11 July 2013

Bodh Gaya: Culpable Neglect ***

Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, ICM & SATP

At least two monks, a Burmese and a Tibetan, were injured in a coordinated terror attack, in and around the Mahabodhi Temple (the Temple of the Great Awakening, where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment) Complex at Bodh Gaya in the Gaya District of Bihar on July 7, 2013. The Bihar Police has confirmed that ten low-intensity serial blasts occurred between 5:30 and 5:58 am at and around the World Heritage site. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde confirmed, "Today I have the information of 10 blasts. A total of 13 bombs were placed there… Two persons have been injured – 50 year old Dorji and Bala Sanga (30)." Two live bombs were detected and defused at the Complex, while a third bomb was recovered near the Royal Residence hotel at Baiju Bigaha village, about four kilometres from the Mahabodhi Temple.

Examination of three unexploded bombs revealed that small LPG cylinders had been used as containers to pack explosives suspected to be a mix of ammonium nitrate, potassium and sulphur, and, according to the National Security Guard’s explosive experts, “it would be wrong to call the bombs crude”. Sources suggest that this is the first time gas cylinders have been used as containers for explosives. Investigators believe that the damage could have been far greater, but for the humid conditions currently prevailing in Gaya, which may have affected the explosive materials. Some instructions in Urdu were reportedly found along with the bombs recovered and defused in Bodh Gaya, including instruction to target Bara But (big statue) and 'bus', while another message declared that the operation was intended to avenge what had happened in Iraq.

The incident has provoked the usual speculative storm in the media, this time about the opening of a ‘new front’. Bihar has not witnessed any major Islamist terrorist attack in the past, and Buddhist sites across India have also remained exempt from such strikes. Again, the usual clamour about security and intelligence failures has also been raised. Fairly specific intelligence regarding an imminent threat to the Bodh Gaya site in particular, and Buddhist targets in general, particularly in the wake of the organized attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, had been communicated to the Bihar Government. Despite these, rudimentary processes of access control and surveillance appear to have been ignored, even as the terrorists succeeded in planting at least four explosive devices within the core area of the shrine.

Rarely has precedent intelligence been as specific as it was in the case of the threat to Bodh Gaya. Most significantly, Indian Mujahiddeen (IM) operatives Syed Maqbool, Asad Khan, Langde Irfan Mustafa, Imran Khan and Syed Feroz aka Hamza — all arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in September-October 2012 — had revealed during interrogations in October 2012 that Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad and Buddhist Temples in Bodh Gaya had been reconnoitered by them on instructions from Pakistan-based IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal. Crucially, twin blasts had been engineered in Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar on February 21, 2013, resulting in 17 killed and 117 injured, confirming the reliability of the disclosures. Other targets where the four had carried out reconnaissance included Delhi’s Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazar; Mumbai’ McDonald restaurant at Andheri Station, shops near the Santa Cruz Station, the Dadar Bus Stop, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Panvel Station, as well as some areas in Bandra and Jogeshwari. All these are crowded public places which could be expected to yield significant mass casualties in the event of an attack. 

All the reconnaissance operations were approved by the Bhatkal brothers, and sources indicate that a meeting for the Bodh Gaya survey was held in Hyderabad in 2012 at the house of Obaid-ur-Rehman, a key accused in the Dilsukhnagar twin blasts. Delhi’s Special Cell had sent an intelligence advisory in October 2012 to Bihar's Director General of Police and the Gaya Superintendent of Police, warning about a possible strike.

Significantly, again, during the a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team’s interrogation of the 26/11 Mumbai attack accused David Headley in the US in June 2010, Headley had claimed that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had prepared a video on the Mahabodhi Temple and was planning to trigger blasts there.

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had also warned Bihar twice over the past three months that Bodh Gaya was on the hit list of terrorist groups, with sketches of two suspects sent just a fortnight before the attack. These reports had even been published in the media, specifically mentioning the targeting of Buddhist Temples in reaction to alleged atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Indeed, the threat to Bodh Gaya in particular, and to wider Buddhist targets in general, has been some time in existence. Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed had tweeted, on June 14, 2013, "Indian government is working in cahoots with Burmese Government to wipe out Muslim population of Burma"; and again, "It is also an obligation on the whole Muslim Ummah to defend the rights and honour of Rohingya Muslims in Burma."

Even earlier, Ustad Farooq, the head of Al-Qaeda’s ‘preaching and media department’ for Pakistan, had warned, in September 2012, that the killings of Muslims in Myanmar and Assam “provide impetus for us to hasten our advance towards Delhi… I warn the Indian Government that after Kashmir, Gujarat… you may add Assam to the long list of your evil deeds.”

While we were silent ***

Thu Jul 11 2013

A story of destructive governance and citizens who did not speak out

First, the UPA came for the roads sector. They destroyed contracting. They slowed down road construction. They left highways half built. We did not speak out. After all, the only reason the NDA could have started the golden quadrilateral is because they wanted to spread Hindutva.

Next, they came for the airline sector. They let Air India suck more money from taxpayers. They let bad regulation destroy the private sector. They let crony banking sustain bad bets. They ensured India would never be an aviation hub. We did not speak out. After all, flying is what birds do, not humans. Besides, aviation is bad for climate change.

Then they came for the power sector. They confused creation of mega capacities with actual generation. They had no rational pricing plans. They were arbitrary in the awarding of licences. They could not make up their mind whether they wanted to protect the environment or destroy it. We did not speak out. After all, the only power that matters is political. Electricity be damned.

Then they came for education. They promulgated the RTE after 100 per cent enrolment. They expanded capacity, but cut-offs still rose. They regulated in such a way that there was a glut in some subjects and a shortage in others. They confused university buildings with building universities. We did not speak out. After all our, our low quality education left us incapable of speaking out.

