15 March 2013

India and the ASEAN: A Media Analysis

By Amruta Karambelkar
14 March 2013 

Two significant events took place between India and the ASEAN’s member states since December 2012. One was the India-ASEAN commemorative summit and sideline events in December 2012, and two, the Delhi Dialogue (DD-V) in February 2013. These events are of particular significance to India’s Look East Policy as they intensify India’s engagement with Southeast Asia. India’s stakes are indeed high in its relations with Southeast Asia. With this premise, the commentary examines the media coverage of these events to study the level of awareness about India’s engagement in Southeast Asia.

India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit: Media Coverage in Southeast Asia

The Bangkok Post and The Nation (Thailand) talk about the FTA in services that India was pushing for. The Nation emphasises on trade with India and enumerates the benefits this FTA in services can bring to Thailand, since it is connected to India by land and sea (sic). Kavi Chongkittavorn’s piece in The Nation places India-ASEAN relations in terms of its relevance in the context of the changing international dynamics, and substantiates India’s role as a ‘natural’ and ‘reliable’ partner.

GMA News and Philstar's (Philippines) coverage focus on the economic dimensions of the summit, which is the India-ASEAN business fair, and mentions the bilateral trade between India and the Philippines. Jejomar Binar, the Vice President of the Philippines delivered the keynote address at the India-ASEAN business conclave and fair, which is covered in these news sources.

Channel News Asia (Singapore) writes about India’s Look East policy, the ASEAN-India vision statement, and India’s role in the ASEAN. It also explains the problems in India and the ASEAN; but gives a positive picture of this engagement. The trade potential is mentioned only towards the end.

The Borneo Post (Malaysia) does a US media survey of this summit and reports accordingly. On the basis of the US newspapers it referred to, it puts India-ASEAN relations within the prism of the US’s foreign policy. It writes about the extent of the US’ interests in India-ASEAN relations generally; and in the FTA in particular. The report talks of how India’s integration with the ASEAN is vital to the US’ interests in the Asia-Pacific, vis-à-vis China. It further notes that India has agreed to enhance maritime cooperation with the ASEAN. This aspect is also presented from the US’ perspective, of how the country has noted it. Finally, the report says that the New Delhi Summit is in sync with the ‘new strategic thinking’ which complements the US’ strategy in Asia, especially after its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. Bernama has a detailed coverage of the DD-V.

Thannien News (Vietnam) covers the visit by INS Sudarshini, and related events, and makes a passing reference to the India-ASEAN summit. Vietnam Net Bridge reports the cover statement by Vietnam’s Prime minister, where he welcomes the India-ASEAN strategic partnership and FTA in services, noting that India and the ASEAN need to prioritise political partnerships and security concerns amidst challenges facing the region. There is no independent assessment or coverage of the summit beyond the PM’s speech.

The Indo-Pacific: India’s Look East 3.0

By D Suba Chandran
14 March 2013 

India, today, is well into the third decade of its Look East Policy, which was formulated in the 1990s. During the first decade, it was sound in theory; and in the second decade, India did take measures to implement its ideas. Still in the take-off stage as it enters the third decade since its conception, what should be the parameters of India’s Look East Policy, given the fact that Southeast Asia has witnessed so much transformation? How far should India look east, and from where?

Looking East: Third Generation Push

In the recent years, there has been a renewed push in India’s Look East Policy, primarily led by the Ministry of External Affairs.

A significant aspect of this new push has been the involvement of actors and institutions outside the government, especially the foreign ministry. The foreign ministry has been proactive, and is trying to involve the business community, research institutes, and think tanks in India. It appears that after having been ‘looking east’ for the first two decades, there is a serious effort towards ‘acting east’. The Delhi Dialogue V, concluded recently in February 2012, highlights this stance that India is taking. It is, indeed, a good beginning as India steps into the third decade of its interaction with Southeast Asia.

What could be the specific parameters of India’s Look East 3.0?

‘Acting East’ and ‘Bringing East’

There has been a serious criticism that India has only been ‘looking’ eastwards, but not pursuing a comprehensive strategy towards Southeast Asian countries, and the ASEAN.

Today, there is a conscious effort by the foreign ministry not only to ‘look east’, but also to ‘act east’. India’s bilateral relations with specific countries in Southeast Asia, and its interaction with the ASEAN; along with multiple other regional organisations and initiatives including the ARF and the EAS, highlight its ‘act east’ strategy.

Whilst India should pursue this strategy, New Delhi should also take a comprehensive effort to ‘bring east’ into India. Along with India moving into Southeast Asia, New Delhi should also take serious measures in bringing the countries east of India into India – within the prism of economic, cultural, and societal fields.

China & North Korea: Between the Devil and the Deep Sea

By Aakriti Bhutoria
14 March 2013 

North Korea’s recent nuclear test has once again placed China in the spotlight, with the international community, especially the US, calling upon the PRC to exert pressure on its neighbour to halt its nuclear programme. 

What is the nature of the problem being faced by China vis-a-vis North Korea’s pariah stance? What are the constraints impacting the former’s behaviour and how is it likely to respond?

The Nature of the Problem 

China is faced with a unique problem as far as North Korea is concerned. On the one hand, it cannot afford to have a largely disruptive and unstable state at its borders, for obvious reasons; on the other, it has vested interests in preserving a close ally dependent upon itself for its survival. In addition, China cannot push North Korea too hard on the nuclear issue for fears that it might spur the latter into acting rashly. This being said, China also cannot allow North Korea to carry on with its provocative actions. Beijing thus has to maintain a balance between being firm with and, simultaneously, friendly to Pyongyang. 

