15 February 2013

Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A security challenge for India

By Air Marshal Dhiraj Kukreja
14 Feb , 2013 
Issue Vol. 28.1 Jan-Mar 2013

INS Baaz Runway '23' 
India’s military build-up, particularly of its naval capabilities and naval installations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, worried ASEAN policy makers, who saw India as a potential threat to regional security. India’s relations with ASEAN however, improved in the 1990s as the result of the end of the bipolar world system and the UN-brokered peace settlement in Cambodia. For its part, New Delhi sought to boost economic and trade ties with the region and to establish closer political and defence ties in order to counteract China’s growing influence in South East Asia. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have immense strategic value and it could be used as a centre point for India’s “Look East” policy. 

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a group of islands at the junction of Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, is a Union Territory of India. The Islands comprise two groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10° N parallel, with the Andamans to the North of this latitude and Nicobar to the South. Of the 572 islands, only 37 are inhabited. 

Organised colonisation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the Europeans began in December 1755… 

Pre-Colonial Era 

Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1042), one of the Tamil Chola dynasty kings, occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to use them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Sriwijaya Empire, a Hindu-Malay empire based in Sumatra, Indonesia. The Islands also provided a temporary maritime base for Maratha ships in the 17th century. The legendary Admiral Kanhoji Angre who established naval supremacy with a base there, is credited with making the Islands a part of India. 

China incapacitating India from within...

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
14 Feb , 2013 
Courtesy: CLAWS  

Diplomacy does not imply ignoring the obvious where national security is involved. When China warned India to cease oil exploration in Vietnamese waters, there were calls that India should raise the issue of Chinese presence in POK as a counter. The latter should not have been contingent upon Chinese objection to our assisting Vietnam in oil exploration in the first place, silence being tantamount to acquiescing. The issue should have been raised long back knowing China is undertaking development projects globally through companies owned or managed by PLA, employing both veteran and serving PLA personnel. Reports of tunnels being dug by Chinese in POK and Pakistani civilians denied entry in such areas puts a question mark on the purpose of such tunnels. The issue is even more serious with Gilgit-Baltistan area reportedly being leased out by Pakistan to China for 50 years. Are these tunnels being dug to house missiles under facade of hydel projects? What is the legality of Pakistan leasing Gilgit-Baltistan to China and for that matter ceding Shaksgam to China in 1963? 

Reports of tunnels being dug by Chinese in POK and Pakistani civilians denied entry in such areas puts a question mark on the purpose of such tunnels. 

During the 5th India-China Defence and Security Consultation held in Beijing on 14 January 2013, Qi Jianguo, Deputy CGS, PLA stressed on the importance of India-China relations, hoping to establish a strategic partnership with India featuring equality, mutual trust and new-type military relations including long-term stability and friendly cooperation. If China is serious about developing such a relationship with India, what is holding us back in doing some plain talking to ascertain the seriousness or otherwise of Chinese intentions with regard to future India-China relationship? We should have learnt from the 1967 happenings at Nathu La and the 1986 Sumdurong Chu incident that resoluteness pays and is respected. 

Terrorist threat to India after Afzal Guru’s hanging

By Col. R. Hariharan 

[This is an updated summary of comments made by Col Hariharan on some of the questions raised in a TV discussion on February 11, 2013.] 

Question: After the hanging of Afzal Guru, curfew has been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir and the situation is volatile. Will there be retaliatory strikes from the terrorist groups in J and K? 

In J and K, the main terrorist threat is from Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) and its clone Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) and the Jaish e Mohammed (JeM) who have camps on the Pakistani side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). These two powerful non Kashmiri terror groups had a hand in the parliamentary attack carried out on Indian parliament in December 2001. 

Afzal Guru belonged to Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a Kashmiri outfit that was active in 1984. Guru was trained in Pak Occupied Kashmir by Pakistan army during his JKLF days. However he surrendered to the police in 1993 and settled in New Delhi after the JKLF split into Indian and POK factions. Ever since Pakistan changed track to sponsor non Kashmiri organizations like the LeT and the JeM, JKLF has been marginalized and at present its activity is mainly political. Guru was found guilty of colluding with LeT and JeM terrorists in carrying out their strikes on parliament. 

When Guru was hanged, Yasin Malik, leader of JKLF, was in Pakistan to visit his family. He along with Amanullah Khan, leader of Pak JKLF observed a one-day fast in Pakistan to express their sympathies for Guru’s death. JuD leader Hafeez Muhammad Saeed, the godfather of LeT and archpriest of 26/11 attack, also visited them to show his solidarity. Several Pak terror outfits including LeT and JeM have vowed to step up jihadi attacks in J and K to avenge Guru’s hanging. 

So there should be no doubt it would materialize sooner or later. They could use the latent feeling of frustration and anger among the youth in conjunction with popular sympathy evoked by the hanging of Guru to their advantage to carryout retaliatory attacks. I am sure security forces would have factored this aspect in their plans. 

Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned from Afghans

by Carl Forsling
February 15, 2013 

Among advisors to Afghan units, one phrase often heard is “Afghan good enough,” usually as a disparaging comment. It means, ”They’ll never be as good as Americans, but they’re good enough to get by in this country.” It is true that the ANSF will never be able to project land-, sea-, and airpower anywhere in the world. But, in the world the Afghans live in, they bring assets to the table that most American forces do not. People wishing to sound insightful about Afghanistan’s history often remark on how its fighters have made it the “graveyard of empires.” Forgotten is the fact that many of those fighters are on our side, and that there is much they can teach us. While there are wide disparities in the quality and motivation of ANSF, the best are able to achieve more with fewer resources than any Western military could. Applying that same level of resourcefulness and agility to a Western military that already has high quality equipment and training would create a remarkable force. 