Then they came for industry. They turned the clock back in every way and waged open war. Ensure that regulations become more complex and uncertain. Ensure that input costs rise. Ensure crummy infrastructure. Promulgate a land scam policy known as SEZ and sell it as industrial policy. They encouraged FDI. But they forgot which one they wanted: outbound or inbound. But we did not speak out. After all, India is a rural country.

Then they came for employment. There was some growth. But they decided that the only good employment is that which has the hand of the state. So the NREGA's expansion was seen as a sign of success, not failure. By its own logic, if more people need the NREGA, the economy has failed. But we did not speak out. After all, the more people we have dependent on government, the more we think it is a good government.

Then they came for agriculture. First, they create artificial shortages through irrigation scams. Then they have a myopic policy for technology adoption. Then they decide India shall remain largely a wheat and rice economy; we will have shortages for everything else. Then they price everything to produce perverse incentives. But we did not speak out. After all, why worry about food production when the government is giving you a legal right? Is there anything more reassuring than social policy designed by and for lawyers?

Then they came for institutions. They always had. This has been Congress DNA for four decades. They drew up a list of institutions that remained unscathed: Parliament, the IB, bureaucracy and you name it. They then went after those. They used institutions as instruments of their political design. They demoralised every single branch of government. But we did not speak out. After all, this was reform by stealth. Destroy government from within.

Then they came for inflation. They confused a GDP target of 10 per cent with an inflation target. Inflation will come down next quarter, we were told. Then they tried to buy us out. Inflation: no problem. Simply get the government to spend even more. Then they pretended inflation is a problem for the rich. Then they simply stopped talking about it. We did not speak out. After all, for some, inflation is just a number

Then they came for the telecom sector. They got greedy and milked it. They got arbitrary and retrospectively taxed it. But we did not speak out. After all, new communication can be a threat to government. Besides, we can always revert to fixed lines. More digging is good.

Psychological warfare

A new phase of jihad in J&K
by Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (retd)

THE militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is a mix of violence and clever use of psychological warfare. Having failed to succeed in their designs to defeat the security forces, militants are trying to discredit and defame them to ultimately force them to be moved out. There are many instances of false allegation against the Army operating under difficult conditions in the militancy-affected area.

According to a recent news report, a group of women representing various women's organisations has submitted a memorandum to the Defence Ministry urging a fresh investigation into the alleged mass rape in Kunan Poshpura village. The reported incident dates back to February 23, 1991, when soldiers belonging to 4thBattalion of Rajputana Rifles are supposed to have resorted to mass rape during the night of February 23-24. The allegation at that time was "… that up to 100 women were 'gang-raped without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnancy etc'. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 80".

Unless one assumes that the whole battalion comprised depraved officers and men, the allegation is prima facie preposterous. The case had been investigated by different agencies at that time and the allegations had been found to be false. In light of this, what is even more disturbing is the reported comment of Salman Khurshid during his visit to the Valley on June 28, 2013. When questioned about this 22 years old incident, he is reported to have remarked, "What can I say? I can only say that I am ashamed that this happened in my country." In saying so the minister has gone against the findings of his own government. Nothing could be sadder.

A few hard facts about the reality in J&K need recalling. In the beginning of this year Mirwaiz Mohammad Umar Farooq had openly appealed in Srinagar that Pakistan should do something or the 'freedom struggle' would die out. After that Hurriyat leaders went to Pakistan, except Syed Geelani. According to media reports they all met Gen Kayani, the Pakistani Army Chief. They undoubtedly would have met the ISI operatives too. The Mirwaiz also travelled to Muridke to meet Hafiz Saeed of LeT and spent more than a day there. Yasin Malik did the same and pictures of his meeting the LeT supremo were in the media. The attempted revival of terrorism is an outcome of those efforts. A recent ambush when eight soldiers lost their lives is one of the outcomes and is unlikely to be the last act of militants. The effort to get the old allegation of mass gang rape in Kunan Poshpura reopened is a related attack on the morale of the security forces. Repeated calls by some quarters for the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act fall in the same mode.

Pakistan is known to have raised combined SSG and LeT teams for activities along the LoC. All these militancy related developments have an obvious link. The adversaries appear to be winning in every encounter because they are highly trained and motivated and well armed. With our LoC fences, they cannot cross into Kashmir without fire support from Pakistani posts. There has been a ceasefire in place since 2003. It is a strange ceasefire where Pakistan can open fire whenever they need to and we keep exercising restraint. When we were erecting the fence, Pakistan constructed a bund in many places along the LoC. As a result their small arms fire is more effective against us vis-à-vis ours. We have to respond with mortars and artillery to equalize that, making the retaliation more visible and seemingly escalatory.

It is the start of a new 'freedom struggle - Jihad'. The intensity would surely pick up tempo after the Western troops pull out of Afghanistan next year and more jihadis are available to operate in J&K. Our head-in-the-sand policy is not leading us anywhere. We have to see and face the reality. Undoubtedly, secularism is the strength of our Constitution. But secular should not be synonymous 
with suicide.

There is little use banking on the J&K Government to handle the situation. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had aroused great hopes when he assumed charge. Unfortunately, he seems to have fallen prey to populism. The state political leadership remembers nationalism and patriotism only when they need free money from the ever-generous New Delhi. At other times the leadership there talks of 'over their dead bodies' whenever one mentions pulling the rest of J&K out of the clutches of the Valley. Their focus remains on getting back 'strayed' youth from Pakistan, each one with a Pakistani passport with multiple Pakistani wives and children in tow and kid-glove treatment of Hurriyat leaders and others over ground workers who are openly getting money from Pakistan and distributing it. Patriotism gets mentioned only when the State leadership crosses the south of Banihal. Most of their pronouncements and actions are willynilly providing a boost to a new phase of jihad.

There is a need for J&K and India to wake up before the situation in Kashmir turns more serious and gets out of hand.


