24 January 2013

The Unspectacular, Unsophisticated Algerian Hostage Crisis

By Scott Stewart
January 24, 2013

The recent jihadist attack on the Tigantourine natural gas facility near In Amenas, Algeria, and the subsequent hostage situation there have prompted some knee-jerk discussions among media punditry. From these discussions came the belief that the incident was spectacular, sophisticated and above all unprecedented. A closer examination shows quite the opposite. 

Indeed, very little of the incident was without precedent. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who orchestrated the attack, has employed similar tactics and a similar scale of force before, and frequently he has deployed forces far from his group's core territory in northern Mali. Large-scale raids, often meant to take hostages, have been conducted across far expanses of the Sahel. What was unprecedented was the target. Energy and extraction sites have been attacked in the past, but never before was an Algerian natural gas facility selected for such an assault. 

A closer look at the operation also reveals Belmokhtar's true intentions. The objective of the attack was not to kill hostages but to kidnap foreign workers for ransom -- an objective in keeping with many of Belmokhtar's previous forays. But in the end, his operation was a failure. His group killed several hostages but did not destroy the facility or successfully transport hostages away from the site. He lost several men and weapons, and just as important, he appears to have also lost the millions of dollars he could have gained through ransoming his captives. 
Offering Perspective 

Until recently, Belmokhtar and his group, the Mulathameen Brigade, or the "Masked Ones," which donned the name "Those Who Sign in Blood" for the Tigantourine operation, were associated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Prior to their association with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, they were a part of Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which operated in the Sahel. As part of these groups, Belmokhtar led many kidnapping raids and other operations throughout the region, and these past examples offer perspective for examining the Tigantourine operation and for attempting to forecast the groups' future activities. 

In April 2003, Belmokhtar was one of the leaders of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat operation that took 32 European tourists hostage in the Hoggar Mountains near Illizi, Algeria, which is roughly 257 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of the Tigantourine facility. Seventeen hostages were freed after an Algerian military raid, and the rest were released in August 2003 -- save for one woman, who died of sunstroke.

'Pakistan army is a dishonourable bunch of people'

January 24, 2013
Naresh Chandra

Naresh Chandra, bureaucrat, diplomat and administrator, shares an 'insider's view' on the India-Pakistan peace process in an exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt. 

Naresh Chandra, 79, wears many hats. The retired Indian Administrative Service officer has served in various capacities in the home, finance and agriculture departments at the state-level and the Centre. He retired as Cabinet secretary, the head of the Indian civil service, in 1992. 

He turned diplomat in 1996 and served in Washington as Indian ambassador to the United States successfully. 

He drafted the much-talked about white paper on the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya. Recently, he retired as chairman of the National Security Advisory Board. 

He is highly active in the corporate sector as well, both in India and internationally. He is a member of the Indian advisory group of the world's largest spirits company Diageo, which boasts brands like Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff. 

Since long, he has been associated with Vedanta, Cairns India, Escorts and Bajaj amongst other companies. 

He abhors Left-leaning or Left-of-Centre policies, but he believes 'national interest' can't be based on any 'ism', Right or Left. 

Allahabad-born and educated at district-level schools, Chandra can give high-flying technocrats and Western-educated young brains a run for their money in dissecting issues and suggesting practical solutions. He has a trained sense of 'what is the big picture' on any Indian issue. He is known for putting forward strategic issues with wit and dry humour. 

Chandra, never short of expressions, shared an 'insider's view' on the India-Pakistan peace process in an exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt. 

Are these skirmishes on the Line of Control stand-alone happenings? Or does it expose the fundamental faults in the ongoing India-Pakistan peace process? 

First of all, I don't think it's a peace process yet. Dialogue is taking place between India and Pakistan to start something meaningful! Whatever moves (in the peace process) have been made so far are of an exploratory nature. You know, it is by fits and starts. 

Some good statement of a general kind comes about, then on the ground some unfortunate incident takes place which diverts and upsets the applecart. 

The (December 13, 2001) attack on Parliament, the 26/11 attacks, the action along the LoC in the form of infiltration from Pakistan are such issues. 

Five Decades of China’s War on India in 1962: Current Contextualisation

No. 30, January 2013
Monika Chansoria

The remnants of the India-China War, fought in  October 1962, have left an indelible impression on the Indian psyche as we enter the 50th year of that  war. Shattering a myriad myths and leaving room for nothing but guarded suspicion for the People’s Republic of China. It has been five decades since the Chinese troops launched a full-blown attack in sectors of India’s northwest and northeast—the Ladakh sector and the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which is present-day Arunachal Pradesh—demolishing the Indian conviction that it had bought peace with China by signing the 1954 Panchsheel Agreement. By means of launching calibrated punitive strikes in both these sectors, Beijing handed over to Delhi its worst military defeat ever.