In 1988, Robert Fulghum wrote a book called “Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” The simple, homespun wisdom borne of the basics we teach children was a publishing sensation at the time. Its advice, such as “Play fair” and “Don’t hit people,” is as true at age 55 as it is at 5. Of course, there are some things one needs to know that are not taught in kindergarten—driving and sex education come to mind. The book’s point is that much of what we really need to know to be successful is really just the basics that we learn early on. Just as adults forget the simple lessons of childhood in favor of the complexities of adulthood, often to their detriment, so do militaries. In our sole-superpower, globe-spanning dominance, we have lost much of our former speed, flexibility, and mental agility. Just as adults can learn from children, so Americans can learn from Afghans. Some of what makes Afghans effective are traits that Americans lost in the course of industrializing warfare. 

An Afghan commander once told my advisor team a story about two frogs. He said that Afghans are like a frog at the bottom of a well. That frog there does not know that there is anything in the world beyond the space from one side of the well to the other. Then another frog falls into the well and tells the incredulous first frog about how big the world really is. That second frog is an American. The Afghan CO meant the story as a compliment to Americans and our broad-ranging experiences. While that CO did not mention it, there is a caveat to the story in regards to the American frog. That frog brings a lot of knowledge to the table, but he does not know the inside of the well like the first frog, and if they are both going to succeed inside the well, they need to learn from each other. The Afghan already knows he has much to learn from the American. Americans are often too intellectually arrogant to admit they have several things that they can learn from Afghans. 

Hate Obama's Drone War?

FEBRUARY 14, 2013 

Blame the bleeding-heart human rights crusaders. 

Remember "sovereignty"? 

Kiss it goodbye. 

There's been much comment on the Obama administration's recently leaked Justice Department white paper on the targeted killing of U.S. citizens overseas, but most of the debate has focused on the administration's Orwellian interpretation of the term "imminence." Less remarked upon has been its equally elastic theory of sovereignty. 

In a nutshell, the U.S. legal theory of sovereignty is this: "We have it; you don't." 

Sovereignty has long been a core concept of the Westphalian international legal order. The basic idea is simple: In the international arena, all states are formally considered equal and possessed of the right to control their own internal affairs free of interference from other states. That's what we call the principle of non-intervention -- and it means, among other things, that it's generally a big international law no-no for one state to use force inside the borders of another sovereign state. 

There are some well-established exceptions, but they are few in number. A state can lawfully use force inside another sovereign state with that state's invitation or consent, or when force is authorized by the U.N. Security Council, pursuant to the U.N. Charter, or in self-defense "in the event of an armed attack." 

The Banality of Unilateral Nuclear Cuts

By Kingston Reif
Feb. 15, 2013

U.S. nuclear weapons strategy remains largely based on a confrontation with the Soviet Union that no longer exists. 

There is an emerging bipartisan and military consensus that it is time for an updated strategy and that a smaller stockpile would meet our security needs. Moreover, in this era of budget worries, further reductions could create significant cost savings that would free funding for higher priority security programs. 

As President Obama begins his second term, early indications are that he plans to make the pursuit of a comprehensive nuclear threat reduction agenda a top priority. In his State of the Union address, the commander in chief indicated that as part of this agenda, the United States “will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals.” 

A recent report by the Center for Public Integrity revealed that there appears to be consensus within the Administration and the military that the United States can reduce the size of its arsenal of deployed strategic warheads to between 1,000 and 1,100. (The New START treaty, which entered into force in February 2011, limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed warheads apiece.) 

Nevertheless, many congressional Republicans and conservative organizations are worried about the prospect of further nuclear reductions. Enter Robert Zarate, policy director at the Foreign Policy Initiative. In a February 12 opinion piece published on Battleland, Zarate warns that the President could be contemplating unilateral cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal (i.e. without Russian reciprocity), a policy choice he characterizes as “a fringe concept.” 

Looking East, first in the line of sight

By Gaurav Gogoi, Urvashi Sarkar and  Pratyush N.
February 15, 2013  

The HinduThe future of north-east India rests on relationships with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. The Jinjiram river near the Meghalaya-Bangladesh border. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar 

A prosperous Bangladesh is in India’s interest, and will benefit its north-east States

Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s upcoming visit to Bangladesh on February 16-17 is significant on several counts. 

It will be his first visit since assuming office in 2012, and comes weeks after the two countries signed an extradition treaty. While there, he is expected to chair a meeting of the India Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission and review the gamut of the relationship. 

The visit gains further significance in the light of the violence in 2012 between tribals and Muslims in Assam, which is rooted in the issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh. Bangladesh is crucial to India’s “Look East” policy as New Delhi seeks to foster closer cooperation with its neighbours to bring about economic development and prosperity in its long-neglected north-east region. Further, India’s foreign policy has a growing regional perspective, of which Bangladesh is an important component. 

The visit could also lay the groundwork for a landmark visit by President Pranab Mukherjee to Dhaka in March.

The relationship has been a priority for both the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and the Awami League government in Bangladesh, with a host of high-level visits in the past two years. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi in January 2010. Under her regime, Bangladesh has also handed over key United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants in its territory to India. 

Equipment and Force Structure Requirements to Meet External Threats 2032

By Vivek Kapur
January 18, 2013 

Event: Fellows' Seminar 

Chair: Air Marshal Anil Chopra (Retd), AVSM
External Discussants: Wg Cdr Vikram Munshi, Wg Cdr Amit Goel
Internal Discussants: Wg Cdr Ajey Lele, Cdr SS Parmar 

Major Highlights of the Paper 

This paper addresses the equipment and force structure required to meet external challenges 2032. The current paper is second in the series of four papers that Gp Capt Kapur intends to do on a project “IAF Deep Multidimensional Change 2032: Imperatives and a Roadmap.” The previous paper was “Challenges for IAF 2032.” The next two papers in the series are “Organisational Structure Optimisation,” and “Organisation and Technology Issues Related to the 2032 IAF.” The critical role of Air Power post World War-II has been well established. Indian Air Force is no exception and hence its battle readiness is of utmost interest to our military planners. The paper therefore discusses a very important element of combat readiness, i.e. equipment support and force structure. While equipment support and force structure is only one out of many aspects of combat readiness it is perhaps the most important one. 