Dipankar Bose

Something is wrong in the State of India. While the aam admi subsists with chronic malnutrition which is even worse than that of Sub-Saharan Africa, our cereal production has been rising over the past two decades and its exports soared from early 2011. We are the top rice exporter in the world now and in wheat, we are the fourth largest. The average net cereal production rose from 163.16 to 183.22 million tonnes between the five-year periods, 2001-05 and 2006-10.

Prices of rice and wheat, both wholesale and retail, which had been rising fast earlier, jumped from 2011 and that of maize from 2010-11. What happened was that the ban on the exports of non-basmati rice and wheat was lifted in early 2011 and this caused their exports to explode, reducing supplies to the home market. Immediately the cereal prices zoomed.

Further, even when the international price of non-basmati rice declined from its peak in 2009-10 and remained flat through the next two years, its exports soared. This is because the sops for exports were so huge that it was profitable enough to export more even when the home prices were rising sharply while the export price remained flat. So much so that in 2012-13, total cereal exports may cross 24 mt, with rice exports exceeding 13 mt, wheat at 6.5 mt and other cereals at 4.5 mt. In fact, wheat exports are slated to rise to even 8 mt in 2013-14.

Lifting the ban on exports of non-basmati rice and wheat has spawned a situation where the expected inflation in these has become much higher than the rate of interest, that is, the cost of borrowing. This is the ideal situation for hoarding. And that is exactly what has been going on in India on a grand scale. This is the main reason why the cereal prices, both wholesale and retail, have become so high, with disastrous consequences for the Indian poor and the vast number of lower middle-class people working in the unorganized sector with no security of employment or sickness benefits.

Market strategy

So the traders who invariably double as hoarders and also the exporters make a killing while the aam admi hangs on to his dear life. The poor farmer does not benefit either. It is an evil design on the wretched of the Indian earth by the traders and their accomplices, the policy-makers.

It was only recently, on June 21, that the Centre decided to provide 10 mt of wheat and 0.5 mt of rice to the wholesale and retail traders and to the states, after the wheat price has risen Rs 150 a quintal in recent months thanks to extensive hoarding and less-than-expected crop production. All these were known to the authorities. And such steps could have been taken in parts, from April onwards, when procurement began in full swing. Intriguingly enough, the public distribution system is ignored totally. Hoarding food grains is nothing new in India. But, over the last few years, the scale of hoarding has become so formidable that the very fabric of our polity is being threatened.

Here comes the question of speculative funding. Thanks to financial liberalization, the main concomitant of globaliztion, funds from any source can go to any market in search of profit, in practice. The financial markets abroad and at home are such that it is well-nigh impossible to trace the circuitous route of the speculative funds from their sources to their final destinations through the various kinds of deals. Liberalizing the grains market without strengthening the production-distribution base is a recipe for disaster, as it is. We have gone further with wholesale financial liberalization in an economy which had already been flooded with black money.

Isn’t it time we reviewed the entire gamut of globalization, which leaves the fate of millions to the market — our present-day god?

Cockerels Eyeing China

Prakash Katoch

The simplest way of becoming a super power is to emulate a super power and that is what China has been doing; following everything that US did. Studying the 1991 Gulf War, Chinese realised PLA needed urgent reform. Chairman Jiang Zemin officially declared Revolution in Military Affairs part of China’s Military Strategy in 1993, himself taking charge of its implementation. Then was America’s Kosovo War and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. By studying US/NATO operations, China launched a vigorous programme for ‘informisation’ of PLA entailing development of net-centric and knowledge based capability to launch ‘effect based’ operations against a high-technology modernised adversary.

For bridging the technology gaps, spying, snooping and reverse engineering gave China designs of the US F-I6, Bl Bomber, US Navy's quiet electric drive, US W-88 miniaturised nuke used in Trident Missiles, to name a few. Providence also helped in unexploded US cruise missiles landing in Pakistan, remains of the MH-60M Black Hawk stealth helicopter that crashed during the Abbottabad raid and the US RQ-1Z0 stealth UAV downed by Iran. Stealth technologies were stolen not only through cyber-attacks on US defence firms but also by physically penetrating the Federal Bureau of Investigation. China thus developed the J-20 stealth fighter in record time and stealth helicopters, stealth vessels and aircraft carrier are under development.

In the heat of cloning the US, China also went full hilt in emulating America’s ‘dirty war’; arming, supporting and using terrorist organisations, not that it was without previous experience in this field. The PLA trained and supported Afghan Mujahedeen during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, supplying hundreds of millions worth of anti-aircraft missiles, rocket launchers and machine guns, moving their training camps on Chinese soil. As the US was invading Afghanistan, China was already training and arming the Taliban. Earlier too, China had been sprouting ideological extremism globally through Maoists movements in Nepal, Burma, Philippines, Cambodia, Japan and Peru. China is also actively supporting Maoists in India by providing arms, communication equipment and even arms manufacturing capability. Akin to the US arming the Al Qaeda and using them as proxy in Libya and Syria, China has heavily armed the United State Wa Army in Myanmar to buffer her strategic interests in the region.

It is apparent that the China-Pakistan terror nexus actually goes back to the era of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, even as the US was assisting Pakistan in arming the Taliban. It may not be possible to accurately pinpoint whether it was China or the US, or combination of the two that germinated the very idea of Taliban in Pakistan. Significantly, the book by FS Aijazuddin titled ‘From a Head, Through a Head, To a Head’, which discloses Chou-en-Lai advising Ayub Khan in 1960’s to raise irregular forces for fighting in India’s backyard, is subtitled ‘The Secret Channel between US and China through Pakistan’. Since rules and regulations are impossible in ‘dirty wars’, friends and foes interchange as per convenience. Financing the 9/11 terrorist attack was traced back to Pakistan but the military precision with which the attacks were executed really cannot rule out whether the planners had Pakistani and/ or Chinese advice, which may be CIA’s best kept secret.

