15 November 2012

Operation Cast Lead 2.0

Israel and Hamas are battling it out in the Gaza Strip in a conflict no one can win. 


Israel's assassination of Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jaabari in a missile attack has shattered the short-lived and fragile calm in the Gaza Strip, and could be another step in the transformation of the basic balance of power within Hamas -- and even the broader Palestinian national movement. The attack is the most significant escalation since Operation Cast Lead, the offensive Israel launched in Gaza in December 2008, and which cost an estimated 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that Jaabari's killing was the first strike in "a widespread campaign" to "protect Israeli civilians and to cripple the terrorist infrastructure" -- and indeed, the IDF hit a number of targets across Gaza in the hours that followed, killing at least eight Palestinians. It's possible that these developments are laying prelude to another Israeli ground intervention in Gaza. On Nov. 11, Israel's Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter declared, "Israel must perform a reformatting of Gaza, and rearrange it" -- but gave no indication of what that dire-sounding phrase might mean in practice.

It is impossible to know how the conflict will unfold in the days ahead, but what is clear is that the outbreak of violence is the result of a swirl of events that are reshaping power structures within Hamas and its relationships with regional forces, including with Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

During most of the period since Cast Lead, the Hamas rulers in Gaza have refrained from attacks against Israel and tried to prevent other militant groups from launching attacks as well. But as 2012 has progressed, that policy has changed -- largely due to internal transformations within the group itself.

The internal dynamic of Hamas has traditionally been that leaders in its Politburo, which is based almost entirely in neighboring Arab countries, were more militant than their compatriots inside Gaza. It was the leaders in exile who maintained close relations with the radical regimes in Iran and Syria, while the Hamas government in Gaza was more restrained because it had more to lose from violence with Israel.

That calculation has been inverted in recent months as Hamas's foreign alliances have undergone a dramatic transformation and its domestic wing has made a bold attempt to assert its primacy. Hamas's relationship with Damascus completely collapsed when the group came out in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The Politburo had to abandon its Damascus headquarters, and is now scattered in capitals throughout the Arab world. This has also created enormous strains with Iran, which is apparently supplying much less funding and material to Hamas than before.

Hamas leaders in Gaza, meanwhile, have increasingly been making the case that the Politburo does not represent the organization's paramount leadership -- but rather its diplomatic wing, whose main role is to secure aid and support from foreign governments. It is the Hamas government and paramilitary force in Gaza, they argue, that are in the driver's seat, because they are actually involved in fighting Israel.

The desire to be the tip of the spear against Israel explains why Hamas involved itself in rocket attacks against Israel earlier this year, and has done much less to prevent other groups from launching attacks in recent weeks. The attacks are part of the case for the transfer of paramount leadership away from the exiles and to the Hamas political and military leadership in Gaza, which portrays itself as doing the ruling and the fighting.

This internal struggle has been given renewed urgency by the September announcement from the group's current head, Khaled Meshaal, that he would step down. The two contenders for the top spot are Hamas's de facto leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, and the present Politburo number two, the Cairo-based Musa Abu Marzook. A Haniyeh victory would cement the transfer of power within Hamas to Gaza, while Abu Marzook represents continued hopes that Hamas's fortunes hinge on benefiting from the region-wide "Islamic Awakening" -- the group's interpretation of what others call the Arab Spring.

These rocket attacks don't just come at a time of intense internal wrangling within Hamas, but also Israel's upcoming election in January. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have been under enormous pressure to forcefully respond to the continued rocket fire -- more than 800 rockets so far this year, according to Israeli officials -- and Jaabari's assassination sends the most powerful of messages. Netanyahu has made his political career on security issues, but even if he hopes to limit the conflagration, it could spiral out of everyone's control.

The third vital context for Wednesday's offensive is the upcoming initiative by the Palestine Liberation Organization to formally request an upgrade at the U.N. General Assembly to "non-member observer state status." Israel is vehemently opposed to this resolution, which is certain to win a majority if it is submitted. Jerusalem has reacted with a series of dire threats -- including cutting off the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, declaring the Oslo Agreements "null and void," overthrowing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, greatly expanding settlement activity, or even unilaterally annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.

Israel has also been marshaling U.S. and European opposition to the PLO's statehood bid, apparently with a great deal of success. Together, they have been able to paint the move as "unilateral" and provocative, setting the stage for retaliatory measures. But the Israelis must be aware that any further financial, diplomatic, or political blows to the badly ailing Palestinian Authority -- which is currently unable to meet the public employee payroll, on which the majority of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza depend -- can only strengthen Hamas.

During last year's PLO initiative at the United Nations, Hamas was in such disarray from its growing crisis with Syria and Iran that it was in no condition to exploit Israeli "punishment" of the PLO. This time, however, Hamas is in an entirely different position: It appears to be on the brink of achieving considerable regional and international legitimacy. The emir of Qatar recently visited Gaza, becoming the first head of state to do so, and promised $400 million in reconstruction aid to the de facto Hamas government there. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also reportedly considering a formal visit to Gaza. Egypt, too, is vying for Hamas's affections, although President Mohammed Morsy's government has done little to practically help the group.

Hamas can claim, for the first time in many years, to have a vision for the future, reliable patrons, and regional momentum as the primary beneficiaries of a wave of Islamist political victories across the Middle East. The PLO, Hamas can argue, has no money, no friends, no vision, and no future.

If the PLO goes forward with its initiative at the United Nations and Israel and the West react with significant punitive measures, Hamas is better positioned than ever to be the direct political beneficiary. Indeed, it will never have been closer to its cherished aim of seizing control of the Palestinian national movement -- and possibly even the PLO itself -- from its secular nationalist rivals.

The people of Israel will not find peace and security through endless wars with an ever-evolving array of Palestinian militants -- the inevitable consequence of the lack of a peace agreement. For all its death and destruction, Operation Cast Lead failed to solve any of Israel's security issues and did nothing to weaken Hamas's grip on power in Gaza. But it did expose Israel to unprecedented international condemnation regarding its targeting of civilian and non-military targets, alleged war crimes, and excessive use of force. Those who fire rockets from Gaza, or countenance such attacks must also be held responsible for what they know full well will be the Israeli response -- the price of which will, as always, be primarily paid by ordinary, innocent Palestinians.

Make no mistake: Jaabari's assassination is a major blow to Hamas's military wing, which lost its long-standing leader. And even if this is the beginning of a "reformatting" of Gaza, Israel could once again end up winning the battle but losing the war: If it is not careful, developments on the Gaza battlefield could end up strengthening rather than weakening Hamas. Worse still, it could empower extreme, new Palestinian jihadist organizations that have begun to crop up in Gaza. The potential for miscalculation on all sides -- bringing another round of mayhem that only makes matters worse for everyone -- is grave.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's letter to Jawaharlal Nehru

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's letter to Jawaharlal Nehru on 7 November 1950 not only deploring Indian Ambassador KM Panikkar's action but also warning about dangers from China

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

My dear Jawaharlal,

Ever since my return from Ahmedabad and after the cabinet meeting the same day which I had to attend at practically fifteen minutes' notice and for which I regret I was not able to read all the papers, I have been anxiously thinking over the problem of Tibet and I thought I should share with you what is passing through my mind.

I have carefully gone through the correspondence between the External Affairs Ministry and our Ambassador in Peking and through him the Chinese Government. I have tried to peruse this correspondence as favourably to our Ambassador and the Chinese Government as possible, but I regret to say that neither of them comes out well as a result of this study. The Chinese Government has tried to delude us by professions of peaceful intention. My own feeling is that at a crucial period they managed to instill into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so-called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means. There can be no doubt that during the period covered by this correspondence the Chinese must have been concentrating for an onslaught on Tibet. The final action of the Chinese, in my judgement, is little short of perfidy. The tragedy of it is that the Tibetans put faith in us; they chose to be guided by us; and we have been unable to get them out of the meshes of Chinese diplomacy or Chinese malevolence. From the latest position, it appears that we shall not be able to rescue the Dalai Lama. Our Ambassador has been at great pains to find an explanation or justification for Chinese policy and actions. As the External Affairs Ministry remarked in one of their telegrams, there was a lack of firmness and unnecessary apology in one or two representations that he made to the Chinese Government on our behalf. It is impossible to imagine any sensible person believing in the so-called threat to China from Anglo-American machinations in Tibet. Therefore, if the Chinese put faith in this, they must have distrusted us so completely as to have taken us as tools or stooges of Anglo-American diplomacy or strategy. This feeling, if genuinely entertained by the Chinese in spite of your direct approaches to them, indicates that even though we regard ourselves as the friends of China, the Chinese do not regard us as their friends. With the Communist mentality of "whoever is not with them being against them", this is a significant pointer, of which we have to take due note. During the last several months, outside the Russian camp, we have practically been alone in championing the cause of Chinese entry into UN and in securing from the Americans assurances on the question of Formosa. We have done everything we could to assuage Chinese feelings, to allay its apprehensions and to defend its legitimate claims in our discussions and correspondence with America and Britain and in the UN. Inspite of this, China is not convinced about our disinterestedness; it continues to regard us with suspicion and the whole psychology is one, at least outwardly, of scepticism perhaps mixed with a little hostility. I doubt if we can go any further than we have done already to convince China of our good intentions, friendliness and goodwill. In Peking we have an Ambassador who is eminently suitable for putting across the friendly point of view. Even he seems to have failed to convert the Chinese. Their last telegram to us is an act of gross discourtesy not only in the summary way it disposes of our protest against the entry of Chinese forces into Tibet but also in the wild insinuation that our attitude is determined by foreign influences. It looks as though it is not a friend speaking in that language but a potential enemy.

