15 December 2012

Precision Air-to-Ground Weapons beset with problems

Issue Vol. 26.4 Oct-Dec 2011 | Date : 14 Dec , 2012 

EXOCET AM39 and MICA on Rafale 

The collateral damage in the drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a constant reminder that the use of precision air-to-ground weapons is still beset with problems. Results have shown that even in an area where there is complete dominance of the air space and no threat from ground-based surface-to-air missiles, the use of precision weapons can cause serious collateral damage. 

The Fulda Gap, a region between the former East German border and Frankfurt was strategically important during the Cold War as a possible route for the Warsaw Pact armour to break out in the event of war in Europe. A whole range of aircraft and weapon systems were developed by the West to counter this possible armour offensive and to minimise the threat to NATO aircraft from the formidable integrated air defence system of the Warsaw Pact forces. I Both the West and the erstwhile USSR developed aircraft and weapons to enhance offensive capability and reduce vulnerability of their own forces. Although this combat scenario was never tested, it provided the technological impetus for the development of sophisticated air launched Precision Guided Munitions (PGM). 

Prepare for the Next Great War

Issue Vol 24.2 Apr-Jun 2009 | Date : 15 Dec , 2012 

Today, India is ringed by turbulent states – Pakistan (land boundary with India 3,310 kms in the northwest), Nepal (land boundary with India 1,751 kms in the north), Bangladesh (land boundary with India 4,095 kms in the southeast) and Myanmar (land boundary with India 1,463 kms in the northeast). Turbulence has percolated through India’s porous borders in the form of arms and narcotics to finance insurgents, militants, terrorists and religious fundamentalists. 

India remains Pakistan’s primary target and operating ground for Islamic fundamentalists and terrorist groups who infiltrate through Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Nepal and Bangladesh and carry out anti-Indian activities with impunity. 

As a rising economic power dependent almost entirely on foreign energy supplies, a time may come when India has to project its military power to protect and preserve the energy resources from Central and West Asia, and Africa.

Nepal is vulnerable to China’s influence. Its extremists have linkages with the People’s War Group (PWG) in India. In its bid to expand its influence, the PWG has carved a corridor ringing the states of Andhra Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh-Orissa-West Bengal-Jharkhand-Bihar. 

Japan's East China Sea Response to China: A new base near the dispute

China and Japan are engaged in a dispute over some islands in the East China Sea (see here and here).

China has sent fleets of fishing vessels and aircraft and ships of its "State Oceanic Administration" to the area. 

Japan has a response:

UPDATE: It should be note this plan has been in works for a couple of years, as seen here

***The government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has since vowed to beef up defenses for Japan’s “outlying islands,” and it appears close to a decision on the small Yonaguni garrison, a plan that has been under discussion for years.*** 
China's "patrols" of the disputed area have included warships

A flotilla of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrolled waters near the Diaoyu Islands on Monday after returning from a training exercise in the west Pacific.

The patrol marked the first time for China to confirm its naval operations in the waters near the Diaoyu Islands on the very day when the Navy warships conducted such patrol.

The flotilla, consisting of the DDG-136 Hangzhou and DDG-139 Ningbo destroyers, as well as the two frigates FFG-525 Ma'anshan and FFG-529 Zhoushan from the Navy's Donghai Fleet, passed through the Miyako Strait and entered the West Pacific for a routine training exercise on Nov. 28.

After finishing a series of training operations, the flotilla sailed through a strait near the Yonaguni and Iriomote Islands and arrived in waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands Monday morning.

J-15 vs Su-33 vs Mig-29K

This past week, there was an article on People's daily called China's J-15 fighter superior to Russian Su-33

I had a couple of thoughts reading through it. My first thought was that finally China is actually defending itself against some of these Western and Russian accusations. It drove me crazy back in the days to see Russian media quoting different people blasting China for copying its weaponry and for making excuses for not fulfilling contracts like the one for IL-76/78. Through all of that, there was nobody from AVIC1 or PLA that spoke against some of those claims. The only times I heard official denials were regarding claims of China selling J-10s to Iran and purchasing Su-35s from Russia. Those were clearly crazy rumours that spread because China did not step in earlier to deny these things. Going forward, I hope CMC/PLA puts a stronger PR effort out there to defend itself against some of the Russian claims.

My second thought was that while it was good to see China defending against Russian claims that a copy can never be better than the original, it should be obvious to everyone that J-15 is a superior fighter jet to the original Su-33. However, it's really not saying much, because J-15 is being compared against something that was developed in the late 80s. If after 20+ years, J-15 is not better than Su-33, then SAC should stop developing and producing aircraft. Compared to the original Su-33, J-15 include:

  • Having multi-role capability and can fire wide range of AAM, AShM, ARM and ground attack weapons 
  • Having a more powerful and multi-role fire control system (probably using an AESA radar) 
  • Having more powerful IRST/FLIR system, EW suite, RWR and MAWs 
  • Having more modern avionics with modern data bus, mission computers, holographic HUDs, modern MMI and fiber optic wiring. 
  • Using more composite material and lighter electronics to give better T/W ratio 
  • Now, if the Russians had invested in modernizing Su-33, it could do all of the above. Although, we could argue whether it has the same wide range of ground attack weapons as China or if the sensors/avionics is as advanced or more advanced. It has chosen not to, because it has picked Mig-29K has the future naval fighter.

