3 March 2013

Indian Army: Enhancing Night Capability

By Raveen Janu
03 Mar , 2013 

Across its spectrum, future conflict will occur in a continuous 24 hour engagement cycle to enable a Force to maintain the tempo of operations. An essential component of progressing operations in such a manner is the ability of troops to operate by night. While the substantial increase in defence budget allocation in the past decade is heartening, capital acquisitions have been of particularly big ticket items. Little progress has however been made in equipping the army with the wherewithal to fight by night, which could impact on force effectiveness. 

What the Army has are limited second generation devices which at times are more of a hindrance than an asset and too few third generation NVDs. Pakistan, on the other hand, has got a range of third generation devices… 

The Army’s current night fighting capability is limited. What the Army needs is “third generation” night vision devices (NVDs) for soldiers, night sights for rifles and night vision equipment for armoured and mechanised formations. What the Army has are limited second generation devices which at times are more of a hindrance than an asset and too few third generation NVDs. Pakistan, on the other hand, has got a range of third generation devices from the US under the ‘War on Terror’ pact. China too has operationalised its entire tank and mechanised fleet for night fighting and possesses significantly higher night capability in the other arms too. Limited night fighting capability decreases force effectiveness and leads to reduced deterrence, thus providing a window of opportunity to hostile powers to increased chances of misadventure from either country. 

The ability to design and develop or procure NVDs for the Indian Army is not as complex as other huge modernisation programmes undertaken by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Although not as complex as a fighter plane or submarine, the NVDs are crucial to India’s security as they provide the ability to fight at night and other conditions of reduced visibility. Most advanced armies of the world have third generation NVDs as their core equipment complimented by earlier generation equipment. Fourth generation equipment is already in the test and field trial phases. According to Lt Gen PC Katoch (Retd), former Director-General (Information Systems), the four important performance parameters of any NVD are its sound-noise ratio (SNR), resolution/clarity, modular transfer function and lifetime. “SNR is by far the most important parameter for an image intensifier tube [II tube],” said Katoch. An II tube constitutes 70 per cent of the cost of the device. A comparative analysis between 2nd generation (Indian Army) and 3rd generation on the main four parameters of NVDs reveals the gap in our defence preparedness vis-à-vis other nations. 

Special Forces in India

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
02 Mar , 2013 

Hunting Terrorists 

Historically, Indian Special Forces have been used for direct action type of roles during conventional wars. The hierarchal understanding of trans-border employment of Special Forces in India is short distanced physical or direct type of actions executed on a unit/sub-unit basis to achieve battlefield victories. There is no concept of them being used abroad other than in conventional war. While Special Forces should be central to asymmetric response including against irregular forces, asymmetric warfare does not automatically equate to a physical attack. A physical attack is only the extreme and potentially most dangerous expression of asymmetric warfare. The key lies in achieving strategic objectives through application of modest resources with the essential psychological element. 

Indian history is replete with examples of special missions – from the Cholas to the Mauryas, from Shivaji to Rana Pratap and Maharaja Ranjit Singh and many others. In the aftermath of the Chinese aggression of 1962, independent India saw the advent of the Special Forces with establishment of the Special Frontier Force (SFF) amply covered in the media including during the 1971 Indo-Pak War and the conflict in Kargil in 1999 . In the Army, the initiative of raising a commando unit was taken in 1965 by Major Megh Singh with the blessings of the then Western Army Commander. 

Recently, the Naresh Chandra Committee recommended the establishment of a Special Forces Command… 

Over the years, a host of Special Forces have come up in India. Special Forces get mentioned periodically as part of counter-insurgency/counter-terrorist operations or events such as the United States Special Forces (USSF) raid that killed Osama-bin-Laden; but little has happened in India to optimise their potential in furtherance of national security objectives. Recently, the Naresh Chandra Committee recommended the establishment of a Special Forces Command. 

Six Reasons for India to Look East

By Vikram Nehru
FEBRUARY 26, 2013 


As its economy decelerates, India has a golden opportunity to look east and sustain high growth rates for years to come.

India’s recent economic deceleration highlights a simple truth: the reforms of the 1990s are no longer enough. While the current slowdown is partially cyclical, growth is unlikely to return to above 8 percent per year without further reform. But India also has a golden opportunity to “look east” and sustain high growth rates for years to come. 

The reform agenda is long and well understood—India needs to reform its trade, infrastructure, education, and labor markets. What is needed now is the will to act. Perhaps the sense of urgency among Indian policymakers would be heightened if they had a greater appreciation of the new, significant opportunities in East Asia that will boost India’s growth. 

The long-term benefits of capturing these opportunities cannot be overestimated. Further economic reforms remain essential for India, but they must be implemented with an eye toward the east. India needs to hitch its wagon to East Asia’s growth engine.

There are six reasons—three economic and three geopolitical—for India to look and act east.

First, the combination of rising real wages and an appreciating real exchange rate in China creates an opening for India’s labor-intensive industries. These trends are a natural upshot of China’s rapid development and technological upgrading, and they will encourage the migration of labor-intensive industries to labor-surplus countries. 

Because of their close proximity to China, mainland Southeast Asian economies—Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia—will likely be the early beneficiaries. But India could also profit, provided it can improve its infrastructure, especially along its east coast. India’s large domestic market, industrial depth, urban centers, and sophisticated financial services are comparable to China’s in the 1990s. 