China would have viewed the 9/11 attack with glee and studied organisation and effectiveness of US homeland security in the aftermath, Boston bombings notwithstanding. This apparently makes China believe it can continue to play her proxies in conjunction with Pakistan with impunity. Decades old terror bonds with Pakistan would have made China overlook any Pakistani hand in the 9/11 attack. Then is the belief that when Pakistan is assuring US it would not let her proxies attack US mainland, the guarantee to China would be thrice strong considering the ‘higher than mountains, deeper than the ocean’ friendship. And finally, is the belief that since Pakistan has ceded Shaksgam, leased out Gilgit-Baltistan, handed over Gwadar, is on anvil of subletting/ leasing out Baluchistan, China is completely safe with its growing military and economic clout having supplied nuclear technology, weapon systems and military hardware to Pakistan. That the chickens have come home to roost in Pakistan is of little significance. But in drawing simile from security of mainland US, China appears to have missed out that US did not have any Xinjiang, Tibet or Inner Mongolia to start with. China’s friendship with Pakistan also appears to have obscured the fact that Pakistan, as the mother of terrorism, continues to spawn radicals at frightening pace. What is even more important for China to realise is the fact that radical Islamist forces are all interlinked and their concept of jihad is global, where national boundaries do not matter. Terrorists do not care whether China’s comprehensive national power is catching up with USA or will surpass it. All these years the US was content that LeT is only India centric and permitted it to grow. But today, the LeT has turned to global jihad, threatening USA as well.

India’s Muddled Carrier Plans

By Robert Farley
July 10, 2013

At long last, the delivery of INS Vikramaditya, the former Russian Admiral Gorshkov finally appears imminent. Vikramaditya is currently undergoing sea trials with a mixed Russian-Indian crew, and a transfer to Indian service is scheduled for the autumn. The delivery comes several years late, but still perhaps in time for the Indian Navy to use the carrier as a test-bed for INS Vikrant, its first indigenous carrier, scheduled for commissioning in 2018.

However, while the delayed delivery of Vikramaditya has surely proven problematic for the Indian Navy, the program has an altogether broader set of problems. Unlike the PLAN, the Indian Navy has a long history of carrier operations, running from the Majestic class INS Vikrant to the former Centaur class INS Viraat.

But India’s carrier heritage may be less of an asset than it seems. India doesn’t appear interested in achieving greater efficiency in many areas— even in terms of common training and operational procedures— with this path of carrier fleet development. 

With the arrival of Vikramaditya, the Indian Navy will be flying new aircraft off of a new carrier of largely unfamiliar design. Although the Indian Navy has experience with both carriers and with Russian vessels, its previous carriers have been of British design, and it has never operated a ship this large. 

Furthermore, no Kiev class carrier has been put to sea in an operational sense since the early 1990s, and the modifications to Vikramaditya make her a virtually new vessel in any case. Even after delivery, Vikramaditya will require considerable practice and time to become an effective, operational unit. The MiG-29K is also relatively new to carrier operations, with the first aircraft entering service in 2011. 

Operational tempo in Russian service has thus far been slow, meaning that many of the kinks with the carrier-based version of the veteran fighter will have to be worked out in Indian service. If India follows through on plans to build INS Vishal as a CATOBAR carrier, the Navy will again have to learn an entirely new set of procedures, presumably with a new generation of aircraft, in the next decade.

The most interesting points to watch will be Indian collaboration with other carrier-operating navies. The obvious candidate is Russia, but Russia owns only one carrier, which operates at a relatively low temp and may shortly re-enter a prolonged refurbishment period. The only other navy to operate a similar carrier will, ironically, be the PLAN, which is unlikely to share many of its developing operational procedures with the Indian Navy. 

The risk of duplication of effort can surely be overstated; some of the tacit knowledge of naval aviation operations will carry over from the STOVL Viraat to the STOBAR Vikramaditya and Vikrant to the CATOBAR Vishal. However, “knowledge efficiency” and modularity do not appear to be strongly valued by the Indian Navy; beginning in 2018, it will operate three carriers of radically different age, design, and capability, and will likely maintain that state of affairs into the medium term (even after Vishal replaces Viraat).

Yes, The US Can Live With Taliban Rule

By Zachary Keck
July 10, 2013

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration is now seriously considering leaving no troops behind in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of combat troops in 2014. There are some signs that the White House is already backing away from this— and the leaks themselves might have been nothing more than a negotiating tactic aimed at scaring Hamid Karzai.

Still, it’s an option worth at least discussing. After all, beside the residual troops themselves—said to be between 8,000 to 12,000 military trainers and advisers—the Afghan government and security forces are expected to need about US$70 billion of foreign aid between 2015-2024 just to stay afloat. Even if they receive this largesse, few observers are willing to state with any degree of confidence that the current Afghan government can survive the insurgency. 

So the question becomes: is trying to prop up the Afghan government worth this level of investment, or could NATO member states live with the cheaper option of not actively preventing the Taliban from reassuming power?

Given the horrendous record of the Taliban, it could be argued that NATO countries should provide this aid if it was to support a democratic government that upheld the human, social, and economic rights of the Afghan people.

But this is hardly the case— by all accounts Karzai and those around him are merely powerful warlords that have used foreign support to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Afghans. Even with NATO troops in the country there have been widespread reports of Karzai and his associates doing everything from building drug empires and ransacking the national bank, to sexually abusing Afghan boys.

Although they still might compare favorably to the Taliban on some issues like women’s rights, even their record here has been rapidly deteriorating as the deadline for foreign troops to withdraw has neared. In an ultra-conservative country, there’s little reason to think the Afghan government is going to spend much political capital on upholding women’s rights post-2014. 

Another reason NATO might make this kind of investment to prop up the Afghan government is if member states viewed doing so as vital to their nation securities. Most likely, this would be the case if they viewed the Karzai government as the last barrier between an Afghanistan as it is today and one in which al-Qaeda roamed freely plotting terrorist attacks against the West. After all, denying al-Qaeda Afghanistan as a base to plot terrorist attacks was the sole reason the West ended up in Afghanistan in the first place.