There are many reasons why it made more sense for the Russians to go with a modern Mig-29K instead of Su-33. My opinion is that India had already paid for the development of a modern Mig-29K as part of its effort to develop a 3 carrier fleet. At the same time, China had rejected Russia's 3 step proposal of first taking the original Su-33s, then upgrading to a multi-role version with Su-30MK2 sensor/weapon suite and eventually upgrading to a final version with PESA radar. As a result, it made more sense for Russia to go with the already developed naval aircraft with production lines rather than re-opening the production lines and pay for the development cost of a modern Su-33. At the same time, Mikoyan needed these orders a lot more than Sukhoi (which has a long backlog of domestic and export orders). 

Looking back, I think that China obviously made the right decision to develop J-15 on its own with some help from the purchase of T-10K-3. The experience from developing naval version of J-11B will help SAC develop next generation of naval aircraft like a naval version of J-31. At the same time, there was no reason for China to pay the Russians to develop modern version of Su-33 if it could develop a modern version of J-15 by itself. It's similar to my last post about China's choice of purchasing MKK rather than getting involved in a long running project like MKI. Imports from Russia are always considered interim solutions. If domestic options can be developed in time, there really is no reason to get involved in a foreign project and pay for the development cost.

Looking ahead, I think China is also better off with a J-15 class fighter than a Mig-29K class fighter. There was a competition between SAC and CAC over the first generation of a naval fighter jet. Flanker variant won over the J-10 variant because it was considered to have better multi-role capabilities. The current version of J-15 is already a multi-role aircraft. In the future, we could see different versions of J-15 like a single-seat buddy-to-buddy refueling, a two-seat EW version like Growler or a two-seated mini AEWC&C version. These are not things you can do with a lighter naval aircraft.

Unveiling the 2012 Army Capstone Concept

December 14, 2012

Why Concepts Matter? 

Strategic pitfalls are commonplace in warfare. History is with replete with former armies that prepared for the wrong type of conflict and received the unflattering result of becoming failed military systems. The Prussian Army of 1806, the Russian Army of 1914, and the French Army of 1940, are just a few of the well-known examples that did not escape the outcome of strategic failure. When war came, they ceased to exist. Whether a disparity in tactical weaponry was unveiled, absence of proper training or doctrine was prevalent, or a lack of decisive leadership persisted; the strategic outcome of pitting well-prepared forces against deficient military organizations have been catastrophic. With this realization, the U.S. Army must continue to invest in the purposeful development of operational concepts to ensure the long term viability of the military system. This month in December 2012, the Army will publish a new version of the Army Capstone Concept. To support this effort, this article will provide insights on the value of operational concepts, dangers associated with flawed concepts, and the key ideas within the Army Capstone Concept to guide developments and activities for the next several years. 

The Role of Concepts 

Since the U.S. military today is in a period of transition, concepts can help the U.S. Army identify the next big idea or key trend in the conduct of warfare. What is different? The global international security environment is in the midst of fundamental change. The U.S. economic downturn which began in 2008 continues today and has created security implications for competing military systems around the globe. The economic environment will likely have a lasting impact on investments in military modernization and transformation – not just for the U.S. and its allies and partners, but for competitors and adversaries as well. Not only will friendly militaries be shrinking in size, but they will experience a growing gap between their capabilities and those of U.S. forces as their research and development budgets shrink along with their ability to modernize equipment and facilities. The resulting lack of interoperability will present a greater challenge for the U.S. to build military partnerships and coalitions. The effect on potential adversaries may not be as severe. As adversaries are able to focus investment and procurement of specific capabilities to address or avoid U.S. military overmatch, the potential for an increasingly level technological playing field will increase over time. Concepts help to prepare the Army for today’s and tomorrow’s transitions. 

Mike Rogers: Cool it with offensive cyber ops

Posted By John Reed
December 14, 2012

Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), today warned private businesses not to go on the offensive as part of their defense against cyber attackers. 

"It's best not to go punch your neighbor in the face before you hit the weight room," said Rogers, in a warning to both public and private sector actors that are considering offensive actions to defend their networks under the growing trend of "active defense." 

Government organizations and businesses are still figuring out the best way to defend themselves from advanced cyber threats. But, said Rogers, "until we have figured out how we will defend ourselves and our networks, I would be very, very, very cautious about using an offensive capability." 

The lawmaker, speaking at an event at The George Washington University, added: "Now, you can't do a good defense if you don't develop the capability for offense...so I completely agree with [building offensive power]. I'm just very concerned about engaging [in offense] before we have the ability to defend ourselves because, guess what, something's coming back" to hit us. 

A Marine officer: I’m leaving the Corps because it doesn’t much value ideas

Posted By Thomas E. Ricks 
December 14, 2012 

By Anonymous 

Best Defense department of junior officer retention 

I'm an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. I deployed last year to Helmand Province on an embedded training team with the Afghan National Army. It was an incredible experience, and I'm proud of what we accomplished together, but now I'm in my last month of active duty and I'll be getting out as a first lieutenant. I decided to leave the Marines a few months ago. (I was career designated, which I say not to brag, but so you don't think I'm some disgruntled jarhead.) 