Contending with the 'Devil'

There are three main reasons why China is feeling the heat from North Korea’s adventurist stance: dangers of proliferation and radiation at its borders, increased military attention from the United States in the region and calls for ‘responsible stakeholding’ by the international system. Fears of radiation are widespread in the north-eastern parts of China, as evidenced by local opinion. According to New York Times journalist Jane Perlez, there has been an appreciable drop in the percentage of Chinese people, who are sympathetic towards North Korea. Moreover, as a designated ‘state sponsor of terrorism’, there are fears that North Korea might share nuclear technology with other states such as Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen. A more dangerous North Korea would lead to greater US attention and involvement in the region, which might interfere with China’s ambitions in Taiwan and the South China Sea. Further, North Korea’s continued provocation of South Korea might provide an opportunity (however remote) for the US to declare war against the former; thus keeping China on its toes.

More importantly, China is keen to project a positive image of its ‘rise’ and wants to be seen as a ‘responsible stakeholder’. With a greater North Korean threat, therefore, China is seething under international pressure and wants to avoid being cornered on the issue. China’s alleged lack of initiative in the Six Party Talks and Beijing’s inherent habit of blaming the US and South Korea for North Korea’s actions has earned China flak from the international community. China is thus keen to be seen as proactively handling the North Korean problem, imposing sanctions and rhetorically chastising the DPRK. 

Targeting China: Washington Announces Formation of “Offensive Cyber War Units”

By Alex LantierGlobal Research
March 14, 2013 

In testimony before US Senate committees, top US intelligence officials announced Tuesday that Washington is setting up military units to wage offensive cyber war—i.e., to write malicious computer code to disable or destroy computers and computer-controlled infrastructure. 

These statements came as US officials escalated their denunciations of China, which they allege is engaged in cyber-espionage of US firms. On Monday, US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon demanded that China investigate alleged attacks “emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” and agree to broad negotiations on protocols for Internet use. 

General Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of the US Cyber Command, told the Senate Committee on Armed Services: “I would like to be clear that this team, this defend-the-nation team, is not a defensive team. This is an offensive team that the Defense Department would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace. Thirteen of the teams that we are creating are for that mission alone.” 

According to Alexander, there are 13 US offensive cyber war teams, interacting with 27 other cyber war teams deployed with standard military commands. The offensive teams are overseen by the US Cyber Command, which operates on the premises of the NSA and has a budget of $191 million this year. 

The importance of cyber-warfare has grown with the increasing use of computers to control key infrastructure. A sophisticated cyber-attack could potentially take down or destroy power plants, hospitals, transport systems and other critical infrastructure. While this provocative US military escalation is supposedly driven by the risk of a devastating cyber-attack from China or other countries, US intelligence officials acknowledge that the risk of such an attack is very small. 

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there was only a “remote chance” of a serious attack, which he defined as one leading to “long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage.” 

Clapper’s prepared statement listed China and Russia as “advanced cyber actors” with the capacity to mount such an attack. However, he added, they “are unlikely to launch such a devastating attack against the United States outside of a military conflict or crisis that they believe threatens their vital interests.” 

Nonetheless, Clapper claimed that such an attack was the most serious immediate threat to the US, outweighing the threat of attacks by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. 

What will the US military’s role be in coming years?

By Matthew Schofield 
March 13, 2013 

Lance Cpl. Timothy Jackson, a team leader with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, reloads his weapon during a platoon attack at Range 410A on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Aug. 8, 2011. The platoon-level attacks were part of the battalion's 35-day Enhanced Mojave Viper training exercise. 

WASHINGTON — Pirates prowl the high seas. Terrorists flex their muscles in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. China gets stronger. Russia grows increasingly inscrutable, and Iran and North Korea remain unpredictable. 

Trying to find footing in this shifting landscape of international power plays and intrigues is the American military, which right now appears more focused on how to adjust to mandatory budget cuts because the White House and Congress were unable to reach a deal to stop them. 

Perhaps lost in the debate is the bigger question: What role might American power play in the coming years? 

Lost, but hardly forgotten. Around the capital, away from the political squabbles, defense experts are focusing on the tasks of U.S. forces in the near future. 

“We’re at an inflection point,” said Stuart Johnson, a defense expert with the RAND Corp., a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank. “Our territory, or allies’ territory, is not threatened.” 

The next Quadrennial Defense Review, which sets military priorities every four years, is due a year from now, though Pentagon officials note that the current fiscal crisis has forced a delay. The 2010 review dealt with closing out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and helping smaller nations handle local and regional issues without as much American assistance. 

On all points, several defense experts declared: mission progressing, but not yet accomplished. 

Here’s why: The war in Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is wrapping up. When international efforts in 2011 in Libya helped oust the late dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, and quashed a terrorist-led rebellion in Mali this year, the French led and the U.S. played a supporting role. American-trained forces from Chad were an important piece of the operation. 

The Insider Threat to Airport Security

March 14, 2013 

In February, a security breach in Antwerp, Belgium led to one of the biggest diamond heists in recent history. Under the cover of darkness, eight gunman in hooded police clothing gained access through an airport perimeter fence and drove onto the tarmac in two black vehicles with flashing blue police lights. With great speed and precision, the heavily armed thieves sorted through and removed packages from the cargo hold of a parked Helvetic Airways aircraft, loaded them in their vehicles and made a high speed getaway. 

