22 November 2012

A New Approach for Kashmir

Christine Fair, Sumit Ganguly
November 20, 2012

A Pakistani border guard. Flickr/Imtiaz W. Ahmed.As the Obama administration assumes office for a second and final term, it will continue to confront various protracted conflicts that plague the world. Some lack straightforward policy options. But one such conflict located in South Asia does offer clear-cut policy choices: the status of the disputed state on the India-Pakistan border, Jammu and Kashmir.

Confronting this conflict will call on the administration to shed some long held shibboleths and display a degree of boldness. Specifically, it will entail stating forthrightly and unequivocally that the Line of Control (LOC) that divides the disputed territory should be converted into an international border and that the United States will be the first to so recognize it. This would effectively transform the Kashmir impasse from an bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan into an important Indian domestic problem.

Origins of the Conflict

The origins of the Indo-Pakistani dispute are complex. It can be traced to the process of British colonial disengagement from the subcontinent in 1947. As independence and the partition of the British Indian Empire approached, a set of 532 nominally independent “princely states” were given the option of joining either India or Pakistan. Kashmir had posed a problem as it had a Hindu monarch, a Muslim-majority population and abutted both nascent states. To compound matters, the monarch sought independence. When he refused to accede to either state, Pakistani forces taking advantage of a tribal rebellion invaded the state.

Kasab’s Execution: After Hanging 2008 Terrorist, What Lessons Has India Learned?

Nov. 21, 2012

The Times of India / Reuters

Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a then suspected gunman, walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station in Mumbai in this Nov. 26, 2008 photo.

Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist whose boyish face came to embody the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was hanged in the western Indian city of Pune early morning on Wednesday, just a week before the four-year anniversary of the November 26 attack that killed 166 people and injured 300. Kasab was the only terrorist who had been captured alive at the scene of the violence. The grainy image of the young man, a gun in his hand and a backpack slung casually over his shoulder, has become an icon of the attack.

Kasab’s death sentence was carried out at 7:30AM in extreme secrecy to forestall any retaliation by terror groups; even the executioner was reportedly unaware of the identity of the man he was about to hang. The news started flashing on Indian television channels an hour after the hanging was over. Reports have since come out that Kasab was transferred from a Mumbai jail on Tuesday night, where he has been lodged for the last four years, to Pune’s Yerwada Jail. Kasab’s death sentence had been pronounced by a lower court in Mumbai in 2008 and was subsequently upheld by the Bombay High Court in 2011 and India’s top court in August 2012. Earlier this month, his mercy plea – his last chance to stay his sentence – was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. “It was a very somber duty that we had to perform,” Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said in a press briefing on Wednesday evening. “It could have developed into a simmering sore in our country.”

N-dimensions of Pak politics What India should do now

by G. Parthasarathy

PAKISTAN remains the focus of international attention today, not because of any expectations of its contribution to peace, economic growth or regional cooperation, but owing to fears of its pernicious role in international terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Its propensity for international terrorism lay exposed when Osama bin Laden was found to be living comfortably with his three wives and several children and grandchildren in the heart of Abbotabad cantonment. Its readiness to even resort to nuclear terrorism was earlier exposed when nuclear scientists like Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood and Chaudhri Abdul Majeed, known to have close links with Osama bin Laden, were detained after the 9/11 terrorist strikes and charged with helping Al-Qaeda to acquire nuclear and biological weapons. Shortly thereafter, the redoubtable Dr A.Q. Khan’s role in transferring nuclear weapons designs and knowhow to Iran, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia became public, though the Americans deliberately avoided implicating Khan’s bosses in the Pakistan Army.

While concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists remain, the focus of international attention is now on the fact that with an arsenal of already over 100 nuclear weapons, Pakistan today has the fastest growing nuclear weapons programme in the world. It is heading towards developing the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It is not however, any Pakistani General who has displayed the ability to explain why and how all this is happening. This responsibility has been left to Pakistan’s most savvy and hardnosed lady journalist-turned-diplomat Maleeha Lodi, well known for her close links with the Pakistan military establishment.