I've been closely following the discussion that you kicked off with your book, your piece in The Atlantic, and on Best Defense. I want to weigh in on one point about which I feel strongly -- it is that firing certain generals will send a message to junior officers about the value of adaptability and critical thinking. I don't know that it will, but you are absolutely correct that such a message is necessary. 

The conclusions you fear people may draw regarding Petraeus's departure -- "critical thinking and ideas are overrated" -- were particularly poignant. I know you're talking Army. Sadly, it applies to the Marine Corps, too. 

How things have changed

Sunday, December 2, 2012 

Recently, we’ve been hearing from Russians about a proposed sale of 24 Su-35s to China. As with every other time, a lively debate re-ignited on Sinodefenceforum on whether or not this will/should happen. I got to be so annoyed with the endless debate on this topic that I stopped the thread until confirmation of actual sale happening.

Thinking back to the early days of joining sinodefenceforum (around 2005), it’s really interesting how much things have changed and how much my perspectives have changed over the times. Back then, J-10 had just joined services and Su-30MKK was considered the most powerful fighter jet in PLAAF. There was much discussion started by Indian posters online regarding the superiority of MKI over MKK. I bugged me a lot back then that Russians are restricting their export of advanced technologies to China. A big deal was made out of the advanced Israeli avionics, TVC nozzle and BARS radar on MKI that were not offered for MKK. Even Su-30MKK3s that were offered to China at that time were using Zhuk-MSE radar instead of phased array radar like Bars. Indians were convinced that their friendship with Russia and European embargo ensures that Russia would never be offering their best stuff to China. I still remember thinking to myself and wondering why the only phased array radar offered to China was the Pero antenna on top of N-0001VE radar. I remember being extremely excited when hearing that China was testing out Irbis radar. Finally, I thought China was getting something better than what India received. I was somewhat confused that China never opted for it. That was just one the many cases where it seemed like the Russians were denying their best stuff to Chinese requests. Others included a leasing of Akula nuclear submarine, outfitting of Admiral Gorshkov carrier and even Amur submarine.

It’s funny looking at how my perception of these situations have changed over the past 7 to 8 years as I have seen how things played out and found out more about what went on behind the scenes. Even as recent as 2008, I thought it made sense for China to get a couple of regiments of Su-35s as an interim option until the next generation of fighter jet comes into service. I was also in favour of import of Su-33s for a long time just in case that J-15 program hits some kind of snag. Probably the program that caused the biggest delays to PLAAF was the import of IL-76/78. When the original order of 38 of these aircraft were nullified due to the inability of Tashkent plant, we heard that Kazakhstan actually were offering to sell almost everything needed for IL-76 (with the exception of engine probably) to China, since the Russians were planning to move production back to Russia. For whatever reason, either Chinese hesitancy (due to domestic interests) scuttled the deal. These days, China is purchasing revamped/upgraded IL-76s that were in Russian storage as the interim option. Other than this, it seems like China knew exactly what was going on all along. It took what’s immediately available from the Russians and did not buy into any of the plans and development programs that they were offering.

Military Application of Unmanned Rotary Wing Aircraft

Issue Vol. 27.4 Oct-Dec 2012 | Date : 14 Dec , 2012 

Kaman K-Max 

The term Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is being slowly replaced by UAS as in many of its variegated missions, the aircraft is not carrying any payload from one place to another and is thus not a vehicle. Similarly, the term Remotely Piloted Vehicle is also being rendered inaccurate on account of the autonomy modern UAS craft exercise once launched. Technically speaking, UAS existed before manned, heavier-than-air flight. During the American Civil War, both the contending forces launched unmanned balloons loaded with explosives, but with limited and unremarkable success. The advent of the first powered flight led to substantial advances in technology related to fixed and rotary wing aircraft. However, unmanned flight took some time to catch the fancy of the inventor. 

On December 17, 2011, a K-MAX unmanned helicopter of US Marine UAS Squadron 1 carried out the first ever resupply mission in a combat zone, carrying food and supplies to a forward operating base in Afghanistan. The mission was critical by way of air maintenance and as successful as if a pilot had been onboard. The difference was that although it was flown under extremely hostile conditions, no human was at risk during the mission. Since then, the two K-MAX deployed there have carried out six missions per day, some of them with a single under-slung load of over 1,900kg. This is just one illustration of the spectacular developments in the field of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) that have taken place in recent years. 

Getting back on track

Friday, December 14, 2012 

Gopalkrishna Gandhi
'Duranta' is a great name for a train that goes far, fast and unstoppably to its end-point. Given her flair for literature and music, especially Rabindra Sangeet the name came, in all likelihood, from the then railway minister Mamata Banerjee's lyrical sensibility. A compound of the Urdu or Hindustani 'dur' (far) and the Sanskrit 'anta' (ending), it clicks easily into our world of familiar words. Happily, both words are widely known and used wherever the Duranta goes. 'Dur' is very much a Tamil word in the shape of 'duram', and although 'anta' is not, that word, too, is widely understood in Tamil Nadu where its antonym 'Ananta' is common enough as a first name. Phonetic traditions have led to the train's name being amusingly mispronounced in the south to rhyme with 'Toronto'. And it is regarded, mistakenly, by many elsewhere as a straight Bangla variant of 'turant' (immediate). But pronunciation and mispronunciation are not a matter of great concern in India and 'Duranta', howsoever called, has entered our rail lexicon effortlessly even as the names of the other trans-India speed trains 'Rajdhani' and 'Shatabdi' have.