Military Review : 2013

English Edition
January-February 2013

The complete edition as well as all articles are in pdf format. Complete issues may have large file sizes that may take some time to download. Individual articles can be accessed by clicking on the article title below.

Major Sean P. McDonald, U.S. Army

Leadership doctrine has not fully incorporated critical empirical data into its leadership model.

General Robert W. Cone, U.S. Army

Commanders will build the new culture of training for the next 40 years.

Colonel Thomas Boccardi, U.S. Army

The Army should modify its current selection practices and adopt a system of talent management.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hartmayer, U.S. Army, Retired

Lieutenant Colonel John Hansen, U.S. Army, Retired

Improving interoperability with future coalition partners is a vital investment in our national security. 

Intellectual Curiosity and the Military Officer

January 24, 2013

“To this day I still have the instinct that the treasure, what one needs to know for a profession, is necessarily what lies outside the corpus, as far away from the center as possible. But there is something central in following one’s own direction in the selection of readings: what I was given to study in school I have forgotten; what I decided to read on my own, I still remember.”
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

A degree doesn’t make you smart. A formal education doesn’t make you wise. But without that piece of paper from somewhere, you won’t get promoted. Just turn that box green, and to the promotion board, your intellectual merit is validated. 

But should it? Recently, the age old military debate of whether a technical or humanities degree makes a better warfighter has again reared its head. Both sides are right – and wrong. They each also miss the point about what continuing education in a strategic framework really means. 

Anecdotal examples from some historic and present warfighters give a confusing picture when trying to validate either position. 

John Boyd got a degree in industrial engineering, with a detour into thermodynamic physics along the way, and revolutionized military strategic thought. VADM James Stockdale went to Stanford and took a Masters in International Relations, but spent most of his time absorbing Stoic philosophy, laying the groundwork for his remarkable leadership in the hell of the Hanoi Hilton. ADM James Stavridis earned a PhD in International Relations from Tufts, and is one of the most innovative flags to ever have served. General James Mattis attended the National War College, and will forever be recognized as both a remarkable warrior and cunning diplomat. 

Aside from the first name James, what set these remarkable military leaders and intellects apart? What about their respective educations assisted their rise? Was it the degree they took or something more? 

To be sure, a degree is a signaling device of higher intellectual abilities. Only 8 percent of the American population holds a Master’s Degree or higher. Furthermore, the military at large is better educated than the general population, as Tim Kane, most recently of Bleeding Talent fame, pointed out in 2005. Yet, these general trends hardly matter when it comes to strategic brilliance. 

The very term “brilliance” implies an outlier; someone well removed from the intellectual norm of society. It is in this rarified region that our best battlefield commanders and strategic minds reside. It is also the place where the degrees they have are secondary to the minds that earned them. 

And this is where we find the defining characteristic of the strategic thought leaders throughout the ages. It is an intellectual curiosity punctuated by a desire to learn as much as possible from as many people as possible in as many areas as possible as often as possible. 

The risks of a clash between China and Japan are rising—and the consequences could be calamitous

The Senkaku/Diaoyu islands 

Dangerous shoals 
Jan 19th 2013

CHINA and Japan are sliding towards war. In the waters and skies around disputed islands, China is escalating actions designed to challenge decades of Japanese control. It is accompanying its campaign with increasingly blood-curdling rhetoric. Japan, says the China Daily, is the “real danger and threat to the world”. A military clash, says Global Times, is now “more likely…We need to prepare for the worst.” China appears to be preparing for the first armed confrontation between the two countries in seven decades (see article). 

China and Japan have well-known differences over history and territory—most pressingly over five islets, out in the East China Sea, which Japan controls and calls the Senkakus but which China lays claim to and calls the Diaoyus. Rational actors with deeply entwined economies are supposed to sort out their differences, or learn to put them safely to one side. At least, that was the assumption with China and Japan. 

But this changed in September, after Japan’s then prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, nationalised the three islands Japan did not already own. It was a clumsy attempt to avoid them falling into the hands of Shintaro Ishihara, a right-wing China-baiter who was governor of Tokyo until late last year. 

Yet China insisted that the move was an anti-China conspiracy to strengthen Japan’s claim. It set out to blow a hole in Japanese pretensions to sole control of the waters and skies around the islands. Incursions by surveillance vessels came first. Then, in December, a patrol plane buzzed the islands; Japan scrambled fighter planes. This month Japanese and Chinese jets sought to tail each other near the islands’ air space. Japan, newspapers report, is considering ordering warning shots to be fired next time. A Chinese general says that would count as the start of “actual combat”. So long as China vies for control, conflict will be a hair-trigger away. 