Sorry Folks: Israel’s Iron Dome Won’t Work in Asia

By Dr. Robert FarleyNovember 22, 2012

The apparent success of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system in the latest iteration of the Israel-Hamas conflict has spurred interest in how East Asian states could apply similar defensive technologies. Indeed, an Israeli media outlet reported that South Korea is considering procurement of the Iron Dome system, potentially as part of a reciprocal agreement that would supply Israel with maritime patrol ships. On Sunday, Max Boot argued that the success of Iron Dome effectively justifies Ronald Reagan’s 1980s-era concentration on the Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile defense system expected to defeat a Soviet nuclear attack. Demonstration effects matter; does the success of Iron Dome have implications for rocket or missile defense in East Asia?

2012: Year One in global cyber war

As cyberattacks mounted in 2012, the DOD and other government agencies began striking back

By John Edwards
Nov 15, 2012

When historians look back at 2012, it’s likely that they will peg the year as the moment when the world became fully engaged in its first cyber war.

"I definitely think cyber is part of warfare," said former Navy RADM Mike Brown, now vice president and general manager of the federal business and critical infrastructure unit at EMC-RSA, a security consulting firm based in Bedford, Mass. "What we're concerned about inside government, and what those of us in the security environment see on a daily basis, is the potential for a significant impact to our way of life."

Evidence of an ongoing cyber war mounted during 2012. In late summer and early fall, major U.S. banks were hit with a series of highly publicized distributed denial of service (DDOS) assaults. During the same timeframe, several Middle Eastern oil and gas companies, including Saudi Aramco, were struck by the "Shamoon" virus, which replaced critical computer files with the image of a burning American flag. Additionally, throughout the year, thousands of smaller cyberattacks—likely launched by state sponsors, as well as "hacktivist" groups such as Anonymous—struck many major U.S. businesses and government agencies—and many smaller entities as well.

Hackers declare ‘cyber war’ on Israel

November 21, 2012

HACKERS’ collective Anonymous claims it has declared ‘cyber war’ against Israel in retaliation for threats to block Palestinians’ internet access.

As the Israel Defence Forces began airstrikes against targets in the territory, the hacktivist group tried to cripple Israeli sites and government networks.

The move came as Israel admitted the war is being fought on ‘three fronts’ - including physical, social networks and cyber attacks - and triggered calls for a ‘cyberdome’ protective shield to mirror the ‘Iron dome’ missile defence system.

Israel wages cyber war with Hamas

Gwen Ackerman , Saud Abu Ramadan , Bloomberg News

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Knowledge of computer code is proving to be as important to Israel's conflict with Hamas as the Iron Dome system intercepting rockets from the Gaza Strip.

In a government building in Jerusalem, technicians in civilian clothes sit in front of a bank of screens, trying to deflect millions of attempted attacks on Israel's government websites. A map on the wall shows sites where virtual attacks are being carried out around the world, updating every few seconds. Israel and the Palestinian territories stand out with a big red flame. Extra workers are drafted in.

The clicking of keyboards and mice has already become a hallmark of the conflict's latest flare up that started on Nov. 14 as much as the sound of rocket fire. Aided by supporters abroad and speedy Internet access, the virtual battle is intensifying in tandem with the air attacks as Israelis and Palestinians try to disrupt the flow of information and hack each other's propaganda machines.

"From the very beginning, we called on Palestinian software technicians in Gaza and all over the world to use technology to undermine Israeli websites and pages," Islam Shahwan, the spokesman for the Hamas Ministry of Interior in Gaza, said in an interview from the enclave.

More than 44 million attempts were made to bring down Israeli state websites, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Nov. 18, standing in the government's cyber war-room.

"Beyond the main military battlefield, there is a secondary arena," Steinitz said. "Israel has been under unprecedented cyber attack."