The paper makes a comparative study of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the Chinese Air Force (PLAAF). Since PAF and PLAAF have posed serious security challenges before the country in the past and are likely to pose the same in the future, the study makes a comparative assessment of their strength and weaknesses in order to put the IAF’s requirements in perspective. The author’s projection takes into account the likely scenario of a two-front war, involving both China and Pakistan. The paper forcefully argues that numbers (Squadrons and aircrafts) even in this hi-tech age matter for engaging the enemy. This projection of requirements is also based on the estimated sortie generation capability of the three forces. Significantly, the paper shows that the Indian Air Force has an edge over the Chinese Air Force in this regard. 

Shruti and Smriti: Some Issues in the Re-emergence of Indian Traditional Knowledge

By P.K. Gautam
February 12, 2013 

“By its official designation, the Gita is called Upanishad, since it derives its main inspiration from the remarkable group of scriptures, the Upanishad.” – The Bhagavadgita.1

In a recent book review of Nagappa Gowda K’s The Bhagavadgita in the Nationalistic Discourse (Oxford University Press, 2011),2 Amiya P. Sen, Professor of Modern Indian History from the Centre for the Study of Comparative Religion and Civilisation, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, points to one of the many extraordinary developments in British India. Namely, the text’s seemingly turning self-referential – from being a smriti to a near Canonical (shruti) status. 

Scholars, pundits and sankritists have taken pains to explain the difference between shruti and smriti. The French Indologist Robert Lingat writes that Tradition (smriti) differs from Revelation (shruti) inasmuch as it is not a direct “heard” perception of the divine percept, but an indirect perception founded on memory (smriti: to remember, Latin memor). A sage remembers and transmits to men the tradition which he has gathered. In its larger sense, smriti signifies a complete portion of the sacred literature: the six Vedanagas, the epics (The Mahabharata and the Ramayana) and the Puranas.3 A. Appadorai explains that the shrutis are the source of Dharma: sacred knowledge orally transmitted by great Indian sages from generation to generation, generally taken to include the four Vedas and Upanishads.4

John Grimes and others point out that in general Hindu authors divide sacred literature into shruti and smriti. Shruti (as we have seen, literally ‘that which is heard’) is a class of Sanskrit texts that are regarded as revelation. Smriti (literally ‘recollection’) is a class of texts that are based on memory, therefore traditions. Its role has been to elaborate upon, explain, interpret, and clarify primary revelation.5 Thus it is clear that the epics, Puranas, codes of Manu, tantric treatises and the Arthasastra of Kautilya are all smritis. 

Managing India’s Missile Aspirations

By Frank O'Donnell
February 10, 2013 

The Agni-VI, to be developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), joins the Prahaar missile as the new symbols of India’s powerful strategic complex. Both missiles, however, invite questions as to the validity of India’s “credible minimum deterrence” doctrine for its emerging nuclear force. 

The Agni-VI is reported to have a range of 6,000 km, and is being designed as the first Indian ballistic missile to host multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) warheads. It will hold four to six warheads, and will be India’s largest ballistic missile yet at 20 metres long and weighing 65-70 tonnes. To give a sense of the haste of DRDO missile projects, it is the successor missile to the Agni-V, a 5,000 km range missile first tested only last April.1

There was a certain strategic rationale for developing the Agni-V: its aegis brings Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese east coast metropolises into Indian range for the first time, bringing a symmetry and perhaps stability to their bilateral nuclear deterrence. However, this same rationale made further-reaching and more destructive Indian missiles a weak proposition. With China in its entirety already in range, what further strategic targets exist that merit an Agni-VI? What are the geopolitical advantages to be gained by an Agni-VI that outweigh the tensions and uncertainty about the intentions of India’s nuclear force that the missile generates? 

The Agni-VI emerges as a product of poor political management. As new missile projects elevate DRDO prestige and create new budgetary requirements, it has every interest in initiating new missile plans regardless of a related strategic requirement. The Agni-VI was, therefore, already being sketched out by DRDO as soon as the Agni-V was first tested.2

To curtail this tendency and relate the Indian nuclear force to wider national strategic objectives, the Indian government should establish clearer directive political control over the missile activities of DRDO. When asked to comment, in October 2012, on commissioning future missiles following the Agni-V, Defence Minister A.K. Antony suggested that DRDO perfect its current missiles before initiating new missile projects.3 The DRDO has thought differently. 

Article 370 must go

By Bharat Karnad
Feb 14, 2013 

Dipping political fortunes amidst an economic downturn in the run-up to the 2014 general election and the fear of Narendra Modi galvanising the majority community with charges against the Congress Party coalition government of softness towards terrorists led to the jettisoning of considerations of votebank politics and the hanging of Afzal Guru.

Sixty-six years after Partition there’s still little recognition in the country that the problem of Kashmir is actually sustained by Article 370 of the Constitution, which accorded the erstwhile “princely state” of Kashmir a special status within the Indian Union. This article was based on the faulty premise of retaining for the state its territorial and demographic exclusivity, contravening all principles of federalism. It has kept the militancy oxygenated.