In the background of this, we have to consider what new situation now faces us as a result of the disappearance of Tibet, as we knew it, and the expansion of China almost up to our gates. Throughout history we have seldom been worried about our north-east frontier. The Himalayas have been regarded as an impenetrable barrier against any threat from the north. We had a friendly Tibet which gave us no trouble. The Chinese were divided. They had their own domestic problems and never bothered us about frontiers. In 1914, we entered into a convention with Tibet which was not endorsed by the Chinese. We seem to have regarded Tibetan autonomy as extending to independent treaty relationship. Presumably, all that we required was Chinese counter-signature. The Chinese interpretation of suzerainty seems to be different. We can, therefore, safely assume that very soon they will disown all the stipulations which Tibet has entered into with us in the past. That throws into the melting pot all frontier and commercial settlements with Tibet on which we have been functioning and acting during the last half a century. China is no longer divided. It is united and strong. All along the Himalayas in the north and north-east, we have on our side of the frontier a population ethnologically and culturally not different from Tibetans and Mongoloids. The undefined state of the frontier and the existence on our side of a population with its affinities to the Tibetans or Chinese have all the elements of the potential trouble between China and ourselves. Recent and bitter history also tells us that Communism is no shield against imperialism and that the communists are as good or as bad imperialists as any other. Chinese ambitions in this respect not only cover the Himalayan slopes on our side but also include the important part of Assam. They have their ambitions in Burma also. Burma has the added difficulty that it has no McMahon Line round which to build up even the semblance of an agreement. Chinese irredentism and communist imperialism are different from the expansionism or imperialism of the western powers. The former has a cloak of ideology which makes it ten times more dangerous. In the guise of ideological expansion lie concealed racial, national or historical claims. The danger from the north and north-east, therefore, becomes both communist and imperialist. While our western and north-western threat to security is still as prominent as before, a new threat has developed from the north and north-east. Thus, for the first time, after centuries, India's defence has to concentrate itself on two fronts simultaneously. Our defence measures have so far been based on the calculations of superiority over Pakistan. In our calculations we shall now have to reckon with communist China in the north and in the north-east, a communist China which has definite ambitions and aims and which does not, in any way, seem friendly disposed towards us.

Let us also consider the political conditions on this potentially troublesome frontier. Our northern and north-eastern approaches consist of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal areas in Assam. From the point of view of communication, there are weak spots. Continuous defensive lines do not exist. There is almost an unlimited scope for infiltration. Police protection is limited to a very small number of passes. There, too, our outposts do not seem to be fully manned. The contact of these areas with us is by no means close and intimate. The people inhabiting these portions have no established loyalty or devotion to India. Even Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas are not free from pro-Mongoloid prejudices. During the last three years, we have not been able to make any appreciable approaches to the Nagas and other hill tribes in Assam. European missionaries and other visitors had been in touch with them, but their influence was in no way friendly to India or Indians. In Sikkim, there was political ferment some time ago. It is quite possible that discontent is smouldering there. Bhutan is comparatively quiet, but its affinity with Tibetans would be a handicap. Nepal has a weak oligarchic regime based almost entirely on force: it is in conflict with a turbulent element of the population as well as with enlightened ideas of the modern age. In these circumstances, to make people alive to the new danger or to make them defensively strong is a very difficult task indeed and that difficulty can be got over only by enlightened firmness, strength and a clear line of policy. I am sure the Chinese and their source of inspiration, Soviet Union, would not miss any opportunity of exploiting these weak spots, partly in support of their ideology and partly in support of their ambitions. In my judgement the situation is one which we cannot afford either to be complacent or to be vacillating. We must have a clear idea of what we wish to achieve and also of the methods by which we should achieve it. Any faltering or lack of decisiveness in formulating our objectives or in pursuing our policies to attain those objectives is bound to weaken us and increase the threats which are so evident.

Side by side with these external dangers, we shall now have to face serious internal problems as well. I have already asked Iengar to send to the External Affairs Ministry a copy of the Intelligence Bureau's appreciation of these matters. Hitherto, the Communist Party of India has found some difficulty in contacting communists abroad, or in getting supplies of arms, literature, etc., from them. They had to contend with the difficult Burmese and Pakistan frontiers on the east or with the long seaboard. They shall now have a comparatively easy means of access to Chinese communists and through them to other foreign communists. Infiltration of spies, fifth columnists and communists would now be easier. Instead of having to deal with isolated communist pockets in Telengana and Warrangal we may have to deal with communist threats to our security along our northern and north-eastern frontiers, where, for supplies of arms and ammunition, they can safely depend on communist arsenals in China. The whole situation thus raises a number of problems on which we must come to an early decision so that we can, as I said earlier, formulate the objectives of our policy and decide the method by which those objectives are to be attained. It is also clear that the action will have to be fairly comprehensive, involving not only our defence strategy and state of preparations but also problem of internal security to deal with which we have not a moment to lose. We shall also have to deal with administrative and political problems in the weak spots along the frontier to which I have already referred.

It is of course, impossible to be exhaustive in setting out all these problems. I am, however, giving below some of the problems which, in my opinion, require early solution and round which we have to build our administrative or military policies and measures to implement them.

a) A military and intelligence appreciation of the Chinese threat to India both on the frontier and to internal security.

b) An examination of military position and such redisposition of our forces as might be necessary, particularly with the idea of guarding important routes or areas which are likely to be the subject of dispute.

c) An appraisement of the strength of our forces and, if necessary, reconsideration of our retrenchment plans for the Army in the light of the new threat.

d) A long-term consideration of our defence needs. My own feeling is that, unless we assure our supplies of arms, ammunition and armour, we would be making our defence perpetually weak and we would not be able to stand up to the double threat of difficulties both from the west and north-west and north and north-east.

e) The question of China's entry into the UN. In view of the rebuff which China has given us and the method which it has followed in dealing with Tibet, I am doubtful whether we can advocate its claim any longer. There would probably be a threat in the UN virtually to outlaw China, in view of its active participation in the Korean war. We must determine our attitude on this question also.

f) The political and administrative steps which we should take to strengthen our northern and north-eastern frontier. This would include the whole of the border, ie. Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal territory in Assam.

g) Measures of internal security in the border areas as well as the states flanking those areas such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Assam.

h) Improvement of our communication, road, rail, air and wireless, in these areas and with the frontier outposts.

i) The future of our mission at Lhasa and the trade posts at Gyangtse and Yatung and the forces which we have in operation in Tibet to guard the trade routes.

j) The policy in regard to the McMahon Line.

These are some of the questions which occur to my mind. It is possible that a consideration of these matters may lead us into wider question of our relationship with China, Russia, America, Britain and Burma. This, however, would be of a general nature, though some might be basically very important, e.g., we might have to consider whether we should not enter into closer association with Burma in order to strengthen the latter in its dealings with China. I do not rule out the possibility that, before applying pressure on us, China might apply pressure on Burma. With Burma, the frontier is entirely undefined and the Chinese territorial claims are more substantial. In its present position, Burma might offer an easier problem to China, and therefore, might claim its first attention.

I suggest that we meet early to have a general discussion on these problems and decide on such steps as we might think to be immediately necessary and direct, quick examination of other problems with a view to taking early measures to deal with them.

Vallabhbhai Patel,
7th November 1950

Israel Defense Forces live blogs Gaza offensive

Posted By Uri Friedman Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Operation Pillar of Defense that Israel launched in the Gaza Strip today, which included the killing of Hamas military commander Ahmad Jabari, is big news, and could spell a dramatic escalation in the long-simmering violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in Gaza. But as Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal points out on Twitter, there's another remarkable aspect of the offensive: the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been updating us on the military's actions in close-to-real-time.

If you go to the IDF's website, you'll find a post with live, time-stamped updates on the operation, including this jaw-dropping YouTube video of the strike on Jabari:

Or you could go to the IDF's Twitter feed, where you'll find updates like these:

Sea Change

The Navy pivots to Asia. 


Our nation's security priorities, and our military, are in transition. In the Middle East, we ended the war in Iraq and are reducing ground troops in Afghanistan with the shift of security responsibilities to Kabul. At home we are reassessing our military's size and composition as we seek to align our spending with our resources. And around the world we face a range of new security challenges, from continued upheaval in the Arab world to the imperative of sustaining our leadership in the Asia-Pacific. These challenges place a premium on the flexibility and small ground footprint of naval forces, which are being deployed longer and more often to advance our nation's interests.

The Department of Defense's January 2012 strategic guidance, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership - Priorities for 21st Century Defense, addressed this new environment and our security priorities in it. Overall, the strategy focuses on important regions and current readiness and agility, while accepting reduced capacity and level of effort in less critical missions. In particular, the strategy directed that our military rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific while continuing to support our partners in the Middle East. Naval forces will be at the heart of both efforts.