Preliminary speculation is that the thieves had inside information or assistance, much like the infamous Lufthansa Heist of 1978 at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Aided by the knowledge of an airport employee, members of the Lucchese crime family were able to steal in excess of six million dollars in untraceable U.S. currency and jewels from a temporary holding vault on the airport property. Insider knowledge and assistance was central to that crime’s success. 

In response to the 9/11 hijackings, the nation’s aviation-security strategy shifted toward the external threat of passengers with malicious or terrorist intentions. But despite recommendations and concerns stated by members of the 9/11 Commission and aviation security experts, comparatively little attention has been given to the possibility of an inside job. This threat could come from any airline or airport employee with access to restricted areas within the airfield. This includes pilots, flight attendants, maintenance personnel, aircraft refuelers, cleaning crews, baggage handlers, food-service personnel and general airport workers. 

If insider assistance was a factor in the Antwerp caper, does this highlight a gaping hole in security and the need to address the vulnerability that airport employees are for airport security? While the motive here was robbery, the concern is that not only criminals but terrorists may turn their attention to these security weaknesses. Terrorists in particular have proven to be patient and innovative at exploring other avenues to carry out their plans. Aviation-security experts and government officials strongly believe that this is the Achilles’ heel of the industry and where the next terrorist event will originate. 

Greek's Radical Left: The Dangers of the Disaffected and the Unemployed

March 14, 2013

By Scott Stewart

In last week's Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman discussed how the global financial crisis has caused a global unemployment crisis and how Europe has become the epicenter of that crisis. He also noted that rampant unemployment will give way to a political crisis as austerity measures galvanize radical political parties opposed to the status quo. 

Because unemployment is so pervasive, jobless, disenchanted people are joining radical parties espousing a wide variety of ideologies. Examples include populist euroskeptic parties, such as Italy's Five Star movement; far-right parties, such as Greece's Golden Dawn party; and anti-austerity leftist groups, such as Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza. With unemployment in Greece at 27 percent, it is not surprising to see both radical right-wing and radical left-wing groups gaining support from those who have become deeply disaffected by the crises. 

In fact, Greece has a long history of left-wing radicalism inclined toward violence. The 1970s saw the rise of radical group 17 November, and more recent years marked the rise of such groups as the Revolutionary Struggle and the Conspiracy of Fire Cells. 

Given this history and the manner in which the current crises are producing disaffected, radicalized and unemployed people, we thought it would be worth examining radical far-left groups in Greece and the types of violence they can be expected to conduct. It is also important to remember that Greece is not the only country in which the population, particularly the left, is radicalizing. Italy, too, has seen increased leftist radicalism. What is happening in these two countries could herald things to come elsewhere in Europe. 

A History of Radicalism

The revolutionary left in Greece dates back to the anarchists of the 1800s and the emergence of communism in Europe. Influenced by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, communist partisans were some of the most effective anti-Nazi forces during the Axis powers' brutal occupation of Greece (Italy and Bulgaria joined Germany in the occupation). After the Allied invasion of Greece and its liberation from Axis control, a civil war erupted that pitted communist partisans against anti-communist forces, which were backed by the British and the Americans. Because many former Nazi collaborators aided the anti-communists in the Greek Civil War, many anti-communist elements remained in Greece's security forces. The war also left the remnants of an embittered communist movement upset by the fact that Nazi collaborators such as Georgios Papadopoulos, who would become the future leader of a military junta that seized power in 1967, were never brought to justice. 

The Governance Conundrum in AFSPA

The absence of governance and development act as catalysts in situations of civil unrest, insurgency and terrorism. While governance and development are foremost the responsibilities of the government, the army plays an important role in this dynamic relationship between the government on the one hand and insurgency and terrorist movements on the other. 

The political system of our country has three main institutions – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. However, both in terms of governance in the country and its international standing, the role of the Armed Forces is critical. Public perception of the Armed Forces is of a distant reality, worthy of great regard and respect yet mostly unknown. The regard and respect is because of the sacrifices the soldiers make to protect the nation and its citizens. The civil society learns about these sacrifices through the rare reports which media carries. On the other hand, the distance and the unknown quality make it seem too imposing and even fearsome. 

It is crucial to reiterate that the macro environment in which the army operates is characterised by this disjoint between the army and civil society. It is in this context that the present paper wishes to draw attention to a crucial issue in the whole debate on the implications of continuing with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in areas affected by insurgency and terrorism. 

In states where the army is called to tackle insurgents and/or terrorists, the AFSPA is promulgated to enable them to operate in an unhindered manner. However, accusations of misuse of powers by soldiers under protection of AFSPA continue to be leveled against the Army, most of which are motivated. This has led to many individuals and groups in the civil society to take up cudgels against the Act. To assume that in every instance of CI/CT operations under AFSPA, soldiers would misuse their powers is like assuming that almost every doctor would be negligent or driven by greed while performing his/her duties. This is grossly wrong. But because of the skewed reporting this is the image that stays in public memory. 

It is useful to understand how the process begins. The decision to enforce and then later to extend AFSPA in any area/state is of the Governor of the state and the Central Government. Thus, it is entrenched in the legislature and the executive. The Army is not involved in the decision making process. At this point, it is useful to quote from the recent and very illuminating Manekshaw paper published by CLAWS: 

“It is quite apparent that in the face of modern security challenges and in the light of the wider international experience, India’s civil military relationship (CMR) framework is heavily skewed in favour of the civilian bureaucracy. If the defence services, the key players in the national security matrix, are excluded from the decision-making process, the discourse is bound to be troubled.” (Raj Shukla, 2012, p.28) [1]

Indian Army: Decay sets in the last Bastion

Issue Net Edition | Date : 14 Mar , 2013 

The most important pillar of any nation, The Armed Forces often referred to as the last bastion, under the strength of which rest all others, the temples of democracy, environment of free air and freedom, financial security and progress, fundamental rights, judiciary and many more that we do not realise in our day to day lives. It is this bastion that has set in motion to decay, the reform measures if not instituted will one days result in history repenting and the nation weeping. 

