6 February 2013

Fighting propaganda with truth

by DP Satish 
February 1, 2013 4:53 pm 

The untold story of Kashmiri Pandits, refugees in their own homeland. 

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are outraged as those who are.” ~Benjamin Franklin 

Journalist Rahul Pandita’s book “Our Moon has Blood Clots” makes you angry about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, refugees in their own homeland. As eminent historian Ramachandra Guha says, “This book throws new light on one of the most tragic conflicts in the modern world. Every paragraph of this compelling memoir rings true”. 

Pandita’s book exposes the hypocrisy of a ‘secular’ democracy, its intellectual class, its candle light brigade, its bleeding heart activists and, above all, its silent majority. Now 36, Pandita was forced to leave his home town of Srinagar, capital of Kashmir, when he was just 14. That was in 1990. With separatist militancy on the rise, Kashmiri Pandits, who constitute less than five percent of Kashmir’s total population, became homeless in the harsh winter that year. 

It has taken 20 years for this story to emerge. The world is being fed stories about the region’s separatist aspirations and the Indian Army’s brutality, but the Pandits’ story had remained untold till now. Kashmiri Pandits, mostly middle-class, educated, hardworking and peaceful community (the only Hindus in Muslim-dominated Kashmir), were driven out of their ancestral homes in less than three months in the early 1990s. 

Pandita narrates stories of the brutal genocide orchestrated by Islamist militants in the Kashmir valley. The cruelty of the attacks sometimes brings to mind what happened to the Jews in Europe, the Christians in Armenia, and people of Indian origin under the Ugandan regime of Idi Amin. Pandita’s heart-wrenching personal account shows how opinion makers made no effort to avert the tragedy. Human rights activists, international peace-makers, public intellectuals, politicians, and even journalists from the ‘mainstream’ media went about as if the problem did not exist. Pandita surmises they looked away because talking about the lynching of Kashmiri Pandits might have made them look less ‘secular’. 

A city held by time


Pablo Bartholomew’s photographs in the recent exhibition in New Delhi, The Calcutta Diaries, create an imagination of a city living its history and its present simultaneously. 

Overview of Tangra, Calcutta, c.1978.

In the mid-1970s, when the legendary film-maker Satyajit Ray was making Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players), a film based on a short story by ‘Munshi’ Premchand, to show the world the self-indulgent ways of the Lucknow aristocracy during the first war of independence in 1857, a young photographer, Pablo Bartholomew, who handled the stills of the film, undertook a similar endeavour in Calcutta (now Kolkata). 

Just as Ray’s film highlighted the indifference the Lucknow aristocracy had for its immediate surroundings, Bartholomew captured a Calcutta that was a far cry from the imagination of the Bengali bhadralok—a Calcutta populated and defined by its many “outsiders”. 

Calcutta has been a muse to many artists, but their works are mostly tied to the city’s elite imagination—that of its classical culture or its institutional art forms in music and painting and lifestyles. Bartholomew breaks this mould and comes out of it to capture the everyday life of the immigrants of the city, the street-dwellers and the daily-wage workers. In the process, he turns the city’s imagination, characterised by chastity and purity, upside down. 

Man asleep in front of graffiti, c.1978. 

While Ray delved into the past to offer a critique of the aristocratic culture, Bartholomew showcased the contemporary, making the viewers question aristocratic imaginations, replete with colonial and zamindari hangovers. In strange ways, Calcutta, a city which Bartholomew loves and from where Ray worked, became the common ground to tell this tale. 

The Republic’s day

by Sushant K Singh 
January 25, 2013 

Strengthening the republic will automatically safeguard our independence and deepen our democracy. 

Beyond the dancers, tableaus and marching soldiers on the Raj Path, what does the Republic Day mean to us? Most of us think of Republic Day and Independence Day in the same vein. Even the clichés used on the two national holidays are interchangeable. But the two days are different and the difference begins with the choice of two dates. 

As per the Indian Independence Act of the British Parliament, the original date for India’s independence was June 3rd 1948. The selection of August 15th 1947, once all parties had agreed to advance India’s independence, was an act of vanity by Lord Mountbatten because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the Second World War. In his radio broadcast to America on August 8th 1947, Mountbatten drove home the double meaning of “August 15 – V. J. Day – not only as the celebration of a victory, but also as the fulfillment of a pledge.” Mountbatten claimed, as per his biographer, that the date came to him as by inspiration, with only connection being that it was the anniversary of his appointment as the Supreme Commander. The advancing of date to August 1947 was nevertheless a prudent decision, best summed up in Chakravarti Rajagopalachari’s words to Mountbatten: “If you had not transferred power when you did, there would have been no power to transfer.” 

Evidently, August 15th 1947 was a date personally significant to Mountbatten but not a date of our choosing. When India adopted its Constitution 894 days later, the chosen date held a special significance for those who had participated in the freedom struggle. After the presidential speech by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Lahore session of the Congress at midnight of December 31st 1929 – January 1st 1930, the tricolour flag was unfurled. Those present there took a pledge – and asked the country — to celebrate Poorna Swaraj (complete Independence) Day every year on January 26th. That is why after the drafting committee presented the Constitution’s first draft to the national assembly on November 4th 1949, January 26th 1950 was chosen as the Republic Day. 

Yatha shashan, tatha praja

by Raj Cherubal 
February 1, 2013 

The difficulty of being good in urban India, when the entire system is designed to produce urban adharma. 

Nature does not give a man virtue; the process of becoming a good man is an art. So writes Gurcharan Das, quoting Seneca, in The Difficulty of Being Good. This may be undeniably true. But it is impossible to be ‘good’ as citizens in Indian cities. Because to be good, systems matter. Systems are man-made and man’s behaviour in public is determined by the environment he inhabits. 