This week senior American officials rushed to Tokyo to urge caution on Shinzo Abe’s hawkish new government. America is obliged to come to Japan’s aid if it is attacked, and being sucked into a conflict with China is almost too unbearable to contemplate. But in the face of repeated Chinese incursions, a Japanese reaction is understandable. Mr Abe has announced that after a decade of declining military budgets, defence spending will rise this year. This week he visited South-East Asia to shore up relations with countries that also have concerns about Chinese expansion. 

Mr Abe’s aims in South-East Asia were crude. But it may be that, short of simply handing the islands over, nothing that the Japanese government could do could satisfy China. This week an editorial in the China Daily acknowledged that Japan is working to build bridges with China, but immediately dismissed the efforts as part of a “two-faced strategy”. Japan, says China, is the threat—though, unlike China, it has not picked a military fight since 1945. 

Chinese diplomats accuse Japan of attempting to do down their country when it is beset by domestic challenges. Yet they bristle at the notion that Chinese incursions seek to take advantage of Japanese weaknesses, such as enfeebled governments and a sullen economy. China seems unwilling to entertain other perspectives or interests. The sources of this chauvinism are not entirely clear. It may be that the government is responding to the ultra-nationalist sentiments that people increasingly give voice to on the internet. 

Xi Jinping Coagulates Control over PLA

23 Jan 2013

By taking the first major decision of promoting Wei Fenghe to the rank of full general status after taking over as General Secretary of the all-powerful Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), China’s leader Xi Jinping has signalled that he would waste no time in asserting and thereby cementing his control over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). 

Belonging to the Shandong Province, Lieutenant General Wei Fenghe is a member of the Central Military Commission and Commander-in-Chief of the PLA’s Second Artillery Corps—China’s strategic missile force. The Second Artillery Corps is China’s strategic force under the direct command and control of the CMC, and forms the core of China’s strategic deterrence. China is among the largest land-based missile force in the world comprising both ballistic and cruise missiles spanning 38 operational missile units spread across the country. 

Moreover, speedy modernisation of the Second Artillery Corps has turned out to be a viable operational deterrent for the PLA. This is reflected in that with the introduction of the latest conventionally-armed ballistic missiles and CJ-10 Ground Launch Cruise Missiles (GLCM), the Second Artillery Corps does not get limited to being a nuclear missile force alone. 

Given that Wei became a member of the CMC a day following which China’s 18th Party Congress drew to a close, it was expected that he would be elevated to the highest rank, since, going by the regulations of the PLA, all members of the CMC must necessarily be generals. General Wei’s promotion was much anticipated also because he had served as Chief of Staff of the Corps between 2006 and 2010, and was closely involved in intercontinental ballistic missile testing during late 1980s. 

With the order signed by Xi Jinping soon after taking over China’s political and military reigns, the announcement was made by the Vice Chairman of the CCP’s Central Military Commission, Fan Changlong, and attended by other CMC members namely Chang Wanquan, Fang Fenghui, Zhang Yang, Zhao Keshi, Zhang Youxia, Wu Shengli and Ma Xiaotian, according to the official Xinhua news agency. 

It is widely speculated that Xi Jinping is gradually demonstrating his firm control over China’s political and military corridors. Xi is a “princeling” son of revolutionary leader and former vice-premier, Xi Zhongxun during the time of the Cultural Revolution. Owing to his political capital, his association with the PLA and having witnessed military diplomacy up close, it is being considered far and wide that Xi will constitute to be a much stronger military and political head than his immediate predecessors. 

Mali could become the new Afghanistan, only worse

24 Jan 05:40am 

France’s military intervention into its former North African colony of Mali, dubbed Operation Serval, could become another Afghanistan if France and other European Union members are lured into a long campaign of counterinsurgency based on nation building, instead of one that remains focused on airstrikes and ground operations by Special Forces trained in unconventional warfare. 

As the Dutch Foreign Minister said, “…there is not one European country that can hide if this threat would present itself to the European continent.” 

Unless Western, social egalitarian countries like France are prepared to implement the kind of counterinsurgency tactics carried out by the infamous Selous Scouts in former Rhodesia, then these ferociously well-armed, highly mobile faith driven Jihadists will blend back into the harsh north African terrain only to terrorise the next weak State. 

While in antithesis to how Western voters expect their nations to conduct war in morally and politically correct confined ways, the Algerian Government’s approach to the hostage situation maybe exactly what is required to stop the jihadists in Mali, once and for all. 

Perhaps the only reference most of us have to Mali the ancient city of Timbuktu. It was the centre of a major Islamic empire and the crossroads of trade in gold and salt. 

Following independence from France in 1960, Mali endured 23 years of military dictatorship, brutal droughts, famine, several coups and more recently civil conflict by the northern Tuareg separatists. 

