12 January 2013

Dealing with Pakistan

Issue Net Edition | Date : 12 Jan , 2013 

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. 

The long ceasefire line in J&K came into existence on cessation of hostilities when Pakistan had attacked Kashmir soon after Independence. They had almost reached Srinagar before being pushed back from nearly two thirds of the J&K State. Troops of the opposing sides occupied a ‘as is where is’ ground position at the time of ceasefire. Since then opposing Armies have been in almost an eyeball-to-eyeball contact across the CFL. 

…this is not the first time the Pak Army has engaged itself in such a dastardly act that is not only in violation of the Geneva Convention but also against all tenets of humanity. 

There have been frequent violations of the ceasefire. Most of these have been in the form of firing across the border. Pakistan Army resorts to unprovoked firing to cover the passage of infiltrators into India. There have also been cases where the Pakistani troops have physically crossed the line and carried out offensive actions. Ambushing an Indian Army patrol on 8 Jan 2013 and killing of two soldiers some 500 meters inside India was the most recent violation. What made this action more gruesome is the brutal beheading of one of the soldiers. 

Of course this is not the first time the Pak Army has engaged itself in such a dastardly act that is not only in violation of the Geneva Convention but also against all tenets of humanity. They did it in the 1971 war as well as during Kargil operations where they mutilated the bodies of Capt Saurav Kalia and his men. This seems in the DNA of Pak Army. The fact that this time there was an additional motivation to collect a booty of five lac rupees, makes the crime even more despicable. 

India and Her Grand Strategy

In a recent article ( 03 Dec 2012 ) for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, entitled “ India’s Predicaments and its Grand Strategy,” Ashley J. Tellis recounts as to how Indian foreign policy has successfully navigated the international system through the six decades since independence. In doing so, the writer outlines the contours of India’s ‘grand strategy’ and recalls her success in surviving as a unified entity despite great poverty and diversity, rubbishing in the process Winston Churchill’s grandiose assertion that India was nothing more than a geographical term ; he also points to the nation’s courageous feat of preserving its strategic autonomy in the face of substantial material weakness. 

The article also helps to revive an old debate about ‘grand strategy,’ which is significant because discussing ‘grand strategy’ is arduous business in India where in the view of some of its leading lights (Ramachandra Guha and Sunil Khilnani) the very thought is mimetic of western responses and defiles the Indian genius. So while we may not articulate a ‘grand strategy,’ we will do well to pursue one - in a pragmatic, understated and commonsensical manner. After all, China talks of ‘a peaceful rise’ but packs it with the punch of an annual defence budget of 180 billion dollars and a prescient military modernization programme which some analysts describe as the most massive in the history of mankind ; one that is set in precise timelines and choreographed with deft politico-military signaling of intent and capability through a series of Defence White Papers and periodic military manouveres. Whatever course we adopt, here are a few random thoughts, which may help to flag some criticalities in our emerging worldview / strategic outlook / grand strategy. 

In the course of the article, Mr Tellis seems to attribute to India’s foreign policy a certain sagacity that is debatable - most visible in his analysis of India’s view of itself and the three constants that in the writer’s view define India’s relationship with the world. There is need for sombre reflection and course correction here, if India is to find the right strategic balance in its security discourse. While there cannot be any quarrel with the theoretical exposition of the first constant (abiding obsession with economic growth), its practice has been drifty -while India may have rightly identified the economic well being of its people as the cornerstone of its foreign policy, precious little was done beyond platitudinous sloganeering to secure it - it is common knowledge that our economic liberalization was forced more by quirk of circumstance than by sagacious policy. The second constant ( building state capacity and empowering its citizenry ) which expounds on the need to secure India’s internal challenges first, before proceeding to shape the external environment is also trite - external security challenges do not descend on nations only after they have stabilized internally ; so the advocacy of this sequential posturing, from ‘adjustment ( till we secure ourselves internally) ’ to ‘shaping ( once we do so) ’ as a tenet of our grand strategy is more the outcome of lazy thinking, rather than well thought through policy. The practice of the third constant (enhancing national security while minimizing security competition) has been most flawed. Our foreign policy in all these years has not been inclusive enough - it is held hostage to the worldview of a limited few amongst India’s politico - bureaucratic elite, specifically seeks to exclude the military in policy determination and is unschooled and cagey about leveraging hard power - it therefore lacks the robustness and military dynamic so essential to the addressal of external security challenges.

Siachen: Track II Unexplained

Issue Net Edition | Date : 12 Jan , 2013 

A recent article in a prominent Indian daily last week talked of non-state actors who bring nations closer and the Ottawa Dialogue; the now well known issue of ‘Demilitarization of Siachen’. This has been promptly put on a blog by participants of Track II saying “Track II Explained”. But this can hardly be end of the story. There is plenty that is ‘unexplained’ about this particular Track II. 

There is no doubt that Track II processes have their relevance and they do have government level interaction, briefings and debriefings. 

Much has happened since the India-Pakistan Track II agreed to a proposal to ‘Demilitarize Siachen’ in September 2012 and the press release by the Atlantic Council of Ottawa hit the web on 02 October 2012. Acquiescence by the Indian members of the Track II to withdraw from Siachen was naturally met with amazement and shock in India. Prior to this agreement of the Track II at Lahore in September last, articles and TV discussions came up portraying that Siachen was strategically irrelevant. The government chose to remain tight lipped and continues with that stance albeit in the aftermath of furore post the Atlantic Council of Ottawa press release, a panel consisting of two members of the Track II Team under a former Ambassador and Secretary MEA (who had nothing to do with the Track II Team but is known to be close to the political hierarchy) made efforts to justify withdrawal from Siachen at India International Centre but were shocked at the unanimous opposition from the audience including from a former Army Chief and journalists. Why this former Ambassador and Secretary MEA tried to justify the proposed withdrawal from Siachen and on whose instructions remains a mystery. 