After two decades of ground conflict in the Middle East, our security concerns and ability to project power in the region both center on the sea. U.S. ground forces continue to draw down in Afghanistan and around the region, so our commanders increasingly rely on naval aircraft to support and protect troops. Meanwhile, Iranian leaders speak provocatively about impacting maritime traffic throughout the Arabian Gulf. In response, we turned to maritime forces, doubling our minesweeping forces in the Gulf and deploying an additional carrier strike group to the region.

The focus of our rebalance, the Asia-Pacific, is fundamentally a maritime region. Our friends there depend on the sea for their food and energy, while more than 90 percent of trade by volume makes its way through the region over the water. Maritime security for Pacific nations is a matter of economic survival. Militarily, the vast maritime distances in the region make access via the sea essential to deterring and defeating aggression. Our fleet deployed in the Asia-Pacific will exploit the mobility of being at sea to project power against aggressors and avoid attacks, while their reinforcements and supplies will arrive via the ocean from the United States or regional bases.

The importance of the Asia-Pacific, and the Navy's attention to it, is not new. Five of our seven treaty allies are in the region, as well as six of the world's top 20 economies. We have maintained an active and robust presence in the Asia-Pacific for more than 70 years and built deep and enduring relationships with allies and partners there. While we remain present and engaged in the Middle East to address today's challenges, the Navy will build on its longstanding Asia-Pacific focus by rebalancing in four main ways: deploying more forces to the Asia-Pacific; basing more ships and aircraft in the region; fielding new capabilities focused on Asia-Pacific challenges; and developing partnerships and intellectual capital across the region.

Deploying more forces to the Asia-Pacific

The most visible element of our rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region will be an increase in day-to-day military presence. Although it is not the only way we are rebalancing, forces operating in the region show our commitment to the Asia-Pacific and provide a full-time capability to support our allies and partners. About half of the deployed fleet is in the Pacific -- 50 ships on any given day. These ships and their embarked Marines and aircraft train with our allies and partners, reinforce freedom of navigation, and deter conflict. They are also the "first responders" to large-scale crises such as the Great East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011.

The long distance between the continental United States and Asia makes it inefficient to rotate ships and aircraft overseas for six to nine months at a time. To avoid this transit time and build greater ties with our partners and allies, more than 90 percent of our forces in the Asia-Pacific are there permanently or semi-permanently. For example, about half of our 50 deployed ships are permanently home-ported in Japan and Guam along with their crews and families. Our logistics and support ships use rotating civilian or military crews to obtain more presence for the same number of ships.

Although we plan to reduce our future budgets, the Navy will continue to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The benchmark year of the Defense Strategic Guidance is 2020, and by then the Navy Fleet will grow to approximately 295 ships. This, combined with the impacts of our plans for operations and basing, will increase the day-to-day naval presence in the Asia-Pacific by about 20 percent, to 60 ships by 2020. In addition to growing the fleet, three factors will allow us to increase the number of ships in the Asia-Pacific by 2020:

First, we will permanently base four destroyers in Rota, Spain over the next several years to help defend our European allies from ballistic missiles. Today we do this mission with 10 destroyers that travel in rotation to the Mediterranean from the United States. The six destroyers freed up in the process will then be able to rotationally deploy to the Asia-Pacific.

Second, new Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) and Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) under construction today will enter the fleet and take on security cooperation and humanitarian assistance missions in South America and Africa, allowing the destroyers and amphibious ships we use today for those missions to deploy to the Asia-Pacific. These amphibious ships will begin deploying instead to the Asia-Pacific in the next few years to support Marine operations, including those from Darwin, Australia. Additionally, the new JHSV and LCS are also better suited to the needs of our partners in Africa and South America.

Third, we will field more ships that spend the majority of their time forward by using rotating civilian or military crews. These include the JHSV, LCS, and our new Mobile Landing Platforms and Afloat Forward Staging Bases (AFSB).

In addition to more ship presence in the Asia-Pacific, we will increase our deployments of aircraft there and expand cooperative air surveillance operations with regional partners. Today we fly cooperative missions from Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand, where we build our shared awareness of activities on the sea by either bringing partner personnel on board or sharing the surveillance information with them. We may expand these operations in the future to new partners concerned about threats from piracy, trafficking, and fisheries violations. To expand our surveillance capacity, the Navy version of the MQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle will operate from Guam when it enters the fleet in the middle of this decade.

Basing more ships and aircraft in the region

To support our increased presence in the Asia-Pacific, we will grow the fraction of ships and aircraft based on the U.S. West Coast and in the Pacific from today's 55 percent to 60 percent by 2020. This distribution will allow us to continue to meet the needs of Europe, South America, and West Africa while more efficiently providing additional presence and capacity in the Asia-Pacific.

Each ship that operates from an overseas port provides full-time presence and engagement in the region and delivers more options for Combatant Commanders and political leaders. It also frees up ships that would otherwise be needed to support a rotational deployment. Today, we have about two dozen ships home-ported in Guam and Japan. In 2013, with the USS Freedom, we will begin operating Littoral Combat Ships from Singapore, eventually growing to four ships by 2017. The LCS will conduct maritime security operations with partner navies throughout Southeast Asia and instead of rotationally deploying to the region, the ships will stay overseas and their crews will rotate in from the United States, increasing the presence delivered by each ship.

Fielding new capabilities focused on Asia-Pacific challenges

We will also bolster the capabilities we send to the Asia-Pacific. Using the approach described in the Air-Sea Battle concept and in concert with the U.S. Air Force, we will sustain our ability to project power in the face of access challenges such as cruise and ballistic missiles, submarines, and sophisticated anti-air weapons. Air-Sea Battle's operations to disrupt, destroy, and defeat anti-access threats will be essential to maintain the credibility of our security commitments and ability to deter aggression around the world. Our improved capabilities will span the undersea, surface, and air environments.


The Navy's dominance in the undersea domain provides the United States a significant advantage over potential adversaries. Our undersea capabilities enable strike and anti-surface warfare in otherwise denied areas and exploit the relative lack of capability of our potential adversaries at anti-submarine warfare. We will sustain our undersea advantage in part through continued improvements in our own anti-submarine warfare capability, such as replacing the 1960s-era P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft with the longer range and greatly improved sensors of the P-8A Poseidon.

We will also field improved platforms and systems that exploit the undersea domain for power projection and surveillance. In the coming years, newer, multi-mission Virginia-class submarines with dramatically improved sensors and combat systems will continue to replace aging Los Angeles-class submarines. With their conversion from Cold War-era ballistic missile submarines, our four Ohio-class guided missile submarines (SSGN) are now our most significant power projection platforms. During Operation Unified Protector, USS Florida launched over 100 Tomahawk missiles at Libyan air defenses to help establish a "no-fly" zone. When she and her counterparts retire in the mid 2020s, the Virginia-class submarine "payload module" will replace their striking capacity with the ability to carry up to 40 precision-strike cruise missiles, unmanned vehicles, or a mix of other payloads.

Improved sensors and new unmanned systems allow us to augment the reach and persistence of manned submarines, and are essential to our continued domination of the undersea environment. These unmanned vehicles will enhance the persistence of undersea sensing, and expand its reach into confined and shallow waters that are currently inaccessible to other systems. This will enable detection of threats, for example, to undersea infrastructure.


But undersea forces have limited effectiveness at visible, day-to-day missions such as security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, missile defense, and freedom of navigation. Surface ships will continue to conduct these operations and show our presence in the Asia-Pacific. Our surface fleet and embarked personnel will continue to be the most versatile element of the naval force, building partner capacity and improving security in peacetime and transitioning to sea control and power projection in conflict. Their credibility and their ability to execute these missions depends on their ability to defeat improving threats, especially anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) and anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM).

We will defeat ASCMs at long range using an integrated fire control system that combines the proven Aegis weapon system and upgraded airborne early warning aircraft with new long-range anti-air missiles on cruisers and destroyers. To defeat ASCMs at short range, the Navy is upgrading point-defense missiles and electronic warfare systems to destroy incoming missiles or cause them to miss by deceiving and jamming their seekers.

Navy forces will defeat ASBMs by countering each link in the operational chain of events required for an adversary to find, target, launch, and complete an attack on a ship with a ballistic missile. The Navy is fielding new systems that jam, decoy, or confuse the wide-area surveillance systems needed to find and target ships at long range. To shoot down an ASBM once launched, the fleet will employ the Aegis ballistic missile defense system and SM-3 missile. And, to prevent an ASBM from completing an attack, the Navy is fielding new missiles and electronic warfare systems over the next several years that will destroy, jam, or decoy the ASBM warhead as it approaches the ship.

To improve the ability of surface forces to project power, we will field new long-range surface-to-surface missiles aboard cruisers and destroyers in the next decade and improve our ability to send troops ashore as new San Antonio-class amphibious ships replace their smaller and less-capable 30-year-old predecessors over the next two years.


The Navy and Air Force will improve their integrated ability to defeat air threats and project power in the face of improving surveillance and air defense systems. This evolution involves the blending of new and existing technology and the complementary use of electronic warfare, stealth, and improved, longer-range munitions. The carrier air wing in Japan recently finished upgrading to F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet strike fighters with improved jamming and sensor systems and the new E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. This air wing will also be the first to incorporate the F-35C Lightning II, which will enable new operational concepts that combine the F-35C's stealth and sensor capability with the payload capacity of the F/A-18 E/F to project power against the most capable air defense systems.