Getting rid of this mischievous provision in the Constitution — there’s nothing sacrosanct about it — will, once and for all, change the entire discourse about Kashmir. The mollycoddled Yasin Maliks and Ahmed Shah Geelanis will have the choice of abiding by the fait accompli, or availing of a one-way bus ticket to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where they can cry hoarse about Indian perfidy for all the good it will do to them. The complication is the wilful conflation of Article 370 with the interests generally of the Muslim community in India by political parties to milk electoral profit even though it drags out the Kashmir issue and hurts the nation.

It must be recalled that the offending article was only a transient political contrivance, an expedient device conjured up by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during the Constituent Assembly debates to bring the potentially dissonant politics of Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference within the nation’s fold. It is not some holy covenant to keep Kashmir forever separate and should have been discarded as soon as its utility had ended, certainly by the time the second province-wide elections were held in 1956. Nation states adhere to undertakings only so long as their interests are served. All that Article 370 does is afford the permanently disaffected minority among the Kashmiri population legal and constitutional cover for their violent dissidence.

Free Armed Forces Tribunal from MoD control

By Navdeep Singh

THE concept of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) needs redemption, and urgently so, by all stakeholders. In 2009, just about three and a half years ago, the AFT became functional with much fanfare as an “independent” forum to adjudicate matters related to defence personnel. It's 2013, but despite best efforts of the adjudicating members and those representing litigants, AFT's justice delivery system leaves much to be desired. Litigants hence cannot be blamed for lamenting at times that they were better-off having their cases heard by High Courts, the independence and majesty of which cannot be matched by the system of tribunalisation. The problems are multifarious. Let us run through some of them. 

No power to enforce its orders

The AFT is a tribunal which does not possess powers of civil contempt. Though there is mention of civil contempt in the rules and forms framed under the AFT Act, the substantive provision is missing,which shows that it was chopped from the drafting table somewhere along the way. The reason is not far to seek, even when the Bill for introduction of civil contempt powers was recently introduced and referred to the Standing Committee on Defence, the defence services themselves reportedly opposed the grant of powers of contempt to the Tribunal. 

In the Act, there is a vague mention of power of execution of orders passed by the AFT but there is no procedure prescribed for such execution. Till date the Tribunal survives on ambiguity. So if a person is not released on bail when ordered by the Tribunal or not reinstated when acquitted or not granted his or her pension when directed, there isn't much that the litigant can do. 

Since there is no power of enforcement, most orders are not implemented unless litigants re-approach the Tribunal seeking implementation. Most orders in favour of litigants are challenged by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) before the Supreme Court, thereby making it extremely difficult for defence personnel to effectively defend their cases because of the exorbitant cost of litigation involved. 

MoD’s injustice over rank pay judgement

By Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd)

The Ministry of Defence had itself accepted through affidavits and submissions before the SC that implementation of the judgement in rank and pay would involve re-fixation of not only the Fourth Pay Commission, but would affect successive pay commissions. 

ONCE again the Ministry of Defence has betrayed its soldiers. The Supreme Court judgement in the rank pay case has not been implemented in letter and spirit, making it largely redundant. The MoD has not only denied pay scale upgradation for officers but also, as a result, left out re-fixation of pensions of those who retired before January 1986 as well as consequential benefits to all officers arising out of the implementation of the fifth and sixth pay commissions. This is another case of bureaucratic manipulation against soldiers. The ministry's letter of December 27, 2012 is applicable to only about 20,000 officers who were holding the rank of Captain to Brigadier on January 1, 1986, whereas it should have covered all officers who are in receipt of pay or pension or family pension which is about 80,000.

Navy personnel outside South Block, that houses the Ministry of Defence, in New Delhi. The role played by the ministry in the functioning of the Tribunal has been challenged in courts of law, with the Supreme Court and High Courts ruling that tribunals are better placed under the Ministry of Law 

The Apex Court clearly ruled that the rank pay granted by the Fourth Pay Commission (FPC) was wrongly deducted from basic pay and ordered re-fixation of pay "with effect from" and not "as on" January 1, 1986, as mentioned in the letter. The letter states that the judgement has no bearing on fifth and sixth pay commissions, and that there shall be no change in instructions issued thereof except those necessitated due to re-fixation of pay on January 1, 1986. 

Obama's second term and India

By Inder Malhotra

Legitimate concerns in New Delhi

THERE is striking unanimity among analysts and commentators in both this country and the United States that President Barack Obama's second term would herald fresh and by no means minor difficulties in Indo-US relations. Senator John Kerry's appointment as Secretary of State, in succession to India-friendly Hillary Clinton, has already provided quite a few indications of the shape of things to come, and these cannot be to India's liking. 

For instance, the endgame in Afghanistan is almost certain to be a major problem between the most powerful and the largest democracies. Because of its determination to exit the rugged country where it has fought its longest and unfinished war, America finds it necessary to pander to Pakistan even though relations between these once "most allied allies" have sunk to a very low point, of late. This has already led to a downgrading, in America's scheme of things, of India's role in the security of Afghanistan, a traditionally friendly country where its stakes are very high. Pakistan, of course, wants this country excluded from Afghanistan altogether. Moreover, along with Britain, Pakistan is promoting a settlement between the Taliban and the Karzai government but basically on its terms. The Taliban's inclusion in the post-US Afghan government would be bad news for the region, and would add to the strains between New Delhi and Washington, as differences over Iran are doing already. 

Next to Af-Pak, China will be another source of discomfort. Not long ago, Mr. Obama had declared the shift of his country's "pivot" from India's west to East Asia (Mrs. Clinton spoke of the region as "Indo-Pacific") and promised to "rebalance" American military presence in the area. The wide world had seen this as a measure to contain China's rise and growing assertiveness, indeed aggressiveness. No one believed this more strongly than the Chinese. 