It is one of the poorest countries in the world with a long history of slavery that continues to exist today with an estimated 200,000 people held under bondage. 

Flynn shares strategic leader vision as part of De Serio lecture

Thomas Zimmerman
Jan. 7, 2013

The top officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency discussed the changing nature of intelligence gathering and shared his vision and thoughts on the skills necessary for strategic leaders who will emerge from the Army War College Class of 2013 in a Bliss Hall address Jan. 7. 

Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, DIA director, opened with an overview of the agency’s role in today’s global environment and how intelligence gathering has changed including advances in technology, the development of new systems and the sharing of information. 

“The way we operate now is very fluid and complex,” he said. “Instead of days and months to analyze data, we have minutes and hours.” 

Despite changes in how intelligence is gathered and used, the demand for intelligence is unchanged. 

“Intelligence must remain a strategic advantage for our nation,” he said. “To do so we must work together. Not working together is the biggest threat to our country.” 

Flynn shared his thoughts on strategic leadership and provided food for thought for the students. 
  • Be a life-long learner
  • Humility at the most senior level of command is important
  • Teach, coach and mentor
  • Stress teamwork
  • Have an ability to compromise
  • Manage/balance time for both you and others
  • Be decisive and exude confidence
  • Re-energize your leadership skills at every opportunity. 
A combination of these skills and strong working relationships are keys to the success as a strategic leader. 

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

January 23, 2013 

First terms are about justifying your place in office. Second terms are about justifying your place in history. 

Global Trends 2030: Learn more about the Council's Strategic Foresight Initiative and the Global Trends 2030 Conference. For summaries of each session, links to video and transcripts, check out the conference agenda

The Council's report, Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World, is available as a PDF or can be purchased as an ebook via major online retailers. 

Remember Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, in which he eschewed specific plans and policies and instead reminded Americans of their most fundamental aspirations and urged them to turn toward the light of peace, even in the darkness of war. When a president stands on the Capitol steps and takes the oath of office for a second time, he’s thinking less about his next four years and more about his legacy. 

And he has plenty of help. In Washington, the period between an election and an inauguration is a fertile time for big, ambitious ideas, reports and essays. Foreign policy wonks are partial to laying out “grand strategies”: sweeping statements of the means through which the United States should achieve its goals in the world. Veterans of the White House efforts to craft a National Security Strategy, as commanded by Congress, typically shake their heads at these lofty pronouncements. But articulating a basic approach to the world can provide a starting point from which to tackle a wide array of challenges. Complete consistency is impossible, but a good grand strategy can increase the coherence of an administration’s decisions. 

Obama’s choice of a grand strategy for his second term could help drive a more proactive foreign policy, defining a legacy that is more than the sum of responses to crises. 

The iconic grand strategy was George Kennan’s “containment” — the proposition that the United States should not try to roll back communism but instead should contain the Soviet Union until it imploded on its own. Kennan, an American diplomat, laid out this view in his famous 1946 “Long Telegram” from Moscow, and his ability to sketch the future of U.S. foreign policy in one word has haunted strategists ever since. 

Drones in Our Time

Why Obama was fibbing about America's wars coming to an end. 
JANUARY 23, 2013 

Philip Larkin, that famously crotchety British poet of political incorrectness, knew a lot about a lot. He knew a great deal, for instance, about the general f***ed-up-ness of families, the shimmering mirage of the sexual revolution, and the creeping fear of old age and death

But he never even conceived of drones. 

This, at any rate, was the thought that flew irrelevantly into my head as I listened to President Obama discuss "peace in our time" in his second inaugural speech. (And this, mamas and daddies, is also why you shouldn't let your babies grow up to be English majors: they will fritter away their time writing columns, and find any excuse to name-drop famous poets). 

But really -- what would Larkin have made of drones? 

Consider "Homage to a Government," his 1969 elegy for the British Empire. 

Next year we are to bring the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly.
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right. 

It's hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it's been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds. 

Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it's a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money. 

Army Anger forced PM to harden his stance

‘The PM was directly told by the Army chief that the mood of his men was ugly.’ 
19 Jan 2013
Given the anger within the military at the perceived soft line of Manmohan Singh towards Pakistan, senior officials say that it is unlikely that the PM will "operationalise his agenda of offering major concessions to Pakistan in order to seek to change thnger within the military, specifically the Army, forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to replace his conciliatory line on Pakistan with a more hard-line stance, warning Islamabad that the recent beheading of an Army jawan has made "business as usual" impossible. 

