the US occupation has relatively eroded in this country. But in Japan, the US occupation is much more severe, much deeper and continues to have an impact on the institutions. So there is still a very strong Gladio influence in Japan, created by the US occupation. There is the famous Yakuza. The reason why the Japanese mafia is so effective is because there is a strong Gladio organisation there. So it would not be a prophecy to predict that in Europe, too, NATO will intensify its use of Special Warfare operations to keep its allies in line against internal opposition and resistance.

Russia’s campaign in Ukraine seems like a turning point in many ways. Some argue that Russia’s action in Ukraine isolated Russia. This weakened the old US-Europe contradictions and the US has won Europe to its side. NATO is, therefore, more compact, and stronger, and so it will be more capable to fight the forces listed in the strategy document.

What do you think about such views, has the Russian intervention in Ukraine made NATO more united, stronger, or the other way around?

‘No Special Warfare independent from imperialist exploitation’

As you mentioned, I based my book on examining the facts and objective determiners. I suggested to use the economic dimension as a method for founding the evaluation of the Special Warfare. There is no Special Warfare independent from imperialism and the economic exploitation of imperialism. Unfortunately, there is an understanding based on rhetoric, that focuses on what is said and makes an analysis based on that. However, we need to look at actual practice and power relations.

Compare the US share in the world economy today with 1947 or 1957. You will see the determiners there. When you take a look at NATO’s latest strategic document, we see that the Truman approach of 1947 is still in place. It is the same US bluster. When they say “the US is back with Biden”, what they are claiming is that the US has returned to the 1950s, to the power it had after the Second World War. I liken the US seeming to have Europe back to its side to this: When cancer patients are close to dying, they are suddenly revitalised, suddenly it seems as if the cancer cells have been defeated and the patient has regained his or her life, but this is immediately followed by the loss of life.

Special Warfare whistling in the graveyard

“China is our systemic rival,” they say, but they have no remedy to offer against their systemic rival. All they can do is try to maintain neoliberalism, which is already bankrupt, by relying on hard force. But in fact, they cannot do that. We have seen that they do not have the power to close their airspace against Russia’s operations. In another important region, Tavyan, Pentagon sources are very clear that in the case of an armed confrontation with China over Taiwan, the US will be defeated.

Evaluations that Europe is siding with the US and that NATO is getting stronger resemble the whistling of those who are afraid of passing through a graveyard. Trump was speaking in a high pitch about Syria. In response, Putin said, “I have landed troops in Syria, if you have troops, let’s see them” What did Trump do? He fired a missile from the Mediterranean, hit the shores and the mountains, and that was all. Evaluations that Europe is siding with the US and that NATO is getting stronger resemble the whistling of those who are afraid of passing through a graveyard. Trump was speaking in a high pitch about Syria. In response, Putin said, “I have landed troops in Syria, if you have troops, let’s see them” What did Trump do? He fired a missile from the Mediterranean, hit the shores and the mountains, and that was all. To summarise, what I want to highlight is this: Ultimately, the decisive force is power and actual practice.

Consider Türkiye. The US is currently the largest global military power. It has 840 military bases all over the world. There are American bases in southern Türkiye, in Iraq, in Syria. There are American bases all over the Aegean, all the way to the Evros River. Worse, there are American bases inside Türkiye. But despite all these bases, the US has failed to protect its tools and proxies in Türkiye. Today, NATO generals are in prison in Türkiye.

Türkiye, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia: the collapse of the Greater Middle East Project

What would you like to say at the end of the interview? Do you have any suggestions for intellectuals and the public to better analyze and raise awareness about the Special Warfare?

The Greater Middle East Project was, in the words of the Gladio, a project that would “redraw the borders of 22 countries”. They knew that they could only do this through Special Warfare operations. But this project collapsed. Gladio advanced further and further in its goals, but finally hit a stone wall in Türkiye. Gladio crashed into the rock of Türkiye. In this respect, the defeat of the US-FETÖ (Fethullah Gülen Organization) coup attempt on July 15, 2016 is a historic move. We need to note this. 

If we look at other countries, the US lost in Algeria and Tunisia. The US invaded Libya but failed to achieve stability. In Egypt, the Ikhwan movement was brought to power but they also lost. So the worldwide project of shaping the world by waging a Special Warfare has failed.

The US losing in South America

The examples in South America are even more striking. This region was used as a laboratory for the Special Warfare. Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile – in all of these countries there is now a strong anti-US awakening. Some have anti-imperialist, pro-independence governments, some are even socialist. Others have strong political forces and social veins that defend their sovereignty against the US. Bolivia has an anti-American populist and pro-socialist government. The stance of Venezuela and Cuba is already known.

These conditions allow for a leap of consciousness that can comprehend the Special Warfare in all its aspects.

Imperialism against national states

If you ask me what is the essence of the Special Warfare, I would say the following: Imperialism does not accept national states. The indispensable goal of imperialism is to abolish national states and to establish a structure based on its own interests, a structure to which the people do not object or question. They have no chance of realising such a dream.

The possibility of the third world war and regional wars

I don’t see a risk of a third world war either, because the first and second world wars were mainly wars of imperialist division. In other words, the world wars were between the imperialists.

The powers that want to establish a more just international order – China, Russia, Iran, Türkiye, India – are trying to limit hegemony through negotiations, not through war, and are avoiding war and conflicts as much as possible.

There will not be a world war, but various regional wars are certain to break out. In these regional wars, frustration awaits the US. Examples such as Syria’s resistance since 2011, the US’ withdrawing from Afghanistan, the crushing of the colour counter-revolution in Kazakhstan prove this. Most recently, they are pushing with all their might in Ukraine, but they are close to throwing in the towel there too.

Understanding special warfare in the Ukrainian case

Perhaps if we examine the Ukrainian case more closely, we can draw important conclusions for understanding the practice and institutions of Special Warfare in the 21st century. Because unfortunately there is no sovereign state in Ukraine. Ukraine has became a Gladio Republic. The traditional institutions of the Ukrainian state were completely eliminated after the 2014 coup d’état and under the Zelensky government. In all institutions in Ukraine, we see Nazi organisations, oligarchs, mafias and Israel.

One of the most important lessons of the war in Ukraine is that it is not possible to protect and uphold the national state in places where the Special Warfare is unbridled. The Turkish national state has suffered enormous damage, but yet Türkiye was able to put the Gladio in prison. This is due to the Turkish nation’s empire heritage, the Kemalist revolution still being alive, the institutions in Türkiye still having the characteristics of a national state, and the Turkish army being a national liberation army in its very formation.

Şafak Erdem

Şafak Erdem was born in Istanbul in 1993. He completed primary and secondary school in Istanbul, then studied philosophy and sociology as an undergraduate at Boğaziçi University. He is currently doing a master's degree in philosophy.

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October 2023