Travelling on a Duranta from Chennai to Coimbatore recently, thinking of Mamatadebi was natural. And when the morning newspapers, English and Tamil, personally given to each individual passenger - which is better than what airlines do - showed Singur was in the news again, I was reminded of discussions that were held in September 2008 at Raj Bhavan, Kolkata by the then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the then Opposition leader, Mamata Banerjee to resolve the Singur impasse. 

As with most fellow-Bengalis, both Buddha-babu and Mamatadebi know their Tagore well. Their Tagore repertory comes unbidden to the fore in the course of their work, political work not excluded. Like his successor in office, Buddha-babu also has an uncanny gift for finding suitable names. In Siliguri, I once had the pleasure of inaugurating a home for the elderly to which Buddha-babu had given the name 'Sesh-Basanta' - Final Spring. A finer name could not have been devised for such an institution. 

Shankar Acharya: Gandhian legacies

Indira Gandhi's economic choices four decades ago still hobble India. What will this government's structural legacy be?
Shankar Acharya / December 13, 2012

December is the month when columnists tend to offer their forecasts for the new year ahead or review the year gone by. I will do both but over a much longer time frame than a year. As I ponder over the wreckage of our growth and development aspirations in the past two years, I am struck by the path-dependence of our economic policies and performance. That is, our economic ideas, policy choices and consequences from 40 years ago continue to constrain and influence our policies and performance today. 

Hence the reference to legacies in the title. Indira Gandhi’s economic policies (1966-1984, with a three-year Janata interregnum) still exert powerful, usually negative, effects on current economic performance and policies. Similarly, looking ahead, I would venture to suggest that the policy omissions and commissions of the Gandhi-Singh government since 2004 will continue to constrain our developmental trajectory in the years ahead. Let me illustrate. 

Consider the following three Indira Gandhi economic policies, whose consequences are still prominent in the Indian economic landscape. The nationalisations of banking and insurance were carried out in 1969 and 1970, motivated by a combination of pro-poor “socialist” ideology and hard-headed political calculus. More than 40 years later, despite liberalisation and reforms conducted over the past 20 years, 70 per cent of bank deposits lie with government-owned banks and the government-owned Life Insurance Corporation remains the dominant firm in the industry. While bank nationalisation undoubtedly accelerated the spread of bank branches in India and curtailed the unhealthy nexus between industrial houses and some erstwhile private banks, it also spawned some of the well-known deficiencies of government banks. These included the rise of a bureaucratic/departmental culture in banking, the proliferation of lending at the behest of political masters, frequent need for recapitalisation at taxpayers’ expense and the growth of new and unhealthy kinds of nexuses between politicians, bankers and industrialists. Hardly any independent financial expert would defend the current prominence of public sector banks in India today on the grounds of economic efficiency and financial prudence. Yet it persists. The new vested interests, coupled with residual political ideology, have successfully stymied all efforts since the late 1990s to reduce government ownership below 51 per cent. 


India must make up its mind about what to do with China’s presence on the South China Sea, writes Harsh V. Pant

INS Airavat on the South China Sea 

The Indian naval chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, has staked India’s claims in the waters of the South China Sea much more powerfully than the government by recently suggesting that with the security of the nation’s economic assets at stake in the South China Sea, “we [the Indian navy] will be required to be there and we are prepared for that”. He made it clear that the Indian navy had been exercising for such an eventuality even though governmental approval would be needed if the navy is to provide protection to India’s eco- nomic assets in the South China Sea. 

This elicited a predictably hard reaction from Beijing through the spokesman for China’s ministry of foreign affairs, Hong Lei, that India should respect its sovereignty and halt its oil and gas exploration. Lei underlined that “China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters” and that it “opposes unilateral exploration and development of oil and gas in contested waters of the South China Sea”. This exchange comes at a time when China is escalating tensions in the region with its decision to empower the police in the Hainan province to mount foreign ships and seize vessels in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The rules will come into effect from January 1 and the police can take necessary measures to stop ships or “to force them into changing or reversing course”. It is in Hainan province that India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd has been given the oil block number 128 by Vietnam for joint exploration. 


Jacques Kallis must be one of the nicest cricketers today 


In 1997, on my first trip to South Africa, I was driving with some friends from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, along the so-called Garden Route. At one stage, our driver, who was also our guide, told us that if we were willing to take a detour of a couple of hundred kilometres, he would show us the southernmost tip of Africa, known as Cape Agulhas. This — and not, as some mistakenly think, Cape Hope — is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. We accepted the offer, so our guide drove off the highway into a country road that passed through undistinguished scenery. Then the ocean appeared, the water a striking aquamarine blue. We disembarked at a small, deserted beach. We stood silently, watching the waters flow and part. A ship appeared on the horizon, disappearing almost as soon as it had come. 