MYANMAR: The war with the Kachins – An update

Paper No. 5357 Dated 11-Jan-2013 

By C. S. Kuppuswamy 

(This paper may please be read in conjunction with Paper No. 5132 dated 23 July 2012 – “Myanmar: The War with the Kachins-One year on” by the same author and posted on the site. 

“The decision to use air power against ethnic militias, a tactic unheard of even under military rule, runs counter to reformist President Thein Sein's assurances that troops were acting only in self defence.” - Martin Petty – Reuters. 


The war between the Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) which began on 09 June 2011 has escalated since December 2012 by unprecedented aerial attacks using jet fighters and helicopter gun ships. The UN, US and China have all expressed concerns but there is no respite. On the contrary latest reports indicate that the Myanmar Army is exerting a major push to dislodge the KIA from its HQ in Laiza, close to the China border. 

Escalation in the War 

Between the time President Thein Sein ordered the armed forces in December 2011 to cease operations except in self defence and till date no less than 1360 skirmishes or battles have been fought in northern Burma (Mizzima News – 14 December 2012). 

Since the second week of December 2012, Jet fighters and MI-24 helicopter gun ships have been used to bombard the areas held by the rebels and to provide close support to the ground forces. The Myanmar army is also reported to be using 105mm Howitzers and 120 mm mortars. 

More troops (Light infantry battalions) are being concentrated in the war zone, indicative of a major offensive in the days to come. 

The KIA lost control of its Point 771 outpost near Lajayang on January 3. The out post at the base of Hpun Pyan Bum Hill, (7 km west of Laiza) has also been captured in the first week of January. Altogether more than 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee to areas controlled by both the KIA and the government (The Irrawaddy, January 9, 2013). 

Risk #2: China vs. information

Posted By Ian Bremmer
January 11, 2013

Note: Today is the second in a series of posts that detail Eurasia Group's Top Risks for 2013.

As their people grow bolder in their quest for information, China's leaders will only tighten the restrictions they place on cyberspace. China is, in fact, embarking on a worrying experiment: It is the only major power that is attempting to preserve an authoritarian system in the information age. This gigantic task will demand a great deal of leaders' attention, raise tensions among the Chinese people, and reverberate outside of China's borders through the country's foreign policy. 

China's Great Firewall and unpredictable censorship regime have more or less enabled its leaders to manipulate the information accessible to its citizens. But these tools are fast becoming insufficient, a fact made clear by strikes at a major Chinese newspaper this week. China's internet users stand at more than half a billion and counting. Growing demands for transparency and information leaks that embarrass the government are inevitable, as evidenced by the public's growing awareness of high-level corruption scandals. 

The Communist Party appears poised to implement a new phase of information control that is part reactive and part proactive. On the reactive side, the government has begun to disrupt virtual private networks used by many foreigners, and even some Chinese, to circumvent the country's firewall. The government will proactively attempt to capitalize on technological tools by using the internet and social media such as Weibo (China's version of Twitter) to convey its own messaging. 

The friction between the government's attempts at self-preservation and the population's desire for more transparency will be the greatest political challenge for China in 2013. While the stability of the government is unlikely to be shaken in 2013, this internal conflict will distract leaders and encourage them to deflect public anger outward. Finding foreign scapegoats is a time-honored tactic that the Communist Party is likely to repeat this year. 

There are plenty of foreign targets to turn to. Territorial tensions are high and are only exacerbated by the U.S. pivot to Asia, which has emboldened countries such as the Philippines to more aggressively push their interests. The largest risk is an increase in nationalism from China toward Japan, especially given the growing tension surrounding outstanding territorial disputes between the two countries. 

Ultimately, though, China's attempts to limit information run counter to its stated desire to develop an innovative economy. How can China's handful of vibrant IT firms and internet giants become global competitors while operating under a regime that restricts online information? How can China become a dominant player in the global economy if it is disconnected from the global information society? These are inherent contradictions that the new Communist Party leadership will have to resolve. 

On Monday, we'll profile Risk #3: Arab Summer.

China to Survey Disputed Marine Territories for Natural Resources

January 11, 2013 

After establishing Sansha, passing a new maritime regulation from Hainan, and, printing maps on passports, the Chinese authorities have now unveiled a plan to survey all marine and island territories for marine resources. This was reported by the Xinhua website at 09:42:31 hrs (Beijing time) on 10 January 2013.1

Although the report indicates that the survey will be carried out throughout the country, it also specifically mentions Sansha (i.e. South China Sea) and baseline points (which would include all disputed marine territories). The terse report, when translated, reads as follows: 

“The 2nd Chinese Comprehensive Survey of Marine and Island Resources will be started sometime in the first half of this year. The survey is expected to be completed by December 2016. By this survey, the Chinese hope to fill earlier gaps regarding the distribution, quality and quantity of resources in important marine and island territories like Sansha and other baseline points.” 