Every group discussion on India, about Indians, invariably ends on the following note — that the target groups (be it pedestrians, motorists, children…) need more awareness and education. The reasoning goes that Indians are incapable of being ‘good’ in civic life. Such a statement needs systematic examination before condemning an entire society to ignominy. How can we be ‘good’ as citizens, when all odds are stacked enormously against us, every step of the way? How does a man practice dharma in urban India – when the entire system is designed to produce urban adharma? Let us be clear. It is near impossible. 

On the roads of a typical Indian city, one sees many sights. An elderly lady on top of the median, waiting to jump down and hobble across the road; a gleaming foot-over bridge entirely empty of road crossers; pedestrians walking in front or very near the cars; street vendors occupying space meant for pedestrians; cyclists zig-zagging across the road; bus drivers stopping abruptly around the bus stop, blocking the roads; vehicles parked in a haphazard manner, blocking free passage; car drivers, with scant regard for lane discipline or red lights. Chaos and indiscipline – urbanadharma – all around. 

Realism calls

by Sumantra Maitra 
February 1, 2013

India needs to induct realism and balancing in its foreign policy.

If recent rumours on the Chinese internet are true, then Chinese armed forces and PLA are planning a string of Navy bases all around Asia. The highest concentration of these planned PLAN bases would be in and around India. While this piece of information is hard to confirm, going by the history and careful and selective leaking of information on Chinese internet and media by the communist administration, this may well be true. Ironically the same day, I read another piece in a reputed Indian English daily, urging India to follow the “middle path” with regards to China and Japan dispute in the Senkaku islands. That’s not the only one, other reputed newspapers also urged India to play it cool, to be skeptical of the “Dogs of war”, and continue the detached, rudderless foreign policy, which, other than on rare resolute occasions, is deeply symbolic of our country for the last fifty years, the last year being particularly disastrous. 

The interminable dross that is churned out from both sides of the spectrum, one espousing utter non-violence and dialogue in the face of any humiliation, and the other proposing war at every corner and turn of history. What is obvious in this binary of ideological debate between the left-liberals and neo-conservatives of Indian foreign policy, is the absence of a Realist foreign policy prescription. India being the land of Kautilya, (who is considered the one of the oldest Political Realists in the field of International Relations) conveniently discarded Realism from the national consensus. 

There are two types of states, the “power maximisers” and the “security maximisers” in International arena. The expansionist, revanchist, and revisionist powers generally fall in the former category. India falls in the second category, as we have given up our short lived interventionist tendency since the return of IPKF in 1989. Yes, we do have soldiers under the United Nations, in Congo, and our Navy patrolling the Somalian coast, in coordination with other navies. China, as the preponderant growing and expansionist power of our time, falls in the former category. Chinese expansionism is now limited to mercantilism and economic expansion, but soon with the growing clout, it would not be limited and peaceful. China would inevitably prove to be dangerous and revanchist, and there would inevitably a clash (hot or cold) between the two hegemons, a rising China and an ageing United States of America. 

Creating policy options on Pakistan

by Rohan Joshi 
February 1, 2013

India must realise that threats from Pakistan are real and will not diminish with the status quo. 

The recent sentencing of David Headley by a Chicago court in connection with the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks should serve as a timely reminder to the Indian government. Though the government is significantly invested in a “peace process” with Pakistan, threats to India’s national security have not diminished as a result of that process, and the infrastructure and support systems for terrorism continue to exist in Pakistan. India is in need of policy options on Pakistan to mitigate short- to mid-term threats to India’s security. 

Pakistan’s leaders have built a state security apparatus that is avowedly inimical to the existence and prosperity of India. This apparatus does not abjure provocation through either military or non-military means under the cover of nuclear deterrence. And while elements of Pakistan’s political leadership may or may not harbour such ill will towards us, their ability to be an effective counterweight to the military security apparatus on issues relating to India is debatable. 

So if Pakistan does not eschew terrorism and continues to provoke India, what are India’s options and how should it respond? There are effectively three courses of action available to the Indian government. One, do nothing beyond the usual issuances of démarches, threats to terminate dialogue, or withdrawing our high commissioner from Islamabad However, these responses neither deter Pakistan, nor address a growing national mood for punitive action. The diminishing returns of pursuing such a course of action are apparent. 

Love Is a Battlefield

FEBRUARY 5, 2013 
How the Taliban are using sex to fight America. 

HELMAND, Afghanistan — Mohamed Wali had been laboring in Iran for seven months when the local preacher knocked on his family's gate back home in Helmand province early one morning. Wali's widowed mother opened the door. "Call your son home," the preacher said. "There is an organization that is helping young men get married." 

In this highly conservative country, particularly in its southern parts, marriage largely remains the only sexual outlet for youth. And with unemployment hovering around 35 percent and dowry prices as high as 50 times the average monthly income, marriage -- and therefore sex -- is becoming increasingly difficult to afford. For 19-year-old Wali, there was no hope at home, not in Greshk, the most violent district in the country. He chose the long path -- to labor his way to marriage in Iran. Others may not.

Frustrated with the government for failing to create jobs or control dowry prices, many of Afghanistan's young men remain vulnerable to Taliban recruitment. In highly volatile areas like Helmand, the insurgency is not an alien force but often a cousin or a next-door neighbor, deeply entrenched and easily accessible. The Taliban, meanwhile, has ramped up its psychological operations, positioning itself as an alternative to everything that's wrong with the Kabul regime and selling the battlefield as an outlet for pent-up rage. Sex, of course, makes the Taliban's sales pitch that much tougher to resist -- 72 virgins await the insurgent lucky enough to die in the line of duty. 