As we got back into the car, we saw a sign showing the way to “the Southernmost café in Africa”. The sign appealed, because of what it signified —a one-of-a-kind place — and because we had been several hours on the road and were famished. We drove on to the café; as we reached, three huge, smiling white men came out of it and walked down the road. They were large — very large — their muscles well exhibited by the T-shirts and shorts they wore, their skins a bright pink, the smile on their face denoting the recent consumption of a good meal and perhaps a cheery temperament as well. The signs were promising. But in the end only our driver-cum-guide had a proper lunch. The rest of us were vegetarian, and — this being South Africa — the dishes on offer were wildebeest, wart hog, and buffalo. Bread and chips and a cold Coke was what we Madrasi sakaharis had to be content with. 

I found I was the only one who could explain our music’

Shekhar Gupta : Thu Dec 13 2012

Excerpts from an interview with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s Walk The Talk, telecast in December 2009 

You had a brilliant guru in Baba Allauddin Khan. 

He was more of a father to me actually and his blessings and whatever training he gave are so unique that I could bring it out, not only in India, but all over the world... He had a violent temper. But I hold the record of being the only one who has not been beaten by him... Ali Akbar Khan (Allauddin Khan’s son) ko ped se baandhkar teen teen din tak maara... 

Your training and then your rediscovery of the West... 

Exactly. I started from 1954 in Soviet Russia. That time I went with the group that Mrs Gandhi sent. And that was Eastern Europe only. But that gave me the impetus, or rather I found out that I was the only one who could speak, mind you, and explain our music, give a comparative idea of Western and Indian music etc. So from 1956 onwards I started going myself and touring. 

You became an ambassador not just for Indian music but also for India and Indian culture, or what is today called ‘soft power’. 

I really was lucky because my childhood experience with my brother, having toured all over the world, knowing the Western mind, their attitude or their lack of understanding of Indian music, I had known all that and I could explain it to them immediately. I had this advantage over all these musicians at that time... I grew up so fast because I was always with elderly people, travelling a lot. I went at the age of 12 to America. By boat at that time. And in the morning, through the fog, I saw the new Empire State Building and all the other skyscrapers. It was an experience that I will never forget... Being very young, you adapt quickly. So I was all the time learning, listening to jazz, western classical. 

Malik’s visit

C. Raja Mohan : Thu Dec 13 2012

A fortnightly column on the high politics of the Af-Pak region, the fulcrum of global power play in India’s neighbourhood 

Malik’s visit 

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik comes to New Delhi this week when there is a significant dynamism on Islamabad’s western frontiers. To be sure, Delhi’s focus in the talks with Malik is on the bilateral agenda — especially justice for the plotters of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. 

But it is in India’s interest to widen the conversation with Malik to include the latest developments in Afghanistan where Islamabad has begun to make some big moves. 

In fact, Malik is coming to India straight from a meeting between Asif Ali Zardari and Hamid Karzai, the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan respectively, organised by Turkey in Ankara. 

The intensified Pak-Afghan dialogue is part of a larger diplomatic effort to develop a framework for regional reconciliation in 2013 as the United States prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. 

Pakistan has put itself back at the centre of the new regional diplomacy on Afghanistan. Whether Pakistan succeeds or not, what happens on its western borders will have a big impact on India’s own security. 

Umpiring’s dirty secrets

Surjit S Bhalla : Sat Dec 15 2012

In a pained appeal for a non-ideological approach to questions of growth and equity, Anil Padmanabhan, editor at a leading financial newspaper, Mint, states: “The good news is that increasingly the issues that the critics have sought to highlight are getting traction internationally and, hence, the attention of multilateral institutions such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Bank. Given their third umpire status, the arguments are couched in reason and devoid of rhetoric and, hence, more acceptable.” (‘Growthwallahs need to pause and reflect’, Mint, December 10, 2012). 

What Padmanabhan emphasises, and correctly echoes, is that the economic debate in India is largely couched in patriotic fervour, us versus them, the left versus the right, etc. Reasoned arguments, like the invisible hand, are nowhere to be found. I could not agree more — which is why my column has been titled “No Proof Required” for almost the last decade, and why the previous titles of my column were “Looking for Logic”, “Beyond Logic”, etc. 

But do the international organisations qualify as umpires, let alone neutral umpires? The short answer is no. Indeed, let me state that organisations like the ILO and the World Bank, along with the UN and the OECD, are prime examples of organisations indulging in politically correct rhetoric, non-logic and suspect evidence. You might consider this assertion a bit extreme if not wrong. But please see the evidence I cite before making your conclusion. 

ILO Wage Report 2012-13: According to this popularly tweeted report, “India’s real wages fell 1 per cent between 2008 and 2011, while labour productivity grew 7.6 per cent in the same period”. The straightforward conclusion — workers were being heavily exploited in market-economy India. The decline in real wages must be news to many, especially the maker of monetary policy, the RBI, which has been claiming that rural wages have been rising most rapidly during the populist period 2008-2011. It turns out that the RBI is quite right. Rural wages rose at a 7.5 per cent annual rate during this period. The ILO report itself notes that all-India workers (salaried and casual) nearly doubled their real wages between 2004-05 and 2009-10, NSS data (page 23, ILO report). So we have the ILO conclusion that real wages increased sharply at least for part of the period 2008-2011; we have the RBI data conclusion on real wages of rural agricultural workers increasing by more than 30 per cent, and yet the final ILO conclusion is that real wages in India declined at an annual 1 per cent pace. Ideology, anyone? 