Developing partnerships and intellectual capital

Perhaps most importantly, rebalancing the Navy's emphasis toward the Asia-Pacific region includes efforts to expand and mature our partnerships and establish greater intellectual focus on Asia-Pacific security challenges.

First, we are increasing the depth and breadth of our alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific. Our relationships in the region are the reason for our engagement there and are the foundation of our rebalanced national security efforts. Our connection with Asia-Pacific allies starts at the top. Our naval headquarters and command facilities are integrated with those of Japan and South Korea and we are increasing the integration of our operating forces by regularly conducting combined missions in areas including anti-submarine warfare and ballistic missile defense. We are also establishing over the next year a headquarters in Singapore for our ships that will operate there.

We build our relationships with operational experience. The Navy conducts more than 170 exercises and 600 training events there every year with more than 20 allies and partners -- and the number of events and partners continues to grow. Our 2012 Rim of the Pacific Exercise, or "RIMPAC," was the world's largest international maritime exercise, involving more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft, and more than 25,000 sailors from two dozen Asia-Pacific countries. This year RIMPAC included several new partners, such as Russia and India. It also incorporated naval officers from Canada, Australia, and Chile as leaders of exercise task forces. Like our other exercises, RIMPAC practices a range of operations, building partner capacity in missions such as maritime security and humanitarian assistance while enhancing interoperability with allies in sophisticated missions such as anti-submarine and surface warfare and missile defense.

Second, we are refocusing attention on the Asia-Pacific in developing and deploying our intellectual talent. The Naval War College is the nation's premier academic center on the region and continues to grow its programs on Asian security, while the Naval Postgraduate School expanded its programs devoted to developing political and technical expertise relevant to the Asia-Pacific. We continue to carefully screen and send our most talented people to operate and command ships and squadrons in the Asia-Pacific.

Third, as described above, the Navy is sharpening its focus on military capabilities needed in the Asia-Pacific. Most important is the ability to assure access, given the distances involved in the region and our treaty alliances there. Having a credible ability to maintain operational access is critical to our security commitments in the region and the diplomatic and economic relationships those commitments underpin. We are developing the doctrine, training and know-how to defeat access threats such as submarines and cruise and ballistic missiles through our Air-Sea Battle concept. With Air-Sea Battle, we are pulling together the intellectual effort in needed areas, including intelligence and surveillance, cyber operations, anti-submarine warfare, ballistic missile defense, air defense, and electronic warfare. The Air-Sea Battle Office leads this effort with more than a dozen personnel representing each military service.

Our credibility in these missions rests on the proficiency our forces deployed every day in the Asia-Pacific. We increased our live-fire training in air defense and in surface and anti-submarine warfare by more than 50 percent, and expanded the number and sophistication of training events we conduct in theater with our partners and allies. For example, in RIMPAC 2012, U.S. allies and partners shot 26 torpedoes and more than 50 missiles from aircraft and ships against a range of targets and decommissioned ships.

A Global Fleet

Even as we rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, the Navy will remain engaged around the world. We will maintain our presence to deter and respond to aggression in support of our partners in the Middle East. In Europe we will build our alliance relationships. Our basing of ballistic missile defense destroyers to Spain is part of this effort, as an element of the overall European Phased Adaptive Approach. The home-porting of U.S. ships in Europe will yield greater opportunities for integration with European forces as well.

In South America and Africa we will shift, as the Defense Strategic Guidance directs, to "innovative, low-cost approaches," including JHSV, AFSB, and LCS. In contrast to our approach today, which is to send the destroyers and amphibious ships we have when available, these new ships will be better suited to operations in these regions and will be available full-time thanks to their rotational crews.

The Asia-Pacific will become increasingly important to our national prosperity and security. It is home to the world's largest and most dynamic economies, growing reserves of natural resources, and emerging security concerns. Naval forces, with their mobility and relevance in peacetime and conflict, are uniquely poised to address these challenges and opportunities and sustain our leadership in the region. With our focus on partnerships and innovative approaches, including new ships, forward homeporting, and rotational crewing, the Navy can rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific while being judicious with the nation's resources. We will grow our fleet in the Asia-Pacific, rebalance our basing, improve our capabilities, and focus intellectually on the region. This will sustain our credibility to deter aggression, preserve freedom of maritime access, and protect the economic livelihood of America and our friends.

Sex and the Modern Soldier

Just how bad is the military's woman problem? 


As I write this, the Petraeus saga, which morphed first into the Petraeus-Broadwell saga, and then into the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley saga, followed closely by the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen saga, is morphing into Phase 5, or maybe it's Phase 6. Who can keep track? By now, I believe, it's the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen-Evil Twin Natalie-Shirtless FBI Agent-Eric Cantor-Classified Documents story.

By the time you read this, the saga will have morphed into Phase 11 or 12, and it will no doubt have been revealed that Anthony Weiner was Jill Kelley's college roommate before a series of harassing phone calls from a Lockheed Martin executive led him to take up residence instead in one of those fancy hotel rooms favored by disgraced Gen. Kip Ward. Prince Harry and the Waffle House guy will probably also turn out to be involved.

But let's put schadenfreude briefly aside -- who can possibly keep up with these high-society types, anyway? -- and focus instead on the important question my mother asked me today, in a breathless early-morning call: What is up with these generals?

More specifically: Does the U.S. military have an adultery problem? A woman problem? A generic, all-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption problem? A public-image problem?

Answering these questions in order, I can offer a definitive "sort of," "kind of, "maybe," and "very possibly."

First, adultery and related peccadilloes.

Officially, military culture tends to smile upon marriage and frown upon singleness. The military provides married personnel with benefits not available to single personnel, and even today, officers often feel that remaining unmarried is regarded as professionally suspect (not just because it may raise suspicions of homosexuality -- for senior male officers in particular, a wife has historically been considered a must-have accessory, needed in her hostess role as much as in her role as companion). But ironically, the military's very "pro-marriage" culture may lead to a higher incidence of divorce and marital problems.

A recent Rand Corp. study found that compared with demographically matched civilians, military personnel are more likely to get married -- but after leaving the military, veterans are more likely than non-veterans to get divorced. "[T]hese findings," the study concluded, "suggest that the military provides incentives to marry … but that once the servicemembers return to civilian life and these incentives are absent, they suffer higher rates of marital dissolution than comparable civilians. This suggests that the military may encourage unions that would not normally be formalized into marriage in a civilian context, and are consequently more fragile upon exit from the military."

If some service members marry because it's expected or rewarded rather than because they've found a compatible partner, those marriages are presumably more fragile before exit from the military as well as after. There's no way to know for sure whether infidelity is more common in the military than in the civilian world, of course. Needless to say, adultery is one of those things people generally -- no pun intended -- lie about. But even if we leave aside the question of military marriages that should probably never have been entered into, it seems reasonable to suppose that adultery might be more common in the military than in the civilian world.

Military careers can place great strain on marriages. Military families are frequently uprooted, and deployments can separate spouses by thousands of miles, year after year. Consider David and Holly Petraeus, who reportedly moved 23 times over the course of their marriage and were frequently separated by lengthy training periods and deployments. That would test any marriage.

Military personnel have -- literally -- a societally granted license to kill, at least in wartime, and it's reasonable to expect those entrusted with such power to adhere to unusually high standards of behavior. Thus, adultery is still punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) -- and people still lose their jobs over it. "Mere" adultery is generally not sufficient to get a service member in legal trouble, though. That kicks in only if there's evidence that the adulterous conduct was "to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces." In other words, if no one's making much of a fuss about it and adultery is the only form of misconduct alleged, no one's likely to be punished. But the risk is always there.

Of course, a wide range of other conduct can also be prejudicial to good order and discipline or likely to "bring discredit" upon the armed forces, and the UCMJ offers fairly wide latitude to commanders who believe that their subordinates have been up to no good, regardless of the form taken by the no-goodness. For officers, "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman" remains punishable under the UCMJ ("gentleman" has been generously defined to include ladies too). How often these UCMJ provisions are used to go after sexual indiscretions is unknown, as the military does not keep easily accessible records of such allegations or case dispositions.

Even retired military personnel are subject to the UCMJ, though the military rarely takes the trouble to go after retired service members. Will retired General Petraeus find himself in legal trouble? Probably not, unless a hue and cry over double standards forces the military to take action. Why should a retired four-star get away with conduct that could lead to a demotion, separation, or reduction in pay for a junior officer or enlisted soldier?

The Woman Problem

It would be fair to say that the military still has something of a woman problem. Although most military jobs are now open to women -- the exception being certain combat jobs -- women still make up only a small minority of all military personnel (about 15 percent) and a still-smaller minority of senior officers (no surprise, given that today's senior women officers joined the military, by definition, in an era in which even fewer jobs were open to women).

The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male -- and overwhelmingly macho -- institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male.