…the question of, what has gone wrong with our Armed Forces should trouble us more? Probably far more than the incident of beheading our soldier by the Pakistani troops on the LOC. 

The latest horrific disclosures of a former Air Chief under scanner for taking bribe in VVIP Helicopter deal, thus betraying the faith of millions in uniform, if the allegations were proved true. Well the story of corruption is not so new but the magnitude is ever increasing by the day. Over the past five years or so there have been regular reports emerging in the media on suicides, fragging and recently the officers getting beaten up by the very own men they commanded. Why does the situation develops into a ugly scenario so fast and regularly these days where jawans gang up and thrash up the officers flushing down the drain rich traditions , customs and ethos that we have been boasting for more than a century now. It is difficult to even imagine what that these officers must have undergone, a trauma from insult and shame of getting assaulted by their very own men, the country should be forced to think of the larger reasons that have gone wrong. After all these officers were selected and trained into the military ethos which is inscribed in the Chetwood Hall of the IMA and says, “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time”. These officers who are supposed to love their men more than their folks, who were motivated to lead them into battle with a smile and these men who considered their officers as gods, since the leaders could do anything for their well-being and honour. Then the question of, what has gone wrong with our Armed Forces should trouble us more? Probably far more than the incident of beheading our soldier by the Pakistani troops on the LOC. 

Our PM and the Chief may underplay in the interest of the nation and the organisation by stating ‘that our army is 12 million strong and such small incidents do occur’ a reaction given soon after the incident of 16 CAVALARY in 2012. Is it so normal and common, well by any analysis it is not so. At least I never came across during my 20 years of military service. 

Uncomfortable questions on land-swapping with Bangladesh

Issue Net Edition
Date : 14 Mar , 2013 
Pakistan has done it again. In its continuing hybrid war against India(about which I have already written in this column), two terrorists belonging to Hizbul Mujahedeen, which is based in Pakistan and aided as well as abetted by Pakistan’s military establishment, killed five CRPF Jawans , who were guarding a school in Srinagar, on March 13. In fact, this attack came exactly four days later the chief operational commander of the al-Qaeda linked Punjabi Taliban Asmatullah Muawiya had threatened openly in Lahore – and this was prominently reported in the Pakistani media – that there would be major terrorist incidents in India to avenge the hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. Muawiya, incidentally, is a former commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed, to which Guru belonged. 

The Manmohan regime seems to believe that India’s “soft power” will deliver goods. But that is not exactly happening, particularly with almost all our neighbours. 

As has been its trademark over the last nine years, the Manmohan Singh government has issued a strong statement over the latest Pakistan-based terrorist attack. But that is all. There will be no strong countermeasures against Pakistan at the ground level. In fact, Manmohan Singh has systematically de-hyphenated terrorism from diplomacy with Pakistan. As a result, without Pakistan’s commitment to deny the anti-India forces from using its territory and resources, Indian officials and ministers have been meeting their Pakistani counterparts. Our foreign minister on March 10 did everything possible to make the private visit of the Pakistani Prime Minster Raja Pervez Ashraf to Ajmer Sharif comfortable, despite the fact that the patriotic head priest there boycotted him for his failure to apprehend and punish those who had beheaded our soldiers recently. If there was any protocol involved, it should have been handled by some one of the ministers of state rank as is the normal practice to look after the personal needs of any head of the state of or government coming on an official visit to India. But the Pakistani premier got a special treatment, that too during a private visit. 

The last hope of the common man

Published on The Asian Age (http://www.asianage.com
By editor 

In the US, judges are appointed for life. There are no post-retirement carrots for them. This ensures complete impartiality of the judiciary. 

In the US, judges are appointed for life. There are no post-retirement carrots for them. This ensures complete impartiality of the judiciary. 

Despite bleeding the Indian economy throughout their rule, the British left behind sound institutions of governance. An independent judiciary was one of them. The Hindu legal code, based on Manu’s caste philosophy, was highly discriminatory against the depressed castes while the Islamic legal code discriminated against non-believers. 

But Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence provided equality for all. An accused was not guilty till proved otherwise. Criminal law now applied to everyone in the country irrespective of his/her religion. The judicial system introduced by the British was based on total impartiality. Civil law varied for different religious communities. The Directive Principles of our Constitution enjoin a common civil code, but for political reasons this has not been implemented.

Indians were given high appointments in the judiciary from the early period of British rule. The bulk of Indian officers joining the Indian Civil Services were diverted to the judicial stream and only a few taken in the executive branch. The first Indian high court judge was Sambhunath Pandit, appointed in 1863. Indians were debarred from top civil appointments in the beginning but later limited numbers were inducted. In the absence of a suitable career outside the government services, most of our English educated and talented youth took to legal or medical professions. We had some brilliant Indian lawyers who gained great distinction. The last British Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, referring to Indian political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, once said that in India he was up against a battery of barristers.