An Israeli air strike on Nov. 19 hit a 15-floor office building in downtown Gaza City used by the television stations of Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and European Union, and Islamic Jihad. The second floor of the complex that houses an Internet and computer services company was also damaged, cutting connection to subscribers.

The building was targeted because of the presence of senior terrorist members there, Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said. One of the militants killed in the assault was Ramez Harb, head of Islamic Jihad's media operations, who Israel said was responsible for propaganda for the group.

Averting a Civil War in Afghanistan

November 20, 2012

By Arif Rafiq

The challenge: Incorporating the Taliban into the future of Afghanistan without sacrificing the rights of Afghans, especially women. Can it be done?

Members of the Afghan High Peace Council (AHPC) visited Islamabad recently and met with a broad set of civil and military officials to discuss collaboration in negotiating an end to the war with the Taliban. There were no dramatic breakthroughs—the meeting was part of the painfully slow process of building trust between Islamabad and Kabul—but the Afghan delegation did not return home empty-handed. With the release of up to thirteen prisoners associated with the Afghan Taliban into the Afghan government’s custody, and frank discussions with their Pakistani counterparts, the AHPC should have a stronger level of confidence in Islamabad’s claim that it seeks peace in Afghanistan.

Seven Truths About Israel, Hamas and Violence

By Jeffrey Goldberg Nov 20, 2012

There are many lies being told about the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Here are seven things that are true.

No. 1. This most recent outbreak of violence represents the opening round of the third Palestinian intifada. The first intifada, which began in 1987 and petered out in the early 1990s, was an uprising of stones and Molotov cocktails. The second intifada, which began 12 years ago, was an uprising of suicide bombers. The third uprising, inevitably, was going to feature rockets and missiles. I don’t care to think about what sorts of weapons and tactics will feature in the fourth intifada.

No. 2. Hamas’s strategy in this latest conflict makes perfect sense. Hamas, which is the Palestine branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, is theologically committed to the obliteration of Israel and believes, as a matter of faith, that Jews are Allah’s enemies. Its leaders have believed, since the group’s inception, that Jews are soft (“We love death and they love life,” a Hamas leader once told me, and it is a commonly expressed thought). Hamas also believes that eventually misery and fear will drive most Jews to leave Israel, which it views as a Muslim waqf, or endowment, not merely the rightful home of the Palestinian people.

The "Ugly American" Trainers

Amitai Etzioni|
November 19, 2012

 Much has been made about the difficulties we have in training the Afghan Army and police. Most noted are the so-called green-on-blue incidents in which those we train turn their weapons on their trainers and kill U.S. troops. But these incidents are not due to Taliban fighters enlisting in the Afghan Army or police. As Javid Ahmad, a native of Kabul, explained in the Washington Post, “fewer than a quarter of the attacks have been attributed to Taliban infiltration.” The rest are due to cultural frictions.

At stake is not merely the ability to prevent our young people from being killed by our ally but also the pace at which we can extricate ourselves from Afghanistan without fear that its regime will collapse the moment the last American takes off. In Iraq, we face a similar challenge: the main projection of power Washington has left in the country is U.S. trainers who, while rarely shot at, are nonetheless failing.

It is all too obvious that our trainers have not read The Ugly American nor watched the movie of the same title. The message is not that Americans are ugly but that they are naive. Our intentions may be noble, but we do not begin to understand the local culture, and we are way too ambitious. No wonder we are doing so poorly.

Suicide Drones, Mini Blimps and 3D Printers: Inside the New Army Arsenal

By Noah Shachtman

Flying grenades. Mini spy blimps. Robotic bomb-busters. Suicide-vest spotters. Battlefield 3D printers. The Army is retooling for a very austere, very remote way of war. And the gear that's required is very different from the hardware that came before.

Growing friction

Harsh V Pant, Nov 21, 2012 :Despite the pretence of a sustained relations between India and China, suspicions of each other are at an all-time high.