Second, the coming wave of liberalization in the services trade in East Asia gives India’s strong services sector a chance to get ahead. Just as trade in manufactures drove growth in East Asia over the last three decades, trade in services is likely to drive growth in the next three. Services are relatively underdeveloped in virtually all East Asian countries and account for a small proportion of trade. 

But services account for over a third of Indian exports, and access to the large markets of East Asia could give this sector a further boost. Markets in the region are gradually opening. China and the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have a trade-in-services agreement, and India recently negotiated a similar deal with ASEAN. 

What happened to the Rs 94K cr that Indian NGOs received over 17 years?

By Sanjeev Nayyar 
29 Feb 2012

It is time the government woke up to the risks that uncontrolled foreign monies flowing to Indian NGOs pose to India's economic progress, social cohesion and national integrity.

PM wakes up to dollar driven NGO threat, screamed a newspaper headline. The government has cancelled licenses of three such organisations for diversion of funds to fuel anti-nuclear protests in India.

This decision has once again put the spotlight on foreign funding of NGOs. A close perusal of the FCRA Report published by the home ministry reveals billions of dollars received by NGOs in India.

Before analysing the latest FCRA report a bit about the regulatory framework for NGOs to receive foreign money.

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act was passed in 1976. It was repealed and FCRA 2010 was passed along with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules 2011. Both became effective from May 1 2011.

They seek to regulate the receipt of funds by NGOs. The FCRA is managed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Any organisation that wants to receive contributions from abroad has to apply and get approval from the home ministry. All remittances are received into a single bank account of a scheduled bank or through such branches as may be specified.

If an NGO, whether registered or not, receives a contribution in excess of Rs 1 cr (rs 10 million) during a period of 30 days, the bank has to report this to the central government within 30 days of the date of such last transaction.

The NGO has to annually submit audited receipts, payments account, balance sheet etc to the ministry. The MHA scrutinises the returns to ensure that contributions received for a particular purpose are used for that purpose only. It does a detailed check of randomly picked associations and collates the data received to present the FCRA Annual Report [uploaded on http://mha.nic.in/fcra.htm].

The associations could be religious, social, educational, cultural or educational organisations. MHA wants to ensure that foreign contributions are utilized for bona fide activities and do not compromise national security.

The FCRA report for the year ended 31st March 2010 was published on 11th January 2012 i.e. 21 months after year end.

India’s pro-Obama government may be on its last legs

By Ramtanu Maitra 
01 Mar 2013 

A series of money scams, high inflation, a significant slowdown of India's much-touted economic growth, and currying favor with the globalization crowd at the expense of India's vast majority of poor, have brought the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to its knees. With a year to go before the next general elections, the government has very few straws to grasp at right now. The Alliance, if it can hold itself together until the death knell tolls, has really no possibility of getting back into power. 

It should be noted that during the last general election in 2009, people did not give a mandate to any party, but the Alliance somehow managed to survive because the opposition to it was unimaginative and equally incompetent, if not reeking with corruption. 

An Alternative?

This time around, some people in India have begun to assert that indeed an alternative does exist, in the person of a state leader, Narendra Modi, who is also a leader of the only other national party of note in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Modi, who was elected for the third time in the state of Gujarat, is not a household name across the country, although many have heard of his successes as chief minister in Gujarat. Modi's efforts for development and his ability to keep his stable clean have drawn attention and pose a challenge to the inept and increasingly dysfunctional UPA. 

Gujarat today is considered a good example of what can be achieved under solid leadership that is not in power simply to facilitate favors to one coterie or another. Gujarat is surely the most desired target in India for investors - manufacturers in particular. 

A senior Indian commentator in a recent website posting pointed out that Modi has strong support from the young. "He is not a complainer. He does things exactly as the young do. Modi is like an entrepreneur who knows how to squeeze the best out of the system. Modi is a wealth-creator, precisely what the young seek, and the Gujarat chief minister, unlike Manmohan Singh and other World Bank/IMF economists" who are in power in Delhi "is at home with the Indian model." He comes across as an outsider to New Delhi politics and India is tired of insiders who have come to be represented by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in the main, the commentator added. 

Hagel must set the record straight on India soonest

By Raj Chengappa 
03 Mar 2013

The bombing of Kabul had just begun when I undertook the arduous but exciting journey in October 2001 to cover the Afghan war that would result in the Taliban regime being overthrown by a combination of decisive air strikes by the US-led coalition forces and a ground attack by an array of rebel Afghan forces.

With great difficulty we were able to enter Afghanistan by driving from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to the Afghan border town Khwaja Bahawudin. We had to cross the Amu Darya by boat at night to avoid sniper fire from the Taliban stationed in the surrounding hills.

Among the many memorable meetings I had there was a meal with Attiqullah Baryalai, then a top military commander of the Northern Alliance forces, at his makeshift HQ overlooking the Amu Darya. Over a sumptuous meal that included dal imported from India, Baryalai told us presciently, “The US, like all other invading armies of the past, should remember that it is easy to get into Afghanistan but very difficult to get out. Every army that comes here gets sucked into the vortex.” 