This extends to the home front, as well. In certain ways, the informal culture of military officers resembles the 1950s more than the 21st century. Military life isn't just hard on marriage -- it's also hard on the careers of the (mostly female) civilian spouses of military personnel. Rising up the career ladder isn't easy when you move from one military base to another every few years. One military friend of mine recalls a general telling junior officers -- in a recent lecture at an official Army command training event -- that they should actively discourage their wives from pursuing careers, because career women would be less supportive and flexible military wives. And though official publications now speak of officers' "spouses" rather than "wives," the military still produces etiquette guides for spouses, with a rather gendered focus on appropriate forms of address at social functions and the proper pouring of tea and coffee.

Here's something I worry about: Will the fallout from the Petraeus scandal make it even tougher for military women to rise to senior rank? In the military as in the civilian world, career advancement often has as much to do with informal mentoring relationships as with formal education or qualifications. No one bats an eye when the (male) boss goes out running or drinking with his (male) subordinates, but post-Petraeus, how many male senior officers will do the same with female subordinates? Not a lot -- and though such risk-aversion may reduce any appearance of impropriety, it will also reduce the odds that women will get the crucial mentoring that is provided so freely to their male colleagues.

All-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption?

Most soldiers I know do their best to live up to the Army values: "loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage." Every service has its own creed, but the core values of each service are basically the same, and every day, most of the roughly 2.5 million men -- and women -- in the military try their best to live up to them.

Needless to say, however, these values don't appear to have been particularly exemplified by the alleged recent behavior of General Petraeus and General John Allen. And it's not the marital infidelity -- acknowledged or alleged -- that bothers me. I'm willing to write that off to human frailty. Did General Allen exchange risqué emails with Kelley? Maybe -- but I don't really care. As for General Petraeus, when a lonely late-middle-aged married man with a stressful job falls into bed (or under the desk) with an attractive and adoring younger woman, it's not excusable, perhaps, but it's certainly understandable -- and really none of the country's business.

It's the emerging story of the all-too cozy relationship between Tampa's nouveau riche and the top brass at Centcom that makes me feel less charitable. Perhaps le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point -- but why were Petraeus and Allen spending all their free time at lavish parties hosted by a rich Tampa socialite? Who told Kelley it was fine to declare herself the "social liaison" to Centcom? Why didn't the fact that Kelley and her family were embroiled in multiple lawsuits alleging fraud and unpaid debt set off alarm bells for anyone at Centcom? Who anointed the 37-year-old Kelley as a Centcom "honorary ambassador," fostering relations between top Centcom officials and "Middle Eastern government officials"?

And, of course, what induced two of America's highest-ranking generals to wade into a vicious custody case involving the child of Kelley's twin sister, Natalie Khawam, sending character testimonials on Khawam's behalf to a judge who had declared Khawam to be a "psychologically unstable" manufacturer of "sensational accusations … so numerous, so extraordinary, and … so distorted that they defy any common sense view of reality"?

Talk about conduct "of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces."

Needless to say, no one's sure yet what's true and what isn't, and what more lies hidden under various carpets and rocks. But enough has already emerged to raise serious questions about the ethics and judgment of several top officials. Was there actual corruption, nepotism, and impropriety? Unclear -- but there was unquestionably an appearance of impropriety, and we should expect better of America's most decorated military officers.

Service members sure expect better of them. I've been asking around among military friends, and all I hear is shock, disgust, and a sense of betrayal. "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," one officer told me. "We're being had. These guys have chests full of medals, and they preach to us about military values. But look at this -- what the f*** are they doing?"

Does the military have a public image problem?

Whatever the reaction within the military community, will these revelations taint the military's public image? Since the 9/11 attacks, the military has become the most trusted institution in America. Indeed, Americans have put the military on such a high pedestal that it's considered near sacrilege for civilians to offer any criticism of the military. But there's no guarantee that things will stay that way. It depends on the breadth and depth of the rot.

If the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen business appears to be an aberration, Americans will forgive and forget: after two decades of war, most people are willing to cut the military some slack.

But if this week's revelations turn out to be the tip of the iceberg -- if whistle-blowers, media probes, and congressional investigations produce a rash of similar stories involving other senior military figures -- the public's patience may wear thin, fast. Being America's most trusted institution won't help the military much then: We're more appalled by those who betray our trust than by the bad behavior of those we never trusted in the first place. Sex abuse scandals in the Catholic clergy are a case in point.

The higher they are, the harder they fall.

Trade in the ghosts of 1962

Published: November 15, 2012 
Ravi Bhoothalingam

With the growing power and influence that India and China exercise on the world stage, business people in both nations must take the lead in visualising a new relationship

Fifty years have passed since the short but ill-fated war between India and China. The anniversary has already prompted several military men, diplomats and politicians to share their views. This is only natural, as they were indeed the principal actors in that tense drama in the high Himalaya. However, a view from a perch less privileged with insider knowledge, and more distant from the action, may also yield some insights. It is with that objective that I offer these thoughts, viewed from the standpoint of a management professional who has been involved with business and industry for over four decades.

Victory and defeat, success and failure, advance and retreat are all part of the rhythm of life. Business people know this all too well since they deal with risk every day, and feel the results through the ebb and flow of their fortunes. Risks in business are manifold. Less than one in 20 of new product launches, for example, turn out successful. Even smaller is the probability of hitting on a “blockbuster” product. The best of recruitment methods, interview panels and psychological techniques cannot guarantee that those selected as employees will not fall by the wayside later. Yet, risk cannot be evaded as it constitutes the very lifeblood of enterprise. What is important is to learn how to manage it. A truly capable business manager would demonstrate poise in adversity, an ability to study and learn from reverses, and the avoidance of hubris in times of triumph.

Closed archives

But can learning from business reverses — so different in magnitude from the national humiliation and tragedy of the Sino-Indian war — apply to the 1962 case? Indeed, yes, for the difference lies in scale and not in kind. Death through an industrial accident is no less a tragedy than through combat in distant mountains. The displacement of refugees through war and their loss of livelihoods are no more wrenching than jobs lost through factory closures and bankruptcies. How to experience and learn from defeat may, therefore, hold common lessons.

Learning from a setback is easier said than done. Confronting mistakes is painful, unpleasant and challenges one’s self-confidence. So, critiques of poor performance often lapse into easy self-justifications and excuses, however well disguised these may be as astute analyses. To get to the heart of the matter requires openness and a willingness to undergo painful introspection, backed by a determination to get at the “truth,” so that future generations might learn from our mistakes. Have we truly done this with 1962? That our official archives are not openly accessible provides a dusty and discouraging answer.

Managing a setback

Successful entrepreneurs and well-managed companies manage a setback through analysing both its content and process. In the “content” phase, they distinguish between two distinct sorts of human errors. What we may call “Type I mistakes” occur when the disastrous event is caused by a lack of knowledge or know-how, or through lapses of motivation, e.g. carelessness, shortcuts, poor application, etc. The second type of mistake — the Type II error — is caused not by shortages of knowledge or motivation, but by lapses in business judgement. Good businessmen distinguish between the two types of mistake even though their consequences may be similar.

Those who commit the first type of error are certainly taken to task. But, in well-run organisations, their immediate supervisors are punished more severely. For theirs was the responsibility to equip the people in their charge with the skills and the attitude to do the job well. However, the approach to Type II mistakes is quite different. A company that punishes bona fide errors of judgement will never build a cadre of entrepreneurial managers. Still, an infinite tolerance for well-intentioned but disastrous decisions can drive the best enterprise to the wall. A good company approaches this dilemma through careful career planning, gradually building the risk-taking ability of its people, whilst limiting the damage at any one time.

Yet, it is the “process” stage of this analysis that is crucially important. The sequence of examining one’s errors and learning lessons happens in well-run companies through a highly cathartic method of individual and group reflection, sometimes moderated by experts, on what went right and what went wrong. It is a painful experience as it exposes others and one’s own follies, omissions and attitudes. This cleansing process helps the participants understand and accept what went wrong, and to energise them to rectify the errors. Even more importantly, it stimulates a creative search for new directions and new vistas. Often, breakthroughs happen as a result.

In Europe and South Africa

The literature of business is replete with cases where enterprises that have gone through this cycle have radically changed their business model and their strategies, attaining great success. But so have countries. Take Germany after 1945. A shattered nation resolved to rebuild itself whilst simultaneously shunning militarism and revenge. Germany reconciled with her age-old enemy, France, and together they laid the foundation for what later became the European Union. Most difficult of all, Germany expressed true remorse and contrition to the Jewish people for her actions during 1933-1945. The contrast with an earlier, defeated Germany in 1918, with its bitterness and revanchism, is striking. Another example is South Africa. If Nelson Mandela’s inspired “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” had not happened, what would the wounds of apartheid have wrought in a free, South African state?

Thus, a genuine search for answers to the questions posed by 1962 means a lot for India. The correctives, when identified, to the Type-I and Type-II errors of 1962, will in themselves be important. But what will be crucial, and what we might miss in the absence of an authentic process of creative introspection, could be the formulation of a new relationship with China for the 21st century. Here again, examples from business point the way.

Business rivals rarely view each other as enemies. They might compete ferociously in the marketplace, yet they can and do cooperate in many other areas which benefit the industry as a whole. For example, in developing raw material sources, or improving educational facilities for future employees. A favourite is to lobby government collectively to press for pro-industry policies. Companies of standing generally respect and do not demonise the opposition, though their formations battling in the marketplace do give vent to their feelings in no mean measure! Such contradictions are second nature in business — indeed, businessmen could be the true disciples of Mao Zedong, adept as they are at “the correct handling of contradictions.”