Some instances to show how the judiciary functioned in the British era are noteworthy. During the 1857 Uprising, the military held what was called “drum head court martials”, with little regard for impartiality and justice. To strike terror among the people, innocent Indians were hung from trees along the road. When peace was restored, the civil judicial system asserted itself.

In Ahmedabad, A British judge broke protocol and stood up to honour Mahatma Gandhi when he appeared as an accused in his court. The Mahatma pleaded guilty and the judge convicted him, awarding a sentence of imprisonment. While doing so, he stated that never before had he had the honour of trying such a great man nor was he likely to have that honour again. He added that no one would be happier than him if the sentence awarded by him was remitted or reduced by the higher authorities. 

Indian Challenges in the Global Tilt

March 14, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under Analysis

A series of books have emerged on the horizon written before and after the global meltdown of 2008 claiming that globally economic power and thus most other form of state powers are shifting towards the new ‘South’. Ram Charan in his enlightening work ‘Global Tilt’ defines South as entities South of 31st parallel barring Japan and South Korea. Likewise, Farid Zakaria calls this ‘Rise of the Rest’ in his pre meltdown book, “The Post American World”. ”The World is Flat” and books such as “Poor Economy” all argue that the greatest economic and thus power shifts in contemporary history, equivalent to the renaissance of the 17th Country, are now afoot and that the world must brace up for the rise of the poor and hungry who now appear to have ‘arrived’. 

The meltdown has also ensured a resurgence of nationalism and protectionism in an otherwise interdependent and globalised world. The theory that there are more southern ‘Protean Enterprises’ emerging to take over businesses in the West (or Ram Charan’s North) are indicative of a degree of restlessness, appetite for taking on the mantle of market leaders (Bharti Airtel for example expanding to Africa Bangladesh and Srilanka and its likely move to America) and conducting operations beyond their ports of call. 

The West is conscious of this or is getting closer to the truth that unless it engages the ‘Rest’ or the ‘South’ constructively, it is likely to lose a large chunk of its pie which it enjoyed hitherto fore. 

This by no means is a power struggle. It is a struggle to stay afloat and shed idea of Western economic dominance as a given. For the ‘Rest’ the game is to accelerate the process of growth hiring the best including best Western talent to engage in cutting edge research and development to take them to the top of the smiley curve - a top where design, development and marketing reside as also the cream generated out of innovation based on novel research. 

While the two main protagonists of the ‘Rise of the Rest’ China and India are known for their manufacturing and service Industries , the hunger to move up in the innovation cycle is clearly evident among both. However, the lesson of history, is that you can’t get your economics right if you don’t get your politics right, which is why authors of ‘Why Nations fail’ don’t buy the notion that China has found the magic formula for combining political control and economic growth. 

Axiomatically, all these thinkers have deep suspicion of the political systems in both these countries which could negate their chances of a bright place under the sun. While one is a communist autocracy awaiting a social time bomb to explode, the other makes autocracy appear romantic by the sheer anarchy of its democracy. In both the Loot is On. 

India, China, and Bangladesh: The Contentious Politics of the Brahmaputra River

Roomana Hukil
Research Officer, IReS, IPCS 

The Brahmaputra River is one of the most significant confidence-building measures between India, China, and Bangladesh. Despite a well-functioned relationship between India and China in recent decades, the Brahmaputra River may pose new challenges to the continued supply of fresh water for both countries in the future. In addition, China’s announcement, last month, of its plans to construct three hydropower dams – Dagu, Jiacha, and Jiexy along the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra basin, has raged anxiety in India and Bangladesh in terms of erosion, flood protective measures, and the potential ecological damage to the downstream regions.

The article delves into a strategic-techno analysis of the issues festering around the proposed dam construction projects that may open a new front of contentious politics amongst the neighbours. It examines whether ‘water rationality’ will continue to govern the riparian relationship, and also reasons that in spite of no water sharing agreement between India and China, vis-à-vis only one water treaty between India and Bangladesh; coupled with the enormous potential of sharing the benefits, it is unlikely to envision the three countries agreeing to sign a portioned water resource development treaty in the near future.

Fresh Strategic Insights: Issues and StepsThe Brahmaputra River consolidated the water rights between all the riparian states pertaining to their water usage, and requirements in the growing region. In spite of there having being no official water sharing accord between India and China, the two countries manifest a paradigm to maintaining cordial water diplomacy in the present international scenario of water conflicts. Hitherto, the dilemma over future water supply regulations, amidst the issue of ecological upkeep, persists for both India and Bangladesh.

Gen. Allen's lessons from Iraq

Posted By Kevin Baron 
March 14, 2013

Looking back on his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen believes the United States is not going to jump into another big land war anytime soon -- and neither will its NATO allies. 

Speaking yesterday at a four-hour, invitation-only roundtable on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War -- held at FP's offices, in conjunction with RAND -- the former ISAF commander said, "My guess is...that it'll be 20 years before we undertake something like this again. It's going to be a long time before NATO is going to be interested probably in undertaking something that could look like this again." He added: "Coalition development and coalition management is going to be extraordinarily important in the future. I'm not sure that we've put enough emphasis on that." 

If Western allies do embark on another massive counterinsurgency effort, Allen argued, the development side of the affair must be done better. 

"Something I worry about increasingly as time goes on is the sense that the development strategies in Iraq and now Afghanistan have failed," Allen said. "And that the development dimension of what we have attempted to undertake was either the wrong approach or was just flawed from the beginning...and I think that really deservers some rigorous testing." 