Undoubtedly, the unveiling of this new plan would draw criticism from other countries having disputes with China on marine territories (including islands), with the probable exclusion of Taiwan. But of greater concern is the escalation of disputes mainly in the East China Sea and South China Sea. 

It remains to be seen what measures countries such as Japan and Vietnam resort to when Chinese survey vessels actually begin conducting surveys in marine territories and islands which they claim to be their own. One has also to watch what security measures these Chinese survey vessels employ to thwart actions from vessels of the other claimant countries. 

Earlier, countries in this part of the world involved in such disputes have been known to have resorted to building structures, cutting sea cables, using water cannons, permitting civilian demonstrations, allowing military or para-military vessels and aircraft to pass and patrol, and the like, to strengthen their claims on such territories. Although there has been talk of joint exploitation of resources, nothing has really happened on the ground to show that these disputes can be amicably resolved by the parties without sensationalising them from the angle of national territory and sovereignty.2

Of late, the trend is to strengthen their respective claims through administrative and legislative measures. The aim is to showcase the supremacy of the respective parliaments and governments. This approach also tends to make all “national territory” non-negotiable. Japan, China and Vietnam have all attempted this in the recent past. 

Exit, Minus Strategy

Barack Obama has clearly decided to cut his losses in Afghanistan. Will all hell break lose when he does? 

President Barack Obama listened to his generals the first time around; now he knows better. The Obama of 2009, new to the job, unsure of his relationship to the military and perhaps slightly overawed by his superstar commanders, David Petraeus and Stanley MacChrystal, agreed to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in the name of a counterinsurgency campaign he didn't quite believe in. The Obama of 2013 is prepared to overrule the recommendation of his current commander, Gen. John Allen, and leave few -- if any -- troops behind after U.S. combat units pull out at the end of 2014. That's what's known as a learning curve. 

America's obsession with terrorism has wrenched the relationship between civilian leadership and the military in several different directions. The attacks of 9/11 unleashed the ideologues around President George W. Bush -- and exposed his own fervent dreams -- while the uniformed military clung to the cautionary precepts inherited from the Vietnam War. It was Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld who acted as field marshal of the war in Iraq, operating through the compliant commander he chose, Tommy Franks. Having routed the Taliban on his own terms, Rumsfeld felt that he had every reason to ignore advice from service commanders who argued for more troops, much as he ignored advice from State Department officials who warned to prepare for the post-conflict setting. We know where that got us. 


Photos from the rice fields of Haiti's Central Plateau and northwest Arkansas -- two regions at the heart of the debate over U.S agricultural subsidies. 


Ever since the United States started subsidizing its rice growers in the 1990s, Haiti's farmers have been struggling. The cheap grain, grown on mega-farms in Arkansas and elsewhere in the American South, has flooded the Haitian market and put local farmers out of business -- as Maura O'Connor details in her investigation into the impact of U.S. agricultural policy in Haiti. Here's a look at the rice fields in the two regions at the heart of this story. 

Marie Therese Jean Paul, 51, works in her rice field in Haiti's Central Plateau on Sept. 18, 2008. A woman carries a bag of American-grown rice on her head in Haiti's Southeast Department on Jan. 16, 2009.

"Good enough" global governance, Pirates 0

January 11, 2013 

To follow up with another data point suggesting that we're living in a world of "good enough" global governance, let's take a look at piracy on the high seas , shall we? 

You might recall that in 2009 piracy off the Horn of Africa and elsewhere was skyrocketing. This triggered multiple policy responses by shipping companies as well as governments. Ships started carrying armed guards on tankers as a form of deterrene. An ad hoc and diverse group of countries formed Combined Task Force 151 to help patrol the Horn of Africa to prevent pirate attacks. Hell, even Iran sent ships to participate in anti-piracy operations. 

So it turns out that all of these measures seem to be working. By 2012, both press reports and official statistics suggested that the tide had turned. As the New York Times' Thom Shanker wrote up one U.S. Navy finding last September: 

Data released by the Navy last week showed 46 pirate attacks in the area this year, compared with 222 in all of last year and 239 in 2010. Nine of the piracy attempts this year have been successful, according to the data, compared with 34 successful attacks in all of 2011 and 68 in 2010. 

How bad have things gotten for Somali pirates? The top pirate just announced that he has retired from piracy. 

So can we chalk this up as an example of successful global governance? I would say yes, but it's worth noting two additional points. First, it's far from clear that activity on the water is the sole factor responsible for the decline in piracy attacks. Events on land -- including Kenya's invasion of Somalia and Puntland's increasing "stateness" -- might have something to do with it as well. Second, it's not only multinational sea patrols that have played a role. If it was, then shipping companies wouldn't be mobilizing their own private navy

Still, these actions compliment rather than substitute for each other. The protection of shipping is one of the global economy's oldest public goods -- and it appears that after a post-financial crisis spike, there has been a useful policy corrective. That's good enough. 

Japan and India’s Growing Embrace

By Jeffrey W. Hornung 

I recently spoke to a high-ranking Indian diplomat about the future of Indo-Japan relations in light of Shinzo Abe’s return to the premiership. The response was unwavering: India places “great importance” on its relationship with Japan and wants it to go “higher and higher.” With Abe at the helm, the time is ripe for this relationship to advance. 