In Afghanistan, marriage is seen as a way to tame young men in the height of their energies. Sudden bursts of anger at home -- kicking the dinner bowl after an argument, slamming the door -- are smiled upon as youth expressing their desire for marriage. An acknowledgement of the link between sexual energy and violent energy is written into Afghanistan's cultural DNA. But science, too, speaks to that link. 

Afghanistan: What Went Wrong?

February 5, 2013 

It’s 2015 and across Afghanistan security institutions are failing. NATO wonders: What Went Wrong? 

Bernard Fall wrote that “When a country is being subverted it is not being outfought; it is being out administered” and that is has certainly proven true in Afghanistan. 

In 2011 I wrote an article stating my belief that the Coalition had failed to understand the Afghans capabilities and, instead, imposed systems that were far too complex and unsustainable. I still maintain we tried to do too much (complex, technology based systems) with too little (a human capital base that ranks among the least literate in the world) in too short a time (Afghan literacy is a generational issue). I closed that article saying “History will ask; why did they think that would work”? 

What Afghanistan looks like in 2015 

If one accepts Bob Woodward’s reporting in “Obama’s War” (and I do) various presidential advisors consistently identified key factors to success in Afghanistan: solving the Pakistan issue, good governance, addressing the rampant corruption and the creation of a credible Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). In fact, the decision to ‘surge’ in 2009 intended to set conditions to address those very matters. 

Despite two different administration’s seemed understanding of the necessity of fighting corruption and demanding good governance they were, in the larger picture, essentially ignored under the auspices of Afghan sovereignty. There are endless examples of rampant corruption across the breadth of the Afghan government and security forces yet there are NO instances of major convictions for those crimes. Literally, billions of dollars were diverted to private coffers by malign actors yet no one was held accountable--thus the citizenry developed a decided disdain for the government in power. There is little evidence that either the Greater Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s (GIROA) policing efforts or their judiciary helped the government of Afghanistan in a way that made any significant, positive impact with respect to the daily lives of the people. With that in mind the people implicitly understood that when the Coalition Forces left the government would not be able to lead because the citizenry neither believed in, nor trusted, the government. Had the citizens possessed the confidence that their government’s security forces would protect them and provide emergency services, they would likely have been loyal to the state. Quite simply, the legitimacy of their government was at stake and they failed. 

China and Japan's Wikipedia War

FEBRUARY 5, 2013 
How a showdown over a group of remote islands in the East China Sea is heating up online. 

As China and Japan jockey for influence in the Pacific, an unlikely diplomatic fault line has emerged: an archipelago of uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea. Known as the Senkakus in Japan, which controls them, the islands are also claimed by China and Taiwan -- and both are struggling to reassert sovereignty. Tremors have increased in recent months with confrontations between the Japanese and Taiwanese coast guards and rabble-rousing from Chinese media outlets. Statesman have shuffled back and forth between Beijing, Tokyo, and Washington to cool the crisis, but neither Xi Jinping, the new head of the Chinese Communist Party, nor Shinzo Abe, Japan's new prime minister, show any sign of backing down. On the contrary, China raised the stakes on Jan. 30, when one of its military frigates aimed weapons-targeting radar at a Japanese warship, prompting Japan to lodge a formal complaint with the Chinese government. 

But if the physical posturing has been vigorously covered in the news media, the digital posturing has not. In recent years, partisans have taken the fight to Wikipedia, where articles about the islands have been subject to weekly "edit wars" between contributors. The content on these pages might seem to be of only marginal importance compared to more significant coverage in other outlets. But the "Senkaku Islands" and "Senkaku Islands dispute" Wikipedia articles are the two most prominent English-language sources of information about the islands on the Internet, with the top search result ranking on Google and thousands of page views every month. The Japanese and Chinese language editions of Wikipedia have their own article pages for the islands as well -- each offering different chronologies of ownership. These sites, however, receive far less traffic and the content debates are far more diplomatic. 

For many Web users, Wikipedia remains a reliable first stop for facts, and the site's crowd-sourced quality control has always been more effective than critics give it credit for. But entries about contentious subjects -- from Kosovo's independence to Kim Kardashian's pregnancy -- are difficult to monitor around the clock, and remain susceptible to vandalism, questionable sources, and editorial disagreement. Charges of censorship and bias are rampant on the Senkaku Islands entries' talk pages, where the process of article creation is negotiated. Many of the combatants are veteran editors with established user handles and years of experience who would never admit to any sort of partisanship. Nonetheless, strongly entrenched opinions are evident, with each side claiming adherence to Wikipedia's editing guidelines -- much like respective Japanese and Chinese officials continue to ground their claims in international law. 

Cooperate and Compete: Getting the Most out of U.S.-China Economic Relations

By Matthew P. Goodman
Feb 5, 2013 

Recent reports of Chinese-sourced hacking of U.S. media outlets threaten to rekindle U.S.-China economic tensions following a lull over the past several months as both Washington and Beijing have been preoccupied with their political transitions. The cyber allegations are serious and need to be addressed forcefully and frankly by both sides. But before this and a plethora of other frictions overwhelm the relationship, the new teams in Washington and Beijing would do well to remember the broader stakes in bilateral economic ties and agree on a modus operandi for managing them in the years ahead. 

To be sure, the U.S.-China economic relationship is beset with challenges, both real and perceived. In addition to the cyber issue, U.S. concerns include market-access and regulatory barriers in China, an uneven playing field between favored Chinese state-owned enterprises and U.S. firms, inadequate enforcement of intellectual property laws in China, and consumer anxiety about Chinese product safety. There is a widespread perception in the United States that China is “not playing by the rules” and is thereby undermining U.S. economic strength, or even, in some areas, national security. 

