29 September 2013

Understanding Contemporary Kashmir

September 28, 2013 

Team SAISA carried out an extensive survey and interacted with a large number of stake holders in rural and urban Kashmir to gauge the realities on ground. We are carrying results of our research in a three part series – the first part covered our basic impressionshere, this post covers the Pre Afzal Guru hanging period while the concluding part will deal with the current dynamics born after the Gen VK Singh controversy and the way forward.


Status of J & K pre-Guru Hanging 

Governance/ Human Rights 

Kashmir post-2010 and pre-February 9, 2013 was well on its way to transform itself from a conflict into a post-conflict scenario. 2011 had been the most peaceful year in decades, and 2012 followed in a similar or even better vein. Most demonstrations and localized agitations had centered on issues of governance and basics, while most cries for Azadi had been absent from the streets for the first time since 2008. This was largely the result of the security forces having been more cautious so as to rehabilitate the extremely negative image it had gained during the previous three years, and also because of the army trying to play a more people friendly role, especially in remote rural areas.

Significantly, after a young man was shot by the army at a village of Rafiabad in Baramulla District in 2012, the army immediately apologized to the family, acknowledged that it had been a case of mistaken identity, and swiftly paid reparations to the family. Orders were also issued to the local command structure to use utmost caution while patrolling in the future. This prevented the situation from escalating on the local level, and did not raise eyebrows in Srinagar.

However, outstanding grievances like the prosecution of army officers involved in the Machil incident were still being discussed, and swift movement against the culprits would have gone a long way towards enhancing the credibility of the institution. Similarly, some progress should have been made in the investigations of some of the police killings of youth during 2010. Yet, for the most part, less brutal policing and also hearts and minds programs by the army had assured that people were focusing on other issues. Importantly, though, the perception remained that India applied different standards of democracy and jurisprudence for J & K as compared to other states.

While there had been large scale demonstrations throughout the country against corruption and lack of governance throughout 2011 and 2012, a similar right to legitimate dissent does not exist in J & K. Protests against these issues were and are often treated as though they are political/ secessionist in nature and are on many occasions either put down or not allowed at all. The continuous imposition of Section 144 in some urban areas was once again viewed as the stifling of any democratic outpouring of local resentment regardless of the topic. It was hoped that this would change after 2010 for people not to internalize issues, and for these grievances not to be transformed into something else as often happens in Kashmir. Moreover, there was an overwhelming feeling that the mainstream parties either don’t have the will or the skill to focus on good governance. Twenty years of conflict have allowed the ruling dispensation(s) to bank on emotive issues while development and curbing corruption have taken a backseat. The current dispensation has been viewed as very corrupt and ineffective. This sentiment is shared by people in urban and rural areas and also by each region. Issues that required and continue to require urgent attention include: 

The Tragedy of the Indian Army

September 27, 2013 

In the mad race to boost circulation and viewer ratings, the media may have, in one go, started the process of demolishing one of the last institutions that has stood rock solid in defence of idea that is India.

Nitin Gokhale

The Indian Army’s greatest tragedy!

In my three decades of reporting on the Indian military, I have never felt more uneasy about the military-media interface as I have in the past three months.

This is not because the media has been accused of being sensationalist or because many unsavoury truths about internal rivalry and groupism in the military brass have created bad blood in the top hierarchy.

My unease stems from the damage that the events of the past few months have inflicted on the average Indian soldier.

For at least a quarter of a century now, we have been lamenting the steadily diminishing status of the ordinary Indian soldier in society; that soldiering is no longer respected as a noble profession in our rural areas; that the jawan struggles to get his due from a civil administration increasingly contemptuous and apathetic towards him; that he continues to get paid poorly and treated unfairly by a society solely driven by materialism.

Now, following a spate of reports based on half-truths and outright lies, motivated by God alone knows what, we may have done the ultimate disservice to the Indian soldier: Planted the seed of suspicion about his loyalty in the minds of ordinary Indians.

The ultimate disservice to the Indian soldier

While I will defend the right of every media person to report what he or she thinks is right, I am afraid none of us has thought through the consequences of the effect it will have on the psyche of the Indian soldier and, more importantly, the way ordinary Indians will view the Indian Army.