Abe is known to be staunchly pro-Indian. Not only did he describe strengthening bilateral ties as extremely important to Japan’s interests in his 2006 book Utsukushii Kuni E (Towards a Beautiful Country), but one of his major foreign policy initiatives during his previous tenure as PM was establishing a new vision for bilateral ties with India. To that end, he advocated emphasizing India and Japan’s shared values and overlapping security interests. He has also argued that both countries have a responsibility to work together in the Indo-Pacific region, which he refers to as “broader Asia.” In the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) recent campaign pledge, India was listed as a country with which Japan should enhance cooperation with on issues of national security and energy. With such support, it can be expected that Abe will look to India as a partner for greater Japanese activism in the region. 

None of this should be a problem because the two already cooperate on a wide array of issues. Economically, relations have never been better. Over the past five years, bilateral trade has doubled. Things moved forward rapidly after the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) went into effect in August 2011, removing duties on 94% of products over the next ten years and ensuring greater movement of goods, services, capital, and people between the two countries. Japan offers India a wealthy, sophisticated market for Delhi’s textiles, seafood, IT, pharmaceuticals and services. Japan, on the other hand, looks to India as an export market for its auto components, high-end technology, and capital goods. Indeed, within a week of Japan’s tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011, India’s auto industry was expressing concern that an anticipated disruption in Japanese manufacturing would significantly hurt its business. 

The World in 2030

Project Syndicate
Joseph S. Nye 
9 January 2013 

What will the world look like two decades from now? Obviously, nobody knows, but some things are more likely than others. Companies and governments have to make informed guesses, because some of their investments today will last longer than 20 years. In December, the United States National Intelligence Council (NIC) published its guess: Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. The NIC foresees a transformed world, in which “no country – whether the US, China, or any other large country – will be a hegemonic power.” This reflects four “megatrends”: individual empowerment and the growth of a global middle class; diffusion of power from states to informal networks and coalitions; demographic changes, owing to urbanization, migration, and aging; and increased demand for food, water, and energy. Each trend is changing the world and “largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750, restoring Asia’s weight in the global economy, and ushering in a new era of ‘democratization’ at the international and domestic level.” The US will remain “first among equals” in hard and soft power, but “the ‘unipolar moment’ is over.” It is never safe, however, to project the future just by extrapolating current trends. Surprise is inevitable, so the NIC also identifies what it calls “game-changers,” or outcomes that could drive the major trends off course in surprising ways. 

First among such sources of uncertainty is the global economy: will volatility and imbalances lead to collapse, or will greater multipolarity underpin greater resilience? Similarly, will governments and institutions be able to adapt fast enough to harness change, or will they be overwhelmed by it? Moreover, while interstate conflict has been declining, intrastate conflict driven by youthful populations, identity politics, and scarce resources will continue to plague some regions like the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. And that leads to yet another potentially game-changing issue: whether regional instability remains contained or fuels global insecurity. Then there is a set of questions concerning the impact of new technologies. Will they exacerbate conflict, or will they be developed and widely accessible in time to solve the problems caused by a growing population, rapid urbanization, and climate change? 

The final game-changing issue is America’s future role. In the NIC’s view, the multi-faceted nature of US power suggests that even as China overtakes America economically – perhaps as early as the 2020’s – the US will most likely maintain global leadership alongside other great powers in 2030. “The potential for an overstretched US facing increased demands,” the NIC argues, “is greater than the risk of the US being replaced as the world’s preeminent political leader.” 

Circle of LoC violence

India must respond to Pak dastardly act
by Maj-Gen JS Kataria (retd) 

The recent inhuman and provocative killing of two Indian soldiers in the Mendhar sector of J&K by Pakistani soldiers has brought back the circle of violence across the LoC. The ceasefire that had come into force on November 28, 2003, was already on the ventilator, with numerous violations in 2012 and more than 10 in the last one month alone. 

Despite these acts of aggression, the Indian community continues to give peace a chance. We had the Pakistani cricket team visiting India after five years. There were TV programmes like ‘Sur Kshetra and Foodistan’ and a host of other cross-border people-to-people contacts. The issues that merit analysis are the reasons for the recent act of aggression by the Pakistan Army defying the Geneva Convention and its propensity to keep the LoC burning. Does India need to continue with its big brotherly act and forgive Pakistan for its transgressions?

J&K is an integral part of India which Pakistan’s establishment and the military in particular have refused to recognise. J&K is a valued weapon with the Pakistan Army that it has used time and again to keep its position cemented or impose military rule since the very creation of Pakistan. Of late, terrorism in J&K has been on the decline. The assembly elections held in 2008 witnessed a 17% rise in the voter turnout despite the boycott call by terrorist organisations and the Hurriyat. 

The period from 2008 onwards also witnessed an unprecedented tourist flow to the valley that seems to have set alarm bells in Pakistan’s military establishment. Should J&K become peaceful, the most potent weapon of Pakistan’s military with which it has been able to maintain a vice-like grip on its people would be lost. The first covert attempt came in the form of street violence of 2010 in Srinagar and the surrounding areas, unleashed through the Pakistan-backed Hurriyat. Lack of people’s support to this meaningless act led to its early demise. This forced Pakistan and the Hurriyat to look for an alternative option. With the people in J&K clearly displaying their yearning for peace, stepping up of infiltration from across the border was a foregone conclusion. Effective infiltration stood little chance till the ongoing ceasefire and the border fence remained in place. It was easier for Pakistan to breach the former that was already on the ventilator.