For their part, a growing number of Chinese feel that the United States is trying to “contain” China’s rise, using not only diplomatic and military tools but also economic ones. Beijing chafes at what it sees as Washington’s excessive use of World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute-settlement mechanisms and domestic trade remedies such as antidumping and countervailing-duty actions. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) championed by Washington is seen as excluding China. And many in China perceive the U.S. investment climate as hostile to Chinese firms. 

It is foolish to pretend that these problems and perceptions do not exist. Both governments need to address them forthrightly, through dialogue, negotiation, and litigation where necessary. But the challenges also need to be set against the substantial net benefits of bilateral economic ties to both sides. As the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China need each other to grow. Bilateral trade has increased roughly four-fold since China joined the WTO in 2001, with benefits to exporters and consumers in both countries. China has become an important link in the global supply chain for U.S. companies, boosting their efficiency and profitability while bringing technology, management know-how, and jobs to China. Similar benefits are likely to flow from Chinese direct investment in the United States as it begins to take off. 

Finding Operational Art: The Normandy Breakout

February 6, 2013

Abstract: What is and is not operational art? That is a mysterious question because the answer is not definitive. Determining what falls into the description of operational art is difficult because even some military education centers are reluctant to take a stance on conclusive examples. Consequently, practitioners must rely on their own interpretation of what exactly constitutes this form of orchestrated warfare, further complicating the matter because operational art as a concrete concept becomes what one makes of it. Therefore, this essay attempts to provide an example of operational art argued through the framework of the Normandy breakout in WWII. 

Current Army and Joint doctrine provide varying definitions of operational art.[1] Generally, they agree that the arrangement of tactical actions (for instance synchronized operations) is the way to achieve an overall strategic end or purpose. During WWII, Allied forces led by Dwight Eisenhower, engaged in a multifaceted campaign to liberate Western Europe. The invasion of Normandy initiated operation OVERLORD that comprised numerous subordinate operations from the beach landings to the pursuit of German forces across the Rhine River.[2] As they expanded the lodgment, Allied forces became mired in a stalemate along a line stretching from Caen through St. Lo, France. Not only were they mired tactically in intense, challenging fighting, they were mired operationally in ineffective operational design. Their singular focus on a large-scale frontal attack limited the overall tempo against the German line and limited the Allied ability to seize sufficient initiative. Arguably, the stalemate occurred because Allied forces did not apply operational art to overcome their immediate problems. Only when they applied operational art through operations GOODWOOD and COBRA did the Allied forces successfully break out of the stalemate and break through the German line.[3] GOODWOOD and COBRA complemented each other as arranged tactical actions designed to counter competing operational and mission variables and capitalize on the mysterious elements of chance.[4]

Breakout as Operational Art 

GOODWOOD was a shaping operation for COBRA’s decisive action, which was to effect breakout from the stalemate. One way to describe the breakout’s operational approach is to describe it as a three part, fix-and-flank maneuver. First, Montgomery’s British 21st Army would fix German forces along the North/Northeast flank near Caen. Then, Bradley’s 1st Army would penetrate the German defense line along the South/Southwest flank near St. Lo creating a maneuverable gap and more importantly seizing the Allied initiative. Bradley would then transition control of 1st Army to General Hodges and assume command of the 12th Army Group which included Patton’s 3rd Army. Patton would finally exploit the initiative to seize further terrain and destroy the German forces.[5] The arrangement of these tactical operations was the sum operational approach, synthesized through the coordination of GOODWOOD and COBRA.[6]

For Mumbai, Justice If Not Peace

by TJ Waters

February 5, 2013 

A final chapter closed last week in Chicago. Fifty-two year old David Coleman Headley was sentenced to 35 years in prison for helping plan what many call India's 9/11. Over one hundred and sixty people died, including six Americans. Yes, one of our own designed a terrorist attack overseas. 

It was November 26th, Thanksgiving weekend, when the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar e-Tayyiba laid siege to the city of Mumbai for three days. Any doubt as to LeT's suicidal strategy was put to rest when Indian authorities released intercepted cell phone communications between the militants and their Pakistan-based handlers. 

Even while intercepting the assailant's communications, Indian authorities were not prepared for a fight this vicious and well planned. 

That was largely due to David Headley. He was born in the United States to an American mother and a Pakistani father. He changed his name from Gaood Gilani in 2006 so that he could map and videotape the Mumbai targets without raising suspicion. 

Perhaps that is what is most frightening about David Headley. He did not simply participate - he played a critical role in making the attacks as lethal, bloody, and media-ripe as possible. His preparations turned what would have otherwise required a precision Special Forces assault into a commodity that any ragtag group could accomplish. 

All The World's A Stage 

In an unprecedented documentary, HBO films created a one hour special entitled Terror in Mumbai, hosted by CNN's Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria is a native of Mumbai and his mother still lives there. The entire documentary can be viewed online here. It could make a good master class into the changing nature of terrorism in the information age. 

The film utilizes video and photographs, as well as excerpts from some of the 284 intercepted cell phone calls between the militants and their handlers. These are not actors - the voices are the actual LeT leaders directing the militants from their safe haven in Pakistan. 

It is a window into how otherwise normal people can easily be turned into an assault force capable of crippling a major city. The young men were stunned by the opulence of the Taj Mahal hotel, yet deferential when their handler demanded to hear them murder a Jewish woman while he listened on the phone. 

This dichotomy of sophisticated masterminds and mindless drones both coming out of Pakistan is disturbing and could potentially be just starting. 