In the mad race to boost our circulation and viewer ratings, we may have, in one go, started the process of demolishing one of the last institutions that has stood rock solid in defence of the idea that is India.

For the first time in my now reasonably long career in journalism, I feel like hiding from my friends in the military.

I feel we have not paused to think about the long-term damage we have wrought upon the profession of soldiering.

While all dramatis personae are equally culpable in the current controversy, we in the media certainly have a greater responsibility not to add fuel to the fire.

The Army is India’s Brahma Asthra

I say this because from disaster relief in floods, tsunamis and earthquakes, to rescuing an infant Prince from a deep tube well and from quelling rioters in communal strife to being the last resort in internal counter-insurgency operations, the Indian Army has been omnipresent.

It is, what I call, India’s Brahma Asthra (the ultimate weapon).

The Indian Army’s versatility, adaptability, selfless attitude and resourcefulness has allowed it to be what it is today: Nation Builders.

Viewed in the context of India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood, the Indian Army’s stellar role stands out in stark contrast to its counterparts in other countries.

Future Jihadi nurseries are being set up near LOC

September 28, 2013 
Dr Shabir Choudhry 

My contacts have revealed that Jamat Ul Dawa, a parent organisation of Lashkar e Taiba, which is best known for its new brand of Islam and terrorist activities committed in name of Islam and Jihad are setting up new Masjids (Mosques) and Madrassas (religious schools) in various localities near the Line of Control.

Once a Masjid is built, whether it is small or a big or whether it teaches true Islam or violence and hatred in name of Islam could not be destroyed, especially in rural areas, unless a bigger one is built-in its place.

It is alarming to learn that the groups that promote violence and terrorism in name of Islam; and who have been very active in sending jihadi warriors across the LOC to commit acts of violence are setting up masjids and madrassas in the Neelam Valley and other areas near the LOC. 
Incentive for the local people are:

· They don’t have to pay for the cost of construction;
· Pay for the Imam and other teachers;
· Pay the maintenance costs;
· Children get free education and free meals.

Danger, however, is that with a network of Masjids and Madrassas the Jihadi groups will have access to all areas. They will have support from the local people, which previously they did not enjoy. Resentment against these jihadi groups was so strong in the past that the local people even the women came out in protests against them.

All this will change if the Jihadi groups have their way. The danger is that they will have a strong hold in the region which is used as a launching pad to send armed militants across the LOC. Above all they will have local boys, trained and groomed as a new breed of jihadi warriors to promote a new jihadi or a terrorist agenda and create havoc in the region.

The Jihadi nurseries that were set up during the Zia Ul Haq era were for a specific agenda; and to meet the requirements of that time. These Jihadi nurseries flourished with an official patronage, help and guidance. Wise people cautioned about consequences of this policy, but a big majority remained quiet, as it was projected as a war to save Pakistan and Islam.

The same policy continued even after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Pakistani policy makers wanted a ‘strategic depth’; and they also found a new theatre for the Jihadi warriors in Kashmir. The Pakistani policy of promoting and exporting Jihad has come to haunt them; and now no one feels safe in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

However, sad thing is despite the fact that these Jihadi groups are now challenging the writ of the Pakistani government and seriously damaging the fabrics of the Pakistani society, the policy of grooming and supporting the militant groups has not changed. Still within the Pakistani establishment and political circles there is no will to eliminate these groups or seriously challenge them. As a result of wrong policies and bewilderment the entire region is suffering; and even our future generations will pay the price for our negligence and complacency.

After 9-11 the situation changed dramatically, and the jihadi warriors faced enormous pressure; and encountered many challenges. With some official support and guidance, they withstood that pressure and formulated new strategies and fiercely fought back. After many years of struggle and suffering, they seem to be having an upper hand. They are calling shots at will in Pakistan, and in view of some commentators, they are virtually dictating the terms and establishing their writ in various parts of Pakistan.