I remembered Baryalai’s words when last week there was a controversy over the remarks made by Chuck Hagel, the new US Defence Secretary, about India’s role in Afghanistan when he was a professor in a university in 2011. Hagel had then told an innocuous gathering at Oklahoma University, “India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan in Afghanistan.” Concerned that Hagel may still subscribe to such a jaundiced view of India’s activities in Afghanistan, the Ministry of External Affairs registered a strong protest.

The US Defence Department did make the right noises and the matter seems to have been sorted out. But doubts linger about a possible US tilt towards Pakistan as Hagel gets down to fulfilling President Barack Obama’s promise to his nation to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in 2014. 

The situation in Afghanistan is far from stable and the stakes for India remain high. The last thing India would want is that after the exit of US forces, Pakistan uses Afghanistan as its strategic backyard and ensures that the obscurantist Taliban that had the backing of Islamabad prior to the 2001 Afghan war returns to power again.

Post the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban and the installation of a democratic Afghan government led by Hamid Karzai, India has played its diplomatic cards brilliantly. While the US forces got embroiled in Afghan’s internal affairs, as Baryalai had predicted they would, India focused on providing aid to rebuild Afghanistan. It included building critical road links, assisting power generation and setting up health and educational institutions.

‘Partition of Punjab could have been averted’

Aditi Tandon talks to Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed, Emeritus Professor, Stockholm University 

Emeritus Professor at Stockholm University, Ishtiaq Ahmed was born in Lahore in 1947 and educated at Forman Christian College and University of the Punjab. He took his PhD in political science from Stockholm University after defending his dissertation, “The Concept of an Islamic State: The Ideological Controversy in Pakistan”, in 1985. Honorary Senior Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, Prof Ahmed is in news for his major recent inquiry into the Partition of Punjab, titled “The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First Person Accounts”. He was in Delhi last week for a seminar. Excerpts 

Much has been written on the horrors of the Partition. What led you to revisit the subject? 

As a child I would hear gory tales of murders from my mother. I grew up in Lahore wondering where those Hindus and Sikhs would be who once inhabited these streets. The theory of Islamic state as the root of Partition did not convince me. I decided to launch my own inquiry. 

What is the argument of your work? 

The Partition of India was necessary, but not a sufficient basis for the partition of the Punjab. In other words, had India not been partitioned, the Punjab would not have been partitioned. The puzzle is why the three major communities of Punjab — Muslims who formed the majority with 53 per cent population and Hindus and Sikhs who made up 30 per cent and 14 per cent of the population, respectively — not agree to keep their province united despite a rich history of pluralistic culture? The book offers answers to this question. 

How is the work different from the existing literature on the Partition? 

For the first time, I have developed a theory of ethnic cleansing and said the first case of ethnic cleansing after World War II took place in Punjab. The Punjab partition could have been averted if Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs shared a Punjabi cultural identity that transcended their religious identities. Instead, the religious factor became the basis of politically relevant ethnicity in Punjab. By the end of 1947, all traces of Muslim presence in Indian East Punjab (except in Malerkotla) and all traces of Hindu and Sikh presence from Pakistani West Punjab had been wiped out. In Punjab alone, five to eight lakh people lost their lives and 10 million crossed over. 

Support Process Over Personalities in Pakistan

By Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia
February 2013 

Pakistan's leadership transitions over the course of 2013 will complicate, perhaps even disrupt, the already tenuous U.S.-Pakistan relationship. As in the past, Washington may be tempted to lend support to Pakistani leaders with "pro-American" leanings. U.S. officials should resist these temptations. The United States should cast its weight behind Pakistan's constitutional, rule-based process of leadership transition. 

By actively encouraging Pakistan's leaders to stick to their own rules (while otherwise standing above the political fray), the United States would improve prospects for an orderly transfer of power that would contribute to Pakistan's overall stability. Pakistani leaders who emerge from such a process may not be especially friendly to Washington, but they will at least be open to businesslike cooperation on matters of greatest U.S. concern. 

Tumultuous Politics Create Near-Term Challenges

Pakistan's most powerful institutions face leadership changes in 2013. National assembly elections are expected in late spring 2013, and the opposition is favored to win. Victorious parties should form a government by summer, but the politicking will not end there. An indirect presidential election follows in September, the army chief's term ends in November, and in December the Supreme Court chief justice will reach mandatory retirement age. 

All of these changes will distract Pakistan's leadership from external affairs and limit prospects for near-term bilateral cooperation. U.S. officials should give careful thought to how their actions might influence Pakistan's political environment. Counterterror operations could be particularly disruptive during the election season. U.S. drone strikes and other covert activities on Pakistani soil are broadly unpopular; if conducted in the midst of campaigning they would help mobilize support for candidates with particularly anti-American platforms and tip the balance in the next national assembly. U.S. targeting decisions throughout 2013 should give greater weight to the political costs of drone strikes as compared to their tactical benefits. Once Pakistan's sitting assembly is replaced by a caretaker government (for the two months before election day), the United States should suspend drone strikes, making exceptions only for Ayman al-Zawahiri and plotters of imminent terrorist attacks. 

The Path to Political Stability

Given its size, location, and nuclear arsenal, the United States has a strong interest in Pakistan's political stability. A civilian democratic order should improve Pakistan's prospects for stability over the long run, but for now it remains a messy work in progress. Orderly transfers of power and on-time retirements cannot be taken for granted in a country with a long history of election rigging and military interference. Since 2007, Pakistan's activist chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has been an unpredictable factor. With violence in many parts of the country, political turmoil could fuel wider conflict. If Pakistan's political actors stick to the rules in 2013—win or lose—it would be a triumph for national stability. 