Some time later the outgoing US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, declared in Delhi that India was the "lynchpin" of the new American "pivot" in Asia-Pacific. This was clearly an exaggeration but there was a point to it. As the largest country of Asia after China and the fourth biggest economy in the world, India has a major role to play in building up a just and transparent security architecture and maintaining stability in Asia. Moreover, several of American and Indian interests do converge, even if these diverge in certain other areas. Other neighbours of China, especially Japan, South Korea and Australia, were even more supportive of the American "pivot". Now, however, all this looks like a thing of the past. 

Bangladesh War Crime Trial: The Surprise Second Verdict

By Smruti S. Pattanaik
February 12, 2013 

The verdict against Abdul Quadir Molla by the War Crime Tribunal 2, which sentenced him to life, came as a surprise to many given the graveness of his crime. The tribunal found him guilty on five counts out of six criminal charges that were pressed. Some of the cases for which he was found guilty include the massacre of innocent unarmed civilians during Bangladesh’s liberation war. Quadir Molla, who was Assistant General Secretary of Jamaat Islami, was part of the al badr and al shams, the anti-liberation forces raised by the Pakistan Army to eliminate all those who were not only freedom fighters but also their sympathizers in a systematic manner. Given Mollah’s conviction in the war crimes, the verdict was distinctly inadequate and hence it was regarded by many as ‘justice denied’ to the families of victims who have been waiting for 40 long years must have found the life sentence awarded to him as too lenient. It is not surprising that rallies and protest marches are now being held throughout the country as a reaction to that verdict in which the youth are playing a lead role. 

The long awaited war crime trial started after the Awami League assumed power in 2008. It was the civil society members led by the sector commanders’ forum – f¬ormed in 2007 by ex-Sector and sub-sector Commanders of the liberation war - who campaigned for the trial of war crimes committed during the 1971 liberation war. Awami League, which had led the liberation war, made this issue one of its agendas in the run up to the 2008 elections. Such a campaign for the trial of war criminals was the second since the restoration of democracy. Earlier, in 1992, an organization named Ekatturer Ghattak Dalal Nirmul Committee (Committee to exterminate the Killers and Collaborators) had demanded the trial of war criminals; it even held a mock trial of people accused of war crimes in gonoadalat (people’s court) and passed verdict. The then BNP government had responded to this by bringing charges of sedition against people involved in this trial. 

Both the major political parties – the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – had at that point in time provided only lip service to the cause of war crime trial since they both wanted to court the Jamaat for electoral alliance. But the situation in the country changed in 2007 with the demand from civil society for the trial of war crimes. The rising public concerns about radicalisation of Bangladesh society in the wake of the countrywide bomb blasts in 2005, which was followed by suicide terrorist attacks on the judiciary, played a role in galvanising popular opinion against right wing elements and led them to demand the long pending trial of war criminals to end the culture of impunity. 

Transformation of Tibet Issue from Hope to Despair: What Next?

By Yeshi Choedon
February 12, 2013 

Tibet has been in the news in recent years due to a series of self-immolations by Tibetans as an extreme form of protest against oppressive Chinese rule. This is not the first time that the Tibetans in Tibet have protested against Chinese rule. They have expressed their grievances whenever they saw a window of opportunity, especially since the Chinese liberalization policy of the late 1970s. Under the oppressive Chinese rule, Tibetans have been very innovative in devising mechanisms to express their grievances, such as performing ‘khora’ (pilgrimage/meditation) around the Jorkhang temple, offering special prayers every Wednesday, the procedure for cremation of bodies of those shot dead by the Chinese authorities, and so on. 

Self-immolation is the latest mode of protest adopted by the Tibetans. This is an act of desperation as there are no other viable avenues to express their grievances. This mode is not a Tibetan innovation as it has been resorted to by others before. However, unlike other cases where a single self-immolation captured international headlines and triggered major reactions, in the case of Tibet the effect has been different. Despite nearly a hundred persons having immolated themselves over the last few years, these events have passed by without much notice, let alone reaction. 

This double standard of the international community is partly to be blamed on the Tibetans themselves. They failed to think and act like a nation according to the general trend in their neighbourhood and the rest of the world. They preoccupied themselves with religion and closed themselves to outside influence. Tibetan leaders bartered away their sovereignty for protection in the garb of a patron-priest relationship with China. Tibetans allowed their martial instincts, well known in their recorded history from the seventh century onwards, to be subdued. In short, Tibetans preoccupied themselves with the next life, forsaking the ways of living this present ‘conventional’ life. 

Historical evidence suggests that Tibet as a nation had inadvertently committed major blunders, and that the people of Tibet, both inside and outside Tibet at present time, are bearing the harsh consequences of those blunders. Tibet is an ancient country with a recorded history of its existence since the seventh century. Its foundation, basic characteristics and consolidation as a distinct country took shape under the reign of 42 ingenious kings, who ruled from around 127 BC up to 842 AD. In the seventh to ninth centuries, Tibet emerged as a formidable military power in Central Asia and adopted expansionist activities towards its neighbours. The King of Nepal and the Emperor of China had to offer their daughters to the Tibetan Emperor in marriage. However, when Lang Dharma, the last of the aforementioned kings, was assassinated in 842 AD, Tibet underwent a period of turmoil and fragmented into small principalities. 

How Many Self-Immolating Tibetans Does It Take to Make a Difference?

By Ishaan Tharoor
Feb. 13, 2013

Exile Tibetan participate in a candle light vigil in solidarity with fellow Tibetans who have self-immolated, in Katmandu, Nepal, Feb. 13, 2013.