"Development with a little 'd' that was wielded day-to-day" by company commanders, Allen contended, was "enormously successful." It was the larger planning and implementation of aid and civilian governance that troubled him. Allen, who retires on April 1, said he worried about people drawing the "wrong conclusions" on development during the counterinsurgencies. 

Allen recently turned down President Obama's nomination to lead NATO as supreme allied commander. 

Allen was a deputy brigadier commander in Anbar province and played a key role in the so-called Awakening there. Still wearing his 4-starred Marine Corps uniform on Wednesday, he credited the military's effort to learn about local culture for its success in winning local support. 

Pakistan’s Wildcard

The mysterious Pakistani-Canadian cleric is back, and he’s shaking up the country’s politics.

On March 17, Tahir-ul-Qadri -- the Pakistani cleric who led popular demonstrations that brought Islamabad to a standstill for four days in January -- plans to announce his intentions for the upcoming national elections at another major rally in Rawalpindi. Most American observers have written Qadri off as a flash in the Pakistani pan. They may need to think again. Qadri can still shake up Pakistani politics. In the near term, he remains a wildcard, disruptive in ways that might even tip the balance of power in Pakistan's next government. Over the long run, however, Qadri has the potential to play a far more constructive role in Pakistan's political development. Either way, Washington would do well to pay him closer attention. 

It is possible that Qadri will decide to send his party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, into the fray of national elections in May. Building a Pakistani party machine with credible, popular candidates is the work of years, not weeks, so there is a very good chance he wouldn't win any seats. Even so, Qadri-backed politicians might steal just enough votes to spoil the plans of the front-running party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) and shift the makeup of Islamabad's next ruling coalition. 

Qadri might play an even more significant and constructive role over the long run by choosing not to contest elections. As an outside voice favoring reform, religious moderation, and better governance, Qadri would offer a glimmer of hope for a future in which Pakistani opposition figures hold their nation's leaders accountable to the nation's constitution and laws. That would represent a genuine, farsighted contribution to the maturation of democracy in Pakistan, the best hope for long-term economic development and stability of the sort that would render Pakistan a far less dangerous and fragile state. 

Qadri, a former law professor and acclaimed Islamic scholar, stormed out of his unlikely home base in Toronto, Canada, this past December after having disappeared from the scene for eight years. The media portrayed his out-of-the-blue return to Pakistan and rapid ascendance as mysterious. Who had backed Qadri's massive media blitz? Rumor swirled. Some said it was Washington, again out to influence Pakistani politics. Others saw the hand of the Pakistani military looking to derail the electoral process. 

Contrary to many press reports that depicted him as a detached Islamic scholar with little in the way of a political background, Qadri has a decades-long history of dealing with all of Pakistan's top leaders since the 1980s, from Generals Zia and Musharraf to Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Today, Qadri's politics are motivated by deep disillusionment with all of them, military and civilian alike. Such sentiments place him squarely in the mainstream of Pakistani public opinion. 

Learning Curve

'Never Again' is the wrong lesson to draw from the Iraq war.

The war in Iraq is regarded by most Americans as a costly mistake. This does not mean the experience was without value. Indeed, one can profit from mistakes even more than successes in terms of improved performance. Ten years on, it is worth asking whether we as a nation have done so. 

Last year, at the direction of Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Staff issued a short but fairly candid compendium of lessons from the Iraq and Afghan wars. Entitled "Decade of War," this paper acknowledged that the United States had failed to understand the environments in which it was operating, employed conventional tactics to fight unconventional wars, and was unable to effectively communicate with local populations. The report contends that these problems were largely overcome in the last five years, but admits that this adaptation took longer than it should have. 

This otherwise commendable examination of past failures omits two of the most important. Invading Iraq on the basis of bad information was not exclusively or even primarily a military error, but much of the U.S. intelligence apparatus resides in the Defense Department and is commanded by military officers. Yet only the tiny State Department intelligence unit demurred from the judgment that Saddam had active WMD programs and indeed weapons, neither of which turned out to be true. 

Second, this Joint Staff compendium does not examine the fatal mismatch between the scale of initial American commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan and the scope of its ambitions. Some now argue that initial American objectives were too ambitious, while others insist that the commitment of military manpower and economic assistance was inadequate. But virtually everyone agrees that the Bush administration should have either scaled down the former or upped the latter. In the end, of course, it did both. 

Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat

16 March 2013 

The withdrawal from Afghanistan will be one of the most daunting challenges ever undertaken by the British army 

Retreating from Afghanistan has never been a task at which the British military has excelled. Our first incursion in 1839 resulted in the wholesale massacre of an entire division, save for an army doctor by the name of Dr William Brydon, who was spared only so he could tell the tale. Troops fighting the Second Afghan War of the early 1880s only avoided a similar fate through the exertions of General Frederick ‘Bob’ Roberts, who rescued a British force on the outskirts of Kandahar as it was on the point of being overrun. Now we are about to attempt this tricky business for a third time. 

Not that you’d know it from listening to David Cameron — whose attention has moved on to Mali and Syria — but the attempt to extricate our army from Afghanistan will be one of the most daunting challenges ever undertaken by the British military. Retreat is often the most dangerous part of a deployment, especially when the military falls below the critical mass required to protect itself. Our plan depends on trusting Afghan troops who have already shown a worrying ability to switch sides. No wonder army wives have begun to pass around copies of Florentia Sale’s hair-raising account about the first retreat from Kabul — and shudder. 