But it’s hardly clear that Karzai or his successor are indeed the last obstacle standing in the way of a return to an Afghanistan of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Indeed, even though hopes of negotiations with the Taliban appear to have been dashed for now, the militant group has suggested that it would not allow al-Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base to mount terrorist attacks if it were to regain power.

Of course, the group has every reason to make this statement in order to precipitate a speedy withdrawal of foreign troops and a cessation of aid to the Afghan government. But the U.S. and its allies can hardly base their Afghan policy on the Taliban upholding their promises solely out of moral duty. So the question ultimately becomes: would NATO retain any leverage over events in Afghanistan in general, and the Taliban in particular, once it has withdrawn militarily from the country?

As Vali Nasr and others have argued persuasively, the U.S. held the greatest amount of leverage vis-à-vis the Taliban during and immediately after the troop surge. That being said, it is wholly untrue that the U.S. would have no ability to influence the Taliban after withdrawing from the country.

There is at least one carrot the U.S. could offer the Taliban: greater autonomy from Pakistan. Indeed, although seldom acknowledged, the U.S. and the Taliban have an overlapping interest in limiting Pakistani influence in Afghanistan.

For Washington, this interest derives from Islamabad’s support for fundamentalist groups that attack the U.S. and its allies, as well as its increasingly cozy relationship with China. Although the Taliban rose to power in no small part because of Pakistani assistance, all reports suggest that the group has soured on its patrons during its stay in Quetta, as a result of being repeatedly treated like a pawn by Pakistan’s powerful security and intelligence forces.

An Excerpt from “Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century”

If any of the makers of modern China who agonized over their country’s enfeebled state and dreamed of better times during the past century and a half could have visited Beijing’s Pangu Plaza today, they would hardly believe their eyes. Pangu’s preening thirty-nine-story office tower, capped by a massive figurative dragon head in stone, stands high above the fourth ring road, like the king on an oversized chessboard, looming over three luxury apartment buildings and a hotel. Each apartment building is crowned with four ultramodern courtyard-style houses with roofs that open mechanically to the sky. And the lavish Seven Star Hotel at the end boasts inlaid Italian marble floors, personalized butler service, and a vast underground parking garage chock-full of Aston-Martins, Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, and Bugattis. Just across the street lies the sprawling Olympic Park, with its translucent National Aquatic Center changing colors at night like a giant pinball machine, and the National Stadium, better known as the Bird’s Nest, whose sinuous metallic superstructure is also illuminated after dark to look like a fantasy from another planet. It was here that the Chinese government kicked off the 2008 Summer Olympic Games with an opening ceremony as spectacular as any in history, the stuff of reveries such as neither Liang Qichao nor Lin Yutang could ever have dreamed. Yet here it was in granite, steel, and light, a manifestation in spectacular form of the People’s Republic of China’s new wealth and power. And, Pangu Plaza is only one small piece of the ever-startling tableau of progress that has issued forth from Deng Xiaoping’s bold blueprint for “reform and opening up.” It was he, the grand progenitor of this new affluence, who struck the spark that lit this latter-day capitalist prairie fire by telling his people in the 1980s that it was “all right for some people to get rich first” and even that “to get rich is glorious.”

When Jiang Zemin inherited the status of paramount leader from Deng upon his death in 1997, he emphasized not just “development” (fazhan, 发展) but also China’s need to “rejuvenate” (fuxing, 复兴), the latter a freighted word that harked back to Sun Yat-sen’s call in 1894 to “reinvigorate” (zhenxing, 振兴) the country and even further back to Feng Guifen’s hope in the 1860s that the Qing Dynasty would enter a period of “mid-dynastic revival” (zhongxing, 中兴).1 As Jiang summed up the logic of modern Chinese history for delegates to a meeting celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the CCP in 1991, “All endeavors by the Chinese people for the 100 years from the mid-twentieth century to the mid-twenty-first century are for the purpose of making our motherland strong, the people prosperous, and the nation immensely rejuvenated.”2

Jiang’s successor as president and party secretary during the 2000s, Hu Jintao (also handpicked by Deng), carried forward the torch illuminating the way to national wealth and power. “History and reality tell us that ‘Backwardness incurs beatings by others,’” he told visitors from Taiwan’s New Party in 2005, citing an old Chinese saying, luohou jiuyao aida (落后就要挨打).3 “China was bullied by foreign powers in modern times,” he said. “A major reason for that was that China was chronically poor and weak during that period. Since then, the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has become the unswerving goal that each Chinese generation has striven to realize.”4

And when Xi Jinping finally took to the stage in the Great Hall of the People in 2012 to face the cameras as head of the new Politburo Standing Committee—the seven men who would rule 1.35 billion people for the next five years—he proclaimed, “Since its founding, the Communist Party of China has made great sacrifices and forged ahead against all odds. It has rallied and led the Chinese people in transforming the poor and backward Old China into an increasingly prosperous and powerful New China, thus opening a completely new horizon for the great renewal of the Chinese nation.”5

A fortnight later, Xi and the rest of the new Standing Committee went on a high-profile pilgrimage to view an exhibition at the National Museum, on the east side of Tiananmen Square, called “Road to Rejuvenation” (fuxing zhi lu, 复兴之路), which tells modern history as a morality tale, with China rising from the humiliations of the nineteenth century to a restoration of greatness in the twenty-first century. Xi used the occasion to pledge that he would do his part to continue the realization of this “Chinese dream” (Zhongguo meng, 中国梦). As the state press agency, Xinhua, reported: “Citing a sentence from one of Mao Zedong’s poems ... Xi said the Chinese nation had suffered unusual hardship and sacrifice in the world’s modern history. ‘But the Chinese people have never given in, have struggled ceaselessly, and have finally taken hold of their own destiny and started the great process of building the nation,’ he emphasized. ‘It has displayed, in full, the great national spirit with patriotism as the core.’”6 As Xi, echoing his precursors down through the decades, later elaborated, “To realize the great revival of the Chinese nation, we must preserve the bond between a rich country and a strong military, and strive to build a consolidated national defense and a strong military.”7 And when he was also appointed state president in March 2013, Xi returned to this idea of a “Chinese dream” that now he described as belonging to “the whole nation as well as every individual.” And to realize this long-cherished dream, he said, the country must take “the Chinese way,” which he proclaimed as being “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”8