As populous, continent-sized countries, with aspirations to provide their peoples with the basics of a decent living, both India and China face huge challenges in their domestic spheres. Their growing power and influence draws attention regionally as well as globally. So it is only realistic that their relationship with each other will be complex and multifaceted. Great opportunities will coexist alongside problems and irritations. So a return to the naïvety of the 1950s bhai-bhai type would be foolish. But so would clinging to the Westphalian “realist” notion of the “inevitability of conflict between rising powers.” That would only bring joy to the international arms merchants whilst doing a great disservice to the common man. Left to themselves, I suspect that business people in both countries would rather focus on the huge opportunities and benefits in the potential reconnection of their two giant economies, in the sharing of common concerns, and in cooperative approaches to innovations and new projects where Sino-Indian collaboration could benefit the entire planet. Could the business people of both countries take the lead in breaking free from the past and visualising a new relationship between China and India?

Is this a step too far, an “impossible dream”? Perhaps not. Businessmen know that whilst having one’s feet planted firmly on the ground, without daring to dream there can be neither innovation nor transformation. If we can exorcise the ghosts of 1962, perhaps this may be the lesson that emerges out of that tragedy 50 years ago.

(Ravi Bhoothalingam is a former president of the Oberoi Group of Hotels and travels extensively to China.)

What India can learn from UK

Business of intelligence

by PR Chari

UNDOUBTEDLY a flat statement, but intelligence analyses must address credible threats to national security. And that is where the problem arises. Which threat is ‘credible,’ and which threat is fanciful lies in the eyes of the beholder. More clearly, in the eyes of the decision-making elite charged with managing the defence effort; they must balance the need for ensuring territorial integrity and national sovereignty with the challenging requirement to provide for economic development and inclusive growth to insure against internal unrest.

The current controversy in the United Kingdom over the replacement of its four Trident submarines—the crown jewels of its nuclear deterrent—illustrates this dilemma. Briefly, its fleet of four Trident missile-armed submarines is to be retired in 2020 and replaced by four Vanguard-class submarines. These would be acquired in addition to Joint Strike Fighters, Type 26 frigates, unmanned aircraft, and armoured vehicles. With the national budget under severe strain, stagnant growth, rising unemployment and a dismal economic future staring the UK in the face, how will Whitehall pay for the Vanguards estimated to cost more than $30 billion?

The LibDems (Liberal Democrats), junior coalition partners of the Conservative Party in power, have dubbed the Trident “a Cold War relic,” and have proposed opening a debate on how best to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the modern age. They have proposed two alternatives to address this problem. Either build only three instead of four vessels, or abandon the Trident option altogether in favour of nuclear-armed cruise missiles based on the existing Astute-class submarines. These options were rejected by Prime Minister Cameron declaring that the UK must have a credible deterrent, “otherwise there is no point in having one at all”. All this rhetoric can, of course, be dismissed as theatricals, since uneasy political partners are jockeying for advantage within the British “coalition dharma”.

The more urgent issue, however, is the referendum in Scotland coming up in 2014 on its continuance within the United Kingdom. Should Scotland vote for secession, the first item on its agenda would be closure of the Trident home ports in Faslane and Coulport. The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has strongly urged this policy, arguing that the consequential loss of some 520 jobs could be easily created from savings by removing these weapon systems. Critics also argue that the strategy of having one boat on patrol at all times is excessive. Desperate problems beget desperate solutions; so the UK is giving serious thought to basing the Trident submarines somewhere else in the UK or even in the United States since “Trident is effectively an American weapon.”

But the more urgent issue needing debate is why the UK needs to replace its Tridents and sustain its nuclear deterrent. Who does it need to defend against and deter? During the Cold War the UK made the case with great difficulty that it needed to deter Moscow. But the UK never had any credible military capabilities against the Soviet Union, and had always sheltered under the nuclear canopy of the United States. After the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1990, the relevance of the British deterrent became questionable. However, British Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, has argued, “You can’t say with any certainty today who will be threatening us in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years’ time,” suggesting that the UK must hedge against an uncertain nuclear future. But this makes the perfect case for all nations to acquire nuclear weapons to hedge against their uncertain futures!

So, what are the lessons here for Indian intelligence? Both RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and IB (Intelligence Bureau) are focused on Pakistan and its efforts to destabilise India by cultivating local militant groups. Pakistan is unlikely to rein in its chief instrument— the Lashkar-e-Toiba— which has since become a support arm of the ISI and the Pakistan Army for continuing its war against India by other means. Indeed, Pakistan has added a new dimension to the strategic theory by using insurgency and terrorism as the weapons to further its national interests under the rubric of nuclear deterrence. Much greater efforts and resources need to be devoted, therefore, by India to address the internal threats to its national security, which prominently includes left-wing extremism that has begun infiltrating into urban areas.

The threat from China is no less significant and derives from its “all-weather” friendship with Pakistan buttressed by nuclear technology and conventional arms transfers. China is expanding its military presence in Tibet, Xinjiang and the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan to augment its overall policy to confine India within South Asia. China’s growing cyber warfare and satellite surveillance capabilities are designed to enhance the PLA’s anti-access and area denial operations, heralding a marked change from its earlier defensive to an offensive strategy. The intention is to “fight and win local wars on its borders” by enhancing the PLA’s ability to launch mobile operations in the Tibetan plateau, using all its elements of power, which has obvious implications for India’s security.

Simultaneously, a larger role is being assigned to its air and naval forces. China is also placing a new emphasis on maritime security by according greater attention to its territorial claims in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. China’s puzzling activism in the South China Sea is explicable by its desperate need for fossil fuel resources. But its alarmed Southeast Asian neighbours have banded together and sought the countervailing power of the United States. Indian intelligence needs to assess, therefore, the fuller implications of the US ‘pivot’ or ‘re-balancing’ towards Asia to pursue its national interests in this deteriorating situation. There is good reason for India to shed its timid policy of inactive neutralism, and see where its advantage lies in this emerging Asian disorder. Naturally, India must sustain its burgeoning trade relations with China while reducing the growing deficit between its imports and exports, but it cannot ignore China’s inimical actions either.

Like the UK, India must review its old orthodox beliefs regarding national security, and think more innovatively about pursuing its best national interests in a rapidly changing world.

Challenging the Pakistan army

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 13th Nov 12

The Pakistan Army’s overlordship of that country’s national security decision-making has scarred New Delhi’s engagement with Islamabad, undermining the dialogue between the two countries. In any discussions, India’s Team A only meets Pakistan’s Team B. After they finish talking, Pakistan’s Team A --- viz. the Pakistan Army, which wields a veto over everything the diplomats and bureaucrats have discussed --- rules on the outcome from General Headquarters (GHQ), Rawalpindi.

But that stranglehold is being challenged within Pakistan in tentative but unmistakable ways. Following President Asif Ali Zardari’s extended confrontations with the generals, now the judiciary has fired a broadside across the military’s bows. On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued its detailed verdict in the Air Chief Marshal (Retired) Asghar Khan case, in which it has ordered action against former army chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg, and his spymaster, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head, Lieutenant General Asad Durrani, for funnelling Rs 14 crore to various political parties to rig the outcome of the 1990 elections.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the battle-scarred campaigner who was instrumental in unseating President Pervez Musharraf, threw his full weight behind that verdict. After some TV news channels (a match in inanity for our own) reported that the Court Registrar had authored the judgment, the Supreme Court officially clarified that a three-judge bench headed by the chief justice himself had delivered it.

In its judgment on the case, which had remained a judicial hot potato since 1996, Justice Chaudhry enjoined soldiers to uphold the Constitution, even if he received orders from his seniors ordering otherwise. For the military, this must have sounded like, “Tell the general you’re not available for the coup.”

Such judicial strictures could not but provoke a military that is already under pressure from the media and from President Asif Ali Zardari. The president from the traditionally anti-military Pakistan People’s Party has repeatedly taken on the khakis (as Pakistani liberals disparagingly call the military), denting the army’s aura of omnipotence. Since 2008, when the Zardari government was forced to quickly withdraw a notification placing the ISI under the Interior Ministry, Zardari has grown steadily bolder. Last year he refused to back down in the so-called Memogate affair, when the military effectively accused Zardari of asking Washington for protection against a possible coup after Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. This after a fleeting moment of legislative oversight, when the military was forced to explain to parliament why it could not prevent US Special Forces from mounting a military operation in the Pakistani heartland.

Today the Pakistan military needs political cover from the government for military operations against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The conservative opposition parties steadfastly refuse to back those operations. All this boosts Zardari’s confidence, already high after remaining in power for what could be an unprecedented five-year term, despite massed resistance from the judiciary, the military, his political foes and the jihadis.

Rattled by these potentially adverse political winds, the generals have warned all concerned to back off. On Nov 5, army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani issued a statement through the Inter-Services Public Relations directorate, the military’s own PR agency, warning that, “All systems in Pakistan appear to be in a haste to achieve something, which can have both positive and negative implications. Let us take a pause and examine the two fundamental questions; One, are we promoting the rule of law and the Constitution? Two, are we strengthening or weakening the institutions? In the ultimate analysis, all of us would have served Pakistan better if history and our future generations judge us positively.”