WINDOW IN THE WALL- Images of 1971: a document of destruction


Some years ago, at a discussion around 9/11, Raghu Rai said that without a photograph, history and a page of text would be a brick wall. The photograph provided the window in that wall, bringing life and energy into the wordsmiths’ laborious toils. Rai eloquently argued that “Jaan dene say jaan vapas milta hai” — if one gives of oneself, one gets back something that has spirit, essence: recording a situation is one thing and imbuing it with “an inner spirit, with the feel, the nudge, the lingering smell... I have been a great believer in the power and potency of the single image,” Rai said. The image that flickered across the television screen and was gone in a flash, leaving no memory to hold on to, to touch and to feel, could not hold a candle to the still that had its creator’s life force, mood, energy and power behind it.

It was this belief in the power of the still image that found Rai packing his bags and boarding a flight for Calcutta in August 1971. He found that “the border was not just porous, it was overflowing from all sides”. The village of Bongaon was too small to accommodate the influx, and India was not ready for what was to come. Rai wrote about “the emotional fallout” that “was overwhelmingly painful” — but it was his camera that recorded the unbelievable brutality, the silent pain and the trauma suffered by the people of East Pakistan uncertain of their tenuous future. Bangladesh — The Price of Freedom is a visual documentary of the last months in a tortured land, memorialized on film by the genius of Raghu Rai.

When General Sam Manekshaw ordered the infantry to move into East Pakistan on December 4, 1971, Raghu Rai was in the first column that headed towards Khulna. Soon they were greeted with artillery fire, and when a bullet whizzed past him as he sat at a chai stall, he knew that the Pakistani army was close at hand. Rai and his group were clearly visible and though he took photographs of wounded soldiers, he asked, “How many such photographs could I possibly take? The next set of victims could be us.” That Raghu Rai wasn’t a victim and took some amazing photographs is more than evident in this collection of 70-odd black and white images.

The visuals tell many stories of survival and of death. The introduction by Shahidul Alam, the outstanding Bangladeshi chemist-turned-photographer narrates yet another — that of the discovery of these images and their survival. When, in 1986, he met Rai on a “junk headed for Kowloon”, it marked the beginning of a warm relationship. Though Alam was “somewhat in awe of the great Indian photographer”, he was disarmed in no time by Rai’s inimitable camaraderie. And, when in around 2010, he got a call from Rai to say that the negatives of 39 years ago had been found, Alam knew that a unique visual history of his country’s past was at hand. In the years between, there had been intense curatorial attempts at recovering whatever material remained of the many telling and re-tellings of the months between March 26, when the Pakistan army launched its Operation Searchlight, and December 16, 1971, the day of liberation. World interest had been galvanized not only through the Blood Telegrams in which the American consul general in Dhaka and 29 other Americans issued a statement to “register strong dissent with fundamental aspects” of American policy that “failed to denounce atrocities” but also by the music and lyrics of Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez, George Harrison, Allen Ginsberg and others.

Joint command for special op gets nod

 By Rahul Datta
29 September 2013 

Amalgamation of Spl Forces of the Army, Marcos, Garuds for war on terror awaits approval of PM

In a significant move to counter terrorism in the country and neighbourhood besides conduct unconventional warfare and covert operations, the Defence Ministry has approved setting up of a Special Operations Command (SOC). The proposed command will amalgamate elite commandos of ‘Special Forces’ of the Army, ‘Marine Commandos’ (MARCOS) of Navy and ‘Garuds’ of IAF. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by the Prime Minister, will take the final call on it in November.

The CCS will also examine two other proposals cleared by the Defence Ministry to create Space and Cyber Commands. The three Services have agreed to pool their resources for these commands after nearly two years of deliberations. These Commands are a necessity in modern day warfare where synergy amongst all the armed forces is a must to achieve strategic and national objectives.

The SOC will integrate the highly-trained commandos of the three Services to deal with “out of area” contingencies like warding off any threat to remote islands in Andaman & Nicobar and other such regions in the Indian Ocean. 

The SOC of the US was responsible for taking out Osama bin Laden in Pakistan when US Navy SEAL commandos stormed his hideout. The US SOC works in close co-ordination with the CIA in its ‘war against terror’.