The first great danger for all troops was exemplified horrifically this week. Two American soldiers were killed on Monday when their Afghan ‘trainee’ turned his gun on them during a morning meeting. The US military denounced the attack as a ‘betrayal’, but it fits a trend of ‘green on blue’ killings over the past few months. As the allied forces grow thinner, far more British and American lives will depend on the soldiers of the country we are leaving — having failed to reach a political settlement with the Taleban, far less defeat them. 

We have been here before, of course, during our ignominious retreat from Basra during the Iraq conflict, when Gordon Brown’s unilateral decision to halve the strength of the British contingent left it at the mercy of the Mahdi Army militias. To save our own skins we abandoned Basra to the death squads, with the result that the Americans had to retake the city. This sent a message: the Brits have no staying power. When Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith led Britain’s Helmand taskforce five years ago, he told The Spectator that ‘this is a task which one measures in decades’. In Washington and London, they decided differently and a 2014 withdrawal deadline was set two years ago. 

East Asia’s New Peacemaker: Mongolia?

March 15, 2013 

From provocations coming from North Korea to various island spats, East Asia is rife with hotspots. Could Mongolia play a role? 

The past year has heightened some important security landmines in East Asia. There is the usual cycle of “provocation followed by negotiation” by a not-so reformed regime in North Korea. More concerning however is the intractable, diplomatic tussle between Tokyo and Beijing over islands in the East China Sea. Add to this the fractured bilateral relationship between the U.S.’ two most important allies in the region – Japan and South Korea – and there appears to be too many problems to be solved by a “rebalance.” 

Against this backdrop, there is an underutilized diplomatic asset that could potentially help these quarrels. As Elizabeth Economy pointed out last month on The Diplomat, and others have alluded to elsewhere, Mongolia could take on an enhanced role in mediating the region’s quarrels. The most obvious situation mentioned is the stalemate between the U.S., Japan and South Korea on one side and North Korea on the other. Economy stressed the potential benefits of Ulaanbaatar’s involvement: “While we wait for Beijing’s foreign policy to coalesce, we might look to Beijing’s north for some help. Mongolian officials have regularly hosted their North Korean counterparts for national security and economic discussions.” 

Indeed, Mongolia attaches importance to its relationship with Pyongyang and has gone out of its way to point this out to outside observers. For example, in a 2011 speech at the Brookings Institution, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj noted the importance of Mongolia’s bond with the North: “(Mongolia has) a unique relation with North Korea. We have our embassy there, we have governmental line to connect, and every year meetings, and now we are developing an exchange program. And when they (North Koreans) come to Mongolia, they see that there is a different way of living, a different way of governance.” 

Critics will argue that Mongolia’s window into North Korea may be merely cosmetic and incapable of producing tangible results. However, there is no debating the fact that Ulaanbaatar is interested in playing this intermediary role. 

Mongolia currently holds the Presidency of the Community of Democracies, a global intergovernmental coalition of democratic countries that seek to promote democratic rules and strengthen democratic norms and institutions around the world. While Ulaanbaatar’s term as chair will end in April, this is a position that Elbegdorj’s government has taken great pride in as Mongolia continues to work through its own growing pains on its way to becoming a model democracy in a region that is flush with corruption. Elbegdorj has leveraged Mongolia’s history before its democratic reforms to push for changes in Central Asia. While it is hard to equate this effort with reforms (the region remains one of the most corrupt in the world), no one believed that Mongolia would suddenly change decades of ingrained corruption. 

New glitter on the golden pagodas

Rajiv Bhatia 

After five decades of military rule, Myanmar needs to overcome many challenges, including the ethnic issue, in its journey of political reforms 

The first and historic congress of the National League for Democracy has just ended in Yangon. Expectedly, Aung San Suu Kyi was re-elected its Chairperson. Together with seven other Indians — all keen students of Myanmar affairs — I met Ms Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw for an hour-long discussion the day before the congress began. 

The week-long stay in Myanmar was an invaluable opportunity to study the web of complexities that defines the country’s politics and foreign policy. Our visit covered Yangon, Naypyitaw and Mandalay. We interacted with academics, political leaders, and representatives of business, media and civil society. We participated in a seminar, a collaboration between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Affairs (MISIS) and the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). Mutual openness and cordiality helped us explore issues that were uppermost in our mind. 

I was returning to Myanmar after a gap of nearly two years, a perfect context to appraise the journey of ‘new Myanmar’ following its transition from authoritarianism to a kind of democracy in March 2011. I had four main questions; the journey helped me discover their answers. 

Reform — story so far 

After five decades of military rule — ‘the wasted years’ as an old journalist friend depicted them — the country has made substantive progress in executing its reform strategy. The plan may have been conceived by the Army, but in its implementation President Thein Sein has played the key role. In this, he has been helped by several factors: reconciliation with Ms Suu Kyi, assertiveness of Parliament led largely by Speaker Thura Shwe Mann, invisible support extended by the Army and synergy with other political forces. Mr. Thein Sein has moved forward on all three planks of reform — political, economic and administrative, achieving more progress than anyone imagined two years ago. 

But the journey ahead is fraught with uncertainty and even dangers. Challenges facing the nation include the perennial ethnic problem that leaders starting from Aung San, ‘the father of the nation,’ had tried to address. Success eluded his successors because, unlike him, they favoured the Burman majority’s interests over those of ethnic minority groups. At our meeting marked by exceptional warmth and openness, Ms Suu Kyi told us that she was waiting for ‘an invitation’ from the government in order to contribute to the current dialogue process. Considering that armed conflict between the Army and Kachins and Muslim-Buddhist clashes in Rakhine state have already extracted a heavy price, the government’s failure to involve all sides, especially the country’s most popular and charismatic leader, meant only one thing: politics was trumping national interests. 