Debates on the pages of The Hindu

Published: January 12, 2013
Madhava Doss 
(February 11, 1897) 

Mr. Swamijee's attitude towards theosophy 

Swami Vivekananda's opinion of the Theosophical Society and his patronising reference to Mrs. Besant is not what an earnest Hindu, who has known the Society and Mrs. Besant, was prepared to hear. He is reported by the local Times to have said that ‘I lectured to her (Mrs. Besant) in London for some time.’ We heard that he lectured at the London Blavatsky Lodge once or twice; but that she was lectured to by him must be news to many and to Mrs. Besant more than to anybody else. Mrs. Besant had been a Theosophist and recognized preacher even to the leading Theosophists, who had studied Hindu religion before the Swami ever went to London. Mrs. Besant is not credited by the Swami with much insight into Hindu philosophy or much knowledge of Hindu religion. The Swami had the candor to say that his knowledge of Mrs. Besant was very limited. Men like Mr. Justice Subramania Iyer, Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, Justice Mr. Ramchandra Iyer, and a host of others who have labored hard in translating Sanskrit religious works, and who have studied with devotion Brahma Sutras, Upanishads, and Gita with commentaries by Sankara and Ramanuja, have acknowledged her capability as a great teacher on Hindu religion. And if their words mean anything, surely Vivekananda’s estimate of her knowledge is grossly absurd. This does not speak well of the Swami’s fairness of judgement or of his humility. As to his belief in Mahatma, etc., he would have done well if he had refrained from hazarding an opinion instead of venturing to discredit a ‘most sincere’ woman as he calls Mrs. Besant, as well as those of her respectable and intelligent following who have pledged their beliefs in the Mahatmas. The Swami believes in the greatness of his Guru, Yoga, Samadhi, Initiation, Meditation, and all that. What does that lead to but to Occultism and Mysticism? If he thinks they do not, then it is not Hinduism of our sages he preaches. He should have hesitated before insinuating that wisdom and Mahatmism begins and ends with his revered Guru. 

He would be alienating the sympathy of all sincere men, of course, including a large number of Hindu Theosophists, who are his warm admirers, by his ill-judged pronouncement against the Theosophical Society and Mrs. Besant. A ‘sincere’ woman like Mrs. Besant is not likely to thank the Swami for his gratuitous and presumptuous advice that she would do well to forsake the ranks of the Theosophical Society. Mrs. Besant in true humility spoke of the Swami in her last Town Hall speech with respect and admiration, and the Swami assumes that he is the Guru and guide to Mrs. Besant. I am sincerely sorry for the Swami. I feel sure that he will hardly succeed in harming the Society, which deserved so well of the Hindu race; but I am afraid he would only forfeit the allegiance of a great number of his real Hindu admirers.

Counterpoint: Swamy Vivekananda and theosophists

Published: January 12, 2013 
 (A Reply) - March 2, 1897 
T. S. Seshaiyar B.A. Tattamangalam 

Sir, Since the landing of Swamy Vivekananda on these shores, after his successful mission in Europe and America, there have appeared three criticisms from the pen of Mr. Madhava Doss, a Mofussilite who, to tell it in his own words, ‘came to Madras as many others on a pilgrimage to see the Swamy, hear his voice, and feel his holy presence,’ and who had the misfortune to return home bitterly disappointed. What is it, then, one would be curious to enquire, that has led up to search an unlooked for and undesirable result? Briefly stated, it is the weakness which this Swamy displayed in refusing to throw in his lot with the mighty head of the Theosophical Society, and the splenetic words of the Swamy in inveighing against the Theosophists. Adverting to the services done to us by the Theosophists, Mr. Doss writes, ‘Mrs. Besant joined the Society in her own time and pleaded the cause of Madame Blavatsky’s movement and of Hinduism with a fervour and insight that called forth from Mr. Justice Subramania Aiyar, the eulogium that she was a Rishi and the epithet of Saraswati from no less a personage than the Dewan of Mysore. Pamphlets after pamphlets have been given out to the world and speeches after speeches have been delivered by her, the foremost woman orator of the day, as Mr. Stead said, and we find nothing new, not a single new idea to learn from the Swamijee. (The italics are mine.) Now, I may clear my ground at the very outset by pointing out, what I sincerely believe, that Mrs. Besant highly deserved these encomiums, and I yield to none in my admiration for her. No sane man will ever dream of doubting that in powers of eloquence and keenness of perception she will be second to none of the foremost persons of the day. Nor will any one deny that she, in common with the leaders of the Theosophical Society, has done yeoman service to this land. But one would readily concede that the eulogiums of Mr. Justice Subramania Aiyer and Dewan of Mysore are intended more to indicate their appreciation of her undoubted sterling qualities than they are meant to be understood literally. There can hardly be much weight in the argument that the Swamijee does not ventilate any new ideas. 

… Had the Swamy allied himself with the Theosophists there would be but one opinion that all his labours in the West would have ended in inferno. If the Swamy said nothing but what the Theosophists have been preaching all these years, how to account for the popularity of the one and the unpopularity of the other? If the Swamy had only repeated to the Westerns what they have been accustomed to hear, is that not, I ask, one reason why his views should be stigmatised as hackneyed and insipid? How, then, to account for all the great ovation of which we all have heard so much of late as having been accorded to the Swamy in Europe and America? Secondly, the attitude of the Theosophists towards the Swamy from the beginning was aught but desirable. 