On Wednesday morning in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, a Tibetan monk drenched in gasoline appeared in front of a Buddhist stupa popular among Tibetans and set himself aflame. At the time of writing, the young man, thought to be in his early 20s, is in critical condition. According to some reports, his fiery protest marks a grim milestone: it’s the 100th such self-immolation by a Tibetan to happen since 2009 (others suggest it’s the 99th or the 101st). 

Whatever the ghastly metric, the act has become the signature tactic in recent years of Tibetans voicing their frustrations with Chinese rule. It carries a haunting moral cry no suicide bomber can match. When one downtrodden Tunisian set himself alight in December 2010, the spark of his despair and anger kindled uprisings that swept across the Arab world. Yet, 100 Tibetan self-immolations — and many deaths — later, little has changed. 

Part of the problem is where these protests occur. The overwhelming majority takes place within the borders of China, either in Tibet proper or in Tibetan areas of neighboring Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. Media access is heavily controlled and much of what we know comes from advocacy groups based outside. A white paper titled “Why Tibet Is Burning,” released last month by an institute affiliated with the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, identifies by name 98 Tibetans who carried out self-immolations in China since February 2009. Many of those choosing to set themselves on fire are young teenagers and 20-somethings. They are farmers and aspiring clerics, nomads and students. In a foreword to the study, Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Tibet’s exiles, urges Tibetans to “not to resort to drastic actions, including self-immolations, because life is precious.” But the study goes on to point the finger at Beijing: 

What Arms Race? Why Asia Isn’t Europe 1913

By Geoffrey Till
February 15, 2013

Asia is not experiencing an arms race like the one that preceded World War I -- at least not yet.

Arms races, naval or otherwise, get a bad rap. They are usually regarded as the military expression and consequence of the existing state of international relations, but they can also develop a momentum of their own, wasting money, exacerbating already tense relations between states and threatening to destabilize whole regions. Instead of reflecting policy as Clausewitz reminds us the military should do, arms racers determine it. All too often, moreover, they seem to make conflict more likely. 

In the Asia-Pacific region many media outlets and pundits fear that a naval arms race is indeed developing and lament its possible consequences. It is not hard to see why— Whether it is Malaysia’sScorpene submarines, Vietnam’s Kilos, India’s unprecedented naval building program or China’s new carrier the Liaoning and its carrier-killing ballistic missiles, naval modernization across the region is producing, if not always an overall increase in numbers, then at least substantially more impressive offensive and defensive naval capabilities. 

And all of this is coinciding with, or even produced by, rising maritime tensions in the East and South China Seas. There are more narrowly focused tensions too, with analysts especially debating the dismayingly competition between China’s “counter-intervention” strategies and capabilities, and the U.S.Air-Sea Battle construct. Vietnam’s Kilos can also be seen as a more modest version of an anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategy. These examples all suggest a worsening competition between “offensive” and “defensive”capabilities. 

But is all this really developing into a naval arms race similar in style (and potentially effect) to theDreadnought race that took place between Britain and Germany before the First World War – and even if it is, how serious might its consequences in the Asia-Pacific Region actually be? 

Ending Extreme Poverty in Our Time?

FEBRUARY 14, 2013
President Obama wants to save the world. But can he, really? 

Late in his State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama made a bold claim: "In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day. So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades." The question naturally becomes: Can we really end extreme poverty in the next two decades? Can the world collectively achieve a bare minimum standard of living embraced by every country around the globe? 

The answer, by and large, is yes. 

While some may not have seen the president's remarks coming, they are built upon ongoing discussions with the United Nations and all of its member states regarding how best to follow up on the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which run through 2015. The MDGs are broadly viewed as a success, and they represent a very rare creature in international diplomatic circles -- one in which sweeping rhetoric was actually accompanied by practical, ambitious, and very measurable goals and targets to tackle key elements of extreme poverty: including reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and reducing hunger. Not only did the world commit to some very big-ticket items in the MDGs, it committed itself to measure its progress toward these goals using hard and publicly accessible data. 

The Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000, included eight goals and some 21 targets and was agreed upon by all U.N. member states. The first goal was to halve the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day, the widely accepted mark at the time for extreme poverty. (The extreme poverty level was subsequently adjusted by the World Bank to $1.25 in 2005.) 

The Hidden Global Trade in Water

By Jenny Kehl
February 14, 2013 

In all the anguished discussion about the planet's water shortages, one often does not hear of the water traveling across oceans, locked in sacks and cartons of food. Food exports hide the significant global trade in water, which could be made transparent and reorganized to reduce water-stress and increase global food security. 

Several of the most water-scarce regions of the world are producing the most water-intensive crops - for example, water-intensive rice grown in arid parts of Australia, Mexico and the American West for export to Asia or Europe. Many of these water-intensive crops are traded in the international food market along with their water content and water consumed in the production process. The trade is now referred to as virtual water exports and constitutes a net loss of water from water-scarce regions. 

Virtual water is the amount of embedded water used to produce agricultural and industrial goods. Calculations of global water trade by the international institute for water education, UNESCO-IHE 2003 [1] estimated that 1,040 billion square meters of virtual water are traded each year at the global level. This trade could be reorganized for water-scarce regions to become virtual importers, a reversal of their current net loss, and water-rich regions to become virtual exporters. 

‘Now What?’: As France Leaves Mali, the West’s New War Strategy Shows Peril


French troops wave a French flag in Mali. Photo: French Ministry of Defense

On Friday, Feb. 8, a man wearing a military uniform motored up to a Malian army checkpoint in the ancient city of Gao, which had recently been liberated from Islamic militants that had held the arid country’s expansive north since early 2012. The rider triggered an explosive belt, killing the bomber but merely wounding a Malian soldier standing nearby. 

By the standards of suicide bombers, the Gao attack was unimpressive. But it was chilling nonetheless. It was the first suicide attack in the West African country since the beginning of the civil war last year, and an early blow in a nascent insurgency targeting Mali. 