A Sadly Simplistic Afghan Debate

By Robert W. Merry  
March 1, 2013 

AS THE debate over America’s Afghan troop withdrawal grinds on, it’s time to consider the lesson of Richard Nixon, whose Watergate abasement obscures the reality that he has more to teach us on such matters than is generally recognized. The country could use some of Nixon’s strategic acumen these days. 

This is reflected in the foreign-policy discourse unfolding in response to the Obama administration’s plans to speed up its exit from Afghanistan. It’s essentially a binary debate, simplistic in its terms. Neither President Obama nor his critics look good in this face-off. 

The discussion is focused on the simple question of how many troops should be brought home from that troubled land—and when. Obama, seeing little hope of a traditional military victory, wants them out as quickly as he can get them home smoothly and without serious harm to them in the process. His critics argue that this represents a military capitulation, foregoing a victory that would be achievable if the president had sufficient fortitude. 

In such narrow terms, Obama has an edge in political and policy logic. But the problem is that he hasn’t spelled out how he plans to execute the withdrawal in a purposeful fashion or how the exit would fit into a broader strategic framework. 

True, the country is war-weary. Its volunteer troops are stretched beyond their psychological limit. The public fisc is a mess, in part because of war costs. Strains in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship have reached dangerous proportions. The civilizational tensions between Islam and the West have been heightened by America’s continued presence on Islamic soil. And there’s no reason to believe that Al Qaeda, which precipitated the war with its 9/11 attacks on America, now figures appreciably in the outcome of this war one way or the other. 

Thus, Obama is wise to deflect opponents who can’t accept that these realities negate prospects of the victory they foresee if the U.S. military effort were sufficiently robust and long lasting. As neoconservative commentator Gary Schmitt wrote in the Weekly Standard, “In short, the insurgent cancer was going into remission but the White House, irrationally, wants to stop treatment.” But for Schmitt and his allies, there never seems to be any discernible turn of events that could end the treatment. Since the aim is to defeat and subdue Afghanistan’s Taliban—and since the Taliban is an indigenous element of Afghan society that is never going away—the neocon approach leads inexorably to endless war. 

That’s why Obama’s exit strategy, along the lines of his carefully calibrated military exit from Iraq, is necessary. 

Afghan Peace Process Roadmap to 2015: Internal Security Nightmare for India?

By Monish Gulati 

A four page document titled the ‘Peace Process Roadmap to 2015’ seems to be scripting events and future developments in AfPak. Reportedly drafted by the Afghan President Karzai and his inner circle, the document’s western ‘tone and tenor’ has led some analyst to suspect a foreign linkage. The ‘roadmap to 2015’ on the letter head of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) and datelined Nov 2012 enumerates a five step process; each step with its objectives and superimposed on a timeline. 

The plan was presented to Pakistan and the US during visits in Nov 2012 by the HPC Chairman Salauddin Rabbani. The roadmap 2015 is not without its grey areas, and opens itself to varying interpretations and implications.The Afghan peace process envisions that “by 2015, Taliban and other armed groups will have given up armed opposition, transformed from military entities into political parties…and participated in national elections.” And more significantly “NATO/ISAF forces will have departed from Afghanistan, leaving the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) as the only legitimate armed forces…” The roadmap, however, seeks to preserve Afghanistan as a parliamentary democracy, denying the militants the Islamic rule. 

The first step of the process includes an end to cross-border shelling, the transfer of Taliban prisonersby Pakistan to Afghanistan or a third country, and pressure on the Taliban to sever ties with al-Qaeda. Step two (slotted for the first half of 2013) includes amongst other issues, agreement on the terms of direct peace talks. The third step slated for the second half of 2013, envisages a ceasefire. Recent events indicate that the first step of the roadmap has largely been implemented despite glitches such as the Taliban’s refusal to talk directly to the Karzai government, seek changes to the Afghan constitution and insistence on withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan. 

A key factor in the peace process has been how the US has ‘reconciled’ its objectives in AfPak. US now believes that the reason it is in Afghanistan is al-Qaeda; an objective that has either been met or is on the verge of being met substantially. The success of the drone campaign and killing of Osama bin Laden are supportive of the notion. The nation building efforts in Afghanistan and the conflict with the Taliban were only means to an end- eliminating al-Qaeda in the region, which paradoxically was mainly in Pakistan. Hence, further engagement of Taliban or nation building are not worthy of more efforts .The primary US national security interests in the region are (and have been) to quell terrorism against the US and this will determine its future posture in the region including exercising a ‘zero option’ on residual force levels in Afghanistan post 2014. The ‘zero option’ incidentally is viewed by some analysts as supportive of the ‘Roadmap to 2015’ as it addresses a key Taliban demand. 

China Is Not Imperial Germany

By Joseph Nye
February 27, 2013

Throughout history, the rise of a new power has been attended by uncertainty and anxieties. Often, though not always, violent conflict has followed. As Thucydides explained, the real roots of the Peloponnesian war in which the ancient Greek system tore itself apart, were the rise in the power of Athens and the fear it created in Sparta. The rise in the economic and military power of China, the world's most populous country, will be one of the two or three most important questions for world stability in this century, and some think that conflict with the US is inevitable. But it is a mistake to allow historical analogies determine our thinking, Instead, we should be asking how China and the US can create a new great power relationship. 