Wield a very big stick

Hindustan Times
January 11, 2013 

If this week’s inhuman killing of two Indian jawans near the Line of Control seems like a movie we’ve seen before, it may spawn sequels in the months ahead as Pakistan’s deep state factors in a couple of developments in Washington to pursue its policy of borderline lunacy. First, there’s 

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who is considered soft on Pakistan and is almost certain to be confirmed as America’s next Secretary of State.

Kerry is considered a seasoned diplomat, the sort who has gathered enough salt and pepper over years of inhabiting the Beltway. He is known for his sagacity in international matters, like when in 2009 he visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and described his regime as “an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region”. 

He was also the proponent of the $7.5 billion aid package the US has attempted to bribe the Pakistanis into cooperation with, in an effort to stabilise Afghanistan. 

When it comes to India’s concerns over American aid to Pakistan being misdirected, Kerryistas assert this isn’t a zero-sum game. For them, it’s rather a lump-sum game. Ignoring demands within the Senate to quell the cash gusher to Islamabad, Kerry championed the Pentagon’s release of $688 million to Pakistan’s armed forces to reimburse them for stationing 140,000 troops along the Durand Line. Somewhat like giving a bonus to a watchman after he snuck burglars into your home. 

Kerry, of course, is pretty generous with other people’s money. According to reports, he’s the richest member of the US Congress, estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion, which would make Mitt Romney seem quite middle class. However, Kerry’s wealth is mostly derived from his marriages, the last to the heiress to the Heinz ketchup fortune. When he ran for president in 2004, this detail made him into a punch line. As comedian Craig Kilborn cracked then, “There was an embarrassing moment at a recent Democratic fundraiser. When John Kerry was handed a $10 million dollar check, he said, ‘I do.’” 

Kerry’s imminent position is not the only reason Pakistan, marshalled by its armed forces, is losing its collective head. 

Where knowledge is free?

by Anit Mukherjee 
January 11, 2013

Declassification and the controversy over the use of Airpower in the 1962 India-China war. 

The fiftieth anniversary of the 1962 India-China war has been marked by a number of commentaries, personal recollections and analyses in the Indian media. The one that attracted most attention was Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne’s counterfactual argument that the outcome of the war might have been different if airpower was used in an offensive role. This remark set off a media storm and reopened an important though inconclusive debate—why was the Indian Air Force not used for close air support? The controversy over the Air Chief’s comments, fed by selected leaks about the 1962 war, reveal insights about the Indian military and its polity. Among the takeaway is the fact that a vibrant, supposedly open democracy like India still does not have the ability to honestly face up to its past. Instead it relies on a selective telling of history through media scoops and self-convenient narratives. 

The decision not to use the Indian Air Force for offensive operations has been debated by historians for some time. Many, especially within the military community, have argued that this was a political decision made by Prime Minister Nehru and Defense Minister Krishna Menon and hence indicated flawed strategy. This fed well into the dominant narrative that emerged from this debacle—the defeat was primarily due to political interference and operational meddling. Former Indian Air Chief Marshal Tipnis subsequent remarks on Nehru’s responsibility for the 1962 defeat are typical of this school of thought. While Nehru and especially Krishna Menon bear considerable responsibility, however this narrative overlooks the significant failures of certain military commanders. 

Delhi needs Afghan red lines

Published on The Asian Age (http://dc.asianage.com

By editor 
Created 11 Jan 2013

Kabul has prepared a roadmap which aims at bringing on board the Taliban by 2015. This plan mentions that the Taliban will be incorporated into the ‘power structures of the state’. 

The year 2013 will be a decisive year for Afghanistan. It marks the beginning of the end of a chapter in Afghan history — one that opened with the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001. Future historians may well see this period as a mere interregnum. 

For it is now clear that the Taliban will return to the governing structures of the country sooner than later. This is hardly a surprise. It has been clear for some time now that the United States’ exit strategy would entail a negotiated settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The only questions were on what terms such a settlement would be struck and how long it could reasonably be expected to last. Recent events indicate that the prognosis on both counts is dim.

Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban met in a suburb of Paris three weeks ago. Details of their talks are still emerging, but the starting points of both sides are clear. Kabul has prepared a roadmap which aims at bringing on board the Taliban and other armed groups by 2015. This five-stage plan specifically mentions that the Taliban will be incorporated into the “power structures of the state”. Apart from reintegrating Taliban cadre in the security forces, this could imply granting key positions in Central and provincial governments to the Taliban. The Taliban, for its part, has demanded the abrogation of the current Constitution.

So far, both Kabul and Washington had held that the Taliban would have to adhere to “red lines” for any negotiated solution to evolve. These included forsaking violence, cutting ties with Al Qaeda and abiding by the Afghan Constitution. Now these positions are at best seen as the end-points of a settlement. It seems almost certain these will be considerably diluted in the attempt to bring in the Taliban. This is owing to two transitions that will simultaneously play out starting later this year.

Drones are fool's gold: they prolong wars we can't win

New appointments in the White House hail an era of hands-free warfare. Yet these weapons induce not defeat, but retaliation 

Thursday 10 January 2013

A demonstration in Pakistan last week against drone attacks. 'Three-quarters of Pakistanis are now declared enemies of the US.' Photograph: S.S MIRZA/AFP/Getty Images 

The greatest threat to world peace is not from nuclear weapons and their possible proliferation. It is from drones and their certain proliferation. Nuclear bombs are useless weapons, playthings for the powerful or those aspiring to power. Drones are now sweeping the global arms market. There are some 10,000 said to be in service, of which a thousand are armed and mostly American. Some reports say they have killed more non-combatant civilians than died in 9/11.
I have not read one independent study of the current drone wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the horn of Africa that suggests these weapons serve any strategic purpose. Their "success" is expressed solely in body count, the number of so-called "al-Qaida-linked commanders" killed. If body count were victory, the Germans would have won Stalingrad and the Americans Vietnam.