Calling on the party workers to fight corruption and promising to continue China’s ‘rejuvenation,’ Xi Jinping, China’s new leader took over the mantle of the general secretary of the Communist Party from Hu Jintao last week. He will be effectively running the country from now with his No. 2 Li Keqiang and five other members of the party’s politburo standing committee. This is China’s ‘fifth generation’ of political leadership and there are a number of challenges from economic stagnation to political turmoil and environmental degradation that confront the new leadership.

But the world will be particularly interested in how this new set of Chinese leaders deals with thorny foreign policy challenges. While a lot of attention has been paid in recent times to China’s growing aggressiveness in South China Sea, the trajectory of Sino-Indian relations too has been downhill for quite some time now. There are multiple levels – diplomatic, economic, cultural - at which China and India are engaging each other. Sino-Indian economic ties are at an all-time high with annual bilateral trade expected to reach around $100 billion over the next three years. Yet despite that pretence of a sustained engagement, suspicions of each other are at an all-time high with the two states sharing one of the world’s most heavily militarised border areas.

Planning for China’s ‘Fall’

By Michael Auslin
November 22, 2012

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA—At the annual Halifax International Security Forum last week, much of the discussion centered on challenges to American leadership and what role the United States will play globally in the coming years. Many of the same questions that were asked about Barack Obama could have been directed towards China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, as became clear during the forum’s panel devoted to China. While the conversation on China revolved mostly around territorial disputes and the policies of leading nations like Japan and India towards Beijing, the discussion seemed to take for granted China’s inexorable rise and a concomitant growth in its influence and power.

Yet a growing number of China watchers have been raising the alarm that all is not well in the world’s second-largest economy. Indeed, any discussion of China these days would be far more foresighted to focus on the growing challenges and potential dangers that the new leadership is facing. The implications of China experiencing an unexpected economic crash or major political crisis, let alone a military conflict, should be as much a part of strategic planning as plans based on more optimistic scenarios. Not so long ago, the U.S. government and CIA were caught flat-footed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. To avoid surprise, the following is a short list of things that governments and policy analysts around the world should pay attention to:

With a new leadership in place, Chinese foreign policy is likely to undergo a few refinements

By Srikanth Kondapalli | Nov 22, 2012


Against the backdrop of the continuing protests by the Tibetans — reflected in over 70 self-immolations — Xi is likely to continue the 'strike hard' policy on the Tibetans, while at the same time emphasising, as the new chief of the Central Military Commission, military modernisation in the region.

These two measures, in addition to the intransigence in resolving the Tibet issue, could impact India in terms of Tibetan radicalisation and insecurity in the trans-Himalayan region while military modernisation in Tibet could enhance the costs of war on India.

On the other hand, Xi is known to the commercial sections in Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai (where he served as party secretary) as Mr Do It, meaning his obsession with successfully completing projects. This trait could augur well for expansion in business opportunities with India at a time when Singh has suggested the need for $1 trillion investment in infrastructure projects.

Xi Jinping, who visited India nearly two decades ago as the party chief of Fujian Province, and also met the then visiting President Pratibha Patil in 2010, is likely to continue emphasising enhancing trade with India. During his ten year stint, bilateral trade could possibly reach over $200 billion from $72 billion in 2011. Expanding trade with India is expected to create stakes and leverages for China in Indian political and commercial circles. Building such ties will be crucial in overcoming the negativity for China in the Indian context.

“Death by Blue Water Navy” Distracts from China’s Real Military Focus

By Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson
November 21, 2012

(Editor's Note: Please see "China's Real Blue Water Navy" and Greg Autry's response.)

Greg Autry’s passionate response to our recent piece on “China’s Real Blue Water Navy” is somewhat ironic, as he has missed our point. As our substantial body of work on the matter in multiple venues including The Diplomat amply demonstrates, we view China’s naval and military development with the utmost seriousness. Our work is read regularly by military and civilian policymakers, as well as the general public, because we research issues in depth and offer a fact-based, measured account based on what the evidence suggests. We value our readers’ trust and strive to keep our work independent of external ideological influences that could bias it.