Many analysts also compare the rise of China to that of Germany at the beginning of the last century. The rise in the power of Germany and the fear it created in Britain was one of the causes of World War I in which the European system tore itself apart. This year China's economy will grow by nearly 7 to 8 per cent and its defense spending will grow even more. Chinese leaders have spoken of China's "peaceful development, " but analysts like John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago have flatly proclaimed that China cannot rise peacefully, and predicted that "the United States and China are likely to engage in an intense security competition with considerable potential for war."

Who is right? We will not know for some time, but the debaters should recall both halves of Thucydides' trenchant analysis. War was caused not merely by the rise of one power, but by the fear it engendered in another. The belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes. Each side, believing it will end up at war with the other, makes reasonable military preparations, which then are read by the other side as confirmation of its worst fears. In a perverse transnational alliance, hawks in each country cite the others' statements as clear evidence. One way to make East Asia and the world safer is to avoid such exaggerated fears and self-fulfilling prophecies. 

Moreover, while China has impressive power resources, one should be skeptical about projections based solely on current growth rates, political rhetoric, military contingency plans, and flawed historical analogies. It is important to remember that by 1900, Germany had surpassed Britain in industrial power, and the Kaiser was pursuing an adventurous, globally oriented foreign policy that was bound to bring about a clash with other great powers. In contrast, China still lags far behind the United States, and has focused its policies primarily on its region and on its economic development. 

China has a long way to go to equal the power resources of the United States, and still faces many obstacles to its development. At the beginning of the 21st century, the American economy was about twice the size of China's in purchasing power parity, and more than three times as large at official exchange rates. All such comparisons and projections are somewhat arbitrary. Even if Chinese GDP passes that of the United States in the next decade, the two economies would be equivalent in size, but not equal in composition. China would still have a vast underdeveloped countryside, and it will begin to face demographic problems from the delayed effects of the one child per couple policy it enforced in the 20th century. Moreover, as countries develop, there is a tendency for growth rates to slow. China would not equal the United States in per capita income until sometime in the second half of the century, if then. 

The Arc of Chinese Strategy

By James R. Holmes 
March 1, 2013 

Almost twelve years have elapsed since a four-engine U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance plane rammed a PLA Air Force fighter heroically patrolling the South China Sea. The American air pirates had to take refuge following their foul misdeed, making an emergency landing on Hainan Island. 

Or at least that's how Chinese officialdom portrayed the incident. Next ensued a protracted diplomatic back-and-forth between Beijing and Washington. Chinese officials demanded an apology while Bush administration officials tried to conciliate China without conceding the absurd claim that a lumbering propeller-driven aircraft had struck down a nimble jet fighter. As so often happens in diplomacy, the product of all the wrangling was an ambiguously worded non-apology that let both contestants insist they had had the better of the exchange. 

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy professor Alan Wachman had a brilliant take on the affair. Writing in the Boston Globe, he likened the encounter to British emissary Lord Macartney's refusal to kowtow to the Qianlong emperor in 1793. Similarly, Communist China's leadership "sought a verbal kowtow" in hopes of showing its populace the respect China commanded among the international community. Washington demurred. Wachman concluded that both Chinese and U.S. leaders talked themselves into believing they had "bested their adversary," while overlooking the elemental differences that produced the quixotic-seeming clash. 

Indeed. The EP-3 incident offered a foretaste of what the coming decade-plus would bring. A midair collision, a minor thing in itself, precipitated the diplomatic ruckus. Its fundamental cause was China's desire to fix the principle that it could rewrite the rules of the international order in the China seas and the skies above. 

Beijing has long chafed at surveillance flights, military surveys, and other routine operations carried on in international waters and skies. Such activities are explicitly permitted by treaty and embedded in longstanding custom. By publicly forcing the world's preeminent power to kowtow on freedom of navigation, Beijing believed it could abridge certain liberties to its benefit. Who would stand up for the existing order if not America, its chief founder and guardian? 

Lee Kuan Yew, Grand Master of Asia

By Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill 
March 1, 2013 

On his desk in the Oval Office, President John F. Kennedy kept a small plaque that reminded him of the vicissitudes of life, even for the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. It read: “Oh God, my boat is so small and thy ocean so large.” In the turbulent sea in which statesmen, corporate leaders, investors, and the rest of us are trying to get our bearings in international affairs today, where can one find wise coordinates? 

In thinking about the rise of China, the stumbling of the United States, the potential of India, or the claim that the twenty-first century will belong to Asia, whom should we look to for insight about this uncertain future? Among the seven billion inhabitants of planet Earth today, only one has created a modern Asian city-state whose six million citizens now enjoy higher levels of income than Americans. Only one individual has been called “mentor” by Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who initiated China's march to the market, and its new leader Xi Jinping. Only one individual has been called upon for counsel about these developments by every U.S. president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. That individual is Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore. 

Over the past 18 months, we have been privileged to engage Lee Kuan Yew in a series of interviews and conversations about these issues. Having listened, reviewed what he has written and said in other settings, and then returned to follow up, we have been able to drill down in ways that capture many of his most penetrating strategic insights. 