For a country that understands well their military’s praetorian lexicon, the meaning of this profundity is clear: “Hold it, chums. We love democracy like you all do. But democracy does not mean that the institutions (the army) can be weakened. So back off!”

For the first sixty years of Pakistan’s history, such a statement from GHQ would have had every institution stepping back and issuing pro forma statements about the need to remain united to safeguard national security. But, in yet another sign of change, the Supreme Court’s retaliatory salvo came within three days, in the form of the detailed judgment.

This changing civil-military dynamic, which only the ideologically blinkered can fail to perceive, has not yet translated into any loosening of the Pakistani military’s absolute stranglehold over policy in four areas --- Kashmir, America, Afghanistan and China. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s polity, judiciary, civil society, clergy and jehadis are all increasingly willing to challenge the khakis. Nobody yet knows how this fascinating contest will play out as one side, then another, pushes back and flexes its muscles. But New Delhi must watch this power play carefully, keeping a safe distance from the participants it favours, because India’s approval is still the kiss of death in Pakistan.

India provides the generals with a useful raison d’etre. But for most Pakistanis America has long supplanted India as the top hate. As more Pakistani troops are diverted from the relatively peaceful border with India to the roiling badlands of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Pakistani soldier will also wonder where the real enemy lies. Now the structural trends in Pakistan raise the interesting possibility that the army’s opinions may increasingly have to parallel, not shape, the public’s.

How to manage China's rise

Shyam Saran
November 11, 2012
There is a continuing spate of commentaries marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Sino-Indian border war of 1962.

This reflects a contemporary concern with the implications of China's rise for India's interests rather than a preoccupation with history. So what lies ahead
for India-China relations?

Indian and Chinese civilisations enjoyed benign co-existence in Asia for most of their history. There was considerable interaction between them.

The spread of Buddhism to China from India is one example. There is historical precedent for Asia being home to two major civilisations and economic powerhouses, without conflict being inevitable. But there are new elements in the contemporary equation.

Firstly, the earlier pre-eminence of India and China was the culmination of long-term and gradual historical processes. Their current re-emergence is telescoped in a much shorter timeframe. Adjustment to such rapid but significant change is likely to be complex and uncertain.

Secondly, despite being outward looking at various stages of their history, both countries were relatively self-sufficient and self-sustaining economies. Currently, their rapid economic growth is linked to their continuing integration into an increasingly inter-connected regional and global economy.

As their respective economic and security profiles expand, the points of intersection will multiply. These could become triggers of conflict or of cooperation. Both countries should seek mutual accommodation. The alternative could be a costly rivalry that could also draw in other powers with their own political agenda.

India-China relations did enjoy a decade of friendly relations from 1949 to 1959. There was an early promise of their working together to transform the geopolitical landscape.

This positive phase ended with the controversy over the Dalai Lama's entry into India in 1959 and the subsequent border conflict in 1962.

The compulsions of national consolidation within modern conceptions of boundaries, in place of what had remained for centuries, more loosely defined zones of overlapping ethnicities and cultures, overwhelmed the brief spell of solidarity.

Positive engagement

Expanding trade and investment relations between the two countries is one. Trade volume is already $70 billion and targeted to reach $100 billion in 2015.

Two, the countries have institutionalized high level official interaction. They have established a Strategic Economic Dialogue to parallel the annual Strategic Political Dialogue.

Their leaders have been exchanging annual visits and meet regularly at regional and international fora. These reduce the chances of misunderstanding.

Three, India and China have assumed a decisive role in tackling a whole series of global issues. Both at multilateral trade and climate change fora they have worked together to safeguard their interests and those of developing countries in general. At the G-20, they consult regularly and, wherever possible, coordinate their positions.

Points of uncertainty
The long-standing boundary issue has defied solution. The two countries have generally maintained peace and tranquillity along their borders through a series of confidence-building measures. But continued failure to resolve the issue will act as a constraint on relations .

Two, despite India having acknowledged Tibet as an autonomous region of China, the latter still harbours suspicions about Indian intentions.

These misperceptions get heightened whenever there is unrest in Tibet. There is growing radicalisation of Tibetan youth in India and China and this could have adverse repercussions. A regular exchange on this sensitive issue may help in keeping India-China relations on a positive track.

Thirdly, India has major concerns over Chinese hydropower projects on several cross-border rivers. While there is some limited information sharing on the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra, we need an overall agreement covering all cross-border rivers.

Fourthly, there is concern over how China will treat issues of sensitivity to India. The Chinese often speak of the need to maintain "balance" between India and Pakistan, and justify their support to Pakistan on that basis.

And yet China would be the first to reject any attempt by any power to "balance" China itself. China is also ambiguous about India's candidacy for permanent membership of the UN Security Council and refuses to acknowledge India as a state with nuclear weapons. This prevents any meaningful dialogue on issues of nuclear confidence building.

China has expressed concerns over India's role in the South China Sea.

India does not take a position on the territorial issue, but it does have a legitimate interest in the freedom of navigation and security of sea lanes in the interconnected Indo-Pacific region. China, too, has legitimate concerns since much of its overseas trade and energy supplies are carried over these ocean routes.

The most effective way to promote mutual reassurance is through an open, inclusive, transparent and balanced security architecture in the region rather than through unilateral military, in particular, naval build-up. It is encouraging that India and China have put maritime security on the agenda of their strategic dialogue.

As the dust settles on China's leadership transition, India must pursue a strategy of engagement which enables an effective management of the China challenge.

Shyam Saran is a former foreign secretary and currently chairman, RIS, a New Delhi-based think tank.

South China Sea energy: just how valuable/feasible?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

FT story on new Chinese estimate for natural gas ("far greater reserves . . . than previously thought") in South China Sea (roughly 500T cubic feet). Also 17B tonnes of oil.

Yes, those are both weird British measures.

But the accompanying reality:

Although only a fraction of those resources would be economically feasible to extract, analysts calculate that the levels of reserves could one day double China's current proven reserves in oil and gas.

Hmm. A doubling of reserves, but the new stuff is largely not worth extracting. I'll leave the glass-half-full/empty calculation to others.

Piece also quotes Hu Jintao on way out of power declaring that next generation of leaders must make China a "maritime power."


But Wang Yilin, boss of CNOOC, while noting that Hu's words "showed the way," also said "the company wanted to 'lay aside disputes and develop [the South China Sea reserves] jointly' with international companies."

So there you have it: China is declared to be way behind as a maritime power, so it must build up those assets. Big reason is South China Sea and all those energy reserves, even if only a fraction will ever be pulled and that difficult feat requires lots of joint ventures with foreign energy firms.

Sounds like WWIII to me. Thank God for the AirSea Battle Concept, because we all know that sea control = seabed control (sort of). I foresee vast drone forces duking it out over a no-man's water. It'll cost several fortunes, but all those unfeasibly-accessed energy reserves will pay for it.

You have your orders.

Referenced from: http://thomaspmbarnett.com/globlogization/2012/11/14/south-china-sea-energy-just-how-valuablefeasible.html#references#ixzz2CDaLxUyq

An Aircraft Carrier’s Relevance to China’s A2/AD Strategy

By Sukjoon Yoon
Nov 13, 2012

The acquisition of an aircraft carrier is the foundation and ultimate symbol of a navy's blue-water strategy. There is no more important reality for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as it starts operating its first carrier. The full ramifications of the PLAN's ambitious acquisition of naval air power are as yet uncertain. The ultimate outcome depends upon maintaining a balance between a variety of contradictory postures and strategies.

Download PDF File of "PacNet #72 - An Aircraft Carrier’s Relevance to China’s A2/AD Strategy"

What can Change in China?

Paper No. 5296 Dated 14-Nov-2012

By Bhaskar Roy

The 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opened in Beijing on November 8 amid almost unprecedented security. Sale of meat cleavers and flying of pigeons for sport was prohibited. The capital was almost sanitized. In 2012, the Chinese government allocated $ 105 billion for security, a figure higher than the military budget for the year.

Where was the massive threat from? If it was from a few Uighur or Tibetan nationalists, the security arrangements were like using a sledge hammer to kill a fly. The few political dissidents were dispatched thousands of miles from Beijing for the period. But the dissidents were never known for indulging in violence. Therefore, where was this massive threat perception from?

China has emerged as the second largest economy in the world. Projections are being made across the world that the Chinese economy could outpace the American economy between 2020 and 2025. If the country is so prosperous why have incidents of social disturbances (raids, protests, sometimes violent) reached nearly 200,000 a year according to official figures.

These protests from the people relate mainly to issues of land being forcefully taken away from them by the land mafia backed by government security forces, wage issues, retrenchment of workers among many other things. The use of a huge public security force mainly to beat down people has not been appreciated by the population. These are simmering volcanoes which can erupt without much notice. In a two-party or multi-party state a defaulting government can be removed through elections and a new government brought in. In China, that luxury for the people is missing. Hence, the state, which is controlled by the CCP or Party, are allowing some amount of criticism over the internet as long they do not seek to attack the legitimacy and supreme command of the party.