According to a high-level source within the government, "The PM was directly told by Army chief General Bikram Singh that the mood of his men was ugly, and that they needed to know that the government felt the same way." Intelligence reports say, that comment about the PM in military messes across the country "now verges on the scatological", and that "the overwhelming perception of the men in uniform is that the PM would make any compromise" to secure peace with Pakistan. Other soundings reveal that "there has been considerable forward movement on plans to demilitarise (i.e. withdraw) from Siachen, and to accept the Pakistani contention that the international boundary in Sir Creek ought to be on the Indian side", rather than in the middle of the waterway. 

Although the present Army chief faced a whispering campaign at the time of his elevation, with unnamed sources claiming that the spouses of his two children "had Pakistani roots and connections", a senior official clarified that this report was investigated thoroughly, "and the General was given a clean chit". He said that the Intelligence Bureau had cleared General Singh well before his elevation as Chief of Army Staff (COAS), "after meticulously sifting through the available evidence". What is clear is that the COAS has from the start adopted a hard-line stand on both AFPSA and Siachen, underlining the military view that retaining both "was vital to the national interest and to India's security", in the words of a senior officer. The visit by Gen Bikram Singh to the villages of the martyrs has gone down well with the troops, as have his forthright comments on the need for a "robust response" to Pakistani incursions. 

'Begin By Treating Tribals As People First'

24 Jan 2013

'It is tragic that Maoists had to wake us up to the concerns of tribes. Issues raised by the Maoists are serious and we need to respond to them politically, not just militarily' Jairam Ramesh

I have been grappling with the issue popularly known as Naxalism or Left Wing Extremism or as today’s lecture has been christened, ' 21st century Maoism in India', for at least the last four years. I would like to pose today seven questions and provide some tentative answers. 

The first obvious question is what is the nature of the Maoist challenge ? Clearly, the Maoist challenge is an ideological challenge to Parliamentary Democracy and the political system as it has evolved in the country during the last 63 years. In different places and at different times, ideology is found to be at a discount, giving way to a levy-based challenge. But primarily it is an ideological challenge. Secondly, they hope to accomplish their objectives through violence and terror. Guerrilla warfare is their preferred operation and today it is predominantly, overwhelmingly a rural uprising, spread across 82 districts in nine states, affecting 500 to 600 Gram Panchayats. 

Remarkably, the movement was confined to six districts of Andhra Pradesh some 40 years ago. Clearly, the movement has grown during these 40 years and casts a shadow in central India. Remarkably, all the leaders of the movement are from Andhra Pradesh while the foot soldiers are almost all tribals. Even more remarkably, around 40 per cent of them are women. In my ministry is an officer, former District Magistrate of Malkangiri, who had been kidnapped by a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old girl. This significant demography of the movement deserves attention and more study. But the obvious question is why have the tribals taken to the Maoists in such large numbers ? I attribute it to the four Ds: Tribal Displacement, Deprivation, Discontent and Tribal Disconnect are responsible for their alienation. 

Tribal discontent has grown because of the continued political neglect of the tribals. Let us face it. No political party in the country can afford to ignore the Dalits and the OBCs because in around 300 Lok Sabha constituencies, they call the shots. Similarly, no party can neglect the Muslims, who can influence the outcome in some 200 Lok Sabha constituencies. In contrast, tribals dominate fewer than 50 Lok Sabha constituencies and hence their concerns have not received the attention they deserved. 

India, Pakistan peer into the abyss

By M K Bhadrakumar 

Was it a military confrontation - the week long India-Pakistan acrimony over bloody incidents on the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir, which resulted in the killing of four soldiers? Was it a potential nuclear flashpoint? In retrospect, it was more like a brawl - a noisy, disorderly quarrel. 

Indeed, it ended as abruptly as it erupted and very little broken china is visible as the two armies, which apparently went for each other's jugulars, summarily pulled back. India claimed Pakistani forces had killed two of its soldiers and mutilated the bodies, while Pakistan, which denied any wrongdoing, alleged Indian troops crossed into its side (which India denied), killing and injuring their soldiers. 

To be sure, a cleaning up operation is necessary but, fortunately, no permanent fixtures have been damaged on the dance floor - although the waltz cannot resume as if nothing happened. 

Meanwhile, what lessons can be drawn? At least a dozen can be discerned. 

First and foremost, the fracas drew attention to a barely visible aspect of the tenuous security situation on the LOC, which, unlike the India-Pakistan Boundary is an ill-defined line drawn up hastily out of the defunct Cease-Fire Line even as the 1971 war ended with very many geographical salients in the difficult terrain not easy to defend for either army and where, therefore, a constant, tenacious dogfight has been going on to "straighten" the LOC for gaining unilateral advantage. 

The point is, it is utterly futile to apportion blame and equally pointless to isolate and dissect any particular incident, howsoever gruesome it might be, as precisely where discord erupted in violence. Have such brutal incidents taken place in the past? The answer is "yes", and both sides, it now transpires, have committed abominable, unspeakable acts. 