As they have embraced the magic of Adam Smith’s marketplace, Asian economies have grown at unprecedented rates. In a nation of 1.3 billion, China has raised more than 600 million people out of conditions of abject poverty and created a rapidly expanding middle class already larger than the entire population of the United States. On its current trajectory, for the first time in history, millions of individuals will experience a one-hundred-fold increase in their standard of living in a single lifetime. In Europe, that took one thousand years. 

China’s Central Asia Problem

Asia Report N°244
27 Feb 2013 


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, China and its Central Asian neighbours have developed a close relationship, initially economic but increasingly also political and security. Energy, precious metals, and other natural resources flow into China from the region. Investment flows the other way, as China builds pipelines, power lines and transport networks linking Central Asia to its north-western province, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Cheap consumer goods from the province have flooded Central Asian markets. Regional elites and governments receive generous funding from Beijing, discreet diplomatic support if Russia becomes too demanding and warm expressions of solidarity at a time when much of the international community questions the region’s long-term stability. China’s influence and visibility is growing rapidly. It is already the dominant economic force in the region and within the next few years could well become the pre-eminent external power there, overshadowing the U.S. and Russia. 

Beijing’s primary concern is the security and development of its Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which shares 2,800km of borders with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The core of its strategy seems to be creation of close ties between Xinjiang and Central Asia, with the aim of reinforcing both economic development and political stability. This in turn will, it is hoped, insulate Xinjiang and its neighbours from any negative consequences of NATO’s 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan. The problem is that large parts of Central Asia look more insecure and unstable by the year. Corruption is endemic, criminalisation of the political establishment widespread, social services in dramatic decline and security forces weak. The governments with which China cooperates are increasingly viewed as part of the problem, not a solution, as Chinese analysts privately agree. There is a risk that Central Asian jihadis currently fighting beside the Taliban may take their struggle back home after 2014. This would pose major difficulties for both Central Asia and China. Economic intervention alone might not suffice. 

There are other downsides to the relationship. Its business practices are contributing to a negative image in a region where suspicions of China – and nationalist sentiments – are already high. Allegations are growing of environmental depredation by Chinese mines, bad working conditions in Chinese plants, and Chinese businessmen squeezing out competitors with liberal bribes to officials. Merited or not, the stereotype of China as the new economic imperialist is taking root. 

Beijing is starting to take tentative political and security initiatives in the region, mostly through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which, however, has shown itself ineffective in times of unrest. The other major external players in Central Asia are limited by their own interests or financial capacity. The speed of the U.S. military pull-out from Afghanistan is causing concern in Chinese policy circles, and though Russia claims privileged interests in Central Asia, it lacks China’s financial resources. It is highly likely in the near- to mid-term that China will find itself required to play a larger political role. 

Issue Brief: Water Resource Issues, Policy and Politics in China

By Scott Moore 
February 12, 2013 

Editor’s note: Scott Moore is Giorgio Ruffolo Doctoral Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. He was a guest researcher at Brookings’ John L. Thornton China Center and Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in the spring of 2012. His research project was made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation. 

Among the many challenges to China’s current economic development trajectory, water resource constraints are among the most worrisome. According to Barry Naughton, one of the foremost experts on the Chinese economy, “China’s greatest development challenges…are in the areas where a dense population pushes up against the limits of water and what the land can provide.”[1] The water resource challenge to China’s development is exceptionally complex, encompassing a blend of geographical, political, economic, and social dimensions. This Issue Brief describes the root causes of China’s water resource challenge, assesses the Chinese government’s policy response to date, and finally offers recommendations to increase the effectiveness of these policies. 

In short, China’s water resource challenge consists of both water quantity and quality issues, each of which present distinctive challenges for Chinese policy. Although the Chinese government is implementing perhaps the world’s most ambitious water resource management strategy, its efforts risk being undermined by inter-governmental rivalries, corruption, and incentives that favor economic development over sustainable resource use. In particular, inter-jurisdictional conflicts over water resources threaten to undermine policies to address water scarcity, while mis-matched incentives between pollution control and economic development at local levels of government threaten to undermine water quality control objectives. 

Plenty of water, in all the wrong places 

In aggregate, China possesses substantial water resources, constituting the world’s fifth-largest national endowment of fresh water. By per-capita standards, however, China’s water resources are much more modest at approximately 2000 cubic meters per person annually, as compared to a global average of about 6200 m3/person/year.[2] These aggregate statistics nonetheless conceal marked regional discrepancies in precipitation and irrigation patterns, which combined with uneven distributions in population and economic activity mean that some areas possess plentiful water resources while others face chronic and crippling shortages. While residents of the sparsely populated, mountainous southwest enjoy some 25,000 cubic meters of freshwater per person annually, those of the populous and arid north have less than 500.[3] Some of China’s largest and fastest-growing urban areas, notably Beijing and Tianjin, and its most water-intensive crops, especially wheat, are located and grown in the arid north, where annual precipitation is less than one-third of that in southern coastal areas. For the past few decades, water-stressed areas have relied on groundwater to make up the difference, but since at least the 1970s rates of withdrawal have become unsustainable, and water tables are dropping by approximately one meter annually throughout the North China Plain.[4] Apart from making water more difficult and expensive to access, over-pumping of freshwater allows saltwater to penetrate aquifers in some areas, rendering them unfit for human consumption.[5]

The great cyber smackdown

By Dan Blumenthal 
February 28, 2013

How to win a cyberwar with China

Analysts work in a watch and warning center of a cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho September 29, 2011. 