Neither the legality nor the ethics of drone attacks bear examination. Last year's exhaustive report by lawyers from Stanford and New York universities concluded that they were in many cases illegal, killed civilians, and were militarily counter-productive. Among the deaths were an estimated 176 children. Such slaughter would have an infantry unit court-martialled. Air forces enjoy such prestige that civilian deaths are excused as a price worth paying for not jeopardising pilots' lives.

This week President Obama appointed two drone "enthusiasts" as his new defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, and his new CIA chief, John Brennan. Drone war is now the flavour of the month and the military-industrial complex is licking its lips. If Obama, himself a lawyer, had any reservations about the legality of these weapons, he has clearly overcome them.

Managing Afghanistan’s Political Transition Between Now and 2014

SOURCE: AP/Susan Walsh

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, shakes hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, during their joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, December 13, 2012.

By Caroline Wadhams | January 7, 2013

U.S. officials will soon announce long-term plans for an American security presence in Afghanistan after 2014—the date when the United States and the NATO International Security Assistance Force will have transferred full security responsibility to Afghan authorities—as well as the pace of troop withdrawals for the coming two years leading up to that new mission. 

Although these military decisions often dominate headlines and congressional attention, the highest priority for U.S. policymakers and their partners leading up to 2014 and beyond should be supporting political processes that can lead to a resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan. These tasks will largely fall on Afghan and international diplomats, and not military personnel. The Obama administration should clearly articulate its expectations for Afghanistan’s political transition during Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Washington, D.C., this week. 

As the United States reduces and realigns its military and financial investments, Afghan stability remains a U.S. interest. A breakdown of the Afghan state or an upsurge in violence could have terrible humanitarian consequences for Afghans, create greater pressure on Pakistan as violence and refugees cross Afghanistan’s borders, and expand ungoverned spaces for terrorist groups. But preventing this breakdown will come largely through political compromises among Afghan and regional players, not via military victories. After all of the blood and treasure that has been spent in our decade-long war, Americans should care about supporting a stable Afghanistan, and U.S. policymakers should develop a drawdown plan that seeks to prevent the collapse of the Afghan government. 

China, America, and the Pivot to Asia

January 8, 2013 

Despite the United States’ focus on the Middle East and the Islamic world for the past decade, the most important international political developments in the coming years are likely to happen in Asia. The Obama administration has promoted a “pivot to Asia,” away from the Middle East and toward the Asia-Pacific. 

The main factor driving Washington’s interest in the region is the growing economic and military power of the People’s Republic of China. Accordingly, this analysis focuses heavily on the implications of China’s growing power and influence. 

This paper has three sections. First, it sketches the two main schools of thought about China’s rise and examines the way in which Washington’s China policy combines elements of those two theories. The second section critiques both theories of China’s rise and argues that U.S. policy combines them in a way that puts a dangerous contradiction at the heart of America’s China policy. The final section recommends offloading responsibility for hedging against potential Chinese aggression to like-minded countries in the region and shows that those countries are capable of doing so. 

Read the Full Policy Analysis .pdf (519.12 KB)

China sends fighters to counter Japanese aircraft


BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- China's Ministry of National Defense on Friday denounced Japanese military aircraft disrupting the routine patrols of Chinese administrative aircraft. 

At a press conference, an official with the ministry confirmed that China sent two J-10 fighters to the East China Sea after a Y-8 aircraft was closely followed by two Japanese F-15 fighters as it patrolled the southwest airspace of the East China Sea oil platform on Thursday. 

The two J-10 fighters were sent to monitor the Japanese fighter jets tailing the Y-8 as well as another Japanese reconnaissance plane spotted in the same airspace, the official said. 

Furthermore, the official said Japanese military aircraft have been increasingly active in closely scouting Chinese aircraft. The activity zone of Japanese military aircraft has also expanded recently, which is the root cause of security disputes concerning territorial waters and airspace between the two countries. 

The Chinese military will be on high alert and China will resolutely protect the security of its air defense force and uphold its legitimate rights, the official said. 

The official also called for the Japanese side to respect relevant international laws and to prevent security disputes by taking effective measures.

Japan’s COIN Experience

By Robert Farley 
January 11, 2013 

The Japanese Imperialist Army had a poor reputation for counterinsurgency (COIN) in both theory and practice. In China, it is best known for perpetrating the Rape of Nanking, one of the worst atrocities committed against a civilian population in the 20th century (although it clearly faces stiff competition). When Chinese civilians provided some material aid to American air men who landed in China after executing the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, the Japanese army retaliated by killing as many as 250,000 Chinese civilians. The notorious Unit 731 tested chemical and biological weapons on Chinese civilians during the war. 

Japanese policies helped alienate potentially cooperative anti-colonialists in Malaya, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, and elsewhere.In Malaya, Japanese soldiers with a limited understanding of Islam attempted to force Muslims to pray towards Tokyo instead of Mecca. While the Japanese Army had some success in the DEI and along the Indian border, the overall impression is of an organization with little capacity for and far less interest in counter-insurgency policy. 