What Max Boot missed: A response about the future shape of the U.S. military

By Thomas E. Ricks 
February 5, 2013 

By Billy Birdzell 

Best Defense guest respondent 

I believe Max has missed Das Boot. 

1. If COIN is 80 percent political, then the political construct is most important. French and British in Algeria and Malaya were conquerors with political and military control over the place for 124 years (ironic) before their insurgencies began. Please talk about expeditionary COIN. Russia in Afghanistan, U.S. Afghanistan, U.S. Vietnam, U.S. Iraq. Where else? The United States in the Philippines 1898-1913 was the Malaya example because we owned the place. Mixing up political contexts = fail. 

2. No matter how good our tactics, cultural training, language ability, etc., we will never get out of the dilemma that the harder we try, the worse it gets. More money for AID and development = more corruption. More troops = accidental guerrillas and al Qaeda in Iraq type organizations. Joe Meyers and UBL call it defensive jihad, but whatever. Our very presence delegitimizes the government we are trying to prop up. It's a failed model and one that Galula said was the worst of all possible worlds. FM 3-24 is a manual for the worst case scenario -- that in which the military gets stuck with an insurgency that it didn't see coming. It can, at best, direct military force to get a slightly better political situation than running away. It is not a doctrine around which to structure the military. 

3. I disagree that language, culture, etc. materially impact success. Using the military instead of the State Department for diplomacy is inherently flawed. The military's main contribution is destroying armed groups who challenge the government's monopoly on force and I'd like to see what percentage of intelligence was developed by native speakers/culture experts. 

4. Tanks are fabulous for killing guerrillas in urban areas. Artillery is your friend and outbound rounds still make the sound of freedom. Flying machines are cool. Max fundamentally does not understand that COIN involves high intensity combat and our technology/firepower, USED APPROPRIATELY, gives us an edge. 

How to lose great leaders? Ask the Army

By Tim Kane
05 Feb 2013 

The U.S. military is one of America’s premier leadership factories. But the product it manufactures is in decline. 

Seven years ago, the number of young officers willing to recommit after their initial tours of duty dropped precipitously. Before the Iraq war, three-quarters of Army officers stayed for a career, a number that dropped to just two-thirds starting in 2006. The broken pipeline was initially blamed on the sputtering war effort in Iraq, but in fact the problem is a deep-rooted one. The Army has bled talent for decades, a consequence of a deeply dysfunctional organization that poorly matches jobs with talent and doesn’t trust its officers to make choices about their own careers. 

The solution, however, isn’t beyond reach. The next step in the evolution of the Pentagon’s leadership system should be what I call a “total volunteer force”—one that treats officers as human capital with autonomy rather than as physical capital in inventory.

Let me explain. The retention crisis, even in an era of cutbacks and sequestration, is a decades-long dilemma that the military doesn’t often talk about. The Senate investigated the “critical and delicate” problem of a military brain drain as far back as 1954, after President Eisenhower called for Congressional action. Yet after public attention flared following a 2011 survey of junior officers, retired U.S. Army general Frederick Kroesen mocked the issue in the publication ARMY, declaring that “no other profession has developed better ways to identify, develop and reward its leaders.”

There is at least one top military leader who will talk about the problem. In a farewell address to the cadets of West Point in Feb. 2011, former secretary of defense Robert Gates, admired for his service under Presidents Bush and Obama, expressed his frustration. He wondered how the Army “can break up the institutional concrete, its bureaucratic rigidity in its assignments and promotion processes, in order to retain, challenge, and inspire its best, brightest, and most-battled tested young officers?” 

We Shall Return

FEBRUARY 5, 2013 
Don't be too sure there won't be another U.S. war in the Middle East. 

Shortly before he left office in February 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets that "in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advised the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it." The remark no doubt reflected Secretary Gates's fatigue and frustration from the enormous intellectual and emotional burdens associated with overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

One suspects, however, that in a more reflective moment, Gates would have acknowledged that "never say never" is a wise rule of thumb in planning for military contingencies, especially in the region that makes up Central Command's area of responsibility. Few, for example, predicted the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Gates himself -- who was a senior CIA official during the covert war supporting the Afghan resistance -- surely did not anticipate then that the United States would have to return to Afghanistan two decades later to oust a Taliban regime that was harboring terrorists. Before 1990, moreover, no one predicted that Iraq, having just ended a bitter eight-year war with Iran, would swing its battered forces south to invade Kuwait. 

So if it's conventional wisdom that the United States will not, or should not, intervene militarily in the Middle East or South Asia after it draws down forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's also likely dead wrong. What is true, however, is that political and military trajectories in the Middle East and South Asia are likely to increasingly challenge U.S. contingency access in the coming decade. The ability for the United States to surge large-scale forces into the region, as it did in the 1990 and 2003 wars against Iraq, will grow increasingly circumscribed. The United States will have to adapt to this new strategic landscape by developing more nimble, highly-mobile, stealthy, and networked forces, and by abandoning the traditional practice of slowly and steadily building up conventional forces at regional logistic hubs prior to launching war. 

Death by Loophole

FEBRUARY 5, 2013 

Obama's legal rationale for whacking Americans is so broad you could fly a drone through it. 

"Tell me how this ends," asked General David Petraeus in 2003. He was speaking of the war in Iraq, which was born out of faulty intelligence and faultier strategic logic, and spiraled rapidly out of control. Today we know the answer to Petraeus's question: The war ended with tenuous stability for Iraq -- won at the price of some 4,500 dead Americans, an unknown but much higher number of dead Iraqis, roughly a trillion dollars in direct costs, and incalculable damage to the United States' global reputation. By 2012, two-thirds of Americans were convinced the war in Iraq hadn't been worth it. 