A long-term solution lies in the LOC attaining the sanctity of an international border, but then, it is directly linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. 

From the Indian angle, the imperative lies in the stablilization of the situation in Jammu & Kashmir for which a durable ceasefire on the LOC and end to cross-border filtration by the militants is an absolute prerequisite. 

Aligning Armed Forces to 21st Century Internal Security Threats

“Europeans believe that Indian leaders in politics and business are so blissfully blinded by the new, sometimes ill-gotten, wealth and deceit that they are living in defiance, insolence and denial to comprehend that the day will come, sooner than later, when the have-nots would hit the streets. In a way, it seems to have already started with the monstrous and grotesque acts of the Maoists. And, when that rot occurs, not one political turncoat will escape being lynched.” - - Mohan Murti, 

Why should Europeans holding a seminar on Maoist Insurgency surprise us when the developed world is looking to invest in India including our underdeveloped areas? It is but natural they seek security before making investments. Our Prime Minister has been labeling the Maoists insurgency as the biggest internal security challenge for quite some time now. Three decades after employing an army division in Naxalbari to crush the insurgency, naiveté of lack of focus on politico-socio-economic aspects and treating the issue as law and order problem has brought us to this sorry state. It would be a folly to view this insurgency in isolation. The Government’s mesttani support including by penchant to dither in acknowledging external linkages till a major incident occurs does obfuscate factual links of Maoists with Maoists of Nepal (Chinese surrogates), LTTE and covert Pakistani support ( LeT / ISI). Our adversaries would be fools in not exploiting this readymade asymmetric battlefield directly or indirectly, now or later, knowing full well the strategic potential of such anti establishment irregular forces. With discernable induction of armed modules into India since 1992-93, Pakistan has already created means to avoid accusations of direct involvement. 

Three decades after employing an army division in Naxalbari to crush the insurgency, naiveté of lack of focus on politico-socio-economic aspects and treating the issue as law and order problem has brought us to this sorry state. 

While Maoists mouth oblique support to Kashmir militants, confluence of jehadi terror and Maoists will constitute the true nightmare. Can we ignore Al Qaeda / LeT / ISI footprints in Bangladesh and Kerala (latter touching southern tip of the 16 Maoists infested States) and LeT (covert arm of ISI) holding important posts within Al Qaeda, Nepalese Maoists to the North, ISI presence in Nepal, increased Chinese brashness, their cartographic aggression, strategic footprints in POK, covert support to ULFA and tacit support to Pakistan’s jehadi strategy binding major military forces in Kashmir, dry runs by Al Qaeda terrorists in Mumbai, Delhi, erstwhile NSA acknowledging presence of various strands of Al Qaeda in India and Osama’s edict on Assam that has been permitted to become Muslim predominant courtesy illegal Bangladeshi immigrants – more political naiveté ! In this chaotic dispensation sans a National Security Strategy with National Security Objectives undefined, inadequate intelligence (New York Times has to tell us 11000 Chinese are doing 14 projects in POK), nation state adrift with crass political differences and not knowing when external environment turns hostile, what options are available to Armed Forces with experience of six decades of successful counter insurgency experience, knowing they are meant for conflict management, not resolution? 

States Of Power

24 Jan 2013

"Even after the Centre has made efforts to ascertain state-level concerns, regional leaders have shown disregard for the pursuit of national goals"

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, during the peak of Congress dominance, there were persistent accusations, both from political commentators as well as regional political leaders, that the Indian polity had become overly centralised. There was some truth to these charges. An overweening, Congress-run Central government had little patience for regional leaders or parties. 

On occasions, they also dismissed state governments that they deemed to be recalcitrant at will, invoking President’s Rule on tenuous grounds.

The polity now faces an altogether different challenge — that of managing a fractious group of regional leaders and states who march to the beat of different drummers. With coalition governments at the Centre increasingly becoming the norm, states can easily ignore national goals and concerns and focus on attending to their parochial priorities. Not all of their choices are problematic, especially in the realm of domestic politics. A country as diverse as India should allow room for experimentation and the exploration of policy alternatives at state and regional levels. Indeed the pursuit of different policy strategies might yield unexpected, novel and positive outcomes. Insisting that states as diverse as Uttar Pradesh and Kerala march in lockstep is like forcing them into procrustean beds.

Accordingly, such a mixed set of initiatives should not necessarily be choked off. However, when key foreign policy interests are at stake and particular approaches to tackle them are chosen by the Centre, states should respect those choices. This, of course, does not mean that local concerns should be altogether dismissed. The Centre must consult with various constituencies, especially those whose specific interests may be involved.