Last Friday’s desultory blast was also a reminder of a recent military lesson. Speedy, high-tech, coalition-based military interventions, the kind increasingly favored by the U.S. after more than a decade of open-ended occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, can begin neatly and end messily — if they really end at all. 

Washington’s calculated support in Mali, including intelligence, drones, logistics and cash, enabled French, Malian and allied troops to quickly recapture northern territory from militant forces led by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, a.k.a. AQIM, the terrorist organization’s North African affiliate. A coalition victory in the main assault was a foregone conclusion. It’s the phase of the conflict after major combat that should worry U.S. officials. And that phase is beginning now. 

Military Brain Drain

FEBRUARY 13, 2013 

The Pentagon's top brass is driving away all the smart people.

In his recent book Bleeding Talent, Tim Kane joins a growing chorus of serving and former junior officers to deliver a wake-up call to today's military leadership in the face of a major drawdown. Their message: If you ignore the expectations of today's young, combat-experienced leaders as you shrink the force, your most talented officers and sergeants will exit, stage left. 

The military bureaucracy's response? "Good Riddance." 

During any military drawdown, equipment, training, force structure, and end-strength will inevitably be sacrificed. But the "crown jewel" that must be preserved in order to be able to fight and win in the years ahead is human capital. Recruiting and retaining highly talented people remains the best guarantor of success in future conflicts. No distant campaign against a wily and unpredictable enemy in the 21st century will be won without innovative and creative military leadership. And that leadership is most at risk in the coming thinning of the military's rolls. And the officer corps most of all. 

A colleague told me of a recent meeting with a roomful of senior generals in which he outlined the looming "talent drain," highlighting the prospect that the most exceptional officers will flee the force in droves over the next five years. Their response echoed the one I hear all too often from both active and retired generals: "If they want to leave the team, we'd be better off without them." 


In no business enterprise would the large-scale loss of an organization's top performers be greeted with such indifference. In fact, given the likely impact of such losses on any firm's bottom line, corporate chieftains would likely soon be looking for new jobs themselves if they dismissed their responsibility for managing their best talent. In today's competitive and uncertain environment, any company that loses its top talent will go out of business. 

But in the military, not so much.

With more people than it needs as budgets shrink, and no management redlines to alert service leaders to the loss of their best young leadership, the military simply assumes there will always be more than enough talent to go around. Managing decreasing numbers becomes more important than fighting to retain the best manpower. And a "so what" attitude among senior military leaders toward the loss of highly skilled talent is seen as acceptable, a bravado that is often encouraged by those who "stayed on the team" through previous drawdowns. After all, many of today's generals think, "As junior officers, we stayed while others left, and we've made out just fine." Plenty of talent will stay, as it always has. Why worry? 

There can be no more deadly, pernicious outlook from current or former senior leaders. It conveys a fundamentally flawed message to the military's young leaders that individuals don't count, that talent doesn't matter, and that even in the hyper-competitive world of the 21st century, in the U.S. military, "parts is parts." This outlook has the potential for deadly consequences as end-strength plunges. 

Secretary Bob Gates challenged the Army in a February 2011 speech at West Point to change in order to retain and empower the kinds of leaders it will need for the 21st century. Gates observed: "[The] greatest challenge facing your Army and my main worry [is]: How can the Army 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 battle-tested young officers to lead the service in the future?" Cadets cheered, junior officers were encouraged, and the bureaucracy changed not at all. 

Two years later, the worry described by Gates remains -- while the primary response from the military services has most often been silence and a denial of the problem. As I've noted before, and as Gates pointed out in his West Point speech, the Army (and military writ large) is competing for talent with Google -- not a 1950s widget factory. And it is going to start losing, dramatically. 

It does not have to be so. There is no reason not to listen and respond to the concerns of younger officers -- while also fully meeting the needs of the service. But you can't do it with a World War II mindset, an insular outlook, or an Industrial Age personnel system -- all of which are markedly in evidence today. And in the coming years, throwing money at the problem is not likely to be as easy as in the past. 

So what must the senior military leadership -- the service secretaries and four-star generals -- do? 

First, know your talent inventory. Make sure you can identify your performers -- the top 1, 5, and 25 percent, and subsequent percentages below. Measure your attrition against each category, and hold your personnel managers accountable for keeping as many of those in the top tiers as possible and disproportionately shedding poor performers. If the reverse happens -- if the best leave and the worst stay -- you have failed. 

Know your intellectual capital, which may not always correlate with your "top performers." Know what percentages of your officers score in the top mental categories at each rank to monitor potential loss of intellectual capital. Look for non-standard undergraduate degrees and unusual life experiences and find a way to weight those factors. 

Know your outliers. Exceptionally gifted individuals often struggle in their one-size-fits-all initial assignments, and their early ratings may reflect poor performance rather than growing pains. The best platoon leader in a brigade may not grow up to be the best four-star strategic leader. Collect every leader's SATs and GREs and analyze against who fits where on the performance curve, and fight to avoid wholesale losses of your future intellectual capital. Balance current performance against intellectual potential as you shape the force. 

Empower your personnel managers -- and hold them accountable -- to create the coming smaller force with the performance and intellectual specifications you want. Don't let the end result of who stays in fall to happenstance or whim, and don't accept marginal outcomes because it's simply too hard to individually manage top performers and sharp thinkers. Demand that managers incentivize the best to stay, and rigorously examine quality leaders who depart so you can correct the system. Don't settle for mediocrity and call it success. 

Get your field commanders into this fight. Require them to take on the mission of keeping the best on board. The best will already be doing this. Give them access to strong retention incentives -- graduate schooling, assignment overrides, broadening opportunities -- that can be decentralized to those on the cutting edge who know talent the best. Insist commanders at all levels in the field make this a top priority. 