Coming back to economic power, there is no doubt China has surged ahead in the last ten years. At the same time Chinese statistics are notorious for artificial inflation of production by provinces. As outgoing Party General Secretary and President Hu Jintao pointed out in the work report to Congress on November 8, problems include “unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development, weak agricultural infrastructure systemic barriers, increasing social problems, bureaucracy and corruption”. Rarely does China’s top leaders spell out challenges so clearly. That means the problems are really serious and are being shared with the people.

The 10-year leadership of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao from 2002 saw China’s highest growth rate success. They weathered the global economic meltdown of 2008 using strong state economic instruments including the $560 billion money injection in 2009. Unfortunately, this money went to the state owned banks and then to State Owned Enterprises (SOE), which most of time are unrecoverable.

The high growth period was not accompanied by the political and economic restructuring to lay a level playing field for all. Major lapses in areas like energy policy, serious environmental degradation and wastage of natural resources will negatively impact China in the future.

This year was politically disturbing for China as internal fights broke out. The most important was the Bo Xilai multi-layered scandal. Bo Xilai was a highly rated leader, a ‘princeling’, and almost a sure shot for a position in the new super-body of the Party, the 9-member Standing Committee of the Politburo (PBSC). Bo’s father Bo Yibo was a revolutionary, purged by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution, and later rehabilitated by Deng Xiaoping and was one of China’s “eight immortals’ during 1980s and 1990s.

Unfortunately, Bo Xilai’s arrogance brought him down. As Party Chief of Chongqing Municipality, he launched a high profile crackdown against corruption and had eleven businessmen executed. Later it was found he and his family, especially his lawyer wife Gu Kailai, were also neck deep in corruption. Gu murdered a business partner, Englishman Neil Heywood. He fell out with his favoured Police Chief who, under fear of death tried to get asylum in the US Consulate in Chengdu, but was turned down. Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence. Police Chief Wang Lijun was jailed for 15 years. Bo was expelled from all Party and State posts and is undergoing trail.

It is unlikely Bo Xilai went down because of corruption although it was officially projected as such. Most Chinese leaders are involved in corruption either directly or through wives and relatives. Interestingly, an accusation currently floating is that Premier Wen Jiabao’s wife has stashed more than $2.1 million overseas.

Bo’s problem, like two former politburo members ousted for corruption, was political. He tried to bring back two things that are taboo in today’s China. Maoism with Cultural Revolution spirit, and personality cult. In private, he also spoke disparagingly about some top leaders as sold out to foreign interests, and tried to intercept telephone conversations of leaders including that of President Hu Jintao. There was also a fear that Bo was conspiring with some like minded PLA generals to execute a coup. Two of his close PLA friends who were expected to get promotions to important posts, got sidelined. Is the Bo Xilai and leftist saga over? Unlikely. The Chinese propaganda apparatus launched a blitz against Bo on corruption and womanizing not only during his Chongqing posting but even earlier. But it was silent on leftism.

In an unprecedented move, the authorities allowed critical writings on Mao’s disastrous 1958-1962 “Great Leap Forward” in which 36 million people died of starvation and people had to eat dead bodies. There were articles on the urgent need for political reform and economic reform without which the country would collapse. On at least three major occasions from October, “Mao Zedong Thought” was dropped from the national banner embodied in the Party’s constitution, and only mentioned Deng Xiaoping theory, “Three Represents” (attributed to Jiang Zemin) and “Theory of Scientific Development” (attributed to Hu Jintao). Finally in the Congress Work Report, Hu Jintao could not avoid reiterating Mao Zedong Thought and Marxism-Leninism.

The Work Report is not written by the Party Chief. He gives a framework only, and opinion is sought from Central Committee members and other stake holders. It leaves no doubt that there are forces who question moving away from the philosophy of the first one and a half decades of communist rule. Even those who suffered during the cultural revolution line up every morning to visit the Mao mausoleum in Beijing.

Ideological struggle continues as China enters a new period when the opportunities of the past are receding and the country is on a precipice from where a jump is not an option any longer – forward or backward.

Deng Yuwen of the Central Party School published in early September an essay on the political legacy of Hu-Wen 10-year period and pointed out ten grave problems facing China. Deng’s essay mainly pointed out the failure of this duo to take advantage of the opportunity to take the country forward, and criticized the antiquated laws and practices.

In another essay Yuan Peng, head of the American Research Centre of the CICIR, a think tank of the Ministry of State Security, identified five black groups in the country as follows: rights lawyers, dissidents, underground religious activists, Internet leaders and vulnerable groups. It is known that rights lawyers are sometime detained and not allowed to appear for their dissident clients.

What is most disturbing, however, is clubbing ‘vulnerable groups’ in the block list. Who are these vulnerable groups? They are the dispossessed whose land is taken away by the land mafia with state support, poor villagers who are taxed beyond their capacity by local officials, workers who are denied their pay and pensions, and the growing unemployed. It is a neo-fascist thought coming from a senior government think tank intellectual, suggesting he is not alone inside the political structure in such views. Mix this with neo-Maoism and steadfast leftism; it is a heady mix of political explosive. It is, therefore, no wonder that Hu Jintao had to retain Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as the Party’s guide lines, but the work report strongly pushed Deng Xiaoping’s agenda of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Hu Jintao is not even a closet liberal, but he will also not allow the extreme of returning to the Maoist era. He was Deng Xiaoping’s chosen leader for the fourth generation leadership, the reason why Jiang Zemin could not position his own chosen successor. Like Deng, he will not allow a slide back to Maoist days, but yet will not tolerate total westernization.

Delivering the keynote report to the congress Hu Jintao made it clear that there was no ‘going back to the old ways’, holding up different banners and flags – a clear reference to the Dazibao (Big character posters), sloganeering and attacking people of the Cultural Revolution years. At the same time “people’s democracy” an euphemism for what the party and state allows, and not more, was encouraged. It has to be seen, however, what is meant when the report said “judicial credibility should be steadily enhanced, and human rights should be fully respected and protected”. In the run up to the party congress none of these was in evidence.

Most significantly, the report warned that corruption was the biggest threat to the party and the state. Hu said “if we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the state”. This alert raised the veil over the serious problems facing the party and the state.

Over the last two years Premier Wen Jiabao campaigned for democracy and freedom of speech, even taking his campaign abroad. Initially, the official media blocked his speeches on the subject but gradually lifted the censor suggesting Wen’s views had a growing support inside the party. One Chinese dissident writer called Wen “China’s most consummate liar”, doubting his sincerity. Wen warned that without democracy and political reform even economic development will regress and the party would collapse.

Hu Jintao’s work report pointed to the prime malaise but did not really promise cleansing of the causes that have led to unbridled corruption. Wen Jiabao’s call for democracy and political reform tried to spell out a systemic change to bring officials under people’s supervision.

The work report says that reform of the political structure is an important part of China’s overall reform. If this is truly purused supervision and the rule of law must be implemented. The Judiciary and the party will have to be separated, and good laws in the books will have to be given life. This is not an easy task, however.

The party now has 82 million members, and membership of the party is the ticket to success. The party is the big pie, zealously guarded by its members whether it be individuals, SOEs or other institution. Some senior officials of the big SOEs earn more than a million yuans a year, ride in the biggest of luxury cars and drink the best of wines and spirits. These vested interests go up very high in the hierarchy.

Considering the internal social and political development in China over the last two years, reform is no longer an option, but a dire necessity. The problem has been the fear that if democracy is expanded and real political reform is introduced, the party will be written away and the country fragmented. This is a genuine fear. Chinese scholars have deeply studied the collapse of the Soviet Union and the East European block, and the consequences thereof. For more than two decades the progress of these countries have been meticulously studied in China. There is also the question that if Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had not moved at that moment towards democracy, the result could have been worse. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) had become unsustainable, and the demand of the constituents of the Soviet Union for independence had reached a point of cracking by themselves. Today, Russia is a unitary country and regaining strength.

The 5th generation of China’s leadership who are to take their first step to power on November 14, are substantially different from their predecessors. The top layer led by putative successor to Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping are princelings. Xi’s father Xi Zhongxun was a revolutionary who fought alongside Mao Zedong and was also persecuted by Mao, but returned to become a Vice Premier to work with Deng Xiaoping. Premier to be Li Keqiang belongs to the Youth League faction.

In terms of factional politics it is generally said that the two main factions today are the Princelings and the Youth Leagues. The Princelings appear to have merged with the Shanghai faction led by former Party Chief Jiang Zemin. But it is not that simple. Bo Xilai was a powerful princeling backed by Jiang Zemin. It is again Jiang who gave the final go ahead to prosecute him. The new leaders have been exposed to the west and have an understanding of western history, education and knowledge. Yet, they are acutely aware of the revolution and China’s goal on the global state. China’s future is in their hands.

One disconcerting factor during the congress was the appearance of Jiang Zemin in the front line of politics. He sat on the podium with other PBSC leaders in the opening ceremony of the 18th congress of the CCP. Deng Xiaoping had succeeded in excluding the retired party elders from active politics after the 1989 Tiananmen Square student’s demonstrations. The elders had rigid political and ideological ideas.

It is widely reported that Jiang and Hu Jintao differed on many issues and policies. With Jiang’s re-entry other leaders like former conservative Premier Li Peng, and former constructive Premier Zhu Rongji could also wade in. That may open the door to around 20 retired PBSC members to interfere in policies and governance. How this will impact on any hopes of political reform and democracy will have to be seen.