What has been transpiring over the last several years, however, is a much more disturbing trend. Even after the Central government has made efforts to ascertain state-level concerns, regional leaders have shown flagrant disregard for the pursuit of national goals, or have, worse still, sought to exploit sensitive issues for short-term political and electoral gains.

India should beware superstores

By Brian Cloughley 
Jan 2013

Sometimes we stay with friends in an inner London suburb where there used to be a number of family-run stores. They weren't perfect models of modern commercial skills, but they were havens of courtesy, quite well-stocked, and, of course, convenient. They provided a decent living for many people and were very much part of the community. 

A supermarket recently appeared and all the mom and pops vanished overnight. In a matter of days after the big store opened it was obvious they hadn't a hope of survival, so now they're boarded up and will never reopen. It's difficult to see who benefits. There is a much wider range of foodstuffs (such as 43 different types of biscuits), but the prices, after an attractively low beginning, now seem to be creeping up, there being no competition anywhere. 

Superstores may be good for some people, but it is open to discussion that they should be totally embraced by India. Last time we were in Delhi, we went to one with friends Rana and Dolly and I was amazed and shocked at the massive energy use. Nothing was too small to be illuminated, and the strip lighting must have measured miles. Heaven knows what electricity consumption must be in India's supermarkets and malls. 

Given the dismal state of affairs in rural areas, where 400 million people have no electricity, it seems that energy provision priorities might be improved a bit. Further, if the planned expansion in electricity generation is achieved, it might be advisable to give emphasis to the needs of industry as well as to domestic provision in the 20 (of 28) states that have such a dearth of power.

According to the International Energy Agency, access to electricity by all citizens of India will require investment of at least US$135 billion. That's less than a third of what America has spent on its war in Afghanistan, but in India it's an awful lot of money. And you might wonder what proportion will be invested to the advantage of urban areas where it is intended there be many mega-stores, almost all of them foreign in origin. 

In December, India's parliament voted to open the country's retail sector to overseas competition. They welcomed admission of firms such as Walmart, which already has 17 stores in association with Bharti Enterprises, based in Gurgaon. 

Walmart welcomed the government's decision, but there was much adverse comment. Ravi Shankar Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party said Walmart had spent $3 million in 2012 "for entering the Indian market", and noted that "Lobbying is illegal in India ... If Walmart has said that hundreds of crores of rupees were spent in India, then it is a kind of bribe." 

Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan

By Joel Brinkley
24 Jan 2013

More than half of Afghanistan’s population is under twenty-five, which shouldn’t be surprising since the average life span there is forty-nine. But the United States Agency for International Development looked at this group and decided it needed help because, it said, these young people are “disenfranchised, unskilled, uneducated, neglected—and most susceptible to joining the insurgency.” So the agency chartered a three-year, $50 million program intended to train members of this generation to become productive members of Afghan society. Two years into it, the agency’s inspector general had a look at the work thus far and found “little evidence that the project has made progress toward” its goals. 

The full report offered a darker picture than this euphemistic summary, documenting a near-total failure. It also showed that USAID had handed the project over to a contractor and then paid little attention. Unfortunately, the same can be said for almost every foreign-aid project undertaken in Afghanistan since the war began eleven years ago. 

In a recent quarterly report, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said that, when security for aid workers is figured in, the total amount of nonmilitary funds Washington has appropriated since 2002 “is approximately $100 billion”—more than the US has ever spent to rebuild a country. That estimate came out in July. Since then, Congress has appropriated another $16.5 billion for “reconstruction.” And all of that has not bought the United States or the Afghans a single sustainable institution or program. 

What has all that spending accomplished? “The short answer is not so much,” said Masood Farivar, a senior Afghan journalist. Or, as the International Crisis Group put it, “despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security.” 

So, has the United States utterly wasted more than $100 billion? Karl Eikenberry, former US ambassador and military commander in Afghanistan, notes that the state has more roads and schools than ever before. More people in Kabul have electricity. “There have been impressive gains in education and health,” Eikenberry said. “Transportation in Afghanistan is better than at any time in history.” 

You Say Pakistanis All Hate the Drone War? Prove It

By C. Christine Fair, Karl C. Kaltenthaler & William J. Miller
Jan 23 2013

According to the latest Pew research, only a slim majority of them are aware it even exists.

Observers of Pakistani politics say Pakistanis universally loathe the American drone strikes against Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal belt. The view is based on anecdotal accounts of Pakistanis, but not the ones most affected by the strikes who live in the tribal areas where the drones fly. Most of these informants have no personal knowledge of the tribal areas and the political situation that prevails there. Despite these limitations, observers such as Murtaza Haider confidently avow that " if there is a consensus in Pakistan on any one matter, it is the unanimous opposition to the American drone strikes on Pakistan's territory ." 