Phase-I of setting up the SOC in India will involve an amalgamation of manpower and assets of the three Services. Phase-II will see modifications in standard operating procedures (SOPs), once the Command gets operational, sources said here on Saturday.

While the three Services have agreed to have such a command for effective response to any threat without losing time, they will continue to operate in their assigned domains, officials said.

Xi signals greater role for China in Afghanistan

By Ananth Krishnan
September 29, 2013 

China has signalled its intention to play a greater diplomatic role in the lead-up to the 2014 withdrawal of U.S.-led NATO forces from Afghanistan, as the war-torn nation’s President, Hamid Karzai, held talks with the top Chinese leadership.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Mr. Karzai China was ready to deepen political, economic and security support as he described 2014 as “a key year” for the nation’s future. As a sign of its intent to play a leading diplomatic role in bringing countries in the region together, Mr. Xi said China had decided to host, next year, the fourth ministerial meeting of the Istanbul Conference, which was initiated by regional countries in 2011.

Despite Mr. Xi signalling China’s widening diplomatic ambitions, analysts say Beijing is, however, unlikely to significantly alter its cautious approach with regard to providing financial and security assistance in the near-term.

The Chinese government on Saturday said it would provide a modest 200 million Yuan (around $32 million) grant to the Afghan government this year. The joint statement issued on Friday said China would provide assistance “within the realm of its capabilities”.

Andrew Small of the German Marshall Fund’s Asia Program, who has extensively studied China-Afghan relations, said Beijing was likely to “continue to move forward very carefully until it’s confident that there’s a political and security environment in which it feels comfortable about expanding its economic presence”.

“Even then,” he told The Hindu, “it’s not going to vastly increase aid or its security training. These numbers are still very small, as are the aid figures”, with the shift in policy so far “more about a considerably increased level of diplomatic involvement.”

“Heading off India-Pakistan security competition in Afghanistan is one of China’s primary concerns, alongside the prospect that the country becomes a base again for Uighur militants [the Turkic minority group in China’s western Xinjiang region],” Mr. Small told The Hindu. “China’s close relationship with Pakistan naturally sets them up to cooperate there but Beijing doesn’t want to see Pakistan playing a spoiler role in Afghanistan again and is privately communicating these expectations to them.”

China’s Dangerous Weakness, Part 1: Beijing’s Aggressive Idea Of Self-Defense

September 26, 2013

A People’s Liberation Army soldier during a demonstration for visiting US officers.

WASHINGTON: From this city’s perspective, China looks like a rising giant, liable todominate its smaller neighbors unless America stands firm. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will likely carry soothing words of reassurance on this very subject to Seoul and Tokyo when he travels there next week.

From Beijing’s point of view, however, it is China that looks like the underdog – and, at least in the near term, they’ve got a point. Unfortunately, this sense of relative weakness doesn’t make the dragon pull in its horns. To the contrary, feeling vulnerable makes the Chinese skittish in dangerous and provocative ways.

Despite two decades of investment, China’s military is still outgunned by Japan, let alone by the US. “Japan has the strongest navy and air force in Asia except for the United States,” leading analyst Larry Wortzel said Wednesday at the Institute of World Politics, pointing at a map of northeast Asia: “This shows their air force bases and how they’re postured….”

“You said Japan?” interrupted an incredulous member of the audience.

“Japan, that’s correct, absolutely,” said Wortzel. “The most modern, the most effective. [They’re] still restricted by Article 9 of the Constitution” – which “forever renounce[s] war as a sovereign right of the nation” – “but you don’t want to mess with them.”

And that’s just one US ally. South Korea has a formidable military of its own. Then there’s America’s own military which, despite painful budget cuts, remains the largest and most high-tech in the world, at least for now. So the balance of forces in the Western Pacific still favors the democracies.

That’s the geostrategic good news. The bad news is that Beijing isn’t handling it well.

The Dark Side of China’s “International Divisions”

By Zhang Yucheng
September 28, 2013

There is a boom in study abroad in China, with more and more students seeking an overseas university education. Traditionally, most Chinese students prepared to undertake undergraduate degrees overseas with the help of commercial outfits offering exam prep courses for IELTS, TOEFL, the SATs and other important tests, which filled a gap left by schools.