How China Became Capitalist

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nobel Prize–winning economist Ronald Coase and Professor Ning Wang on the transformation of the Chinese economy. 

Editor's note: Nobel Prize–winning economist Ronald Coase and Professor Ning Wang are the authors of a new book, "How China Became Capitalist." The book outlines China’s 30-year transition from a closed, communist, agrarian economy to a rapidly growing industrial economy. THE AMERICAN Editor-in-Chief Nick Schulz recently asked the authors about the transformation of the Chinese economy, the legacy of the Tiananmen massacre, and why “capitalism with Chinese characteristics is impoverished by the lack of a free market for ideas.”

Nick Schulz: In a famous 1978 communiqué, communist party leaders in China admitted that “one of the serious shortcomings in the structure of economic management is the over-concentration of authority.” What prompted the Chinese leadership to acknowledge this fact and embrace devolving economic authority?

The Obama “Doctrine”, Conflict in the Middle East, and China’s Future

November 22, 2012

By Harry Kazianis

Ian Bremmer talks America's new role in Asia, how conflict in the Middle East could challenge such a role, and China's future.

The Diplomat's Editor Harry Kazianis recently spoke with noted author and president of Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer, about President Obama's recent trip to Southeast Asia, how tensions in the Middle East could affect America's renewed focus on Asia and China's future.

1. This week President Obama and senior members of his foreign policy team visited a series of nations in Southeast Asia including Burma. Many have argued that with ethnic tensions still unresolved, the Obama administration has moved too fast to restore relations and trade. Some have also argued the administrations moves have had more to do with China than Burma itself. What is your take?

During his trip to Myanmar earlier this week, Obama made the trek to the home of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, where she had spent more than two decades under house arrest. While the White House was still planning the trip, she cautioned the administration against visiting Myanmar at all, urging Obama not to be lured by the “mirage of success.” So why would Obama make it a priority to visit a country whose national hero warned him not to do it—a trip that could come back to bite him if the reform process goes south?


India may be getting serious about its China policy at last, but the possibility of conflict between the two countries remains, writes Harsh V. Pant

Xi Jinping with other politburo members

Calling on party workers to fight corruption and promising to continue China’s “rejuvenation”, Xi Jinping, China’s new leader, took over the mantle of the general secretary of the Communist Party from Hu Jintao last week. He will be effectively running the country from now with his number two, Li Keqiang, and five other members of the party’s politburo standing committee. This is China’s ‘fifth generation’ of political leadership and there are a number of challenges from economic stagnation to political turmoil and environmental degradation that confront the new leaders.

But the world will be particularly interested in how this new set of Chinese leaders deals with thorny foreign policy challenges. While a lot of attention has been paid in recent times to China’s growing aggressiveness in the South China Sea, the trajectory of Sino-Indian relations too has been downhill for quite some time now.

Flawed power

India lacks the political will to play a global role.
By N.V. Subramanian (19 November 2012)


New Delhi: Are internal issues stymieing India’s rise? And were these issues to be miraculously overcome, would India rise to become a great proactive power with all that it entails? Nor very likely. And the answer to the first question is, yes.

The internal impediments to India’s rise are well-known. Among other things, these pertain to the base nature of competitive politics, the absence of political will, rising corruption, crony capitalism, the erosion of military culture and authority, widening civil-military rift where the military is the loser, India’s absent grand strategy and strategic purpose, and finally, the crippling of Indian intellectualism, which prevents independent thinking, and discourages the culture of strategic forecasting and planning.

And for some of these reasons, and because of India’s undiminished fatal attraction for non-alignment, its history of having been colonized and for being in the forefront of anti-colonialism, its distaste for and discomfort with power projection, and for its absolute refusal to be anything other than a status quo entity, the country may never rise to be a great power on the lines of the US, China, Russia, or approximate the expansionism/ hegemony of former empire and maximum states such as Britain, Germany, Japan and France. If anything describes India’s upward trajectory, it is “peaceful rise”, but it will also end up being a metaphorical island unto itself, a manner of Fortress India, but without the benefits of security flowing to it.

Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century

Greenland surface melt measurements from three satellites on July 8 (left panel) and July 12 (right panel), 2012. Source:(NASA, 2012)


  • New World Bank-commissioned report warns the world is on track to a “4°C world” marked by extreme heat-waves and life-threatening sea level rise.
  • Adverse effects of global warming are “tilted against many of the world's poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and goals.
  • Bank eyes increased support for adaptation, mitigation, inclusive green growth and climate-smart development.

November 18, 2012 – Like summer’s satellite image of the melting Greenland ice sheet, a new report suggests time may be running out to temper the rising risks of climate change.

"Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided," (pdf) (eBook version) warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.

Download the report (pdf):

History and Nuclear Rationality

John Mueller
November 19, 2012

"And We Shall Conquer Drought": Stalin plans to reshape Russia's forests and climate. Viktor Ivanovich Govorkov, 1949.Some decades ago, Columbia University’s Warner Schilling [3]observed [3] that "at the summit of foreign policy, one always finds simplicity and spook."

I was reminded of this observation when I came across a passage in George F. Kennan, the excellent Pulitzer Prize-winning biography [4] of the prominent foreign-policy intellectual by John Lewis Gaddis. In 1950, notes Gaddis, no one anticipated most of the major international developments that were to take place in the next half-century, among them “that there would be no World War” and that the United States and the USSR, “soon to have tens of thousands of thermonuclear weapons pointed at one another, would agree tacitly never to use any of them.”

But the absence of further world war, whether nuclear or not, was compatible with a fairly obvious observation: those running world affairs after World War II were the same people or the intellectual heirs of the people who had tried desperately to prevent that cataclysm. It was entirely plausible that such people, despite their huge differences on many issues, would manage to avoid plunging into a self-destructive repeat performance.

The Russo-Japanese War: Dollars and Cents

By James R. Holmes
November 21, 2012

For the second phase of last week’s Southern excursion, I made my way from North Carolina to the Washington Navy Yard to lecture to some 120 students from the Naval War College’s Fleet Seminar Program, of which I am a humble graduate. With virtually zero time for sightseeing in Washington, I at least left a few minutes to stroll through the Navy Yard, historically a foundry for naval guns and other heavy machinery. In fact, a battleship gun and several dummy rounds of ammunition adorn a small park near the Naval History and Heritage Center. Such sights gladden the heart of any battleship sailor. At 67 feet long for a gun barrel and 1,900 or 2,700 pounds per projectile, they make us feel...musclebound. You wouldn’t like usoldtimers when we’re angry....

But enough of the mirth and merriment. My department has vaulted itself into the winter term of our Strategy & War Course. From now through graduation next June, I plan to devote one post each week to the historical case we’re studying, helping you get some sense of what the strategy curriculum is all about. The topic for last week’s lecture was the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. Whenever I prepare to teach that case, I am continually struck by how closely finance intertwines with military operations in wartime. At the outset of the war, for instance, Harper’s Weekly published a cartoon depicting the challenge confronting Tokyo. Because Japan appeared to be the weaker belligerent, Japanese leaders found it harder than their Russian antagonists to take out loans in financial centers like New York or London. In effect they had to fight uphill, scaling a mountain of cash.

How Asia sees Obama's pivot to the Pacific

Twenty-six ships from the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force steam together in the East China Sea on Nov. 16, 2012, after the conclusion of Keen Sword, a biennial naval exercise by the two countries to respond to a crisis in the Asia-Pacific region.Jennifer A. Villalovos/U.S. Navy/AP

The Associated Press
Published: November 20, 2012

TOKYO -- A lot has happened in Asia while the United States was off fighting its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most of it can be summed up in one word - China. Fueled by China's amazing growth and the promise of its huge and expanding consumer market, the Asia-Pacific region is now, as experts like to say, the global economy's center of gravity. Sorry, Europe.