This conventional wisdom is wrong. Yes, drone strikes are not very popular among a large section of Pakistani society. But Pakistanis are not united in opposition to drone strikes. In fact, many Pakistanis support the drone strikes. This suggests that there is room for the United States to engage in a public diplomacy campaign to win over more Pakistanis to the idea that drone strikes are not the bringers of carnage that is so often portrayed in the Urdu-language media in Pakistan if the United States could be persuaded to bring this worst-kept secret out of the closet and into embassy briefings in Islamabad. 

Writers critical of the drone program have mobilized various public opinion polls to buttress their claims, notably those conducted by the Pew Research Center as a part of its Global Attitudes Project. Pew asks Pakistanis whether they believe that the drone strikes are conducted with consent of the Pakistani government and whether they believe the strikes kill civilians in large numbers, among other sensitive topics. Drone opponents have used the responses as evidence that the program is being forced on Pakistanis by the United States, which has decided to engage in these extrajudicial killings as the way to best conduct its own war against Islamist militants who are ensconced in Pakistan's tribal areas. Pew's 2010 report on the drone war declared: "There is little support for U.S. drone strikes against extremist leaders -- those who are aware of those attacks generally say they are not necessary, and overwhelmingly they believe that the strikes kill too many civilians." Drone foes have seized upon these and subsequent survey results and marshaled them as iron-class proof that Washington's drone program faces a wall of Pakistani public opposition. Fortifying opinion with data is a welcome thing. Unfortunately, drone critics have been highly selective in their use of the data, with a tendency to rely on survey answers that cast Pakistani opinion as being overwhelmingly hostile to drones. When one examines all of the data gathered by Pew on drones in Pakistan, a very different and much more complex picture emerges about Pakistani attitudes toward various aspects of the American drone program. A more detailed look at the data suggests that that even while some Pakistanis think drones kill too many innocent Pakistanis, they are still necessary. 

Firing, mindsets, reform

A split Pakistan establishment
by B.G. Verghese
24 Jan 2013 

THE hubbub over the recent cross-LoC firings appears to be subsiding following some deft handling by the Government of India in the face of an ill-considered clamour for immediate retaliation. There are two national versions of what triggered the action. There is substance in Delhi’s view that Pakistan once again resorted to covering fire to aid cross-border jihadi infiltration into J&K. Be that as it may, the fact is that two patrolling jawans were killed on the Indian side of the LoC by Pakistani fire and left mutilated, with one corpse beheaded. This is utterly barbaric conduct and violative of the rules of war and the Geneva Convention. It is the bland refusal by Pakistan to acknowledge and investigate this outrage that inflamed Indian opinion, with strong demands for a retaliatory strike. 

Strong Indian Army evidence failed to evoke a credible response, with Islamabad offering a UN Military Observer Group investigation before being compelled to conduct bilateral Brigadier-level and then DGMO-level talks. The UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan was rendered effete by the Simla Agreement in 1972. Thereby Pakistan agreed to deal with all future J&K matters on a bilateral basis and to convert the ceasefire line (CFL) into a Line of Control (LoC), thus moving from a military to a political line in a progression leading to its future acceptance as a settled boundary within J&K. This was not a unilateral imposition by a victorious Indian Army, following the liberation of Bangladesh and cessation of hostilities, but a Treaty signed by the two Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. 

By invoking the UNMOGIP, Pakistan sought to resurrect its role, revive the UN resolutions and revert from a political LoC to a military CFL. These would undo the Simla Agreement and once again internationalise the J&K question. If this was the intent, the gambit failed. Even so, it suggests that some elements are working to revive the status quo ante in J&K and move backwards to rekindle “the unfinished business of Pakistan”. 

Pakistan’s trump card has been to ask how its troops or jihadis could cut through India’s electrified barbed wire fence along the LoC and then penetrate further into Indian territory to ambush Indian patrols and plant the Pak Ordnance Factory mines found buried there. The answer is that both sides are mutually bound by CFL-LoC protocols to refrain from constructing any structures or defences within 500 m of the LoC. Why this simple explanation was not made widely known once again betrays a continuing communications failure on India’s part. Even the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, silenced Indian interlocutors with this untenable retort. 

The latest LoC spat also saw Pakistan bluster as usual when caught with its hand in the till and, when cornered, cynically plead that it would be best to forget the past and move on. The ISI’s sponsorship of separatist militancy and cross-border jihadi terrorism in J&K is no secret. That this trend saw a rise in 2012 betrays the growing dichotomy between those in Pakistan who feel that the only way to prevent the country from self-destruction is to come to terms with India, hitherto seen as a permanent enemy, and others who think that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 could see a turnaround in favour of jihadi warriors out to punish India. The Pakistan establishment seems split on this issue and hence the many contrary voices and doublespeak emanating from Islamabad.