Finally, find a way to give today's officers more of a voice in their assignments and in their lives. If there is one key generational difference between today's young officers and those of my generation (and there are many), expecting a voice in their future is the one that most stands out -- for the officer, for his or her spouse with a separate career, and for their family. One answer may be the creation of "yellow pages" to apply for assignments as Tim Kane suggests. Officers and their families want choices, not simply orders. Another is simply more humane one-on-one dialogue between human resources directors and individual officers. During a rapid drawdown, the human resources impetus is to "dump" officers, and no one is held accountable for the ensuing quality drain as many of the best exit. That meat-ax approach to management has to end if the military is to retain critical talent in this drawdown as a hedge against a very dangerous world. 

It's time to listen to Kane and Gates -- they have it mostly right. Senior service leaders must take a harder look at themselves in the mirror when defending a 60-year old personnel system. It is 2013, not the Mad Men era of 1963. And sustaining the military preeminence of the United States starts with a uniquely American ideal -- cultivating the best and brightest, so they can lead the force into a dangerous future. It should be the first priority of today's senior military leaders, not their last. 

Lt. Gen. David Barno (ret.) was commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005 and is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

The Decline of America

By Victor Davis Hanson
14, 2013

Why do once-successful societies ossify and decline? 

Hundreds of reasons have been adduced for the fall of Rome and the end of the Old Regime in 18th-century France. Reasons run from inflation and excessive spending to resource depletion and enemy invasion, when historians attempt to understand the sudden collapse of the Mycenaeans, the Aztecs, and, apparently, the modern Greeks. In literature from Catullus to Edward Gibbon, wealth and leisure — and who gets the most of both — more often than poverty and exhaustion, cause civilization to implode. 

One recurring theme seems consistent in Athenian literature on the eve of the city’s takeover by Macedon: social squabbling over slicing up a shrinking pie. Athenian speeches from that era make frequent reference to lawsuits over property and inheritance, evading taxes, and fudging eligibility for the dole. After the end of the Roman Republic, reactionary Latin literature — from the likes of Juvenal, Petronius, Suetonius, and Tacitus — pointed to “bread and circuses,” as well as excessive wealth, corruption, and top-heavy government. 

For Gibbon and later French scholars, “Byzantine” became a pejorative description of a top-heavy Greek bureaucracy that could not tax enough vanishing producers to sustain a growing number of bureaucrats. In antiquity, inflating the currency by turning out cheap bronze coins was often the favored way to pay off public debts, while the law became fluid to address popular demands rather than to protect time-honored justice. 

After the end of World War II, most of today’s powerhouses — China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and Taiwan — were either in ruins or still pre-industrial. Only the United States and Great Britain had sophisticated economies that survived the destruction of the war. Both were poised to resupply a devastated world with new ships, cars, machinery, and communications. 

In comparison with those of Frankfurt, the factories of 1945 Liverpool had survived mostly intact. Yet Britain missed out on the postwar German economic miracles, in part because after the deprivations of the war, the war-weary British turned to class warfare and nationalized their main industries, which soon became uncompetitive. 

Whales, Elephants and Hawks

By James R. Holmes
February 14, 2013

We wrapped up seminars for the Strategy & War Course this week at the U.S. Naval War College. The Naval Diplomat always gets a little weepy when another crew of disciplined, purposeful students moves on to one of the other core courses or graduates into post-Naval War College life. (Tell no one.) During the last week of the course we look ahead for the first time, applying insights from the great strategic theorists as well as findings from the historical case studies to current and prospective controversies—contingencies in which our graduates will take a direct hand as they ascend the ranks of the military services and other federal agencies. 

We also return to the marine realm for the first time since we studied World War II in the Pacific in early January. That navies have taken a back seat to armies and air forces since World War II—in hot wars, at any rate—is an interesting finding in itself. Leyte Gulf, in late 1944, was history’s last major fleet battle. To date. 

Maritime conflicts often pit “whales” against “elephants.” A whale is predominantly a sea power. Whales encountered during our grand tour of military history include classical Athens, Great Britain in the age of Pax Britannica, and the United States since the naval buildup of the 1880s. An elephant is a continental power. Classical Sparta, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union were elephants. To win in such an asymmetric conflagration, one antagonist has to get at the other in its element. Whales try to overcome elephants in the terrestrial arena, and vice versa. Sparta borrowed a whale, in the form of the Persian navy. Britain made a habit of renting elephants for land warfare on the European continent in the 18th and 19th centuries. Few powers can straddle the land-sea divide. 

A Stampede of Hysterics

FEBRUARY 14, 2013 

America's generals are just as morally bankrupt as Congress.

I read two critically important reports this week on the impact that sequestration would have on national defense. That possible reduction in military spending -- $48 billion, or 7.4 percent of the $645 billion currently appropriated for fiscal year 2013 -- is being characterized by the stampede of hysterics who run the Pentagon as the virtual end of national security as we know it. What these two reports show is that we should now consider the Pentagon as morally and mentally broken as Congress. 

The first report, by Chuck Spinney, who spent a few decades inside the Department of Defense evaluating budgets, weapons, and bureaucratic behavior, was published at Counterpunch and Time's Battleland blog. The second was a Congressional Research Service report by Amy Belasco, who has spent the last few decades at CRS and the Congressional Budget Office parsing defense budgets and their implications. 

Both authors indirectly address the testimony this week of the deputy secretary of defense and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff at the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. To a man, they lent all the rhetorical and substantive support they could muster to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's depiction of sequestration as "doomsday" and to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey's description of it as an "unprecedented crisis" -- a characterization he augmented by adding that he was "jumping up and down." He truly was.