But Petraeus might just as well have asked his famous question of a different war -- not the war in Iraq, which he's often credited with salvaging, or even the war in Afghanistan, which he later struggled to turn around, but the covert drone war over which he presided during his brief tenure as director of the CIA. 

The drone war is a shadow war, widely reported in the media but officially unacknowledged by the CIA and the White House. Many details remain obscure, but we know that the United States has engaged in "targeted killings" in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and possibly in Mali and the Philippines as well. The killings -- most reportedly carried out by strikes from unmanned aerial vehicles -- have targeted suspected Taliban leaders and terrorists, some identified by name and some targeted as a result of a suspicious pattern of activities. Since the strikes are rarely acknowledged, no one knows precisely how many casualties our shadow war has caused, but media and NGO reports suggest that the number of deaths is somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000. 

Did we just surrender in the War on Terror?

by Chet
18 JANUARY 2013

Summary: The United States cannot fight a war against radical Islamism and win. That’s obvious, but we’re doing it anyway. Here Chet Richards looks at our Grand Strategy as described by George Friedman of Stratfor.

There are those who will tell you that if you can’t sit in on meetings of our national security apparatus, the best alternative is to read George Friedman. So his most recent column in Stratfor, “Avoiding Wars that Never End“, might be taken as a trial balloon for a less intrusive policy for dealing with the treat posed by radical Islam. Friedman proposes returning to the strategy that proved successful in the two great wars of the twentieth century: 

The United States cannot fight a war against radical Islamism and win … But the United States has the option of following U.S. strategy in the two world wars. The United States was patient, accepted risks and shifted the burden to others, and when it acted, it acted out of necessity, with clearly defined goals matched by capabilities. Waiting until there is no choice but to go to war is not isolationism. Allowing others to carry the primary risk is not disengagement. Waging wars that are finite is not irresponsible. 

Read the article. Although it seems like a welcome, if belated, exercise in 21st century realpolitik, if you read carefully, you find the same failed grand strategy that got us into our present condition: We will still be fighting an “ism,” primarily with military force. 

As Friedman himself notes, this was not our original goal:

That goal was not to deny al Qaeda the ability to operate in Afghanistan, an objective that would achieve nothing. Rather, the goal was to engage al Qaeda and disrupt its command-and-control structure as a way to degrade the group’s ability to plan and execute additional attacks. 

Every month off to intervene in another nation!

Which we accomplished in short order. Friedman reiterates the entirely valid point that our “war on terror,” even the intrusion into civil liberties, was understandable as a short-term measure to ensure that the group did not reconstitute itself. 

Realism and Realpolitik – Setting the Conditions for America’s Survival in the 21st Century

by Fabius Maximus
23 FEBRUARY 2012

Summary: Today we have a brilliant guest post by Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired) discussing America’s place in the world, and recommending what should be our grand strategy to best adapt to the inevitable changes that lie ahead in this century. It’s deserves some attention as an alternative to the dark course that we’ve chosen, one that leads to hard times for America. 

Realism and Realpolitik – Setting the Conditions for America’s Survival in the 21st Century, by Franz J. Gayl (Major, USMC, retired), thesis for the National Defense University, June 2006 — posted with permission of the author. 

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(1) The author explains why you should read this paper 

Some have referred to this thesis as dark and pessimistic. Some have even suggested it as unpatriotic. Yet, I hold that America is in decline, a natural cycle of all great empires. At the same time China and Islam, among others, have awakened and are rising. Their emergence should be viewed as their own natural cycles of ascension. 

These are measurable realities, much less in dispute today than when I wrote of them in 2006. Rather than resist we should prepare responsibly. Unfortunately, we reject such notions nationally. Our refusal is reflected in increased imperial extension that enflames outdated flash points around the world. Professions of righteousness conceal a military industrial complex pressing us on towards conflict. Examples are numerous: 
  • Our insistence on a separate military relationship with Taiwan in spite of “One China” confirmed in our agreements with China.
  • Our nation building within Islamic societies that lacks any real respect for their Islamic foundations.
  • Our encouragement of Israelis that actually abandons them to confront the possibility of a new WMD holocaust.
  • Our behavior drives adversaries to collaborate, and to neutralize rather than welcome America’s role in the future. My 2006 recommendations remain worthy of discussion; the time to modify our national behavior is running out to avoid being drawn into conflicts that we cannot win. We are accelerating the rate and severity of our decline, perhaps towards national ruin, a sad ending considering an alternative that begins a national re-ascension. 

France and U.N. plan Mali peacekeeping force

By Colum Lynch 
February 5, 2013 

The first phase of France's military offensive against Islamist insurgents in Mali will likely come to an end in the coming weeks or months, giving way to a more open-ended, nation-building exercise. It remains unclear what such a mission would look like, what it would do, and who would formally lead it. Though one thing appears all but certain: France is likely to be at the center. 

In Paris and New York, peacekeeping and military planners have been seeking to fashion a plan that could ensure long-term stability in northern towns recently captured from militant Islamists by French and Malian forces, prod Bamako to negotiate a political settlement with the country's restive Tuaregs, and ultimately lay the groundwork for national elections. 

So far, the United States, France, and Britain appear to be coalescing around a proposal to send U.N. peacekeepers to Mali to secure newly captured towns and to serve as a facilitator for future political talks. The proposal is likely to face some resistance from African powers, who will provide most of the troops for a peacekeeping mission, and who have demonstrated an increasing appetite for managing regional military and peacekeeping operations. 