UN Human Development Report 2011: Remember the headlines that eight states in India had a higher population living in absolute poverty than the poorest 26 sub-Saharan countries combined (421 million versus 410 million)? Seemed difficult to believe, especially with per capita income in India increasing by more than 7 per cent per annum for the greater part of the last decade. But not difficult to believe for the ideologically correct “Pied Piper” experts at the UN and their faithful followers in India. This index was comprehensive and covered 10 different aspects of deprivation, with the important health and education development each getting a one-third weight. 

India will see another harsh year: Basu

Published: December 15, 2012

World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu. File Photo: Kamal Narang 

India will see another ‘harsh’ year in terms of economic growth in 2013 as the European situation “will remain very difficult up to end of 2014,” World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu said here on Friday. 

“Next year will also be very harsh (for India)...the European situation will remain very difficult up to end of 2014 and may be to the beginning of 2015. And Europe is a very major player, so that is going to rub off on India. The growth scenario will be difficult,” Dr. Basu told reporters on the sidelines of the Delhi Economic Conclave. 

However, Dr. Basu, who from December 2009 to July 2012 served as the Chief Economic Advisor to the Union Government, said the country in next two years might get back to the 8-9 per cent growth rate. “Give India two-three years. India has enough fundamental strength that if you work towards these, then really there is no reason why India can’t get back to 8-9 per cent growth,” Dr. Basu said. 

It would be good if India could bounce back to 6-7 per cent growth in this difficult situation, he added. 

“...the global climate is tough so its not going to happen that we will bounce back to the 9 per cent growth that we had before 2008. But we should be able to buck the global trend and have India move up with the reforms and few more.” 

World Bank 

The World Bank had projected growth of about 5.5 per cent for the calendar year 2012 for India and below 6 per cent for 2013, Dr. Basu said. 

However, for 2014 and 2015, the World Bank has projected economic growth close to about 7 per cent. 

On inflation, he said it was a good sign that core inflation was beginning to trend down.

The trouble with hurried solutions

December 15, 2012
Chinmayi Arun 

The Hindu 

The World Conference on International Telecommunication showed that countries are not yet ready to arrive at a consensus on regulation and control of the Internet 

The World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT) that concluded on December 14 saw much heated debate. Some countries wanted to use the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to gain intergovernmental control of the World Wide Web. Some saw it as an opportunity to democratise the Internet, by replacing U.S. and corporate domination of Internet policy, with a more intergovernmental process. Others insisted that the Internet must be left alone. 

The result is that after many days’ deliberations, there was no consensus. The amended International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) document has not yet been signed by over 50 countries, of which some like the United States have refused to sign altogether, while others have said that they will need to consult with their national governments before signing. 

This article discusses the broader issue under question, which is, whether ITU is the best forum to solve the cross-border problems that arise in relation to the Internet. 

Pakistan: Ally or Killer?

By Mark ThompsonDec. 14, 2012

Navy photo / Chief MCS Michael Ard

U.S. troops investigate a simulated IED blast in Afghanistan. 

Sometimes, like blind men feeling the elephant, you can get a markedly different sense of a situation depending on who is speaking, Check out these two statements, made within hours of one another on opposite sides of the world on Thursday: 

Pakistan and its leaders “have indicated a greater willingness to be able…to try to deal with terrorism that affects not just Afghanistan, but affects their country as well.” 

– Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Thursday in Kabul. 

“Unfortunately, I’ve heard of no progress, or minimal progress…we’ve requested subsequent meetings, and they have not occurred.” 

– Army Lieut. General Michael Barbero, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, at a Senate hearing Thursday in Washington. 

Barbero was discussing his efforts to sit down with the Fatima Group, the Pakistani company that makes the fertilizer that is used to make the explosive found in more than two-thirds of the improvised explosive devices that are the biggest killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 

Despite repeated requests, Barbero said he has had only one meeting in 14 months with the Fatima Group over possible steps to curb its fertilizer’s flow into Afghanistan. 

Senator Robert Casey, D-Penn., who has been a leader in trying to shut down the river of explosives from Pakistan into Afghanistan, didn’t like what he was hearing. 

I want to give, even for a couple of minutes, the benefit of the doubt to the Pakistani government. It often happens in Washington where you’re trying to communicate with an agency and they say, oh, you can’t communicate this way; you have to go through some other office. We get skeptical when that happens in our domestic policy. In light of the — I’ll give you a sense of why I’m skeptical. In light of the track record here of not implementing a strategy that they developed, not having the kind of cooperation that we would expect, when that’s the predicate to an action where they have you communicating more directly, and then, to add insult to injury, having difficulty getting even a meeting or meetings — meetings, plural — I’m a little more than skeptical. So we just put that on the record. 

“More than 60% of U.S. combat casualties in Afghanistan, both killed and wounded in action, are the result of IEDs,” Barbero said. “This year, nearly 1,900 U.S. casualties have been caused by IEDs.” 

Casey spoke of a couple of constituents’ cases during the hearing. Check out their stories here, in print, or here, in video. 

Can the Muslim Brotherhood Be Trusted?

Posted by Steve Coll

In the eighty-four-year history of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, there have been few weeks more remarkable than the past four. A movement born in resistance to British colonialism, and which later thrived protesting against secular dictatorships, is grappling now with the dilemmas of seizing and holding national power, as the whole world looks on in a state of tightening anxiety. 