Article Highlights

Cyber attacks are another dimension of the ongoing strategic competition between the United States and China

The United States should set up a center for cyberdefense

To enhance deterrence, the U.S. government needs to demonstrate these sorts of capabilities more regularly, perhaps through cyber-exercises modeled after military exercises.

The Internet is now a battlefield. China is not only militarizing cyberspace -- it is also deploying its cyberwarriors against the United States and other countries to conduct corporate espionage, hack think tanks, and engage in retaliatory harassment of news organizations. 

These attacks are another dimension of the ongoing strategic competition between the United States and China -- a competition playing out in the waters of the East and South China seas, in Iran and Syria, across the Taiwan Strait, and in outer space. With a number of recent high-profile attacks in cyberspace traced to the Chinese government, the cybercompetition seems particularly pressing. It is time for Washington to develop a clear, concerted strategy to deter cyberwar, theft of intellectual property, espionage, and digital harassment. Simply put, the United States must make China pay for conducting these activities, in addition to defending cybernetworks and critical infrastructure such as power stations and cell towers. The U.S. government needs to go on the offensive and enact a set of diplomatic, security, and legal measures designed to impose serious costs on China for its flagrant violations of the law and to deter a conflict in the cybersphere. 

Fashioning an adequate response to this challenge requires understanding that China places clear value on the cyber military capability. During the wars of the last two decades, China was terrified by the U.S. military's joint, highly networked capabilities. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) began paying attention to the role of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) assets in the conduct of war. But the PLA also concluded that the seeds of weakness were planted within this new way of war that allowed the United States to find, fix, and kill targets quickly and precisely -- an overdependence on information networks. 

Arab Rockets, Iranian Missiles, and Israeli Air Defenses

By David Rodman
February 26, 2013

Rocket and ballistic missile attacks against the home front presently constitute the most potent threat to Israel’s national security. Consequently, Israel has invested heavily in both active and passive defenses against rockets and ballistic missiles, to the point where it now possesses a formidable defensive shield against such weapons. Indeed, the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which has been in action on numerous occasions since early 2011, has already proven itself quite capable of destroying short-range rockets, even when the latter are fired in salvos. Israel’s defenses against rockets and ballistic missiles provide important strategic benefits to the state, and they may change the face of Middle Eastern warfare in the future. 

Since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the threat to Israel posed by conventional warfare—that is, warfare waged against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) by the armies of the country’s foes—has dwindled to a considerable extent. Concomitantly, the threat posed by unconventional warfare—that is, attacks against the Israeli civilian populace by both state and non-state foes—has risen dramatically, particularly since the turn of the twenty-first century. Currently, the most potent non-conventional threat to Israel is the one posed by large-scale rocket and ballistic missile attacks against its home front. 

Indeed, Israel has fought two wars in recent years—the 2006 Second Lebanon War against Hizbullah and the 2008–9 Gaza War (or Operation Cast Lead) against Hamas—in which its non-state foes’ main mode of warfare consisted of intensive rocket fire against its civilian populace. And, in late 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas, Israeli villages, towns, and cities were again subjected to intensive rocket fire. The arsenals of ballistic missiles in the hands of Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria represent an even greater potential threat, as at least some of these missiles could be armed with chemical, possibly biological, and, in the not-too-distant future, possibly nuclear warheads. 

Predictably, then, active and passive defenses against rockets and ballistic missiles today occupy a rather prominent place in Israel’s national security doctrine. Not only do they enhance Israeli deterrence against potential Arab and Iranian aggression, but they also reduce the amount of death and destruction inflicted on the Israeli home front when deterrence fails. Furthermore, these defenses provide Israel with a freer hand to pursue—or not to pursue—specific military options in support of vital national security interests. Anti-rocket and anti-ballistic missile defenses, in other words, might well become a strategic “game changer” for Israel. 

U.S.: What the Sequester Will Do to the Military


March 1, 2013


Sequestration, the automatic spending reductions scheduled to take effect March 1, will affect the U.S. military's ability to project force around the world. The current continuing resolution that Congress is using to fund the entire government until March 27 has already affected U.S. forces. The longer these funding cuts continue, the more degradation the U.S. military will incur, with longer-lasting effects. 


Although Stratfor typically does not examine domestic U.S. issues, this one is geopolitically significant. The U.S. military, and particularly the Navy, is the most powerful force projection instrument in the world. When the sequester takes effect, it will immediately reduce military spending by 8 percent, with more than $500 billion in cuts to defense spending over 10 years divided equally among the military branches. The continuing resolution is already affecting the military since it has locked the military budget into 2011 spending levels and prevented spending increases or reallocations among various budgets. On March 27, Congress will have to have a new budget in place, extend the continuing resolution or force a government shutdown; the most likely decision will be to maintain the continuing resolution. 

It is not the overall amount of the reductions that is damaging, necessarily; it is the way in which the cuts will be implemented. The across-the-board cuts required by the sequestration coupled with the limits set by the continuing resolution are constraining budget planners' options in how to absorb the spending reductions and thus are damaging all the military branches, programs, training, deployments and procurement. 