Like a set of genes that is firmly implanted on a genome and is then faithfully transmitted from generation to generation thereafter, DNA coding for this dream to see China restored to greatness and a position of respect has been reexpressing itself over and over since Confucian scholars with Legalist tendencies such as Wei Yuan first began fretting over the Qing Dynasty’s early nineteenth-century decline. And it began to be articulated with even greater urgency as reformers like Yan Fu first left for Europe. Upon arriving in London in 1877 to study British thinkers and unravel the riddle of the West’s superiority and China’s backwardness, Yan wrote home from London with wonder: “It is no exaggeration to say that more has been accomplished [here] in a hundred years than in the previous millennium. As the states have become daily richer, their defenses have become ever more formidable ... The power or weakness of a state depends on various sources of wealth, and if one wishes to enrich the state, one must expand the people’s knowledge and improve its economic system.”9 Alas, at the time the increasingly desperate warnings of men like Yan Fu fell largely on deaf ears.

Today, however, after weathering a century and a half of “domestic rebellion and foreign aggression,” China has finally learned how to borrow effectively from the West. With the skylines of the Central Kingdom’s countless boomtowns bristling with high-rise buildings, China now boasts the world’s second-largest economy and a rapidly expanding military, and its diplomats increasingly throw their weight around the world. Power has at last begun to flow in wealth’s trail eastward. Instead of being forced to sign humiliating “unequal treaties” and endure endless foreign exploitation, Chinese are forging plans of their own abroad in which they are the initiators and financiers of projects across all Africa, Latin America, and even North America. At home, they are putting astronauts in space, launching aircraft carriers, building supercomputers... the list is long and keeps growing.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, when China was still recovering from the aftereffects of 1989, Deng Xiaoping cautioned the next generation of leaders to “avoid the limelight.” But today there is wealth to consume and power to wield, and not a few Chinese are both pleased and proud to have the opportunity to be at last tempted by the prospect of joining in on this long-withheld “great power” exercise.

The Slow Boat from China

Is the world ready for Beijing's economic new normal?

The world is having a hard time accepting a slowing Chinese economy. Hooked on 30 years of 10 percent average gains in Chinese gross domestic product (GDP), growth-starved economies around the world are desperate for more of the same. But it isn't going to happen.

Some six years ago, China's then premier, Wen Jiabao, posed a paradox that came to be called the "Four Uns": though China's economy looked strong on the surface, Wen argued it was increasingly "unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and ultimately unsustainable." The debate those remarks sparked is now over, and a new Chinese growth model is at hand. China's 12th Five-Year Plan, enacted in 2011, calls for a shift to an economy driven increasingly by domestic consumption, rather than one driven largely by exports and investments.

China's new generation of leaders, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, are now focusing on implementing this daunting structural transformation. During the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue on July 10-11, an annual meeting between high-ranking officials from the two countries, the opportunities and the risks of this rebalancing will feature prominently in the discussions.

For its part, China's new leadership is committed to rebalancing. With GDP growth slowing to 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and data for April and May pointing to more of the same, previous Chinese leaders would have quickly announced a new infrastructure program or other stimulus policies to spur the economy. By not introducing new spending initiatives, the government of Xi and Li has sent a strong signal that Beijing is now willing to accept slower growth. 

That conclusion was reinforced by last month's liquidity squeeze in the overnight bank funding markets. Because the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, didn't intervene as it normally does in such circumstances, the interbank lending rate shot up on June 20, reaching a record of 13.4 percent -- more than four times the average over the last 18 months (it dropped back a few days later.) This lack of intervention sent a strong signal to banks, especially China's "shadow banks," that the days of risky and undisciplined lending must end. 

The message from China's fiscal and monetary authorities is clear: the days of open-ended hyper growth are over. At the same time, Xi has been calling for a "mass line" education campaign aimed at addressing problems arising from the "four winds" of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism, and extravagance. Though cryptic, his message appears to underscore a new sense of political discipline, to complement the discipline of China's fiscal and monetary policies. The Chinese Communist Party, Xi seems to be saying, must realign itself with the core interests of the people and their requisite economic fundamentals.

China is at an important juncture in its development journey. It's determined to move away from the quantity dimension of growth to a new focus on the quality of economic development. This is not only about a downshift in GDP growth: it is also a critical shift toward the long dormant Chinese consumer, opening up one of the largest consumer markets in the world to anemically growing Western countries.

This is especially important for the United States, which continues to languish in a weak recovery with unacceptably high unemployment. Washington needs to push hard for free and open access to these markets, an issue that will undoubtedly be high on the agenda for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

While China's previous administration recognized the importance of structural change, they made disappointingly little progress. Slower growth doesn't work for China unless its economy undergoes a fundamental transformation. The new policy discipline of Xi and Li is important because it effectively ups the ante on China's rebalancing agenda -- making implementation of the 12th Five-Year Plan all the more urgent.

For consumption to play its proper role in China's economy, three sets of reforms are essential: services-led job creation, urbanization, and a well-funded social safety net. The objective is to boost the consumption of Chinese citizens from its current share of 35 percent of GDP (by contrast, it is 71 percent in the United States) to 40 percent over the next three to five years, and to more than 45 percent by 2023.