The spectacle is riveting because the political future of Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, hangs in the balance. It is fascinating, too, because it is a kind of proving ground for long-running debates about whether an Islamist revolutionary movement such as the Brotherhood can ever adapt itself to Western-style constitutional democracy, preserving the rights of minorities and space for individual conscience. 

Cairo this week seems a little like St. Petersburg in 1917: A revolution long incubated by clandestine organizers—some of them radical and violent, others more pragmatic and accommodating—may be defining itself for the longer run. Is the Muslim Brotherhood an Islamist party within a larger Egyptian nationalist and democratic front, one that includes Christians and secularists? Is it capable of sharing authority and building consensus with its opponents? Or will it only act opportunistically to secure its own control over the country and enforce the Islamic principles at the center of its ideology, leading it to pursue a form of religious dictatorship? 

Political Impasse in Egypt

This commentary appeared on RAND.org and GlobalSecurity.org on December 12, 2012. 

If there ever was a honeymoon in Egypt's post-Mubarak politics, it is long over. The two main ideological camps—Islamists and secular-liberals—have shown a willingness to cooperate only when brought together by a common foe. 

In the heady days of January and February 2011, it was the shared goal of toppling the Mubarak regime that enabled the two sides to work together. When Ahmed Shafiq, the last Prime Minister under Mubarak, emerged as a run-off candidate in the presidential election, it was the threat of a return by fuloul al-nizham, (the remnants of the regime) that brought the two sides together. And when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military caretaker that directed the first year and a half of the transition, showed signs of resisting civilian control, it was the dark cloud of military rule that allowed the two sides put aside their differences. 

With those threats receding to the background, Egypt's Islamists and secular liberals are no longer in the mood for cooperation. 

The most recent spark that has renewed the conflict between the two sides is the process of constitution making, with a popular referendum on the draft constitution scheduled for the next two Saturdays. But as important as this document is to the future of Egypt's 2nd Republic, it is not the driver of the current political impasse. Yes, Islamists feel like their electoral performance—in which they won nearly three quarters of the seats in the now dissolved parliament—entitles them to be in the driver's seat. And yes, secular liberals take issue with the process by which the constitution was drafted as well as some of the specific articles which they worry could lead to limitations on personal freedoms. But this fight is not really about a constitutional debate. It is about the political fortunes of the two camps. 

USMC: Under-utilized Superfluous Military Capability

By Douglas A. MacgregorDec. 03, 2012
Marine photo / Cpl. Jennifer Pirante

Marines practice an amphibious assault aboard an LCAC in California in September. 

Marine Commandant James Amos’ recent remarks on the future of the corps can be summed up as: nothing new. 

In shorthand, “Rah, rah, the Marine Corps is awesome, and all we have to do is make sure they have the equipment & training & facilities they need so they can always be awesome Marines, rah, rah!” 


The Marines as currently organized and equipped are about as relevant as the Army’s horse cavalry in the 1930s and the Marines are not alone. They have company in the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps

But, first, let’s examine the Marines. 

In truth, the Marines have a low-end warfare niche, but a very small one for extremely limited and unusual types of operations. 

The only amphibious craft they really need are the next-gen LCACs and LCUs. The only wet-well ships they need are LSD 41s — and those need to be kept in production to gradually replace older LSDs and the troublesome LPDs. 

No one will set out to establish a defended beachhead because U.S. aircraft from the Air Force and the Navy will easily target and destroy the defenses. 

Today, enemy forces will mine approaches from the sea, and rely on stand-off attack to drive surface fleets away from coastlines. They’ll employ their ground forces, particularly mobile armored forces, inland, away from the coast. These mobile reserves will attack within the range of the defending forces’ own artillery and airpower to destroy elements that attempt to come ashore whether over the beach or through ports. 

Opinion: US Meddling In Asia an Old Story

Written by Geoffrey Somers 
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 
The answer's buried in Grant's tomb 

Blame it all on Ulysses S. Grant 

This is a remarkable history lesson with a sting in the tail. In 1879 Ulysses S. Grant, the former American President (1868-76) and hero of the victory over the South, wound up a two-and-a-half-year world tour by visiting Asia, with China and Japan his last two stopovers. 

In China Grant was greeted with due deference by the Regent, Prince Kung, and the Empire’s virtual head of government, Li Hung-chang, (The Kuang Hsu Emperor was only seven at that time.) Later Japan, influenced by the enthusiasm of its former Ambassador to Washington, Yoshida Kiyonari, accorded Grant the status of a visiting prince. A whip-round among leading Japanese businessmen ensured a lavish reception and gifts wherever Grant went, and he not only met the Meiji Emperor Mitsuhito but became the first person ever to shake his hand. 

In China, Grant had sympathized with the Chinese over the way rapacious Western traders generally cheated and mistreated the Chinese, and also agreed with China’s arguments in its current dispute with Japan over sovereignty of what the Chinese called the Loochoo Islands. In Japan, however, Grant indicated his belief that Japan had a strong case for retaining possession of what they called the Ryukyus, a chain of 55 mostly small islands between southern-most Japan and northern Taiwan, the largest being Okinawa. 