Funding Cuts and Force Readiness 

Just the threat of continued budget reductions has had an immediate effect on the military's readiness. The Navy decided not to deploy a second carrier to the Persian Gulf, backing down from its standard of two carriers in the region. Instead, the second carrier will serve in a surge capacity for the immediate future. The other branches have extended the deployments of units already in theaters and delayed others from rotating in as replacements since it is relatively less expensive to have units stay in place than move them and their equipment intercontinentally. 

The Shale Revolution: Next Phase

By Robert A. Manning 
February 27, 2013

It had an end of an era feel, when Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy—one of the cutting edge independents that drove the shale revolution—recently retired, and billionaire investor Carl Icahn upped his share of Chesapeake to 8.9 percent. 

Perhaps it is a sign that the first phase of the shale revolution—production of gas and tight oil from hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—seems closer to a more or less accepted fact of American life (not to mention a key driver of the US economic recovery and industrial “insourcing”). But if it is becoming the “new normal,” then what is the next phase of the shale phenomenon? 

There are two elements of the next phase, one a suite of domestic issues; second, the question of whether—and to what degree—shale will “go global.”

Domestic issues

The domestic challenges of phase two revolve around (for want of a better term) institutionalizing shale gas (and tight oil) production—including its export. Concerns about safety and environmental impact appear diminished, if not fully addressed. As the major companies have gotten more involved in shale, and its critics gotten louder—including Matt Damon’s new anti-fracking movie, Promised Land—the commissions studying it have yielded improved regulatory standards, procedures, and transparency. Yet press reports still surface raising questions about methane over time leaking into drinking water and concerns over net emissions. 

International Policy Must Consider Unintended Consequences

By Harlan Ullman 
February 28, 2013

Unintended consequences often combine the most diabolical of dangers with the greatest of huge rewards. This Janus-like face of danger and reward is often unrecognized and even ignored in the taking of major decisions by states and leaders. 

Consider a few unintended consequences arising from seminal decisions over war and peace during the past eight decades.

Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 assuming a speedy victory and swift collapse of the Stalin government. The Fuhrer dismissed Napoleon's experiences in 1812. And, Nazi ambitions weren't helped by Japan's decision to launch its attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. 

The Japanese High Command believed that the destruction of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii would so shock and paralyze the United States that Washington would immediately seek peace.

The first order unintended consequences, of course, was the unconditional surrender of both Nazi Germany and Fascist Japan in 1945. 

Ironically, the greatest unintended consequence led to the creation of flourishing democracies in these defeated states forming the cornerstone for Western security that persists today. A further irony of course was the reversal of the one-time Soviet ally into the West's major adversary. 

Regarding the Soviet Union, after a succession of gerontocratic leaders finally died, Mikhail Gorbachev inherited the reins of power. Fully aware of the fossilized condition of the Soviet system, Gorbachev imposed perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) as remedial actions to revitalize communism. To Gorbachev's astonishment, the reverse happened and the Soviet Union imploded. 

The cacophony of the world

By Dominique Moïsi

Fragmentation is the current leitmotif of international geopolitics. 

In his masterpiece Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger describes, probably too idyllically, the international balance-of-power system that, following the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, produced what came to be called the ‘Concert of Europe'. As Kissinger describes it, after the Napoleonic Wars, “There was not only a physical equilibrium, but a moral one. Power and justice were in substantial harmony.” Of course, the concert ended in cacophony with the outbreak of the First World War in the summer of 1914. 

Today, after the brutality of the first half of the 20th century, the temporary bipolarity of the Cold War, and the United States' brief post-1989 hyper-power status, the world is once again searching for a new international order. Can something like the Concert of Europe be globalised? Unfortunately, global cacophony seems more probable. One obvious reason is the absence of a recognised and accepted international referee. The United States, which best embodies ultimate power, is less willing – and less able – to exercise it. And the United Nations, which best embodies the principles of international order, is as divided and impotent as ever. 

But, beyond the absence of a referee, another issue looms: the wave of globalisation that followed the end of the Cold War has, paradoxically, accelerated fragmentation, affecting democratic and non-democratic countries alike. From the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia's violent self-destruction, and Czechoslovakia's peaceful divorce to today's centrifugal pressures in Europe, the West, and the major emerging countries, fragmentation has been fundamental to international relations in recent decades. 

The information revolution has created a more global, interdependent, and transparent world than ever. But this has led, in turn, to an anxious, Balkan-ising quest for identity. This effort to recover uniqueness is largely the cause of the international system's growing fragmentation. 

In the Concert of Europe, the number of actors was limited, and they were mostly states, whether national or imperial. Essential values were widely shared, and most actors favoured protecting the existing order. In today's world, by contrast, the nature of the actors involved is no longer so clear. Trans-national forces, states, and non-state actors are all involved, and their goals are complex and sometimes contradictory, with no universal commitment to preserving the status quo. 

The US may be intent on creating a transatlantic trade-and-investment pact with Europe, which would make a political statement to the world that the West writ large constitutes the universal normative reference point. But does such a West exist? In our era of fragmentation, there is a more powerful and dynamic American West, a globally more problematic European West (itself fragmented between a prosperous north and an economically lagging south), and even a British West and, in Japan, an Asian West.