That is now changing, with the emergence in the schools of many large Chinese cities of the so-called international division, or international department, as the most important program for preparing students for their overseas study experience. This is a somewhat revolutionary development in the Chinese education sector, yet it has hitherto gone largely unremarked.

One reason for this is that these “international divisions” are not exactly official policy. The Chinese government has yet to establish a clear position on programs to prepare students for overseas study. Schools have taken it upon themselves to respond to burgeoning demand, but because they lack the experience to set up and run the programs themselves, they have usually turned to private-sector corporations, which run the programs on campus in the name of the school. With the exception of a small number of schools that have gone it alone, most international divisions have a mixed public-private nature.

This blended public-private model is new, and it opens up some exciting educational possibilities. Nonetheless, the model has its drawbacks. By appropriating the school brand, these new international divisions can swiftly accumulate prestige and authority – while, of course, increase enrolment – but there are abuses. The companies behind the international divisions are operating on the profit motive. Naturally, the programs need to maintain quality if they are to survive, but in many international divisions the for-profit mindset means that only a small portion of tuition fees are allocated to providing educational services and supplies.

Will the NSA Revelations Kickstart the Cybersecurity Industry in China?

By Adam Segal
September 28, 2013 

One of the common arguments in the wake of the Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance is that other countries are going to double down on developing their own technology industries to reduce their dependence on U.S. companies. The Chinese press has made this argument numerous times–highlighting how IBM, Cisco, Intel and others have penetrated Chinese society–and this was one of the themes in BrazilianPresident Dilma Rousseff’s address to the United Nations General Assembly: “Brazil will redouble its efforts to adopt legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from the illegal interception of communications and data.”

This week the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China and the Internet Society of China sponsored the Chinese Internet Security Conference in Beijing. At the conference, NetentSec's CEO Yuan Shengang (Tony Yuan) compared the U.S. and Chinese cybersecurity industries. Yuan, who spent eight years in the United States, shows the difficulties of converting the attention to NSA surveillance into economics, painting a frank picture of the barriers to growth and innovation for Chinese companies. He also takes a much less techno-nationalist tone on the growth of a Chinese cybersecurity industry than the NSA spying promotes domestic industry argument would suggest.

Yuan highlights at least three problems China will face:

Awareness. As Yuan noted in a quip to the Washington Post, before the NSA revelations there was very little recognition of Internet security problems in China. Now, according to Yuan, domestic companies realize the need to invest in security and the government is focused on the problem. “For those in the industry, we really need to thank Snowden.” Still, the government lacks laws on cybersecurity and overemphasizes the supply of products through evaluation, licensing, and testing to the detriment of creating domestic demand.

The Dangers of Success

Why it's not so simple to crush and kill al Qaeda affiliates. 

SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

Al-Shabab has seen better days. The Somali group that perpetrated the horrific attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya that killed over 60 people controlled much of Somalia, including the capital, in 2009. Forces from the African Union and neighboring states like Kenya -- backed by the United States and working with rival Somali factions -- chased al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and many other parts of the country, while splits and defections further weakened the group. Then, in 2012, after years of flirtation, al Qaeda formally embraced al-Shabab. Setbacks for an al Qaeda ally is good news for U.S. friends, but one of the ironies of American counterterrorism is that helping our allies win changes the nature of the threat.

Acknowledging these shifting sands, President Barack Obama observed this May that "the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11," but warned that al Qaeda affiliates are emerging, from "Yemen to Iraq, from Somalia to North Africa." Counterterrorism accordingly has shifted, with attention focused less on the al Qaeda core and more on affiliates and potential allies, which are present in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, among other countries. Many of these groups are locked in life and death struggles against local governments, which is why Washington is arming, training, and providing allied regimes support. But al-Shabab's experience suggests that we must prepare for "success" -- because locally focused groups respond to failure in dangerous ways.