But prosperity requires stability.

As President Barack Obama tours the region to push his year-old pivot to the Pacific policy, the big question on everybody's mind is how much of a role Washington, with its mighty military and immense diplomatic clout, can play in keeping the Pacific - well, pacific. Here's a look at how different countries perceive the U.S. Pacific policy and how it impacts them:

An Alternative: Brains of Enormous Value

by Phil Smith
Journal Article | November 18, 2012

“Arms of Little Value: The Challenge of Insurgency and Global Instability in the Twenty First Century.”

By G.L. Lamborn
Casemate Publishers, Havertown PA, 2012.

“If the agony we experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan-due to our inability to grasp the nature and scope of those wars-has taught us nothing else, it should have taught us to pay attention to the aspiration of the local people and thereby avoid inflicting pain on ourselves and others”

Written on the eve of Iraq and Afghanistan Arms of Little Value warns both civilian and military professionals that failure to internalize lessons of small wars, particularly those from countering insurgencies, will guarantee unpreparedness. Conventional wisdom and strategic ideas do not fit the challenges faced by an America in the 21st Century. The American society, along with civilian and military leaders remain unprepared to deal with the complexities of insurgencies and small wars.

Echoing the admonishment of Colin Gray[i] that The American Way of War could adapt with great difficulty to irregular warfare, Lamborn, a Vietnam Veteran with a 42 year defense career to include 26 years with the CIA, is a small wars historian who uses his command of American and third world history to capture the essence of why it is difficult to adapt. Lamborn convinces us, that even while we have been engaged in many small wars we have yet to institutionalize, or commit to philosophy and organizational memory the national, strategic and tactical lessons.


By Professor Gautam Sen 

(This is a pre publication copy. Not to be quoted or reproduced without permission of the author) 


Ever since India gained independence in 1947, the policy making in the areas related to defense and foreign affairs has remained in the preview of Government of India. Nehru all through his 17 years as the Prime Minister of India remained the sole master and architect of formulating India’s defense and foreign policy making. No bureaucrat or his fellow politicians could interfere in these two areas except Krishna Menon. Non-Alignment was the strategic framework both for foreign policy making and defense outlook. The concept of having a formulated national perspective of strategic thinking was fairly ambiguous. The nearest policy paper on “India’s Strategic Perspective” came to be written by late Field Marshal Manekshaw at the time a Colonel serving in he Army Headquarters under Gen Kariappa. However, this brief was never put up to the cabinet meeting in which Gen Kariappa was present. After that the note prepared was quickly forgotten. By 1965, the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) had been set up by the Ministry of Defense, which has continued to be manned by civil servants from the IAS and MEA taking up positions as Directors. 

The emphasis all through the cold war period was officially rooted in carrying out defense analysis and give feed back to the Government of India on all aspects of defense matters. It is interesting to note that even today all deliberations on India’s strategic posture, the future of the purpose of India’s military power, the restructuring of India’s national security apparatus, modernization of the Armed Forces as well as the non military dimensions related to human security in the form of Disaster Management, internal Security, Terrorism and issues related to Naxalism and now on Counter Terrorism are done inside the closed walls of various Ministries of the Government of India and in total secrecy. 

There is hardly any direct institutionalized academic inputs s from any of the 611 Universities of India or from the IITs, IIMs or from the Institutes of National importance like the Indian Institute of Science, Institute of Economic Growth, Institute of Social and Economic Change, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies etc. None of the open civilian organizations where teaching and research are carried out in Science, Technology, Social Sciences have ever been permitted to evolve organic or symbiotic relationship to any deliberations pertaining to any of the Government organizations which today are responsible to formulate the National Security policy. However, the academic community in the National Capital have been trying and in some cases been successful to be called by the various Ministries to give their expert opinion looking through their discipline oriented conceptual lenses to various Ministries or the Government sponsored think tanks.