The emphasis on services and urbanization should help increase personal income -- the mainstay of consumer demand for any economy. But a services-led China also holds the key to a sustainable slowdown in GDP growth, because services require roughly 30 percent more workers per unit of Chinese output than manufacturing and construction. In other words, China can accomplish the same labor absorption (i.e., employment of poor rural workers) with a services-led economy growing at 7 percent as with a manufacturing- and construction-led economy growing at 10 percent. With services comprising only about 43 percent of the economy -- the lowest share of any major economy in the world -- there is plenty of room for this sector to grow.

China’s “War on Terror” in Xinjiang

By Nicholas Dynon
July 10, 2013

On July 1, The Global Times, a tabloid operated by the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily, suggested that China’s restive Xinjiang autonomous region was under threat from separatist fighters battle-hardened by recent combat in Syria. While not making a direct Syria link, another report in the People’s Daily referred to recent civil strive in Xinjiang as perpetrated by terrorists “in and outside the country”.

Separatist activity has long been a feature at the ethno-geographic margins of mainland China. In the autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, uprisings, riots and civil violence have met with successive waves of crackdowns for decades. The labeling of such violence as acts of international terrorism, however, is a relatively recent feature of Beijing’s stance on ethnic strife.

Conflating international terrorism and domestic separatism

“Terrorism” entered Beijing’s domestic separatism vocabulary with 9/11 and then-president Jiang Zemin’s decision to support the U.S. global war on terror.

In a message to President George W Bush on September 11, 2001, Jiang condemned the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, pledging cooperation with the U.S. to combat terrorism. China’s ostensible support for U.S. retaliatory strikes on Afghanistan constituted a significant break from its standard foreign policy line and was the first time since the Cold War that Beijing had condoned U.S. military strikes in another country.

This unprecedented support came with fine print, though, with Beijing calling on foreign governments to outlaw four Uighur groups that it had designated as terrorist organizations. According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, international terrorists had trained Uighur insurgents, and so “the fight against separatists in Xinjiang is part of the fight by the world against terrorism.” Both the U.S. and UN Security Council obliged Beijing’s request, classifying a handful of Uighur organizations as terrorist groups.

China’s ostensible support for the U.S. had been driven by key foreign policy goals. At the time, Jia Qingguo of Peking University wrote that, “at the end of the day, China does hope that Washington will adopt a fairer and more sympathetic approach towards the Taiwan and Xinjiang separatist issue.” Writing for Eurasianet, Antoine Blua commented, “the hope in Beijing is that the emergence of a new ‘enemy’ in the American collective conscience will help reduce anti-Chinese sentiment in Washington.”

Casting China as a “victim” of global terror

In late 2001, the Chinese government estimated that approximately 800 Chinese citizen Uighurs had received military training in Al Qaeda camps in northern Afghanistan. This figure is widely regarded as inflated.

In May 2008, the People’s Daily ran a story accusing the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) of operating terrorist training camps in India with help from al-Qaeda. Calling the TYC a “terror group worse than Bin Laden’s”, Chinese authorities laid the blame for the March 14, 2008 Lhasa riots on the group and claimed to have confiscated from them hundreds of small arms and bomb-making material.

Facing potential Tibet-related boycotts of the Beijing Olympic Games in October of that year, Beijing had moved quickly to avoid an international public relations disaster. Authorities branded the riots the “3/14 incident”, a name that gave additional significance to the event within China and that provided a mnemonic to 9/11 more broadly.

Unsurprisingly, Beijing’s attempted demonization of the TYC as terrorists failed to resonate with international audiences. Rather, as Warren Smith writes in his book Tibet's Last Stand?: The Tibetan Uprising of 2008 and China's Response, it was international sympathy for China over the Sichuan Earthquake and “an illusion that China’s professed willingness to dialogue about Tibet was sincere” that was responsible for ending the Olympic boycott threats.

Glimpse Inside Air-Sea Battle: Nukes, Cyber At Its Heart

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on July 09, 2013

PENTAGON: In intellectual terms, Air-Sea Battle is the biggest of the military’s big ideas for its post-Afghanistan future. But what is it, really? It’s a constantly evolving concept for high-tech, high-intensity conflict that touches on everything from cyberwar to nuclear escalation to the rise of China. In practical terms, however, the beating heart of AirSea Battle is eleven overworked officers working in windowless Pentagon meeting rooms, and the issues they can’t get to are at least as important as the ones they can.

“It’s like being a start-up inside a great, big, rigid corporation,” one Air-Sea Battle representative told me in an exclusive briefing last month. The Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO) has just 17 staff: those eleven uniformed officers, drawn from all four services, plus six civilian contractors. None of them ranks higher than colonel or Navy captain. Even these personnel are technically “on loan,” seconded from other organizations and paid for out of other budgets. But those 17 people sit at the hub of a sprawling network of formal liaisons and informal contacts across the four armed services and the joint combatant commands.

“Air-Sea Battle has left the building,” said a second officer at the briefing. “We’ve reached the grass roots, and we’re getting ideas from the grass roots.”

So the good news is that the Air-Sea Battle Office isn’t just another big Pentagon bureaucracy, let alone the anti-China cabal it’s sometimes of accused of being. Instead, in essence, it is an effort to develop compatible technologies and tactics across all four services for a new kind of conflict: not the Army and Marine-led land war against low-tech guerrillas we have seen since 9/11, but an Air Force and Navy-led campaign against “anti-access/area denial” forces that could fry our networks, jam GPS, and hit our planes, ships, bases, and even satellites with long-range missiles. China is the worst case scenario here, but not the only one.

The bad news is, precisely because ASBO is not a big bureaucracy, the smart, earnest, small staff of the “start-up” can only really focus on existing weapons and organizations. They are deluged by the near-term nitty gritty of getting existing organizations and weapons programs to work together in a future war. That leaves little time to explore potentially revolutionary new technologies not already embedded in the Pentagon’s seven-year plan, the Program Objective Memorandum (POM). That also leaves them little time to think through the often scary strategic implications of how the next war will be waged.