Grant emphasized to both parties that he now held no official position in the US. He did not mention that the extravagant reception he had received everywhere on his tour did not reflect his image in his homeland, where his two terms as Republican president had been characterized by shameless corruption. He has been described as “possibly the most ill-fitted person ever to become the nation’s President.” Nevertheless both China and Japan requested that he act as adjudicator, each side being confident of a favorable decision because of his flowery remarks. 

The French Death Rattle

Brigitte Granville 

Brigitte Granville is Professor of International Economics and Economic Policy at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London.

14 December 2012 

PARIS – Moody’s announcement in November that it had downgraded France’s sovereign-credit rating by one notch from its AAA rating prompted one blogger to poke fun at rating agencies’ tendency either to get things completely wrong or to recognize suddenly a crisis that had long been staring them in the face. The blogger joked, “If this recognition by a rating agency that France has problems is an example of the first failing, a recovery must have begun; if it is an example of the second failing, the country faces a dire reckoning.”

French President François Hollande’s government claims to have awoken to the threat. In a recent interview, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici likened the measures being undertaken to reduce the country’s debt burden and restore competitiveness to a “Copernican revolution...because these choices were not clear for a French government or for a center-left government.”

As proof of this new realism, the government has been trumpeting its response to the set of policy recommendations that an expert panel led by the business executive Louis Gallois presented two weeks before the downgrade. The response is centered on a payroll-tax cut, which will be offset by spending cuts and a higher value-added tax.

In the run-up to the downgrade, an analyst at Moody’s said that the decision would be based largely on whether the government heeded the Gallois report’s call for a “competitiveness shock” to France’s economy. The downgrade thus suggests that Moody’s considered the government’s response insufficient.

The Holes in "Homeland"

December 14, 2012 

What the Show Gets Right -- and Wrong -- About CounterterrorismRichard A. Falkenrath

RICHARD A. FALKENRATH is the Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Adjunct Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations and principal at the Chertoff Group, LLC. He is a former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism at the New York City Police Department and a former deputy homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush.

In Homeland, the wildly popular Showtime series, the United States is a troubled place. Week after week, the series shows us a parade of social ailments: mental illness, prescription drug abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, marital infidelity, surly teenagers. The authorities, meanwhile, are a mix of treacherous politicians and feckless, scheming bureaucrats who casually embrace illegal detention, criminal cover-ups, and domestic spying. And then there are terrorists -- lots of them -- running loose everywhere, one step away from causing another national catastrophe. (Warning: spoilers follow.) 

The series centers on the relationship between a bipolar hot mess of a CIA case officer, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), and a tormented ex-marine, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). After eight years of captivity in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, during which he was "flipped" by the al Qaeda mastermind Abu Nazir, Brody returns to the United States with a mission to carry out a terrorist attack. He eventually becomes a congressman, a potential vice presidential candidate, and a double (or perhaps triple) agent. Carrie finds out that Brody is a terrorist, falls in love with him, goes off her meds, loses her job, and then effectively regains it, managing to thwart the evildoers most of the time along the way. These two characters, like much of their supporting cast, are irresistible studies in how to be highly functional while wrestling with inner demons. 

What Is Wrong with the UK Economy?

by Adam S. Posen | December 13th, 2012

The British economy is lacking productive investment, but not for want of investment opportunities. Banks and large corporations are sitting on cash, households are holding back on large purchases (including of housing), and the public sector is slashing its investment flow. This shortfall reflects the deficiencies of the British domestic financial system, some of them longstanding from well before 2008, as much as lack of confidence in future prospects, and responsible macroeconomic policy can address both problems. The current British coalition government’s economic policy program, however, instead is intended to address a lack of savings, not of investment, and is pursuing that mistaken priority in a self-defeating way. The economic issue facing the UK therefore is not just one of Plan A versus B, or of the amount and pace of austerity versus growth – the issue is that the UK needs investment friendly structural reform and stimulus, not fiscal consolidation as a goal in and of itself. 

If we were to listen to the Chancellor and Prime Minister, we would be told that the challenge facing the British people is to trim their spending to match their diminished means. The claim is that they cannot get credit anymore the way they used to, either as households or as a government, to borrow against future earnings; in fact they have to pay down the debts from their past spending binge to prevent risk of having their remaining credit lines pulled. Furthermore, any shortfall in paying that debt off would be seen as proof that the British ability and willingness to pay lenders has declined, according to Chancellor Osborne. Unfortunately, the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee [MPC] and the Office of Budget Responsibility [OBR] have of late supported this mistaken view by adjusting their forecasts for UK economic growth down, essentially assuming that recent that recent poor performance means future performance will be nearly as poor – that is, that the potential or underlying growth rate of the UK economy has diminished. 

This false assumption feeds back into further arguments for fiscal and household consolidation. The UK public and private sectors are paying down debt less quickly than expected to, and that means by assumption that their future ability to pay down debt is declining, so they must cut back spending and borrowing even more today to remain solvent. This framework also leads into defeatism for monetary policy, since the implication is that efforts to stimulate the economy through that means will only add to the debt burden or inflation, rather than sustainable growth. And it distracts attention from failures of the British financial system, since no one would be expected to invest in an economy where future prospects and current creditworthiness are declared to be so shaky.