But the more immediate question is about France's intention. Paris has not decided what military and peacekeeping role it will play in the future, if any. Here's a series of options reportedly under consideration: 

1. No French force remains in Mali. On the outer range of French planning, this contingency is probably the easiest option to eliminate. There are some 6,000 French nationals living in and around the capital of Bamako, and it was their fate that prodded French special forces into action in the first place. They're not likely to allow a repeat. 

2. France could leave behind a battalion of up to 800 troops or so, kit them out with blue helmets, and have them provide the backbone of a future U.N. peacekeeping mission. The benefit of this strategy is that it would encourage other European powers -- who have advanced military capability and are comfortable serving under U.N. command -- to serve alongside the French and its African partners. France has played a similar role in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. 

3. France could leave behind an independent contingent of forces under French military command. They would serve as a guarantor for a separate U.N. peacekeeping mission, which would be comprised primarily of African peacekeepers. This is similar to the role it played in Ivory Coast, where French troops played a lead role in the military campaign to force former Ivoirian leader Laurent Gbagbo from power following his election defeat. 

France's Strategy for Success in Mali

Sarwar Kashmeri
February 05, 2013 

France's military intervention is aimed at creating a stable state in Mali that is in French and EU strategic interests. What is France's strategy in Mali? LTG Jean-Paul Perruche, former director-general EU Military Staff, in conversation with Sarwar Kashmeri, senior fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and adjunct professor, Norwich University. (8 minutes) 
AUDIO (.mp3)

An Intelligence History of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War

by Steven Aftergood
February 5th, 2013 
The Central Intelligence Agency has published a series of essays on intelligence and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, to coincide with a symposium on the subject held last week at the Nixon Presidential Library. 

The publication itself (“President Nixon and the Role of Intelligence in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War”) is a welcome addition to the literature. But it also “includes some embarrassing errors,” wrote Amir Oren in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz on February 3 (“CIA report on Yom Kippur War: Israel had nuclear arsenal”). 

“For example,” Oren wrote, “in the photograph labeled ‘An Egyptian soldier holding up a portrait of President Sadat,’ the soldier in question and the two soldiers flanking him are clearly Israelis, as evidenced by the ‘IDF’ stamped visibly on their shirts.” 

“The editors of the new study also err in attributing two things to lessons from the Six-Day War: the faulty prevailing conception among Israeli Military Intelligence ‘that Israel would have at least 48 hours’ warning before an invasion’ and that Sadat wouldn’t start a war before acquiring fighter planes. Furthermore, it seems they also confused war analyst Maj. Gen. (ret.) Chaim Herzog with one of his sons, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Mike Herzog,” he added

Navy’s First 4G Network Will Head Out to Sea in March

By Spencer Ackerman

06 Feb 2013
For the first time, sailors and Marines are about to bring a 4G LTE network onto two ships, giving communications experts like Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Lakisha Johnson, above, a new means of sharing data, voice and text at sea. Photo: U.S. Navy

For the first time, a sailor or Marine on board a ship out to sea can actually use his or her cellphone for something other than setting a wake-up alarm. In late March, Danger Room has confirmed, the Navy will send the USS Kearsarge and USS San Antonio to the Persian Gulf with its brand new 4G LTE network. 

And the Navy’s already expecting uploaded flicks of pirates. It’s even passing out free Android phones. 

The network, first reported by Danger Room last year, is a microwave-based wireless wide-area network (WWAN) that will augment the satellite-based communications on board the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and the transport dock San Antonio. The final phase of testing for the system began on board both ships, off the mid-Atlantic coast, about two weeks ago and should finish by Feb. 20. (The dock landing ship Whidbey Island won’t carry the network as planned last year, Danger Room has learned.) 

Between 300 and 400 sailors and Marines who go through training on the 4G LTE network will be equipped with LG smartphones running Android. The devices will facilitate calls, text, and data transfer between ships from up to 20 nautical miles’ distance; between decks on board the ships; and, critically, to relay data between Marine helicopters and the ships below. 

Jim Langevin wants cyber talk in State of the Union address

By John Reed 
February 5, 2013 

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chair of the Congressional Cyber Caucus, just released the text of a letter he sent President Barack Obama, urging him to discuss cyber security in his State of the Union address next week. Langevin doesn't specify what he wants the president to say other than "I hope that you will take the unique opportunity afforded by your State of the Union address to galvanize both Congress and the public to demand immediate action to secure out country's cyberspace." 

Keep in mind that the White House is famously working an executive order that is believed to contain minimum IT security standards for banks, energy companies, transportation firms, and other so-called critical infrastructure providers in the wake of Congress's repeated failures to pass cyber security legislation last year. 

This comes just after a New York Times report saying that the White House has decided it can conduct preemptive cyber strikes if it thinks such actions will stave off a major cyber attack that could seriously damage the United States. Last October, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Defense Department is prepared to conduct this type of aggressive defense. 

Here's the text of Langevin's letter: 

February 5, 2013 

The Honorable Barack Obama 

President of the United States 

The White House 

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, D.C. 20500 

Dear Mr. President: 

Diplomatic Code

By Tim Maurer
05 February 2013 

Why does the Pentagon get all the cyber money? 

At his confirmation hearing, John Kerry, the new secretary of state, said that cyber threats were "the 21st century nuclear weapons equivalent." The Obama administration is certainly acting as though he's right. Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon plans to grow U.S. Cyber Command by a factor of five -- from 900 to 4,900 personnel. Apparently, cybersecurity is one of the few areas not only exempt from the current budget cuts, but one that is actually growing significantly. What's more, the New York Times revealed on Monday that, according to a secret legal review, the president has broad power to order a pre-emptive strike in case of a pending cyberattack from abroad. But as cyber warriors accumulate more funds and more authority, little has been said about the cyber diplomats, even though they are going to play a key role in shaping the future of cyberspace -- and the norms of the cyber battlefield. 