In fact, the ASBO was very carefully set up not to handle war planning, strategy, or high-level policy. By design, it is only a collaboration between the four armed services – originally just the Air Force and Navy, but now joined by the Army and Marines. It is deliberately distinct from the Joint Staff and the joint combatant commands. “That’s not to say we’re divorced from the Joint Staff, [let alone] fighting against each other,” said one officer, but “the benefit for the service chiefs is they can reach right down to us,” without going through joint intermediaries.

That leaves the Air-Sea Battle Office to focus on the services’ Title X responsibilities to “train, organize, and equip” the force, while leaving how, when, and why to use the force up to the joint world. “We’re working on making sure that a rifle has interchangeable magazines and ammunition,” another officer said, as an analogy. “We’re not worried about how it’s going to be used. Those policy decisions are not really what this office considers.”

It’s not that they’re blind to those bigger issues. Originally, “when the concept was written, we put a boundary on it and we said, ‘hey, we’re not going to address nuclear weapons,’” said another officer. “Since then we’ve realized, ‘hey, we do need to deal with nuclear operations.’”

Most military officers are as reluctant as the rest of us to contemplate nuclear war, and since the Berlin Wall came down, they’ve largely been able to ignore it as we fought relatively low-tech foes. But Air-Sea Battle is driven – though few will say so on the record – by threats from Iran, which may soon have the bomb, from North Korea, which has had it since 2006 and is working on fitting nuclear warheads into an ICBM, and from China, which has had nukes since 1964 and already has a sizable arsenal of nuclear missiles. Air-Sea Battle envisions a clean campaign of precision non-nuclear strikes, but, paradoxically, the more effective such conventional operations become, the more likely a hard-pressed adversary is to resort to nuclear weapons in response.

Is China Really Loosening Its Tibet Policy?

July 10, 2013
By Saransh Sehgal

Signs of change have been reported, but many observers remain skeptical.

Reports that Beijing is “experimenting” with its Tibet policy have surfaced recently, with suggestions that it was lifting – unofficially at least – a decades-old ban on the Dalai Lama’s image in certain ethnic Tibetan regions. Some outside observers saw it as a new gambit under recently inaugurated President Xi Jinping to appeal to Tibetans and put an end to the series of self-immolations that have damaged China’s human rights image. 

Beijing quickly refuted the reports. But analysts believe Chinese authorities would want to keep any changes quiet, which for now are likely being tested in certain areas. For the moment, then, it’s a matter of wait and see.

Since 1994, Beijing authorities have run a particularly hostile campaign against the exiled Tibet’s spiritual head, the Dalai Lama, including prohibitions on the display of his photographs and requirements for monks and nuns to denounce the Dalai Lama. The policies led to mass protests inside Tibet in 2008 as well as ongoing religious suppression in the region.

“News of discussions on a softer approach to the Dalai Lama in Tsolho (Chinese: Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai (the Tibetan area of Amdo) emerged on a Chinese website and from Tibetan sources in the area following three meetings held in a monastery in Chabcha (Chinese: Gonghe) and the provincial capital of Xining,” said the rights group International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), which is based in Washington D.C.

That news coincided with the publication of bold new suggestions of engagement with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and a critique of Tibet policy by Professor Jin Wei, director of ethnic religious studies at the Central Party School.

In an interview given to Hong Kong’s Asia Weekly on June 12, she said that treating the Dalai Lama as an enemy is alienating the six million Tibetans who believe he is the living Buddha: “The Dalai Lama is the key to the issue of Tibet,” she added, recommending that China re-start its stalled dialogue with him and invite him to Hong Kong or Macau. She also proposed negotiating with the Buddhist leader about his next incarnation, and in the future, allowing him to return to Tibet itself.

Jin further suggested that Tibet policy be taken away from Hu Jinato’s supporters, who in the past have insisted on a hard-line policy on Dalai Lama, resulting in religious suppression on the Himalayan plateau. Tibet watchers note that the professor was unlikely to have made her comments without official approval.

The Dalai Lama celebrated his 78th birthday on July 6 with the exiled Tibetan community in Southern India. The day before he agreed that change may be afoot. Speaking to media in the Indian city of Bengaluru,he said, “I am very optimistic, but we have to wait for a little longer. The new Chinese leadership seems ready now, to accept reality.”

Kate Saunders, spokesperson for the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) not only confirmed for The Diplomat that certain experiments in some areas are undergoing, but also indicated that a strategic rethink seems be underway. “Both the Qinghai (the Tibetan area of Amdo) proposals for a new approach and the Jin Wei comments indicate that the current leftist, conservative hard-line policy on Tibet is being questioned and discussed within the PRC. Since the 2008 protests and crackdown, Chinese and Tibetan officials and intellectuals are known to have expressed concern about the increasingly aggressive rhetoric against the Dalai Lama and its detrimental impact – there seems to be a deepening acknowledgement now that the anti-Dalai Lama campaign has been counter-productive,” she said.

Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke made a rare visit to Tibet recently, where he met with residents and officials and urged Beijing authorities to allow foreigners to travel more freely in the tightly controlled region. Locke also called for the opening of a US consulate in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) capital Lhasa. It is the first time Chinese authorities had approved an embassy request to visit Tibet since September 2010, and comes after continuous U.S. calls for the Chinese government to hear grievances of the Tibetan people and open access to the region. 

Tibet policy was static under the leadership of Hu Jinato, but the arrival of new Chinese President Xi Jinping may have opened the door to new thinking. Still, analysts advise caution.

Robbie Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University in New York, told The Diplomat that, “Even if the local-level experiments are considered successful and are extended to larger areas, it will be some time before we can tell if this is a change in substance rather than just in style. The leadership may decide in due course to end the practice of denouncing the Dalai Lama, which would immediately improve conditions and help end the immolations, but it doesn't mean that other policies will change.”