Although the Constitution bars her from becoming President (as she had a foreign national as spouse), no issue excites greater interest in Burma today than this: will Ms Suu Kyi become the President in 2015 when elections are next due? All those attending or watching the party seemed anxious for a credible answer. Some claimed that a landslide for the NLD was inevitable if elections were free and fair, while others observed that the ruling party, USDP, would get “at least 50 per cent.” More than one interlocutor articulated a common belief that Myanmar should emulate the ‘Sonia Gandhi model’ that is, Ms Suu Kyi should be content as party chief and find a leader acceptable to her and the Army as the next President. Who could that be: President Thein Sein, Speaker Shwe Mann or a dark horse? 

Critical Assessment of China's Vulnerabilities in Tibet


The paper looks at th critical vulnerabilities of China in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Ever since China captured and annexed Tibet in 1950, it has been unable to integrate the Tibetan people with the mainland. There is a 'trust deficit', essentially socio-economic factors and religious persecution that continues to fuel dissent between the Tibetan people and the Chinese government. Besides, Tibetans have a proud legacy of taking to arms to fight for their rights, which is presently latent. Militarily, the high altitude and inhospitable terrain render communications vulnerable and impose severe limitations to conduct of operations in TAR. The author looks at these criticalities from an Indian viewpoint and draws some key assessments for China watchers in India with regard to policy on Tibet. 
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Nepal: Gets an “Interim Election Government” under the Chief Justice

Note No. 679 Dated 14-Mar-2013 

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan. 

When it almost looked impossible to conduct the elections this summer, the four major political parties agreed finally to form an "interim Government" under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi to have the elections on June 21 this year. 

Nearly ten months after the interim assembly was dissolved, when everyone feared continued instability, the parties after a marathon session of 13 hours reached an agreement. The agreement was in two parts- one in a document called the 11 point political agreement and another a 24 point directive. 

It is heard that the Maoists (UCPN-M) created hurdles all the way and were adamant on two issues namely the ranks to be given to the ex PLA combatants and in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where serious differences arose over the wording regarding amnesty and prosecution for serious crimes. 

Getting the parties to agree to a neutral government led by Chief Justice Regmi itself was not easy. Firstly the Chief Justice himself was not comfortable with the thought of taking such a heavy responsibility and had to be persuaded. Secondly, the Bar Association of Nepal vehemently opposed his appointment and there were a few PIL petitions in the court. Thirdly, there were deep divisions within the parties, in the Nepali Congress and the UML particularly at the central committee level. Fourthly, the ruling coalition led by UCPN (M) was very reluctant to hand over power without iron clad guarantees on some issues relating to the peace process. 

Conducting elections on June 21st is not going to be an easy task either. The voters list will have to be revived, and the question of issue of "citizenship based voter identity" has to be resolved. There are at present over 4.6 million eligible voters of which 3 million are in Terai who are eligible to vote but have not been registered as voters in the voters list. 

Since I have not had access to the two documents relating to the agreement of the four major parties, I am not sure whether there was an agreement on the size of the new constituent assembly or about the delineation of the constituencies or about the proportion between the first past the post and the proportional representation. It is expected that agreements would have been reached already on these complicated issues. 

The Election Commission is upbeat about conducting the polls by June 21st. As a first step some two dozen provisions in the interim constitution will have to be worked out. 

MYANMAR: National league for Democracy Party Congress

Paper no. 5424 Dated 14-Mar-2013 
By C. S. Kuppuswamy 

“Even party members say their National League for Democracy is in disarray — suffering from an array of problems including what one called a “leadership vacuum” in the middle ranks.” - Thomas Fuller (The New York Times) 


National League for Democracy (NLD) was in the news recently both in the local and international media as it conducted its first ever national party congress at Yangon from 08 to 10 March 2013. About 900 party members from 260 townships attended the three day congress. The NLD claims to have more than 1.2 million members nationwide. 

The Past 

The NLD was founded on 27 September 1988 in the wake of a nationwide uprising popularly known as the 8-8-88. 

“The NLD was an amalgam of disparate individuals coalescing under the banner of democracy and under the leadership of former military officers under the flag of antipathy to continuing military control” wrote David I Steinberg in his book “Burma/Myanmar – What Everyone needs to Know”. 

Even at the outset the party was accused of having some communist leanings which resulted in Brig. Aung Gyi walking out with his group to form his own party. Despite being a loose federation of all disgruntled army officers and champions of democracy, NLD had a landslide victory in its first shot in the 1990 elections. The party won 392 of the 485 seats with a 58.7% of the popular vote. 

However the military junta did not honour the results on the pretext that the parliament cannot be convened before a new constitution is drafted and that a national convention will be held for this purpose. 

During the period 1990 to 2010 there was a deliberate campaign by the military junta to marginalise the NLD, by closing down its branch offices on some pretext or the other, intimidating and arresting most of its senior leaders besides keeping Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for about 15 years. Most of the leaders who were not arrested had left the country on their own to prevent being arrested. The NLD which had initially joined the National Convention for drafting the 2008 constitution, walked out of it as the convention was orchestrated by the military for its own ends. 

Elections were held in the country in November 2010 after two decades (the last was in 1990). However, NLD boycotted the 2010 general elections on the grounds that the 2008 Constitution and the election laws are so restrictive and against the norms of democracy. NLD was officially declared as dissolved in September 2010 for failing to register as a political party in accordance with the election laws for the 2010 elections.