For foreign policy to be successful, diplomacy and the use of force must go hand in hand. The cyber domain is no different. Yet the State Department has far fewer staff and resources focusing on Internet policy than the Pentagon. It is difficult to nail down exactly how much funding and personnel each department has -- it depends in no small part on the definition of "cyber." (In the State Department, cyber staff range from those in the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues to those who deal with Internet freedom and governance.) However, the number of diplomats clearly pales in comparison to the number of warriors at Cybercom and other arms of the Pentagon, to say nothing of the cybersecurity elements at the Department of Homeland Security. 

What's more, list of issues requiring engagement with allies, partners, and friends, as well as conflicts to solve with less friendly countries, keeps getting longer and longer. For example, the number of international organizations trying to tackle cyber issues has exploded in recent years -- from global institutions like the U.N. Human Rights Council, the G8, the OECD, the World Trade Organization, and the U.N. General Assembly, to regional bodies such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization of American States, and one-off summits like the World Conference on International Telecommunications. The number of diplomats well versed in technology issues must keep up with this rapid expansion of attention and weight in international negotiations in order to monitor developments and seize windows of opportunities. 

Jihad's social media trend

By Aaron Y. Zelin 
February 5, 2013

From December 5, 2012 to January 29, 2013, al-Qaeda's top-tier forum Shamukh al-Islam was down (with a brief return for a few days after December 17). The suppression of the forum is likely the work of an intelligence agency, but no claim of responsibility has been announced. It has also accelerated an already growing trend: the migration of jihadi propaganda from web forums to social media. 

In response to the blackout, many jihadi groups, media outlets, and individuals created new accounts on Twitter (and to a lesser extent Facebook). Others have likely migrated to popular second-tier forums like Ansar al-Mujahidin Arabic Forum (AMAF), which occurred the last time the al-Qaeda approved forums went down in late March/early April 2012. During that period, I was in the middle of collecting and analyzing data (from February 1, 2012 to April 31, 2012) on a number of jihadi forums spanning multiple languages and Twitter accounts for a New American Foundation paper, which showed empirically for the first time that lower-tier forums did indeed fill the vacuum created by the main forum's absence. 

Both of these forum takedowns -- in March and April, as well as in December and January -- exposed the limits of al-Qaeda's official online media procedures, which are headed by its distribution network al-Fajr Media. Al-Fajr is responsible for coordinating between al-Qaeda Central (AQC), its affiliates' media outlets (As-Sahab Media for AQC, al-Malahim for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Furqan for al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and al-Andalus for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)), and the forum administrators. In both takedown cases, al-Fajr could not deliver content from the al-Qaeda affiliates, at least in an official capacity, to the online masses. 

Media outlets, groups, and ideologues that, while not expressly affiliated, are inspired by al-Qaeda's worldview have not been hindered by this process, and therefore have not evolved mechanisms for releasing their content. Previously, popular online jihadi essayists like Abu Sa'd al-Amili wrote articles when the forums when down, encouraging readers to be patient and to understand that the forums would persist and would not be defeated. On December 23, 2012, however, Abdullah Muhammad Mahmud, a writer for the jihadi news agency Dawa al-Haqq Foundation for Studies and Research, which is disseminated via a Wordpress blog, provided guidance to online jihadi activists. Mahmud told his comrades that going forward, it was legitimate to use Twitter and Facebook as sources of information for jihadi-related issues. This advice was in a sense revolutionary, as jihadis had previously emphazized the importance of the forums as a method for authenticating materials, to prevent forgeries of official group content. At the same time, though, many grassroots activists had already been active on online social media platforms for a few years on an individual basis. 

If the dissemination of official releases is no longer to be done centrally, it has the potential to make the forums obsolete, and usher in a new era whereby jihadi activists primarily rely on social media platforms to interact with one another. It could also force groups that are part of al-Fajr's distribution network to evolve and change their methods of content dissemination. There is already some evidence that this shift has started during the ongoing forum takedown. 

Look down, not up

by Ravikiran S Rao 
January 18, 2013 

A system of upward accountability is unable to answer the demands for downward accountability. 

At first glance, there is little to compare between the infamous political incident that occurred in Montana at the turn of the 20th century, when William A Clark bribed state legislators to win a seat at the United States Senate, and the infamous murder trial of Commander Kawas Nanavati in 1959. The similarity is that both incidents led to systemic changes, the former in the United States, the latter in India. Mr Clark’s act of corruption contributed to the passage of the 17th amendment to the United States Constitution, which mandated direct popular elections to the Senate. Commander Nanavati’s acquittal by a jury sympathetic to his position as a cuckold led to the abolition of jury trials in India. 

In other words, when faced with an instance of dysfunction in the system, the United States made changes that strengthened downward accountability. India, on the other hand, moved accountability upwards, from the jurors to the judges. 

The idea of a contrast between upward and downward accountability was introduced by Pratap Bhanu Mehta at the keynote address to the Takshashila GCPP workshop, where he observed that the Indian establishment was unused to the idea of downward accountability and more comfortable with upward accountability. He indicated that the Jan Lok Pal movement, being a grassroots movement, was a demand for downward accountability, while the Indian establishment is more used to a system where a superior holds a subordinate to account. 

This is an intriguing idea. Democracy, by definition, requires that the people have the ability to hold their government accountable. But democracies may differ in three ways. First, in the extent to which popular sovereignty is constrained by the constitution. Second, in how much of a role the citizens have in lawmaking, policymaking, execution of policies and administration of justice. Some democracies give their citizens voice, but leave it up to the rulers to formulate laws and policies. Third, in the extent of centralisation of powers.