However, in a chapter in the recent volume Hybrid Warfare, retired Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) Lieutenant General Noboru Yamaguchi argues that the Japanese Army took COIN theory far more seriously than is commonly believed. Yamaguchi argues that the Japanese Army identified Communist Chinese guerillas as the central threat in North China, largely because of its feared that these formations could threaten Kwantung Army logistics during a war with the Soviet Union. 

Yamaguchi quotes a Japanese staff officer as arguing: 

China Powers “Two World” Economy

By Zachary Keck 
January 12, 2013 

“We are moving away from a U.S. – or Europe-led world to a world led by China,” writes Stephen King, Chief Global Economist at HSBC in a report released on Wednesday. 

HSBC’s Emerging Market Index for the last quarter of 2012 tells investors to think of the global economy in terms of “two separate narratives.” The first is the “old world” consisting of the U.S. and Europe, which continue to experience an ongoing deleveraging. The second is the “new world” consisting of the “structurally dynamic” emerging markets in general, but China in particular. 

In fact, HSBC projects that “China will make its biggest-ever contribution to global growth in 2014.” 

Part of this is attributable to a slight improvement in China’s economy, which HSBC expects will grow by 8.6% in 2013, up from 7.8% in 2012. Although this is more robust than the 5.4% growth rate HSBC expects from the emerging markets as a whole, it is still a slower rate of growth than China experienced in the pre-financial crisis era. 

Still the slower rate of growth is not as consequential as one might expect, at least in terms of China’s impact on the world economy. This is because the Chinese economy is much larger than it was when it was growing by double digit growth rates. “As a result,” King writes, “although its own growth rate may have slowed, its contribution to global growth is on the rise.” 

King illustrates this trend by pointing to the increase many countries have experienced, in terms of the percentage of their GDP that comes from their exports to China. This is especially true for countries located near China and, to a slightly lesser extent, commodity producing economies. For example, whereas South Korea’s exports to China amounted to just 3.5% of GDP in 2000, 12% of Seoul’s GDP came from its exports to Beijing in 2012. 

India wades into the South China Sea

By Richard Javad Heydarian 

MANILA - India has waded more overtly into territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian nations in the South China Sea, a move that promises to raise tensions between the New Delhi and Beijing. 

"Not that we expect to be in those waters [South China Sea] very frequently, but when the requirement is there for situations where the country's interests are involved … We will be required to go there and we are prepared for that," Indian navy chief Admiral D K Joshi said last month. 

Notwithstanding India's evolving and complex bilateral relations with China, and its usual reticence in confronting its Asian rival, Joshi's statement could represent a watershed moment in

defining New Delhi's future position towards China's rising assertiveness in the South China Sea and signal a more ambitious Indian naval vision. 

After decades of low-profile diplomacy in the Pacific, where it has been constantly overshadowed by the likes of the United States, Australia, China, and Japan, an increasingly confident India is gradually stepping up its engagement with the wider region and flexing its increasingly robust naval muscle in the process. 

India's booming trade with Southeast Asian countries, paved by New Delhi's "Look East" policy towards the region in response to a period of fast economic growth in the 1990s, has given a refurbished Indian Navy more reasons to develop an expeditionary outlook and transcend its traditional areas of operation, principally in the Indian Ocean. 

Against the backdrop of rising rivalry between the US and China, and Japan's resurgent foreign policy under a more hawkish new leadership, India's entry into the South China Sea drama promises to transform the Pacific theater into a truly multi-polar strategic battle for power and influence. 

The New Reality

What’s significant is the diminishing role of India and the rapidity with which New Delhi has ceded strategic space to Beijing in South Asia and the Indian Ocean 


A quiet Chinese challenge to India’s pre-eminence in South Asia through diplomatic and aid effort has now been extended to small island nations dotting the Indian Ocean. While China, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations fight over specks of islands and reefs in East and South China Sea, mainly because of undersea resources, islands in the Indian Ocean are emerging as a new focus for struggle. The latest hotly contested arena: Maldives, a chain of 26 islands about 1000 kilometres due south from India. With just 320,000 nationals, Maldives has assumed a disproportionately large profile primarily because of its geopolitical position astride strategic sea lines of communication and China’s attempt to win influence. 

The rivalry was brought to light when Maldives cancelled a lucrative contract granted to Indian and Malaysia companies amid speculation that a Chinese company was behind the move, although the reality could be more prosaic. In November, the Maldivian government unilaterally terminated an agreement with India’s GMR Infrastructure, Ltd., and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad to operate and modernize Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male, citing irregularities in the award of the $511 million contract. 

The two firms were jointly awarded the 25-year contract in 2010. The largest Indian foreign direct investment in Maldives had huge symbolic importance for India’s profile in the atoll nation. GMR took the battle all the way to the Singapore Supreme Court, which ruled that Maldives indeed had the power to take control of the airport. GMR intends to seek compensation of more than $800 million from the Maldivian government for terminating the deal whereas Male is insisting on a forensic audit from an international firm. 

Many in India had expected New Delhi to escalate the conflict, by declining to release annual budgetary support of $25 million, forcefully reminding Male about its security dependence on India. Ignoring such calls, the Indian government has been quick to convey to Maldives that, if there were political reasons for the contract’s cancellation, these “shouldn’t spill over into a very, very important relationship, a very valuable relationship” between the two states. Two days after the project’s cancellation, the Maldives defence minister flew to Beijing.