Some terrorists keep fighting while their comrades fall one by one: Basque Fatherland and Liberty, better known by its acronym, ETA, took years to embrace a ceasefire despite the killing or arrest of many of its senior members. Other terrorists simply drop out and at times even reject violence: Leaders of Egypt's Gamaat al-Islamiyya, which was responsible for attacks in Egypt that led to almost 1,000 deaths in the 1990s, declared a ceasefire from jail in 2003 and later issued a stunning self-critique that rejected violence. After President Hosni Mubarak fell, Gamaat al-Islamiyya even formed a political party.

Many groups respond to failure, however, by doubling down and changing their agendas. Like Gamaat al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), whose leader Ayman Zawahiri now heads al Qaeda, initially focused exclusively on Egypt to the point that it argued that even the struggle against Israel should be secondary. EIJ fought alongside, and at times with, the Gamaat al-Islamiyya and also imploded in the late 1990s, with its leaders dead, jailed, or in exile. But in its death throes, fragments of EIJ became even more extreme and, in so doing, further alienated the Egyptian public. Hounded at home and abroad and out of money, Zawahiri embraced Osama bin Laden's global agenda and directed the remnants of his organization against the United States.

Will Iran Cut a Deal?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani doesn’t have a free hand, but Washington should take these nuclear talks as far as they can possibly go.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may not be Mikhail Gorbachev, but he may be the West's best partner in Iran in decades.

Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Two things seem clear from Hassan Rouhani’s excellent adventure in New York City this week. First, something new is afoot. No Iranian president in 34 years has spoken so pragmatically or appeared so keen for a deal with the West as this one. Nor has an Iranian foreign minister met with his American counterpart, as Mohammad Javad Zarif did with John Kerry on Thursday—much less announce afterward that nuclear negotiations will begin in three weeks, with a mutually set goal of finalizing an accord within a year. If all this is a ruse, it’s a baroquely elaborate one.

But, second, this high-speed high-wire act—while potentially triumphant—is fraught with risk; it’s a bold but delicate business.

The first loud signal that Rouhani might not be a Persian replay of Mikhail Gorbachev, as his advance team had led many Westerners to hope, came when he ignored the message from the White House that during a break at the U.N. General Assembly President Obama would be open to an “encounter”—a handshake in a hallway, maybe a brief chat on the side.

No, this wasn’t a “snubbing,” as critics of both presidents snarled (or, in the case of Obama’s critics, jeered). But it probably did indicate that, when it comes to bargaining away his country’s nuclear program, Rouhani has less latitude than he’d been suggesting in his pre-trip rhetoric. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may have let him give peace talks a chance, especially if they resulted in an easing of economic sanctions. But these talks would be formal, which is to say observable by aides (some of them likely Khamenei’s agents) around the table. There were to be no private whispers with an American president. (Rouhani, when he wants to, speaks fluent English.) Update: To drive home the point that no diss was intended and that the future looks cautiously bright, Obama called a press conference Friday afternoon to announce that he and Rouhani had just spoken on the phone, the first verbal contact between an American and Iranian president since 1979.

Eight Exceptionally Dumb Things America's Done in the 21st Century

September 27, 2013

"But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth."

-- Barack Obama, address to the nation on Syria, September 10, 2013

Let's be Americans, which means being exceptional, which also means being honest in ways inconceivable to the rest of humanity. So here's the truth of it: the American exceptionalism sweepstakes really do matter. Here. A lot.

Barack Obama is only the latest in a jostling crowd of presidential candidates, presidential wannabes, major politicians, and minor figures of every sort, not to speak of a raging horde of neocons and pundits galore, who have felt compelled in recent years to tell us and the world just how exceptional the last superpower really is. They tend to emphasize our ability to use this country's overwhelming power, especially the military variety, for the global good -- to save children and other deserving innocents. This particularly American aptitude for doing good forcibly, by killing others, is considered an incontestable fact of earthly life needing no proof. It is well known, especially among our leading politicians, that Washington has the ability to wield its military strength in ways that are unimaginably superior to any other power on the planet.

The well-deserved bragging rights to American exceptionalism are no small matter in this country. It should hardly be surprising, then, how visceral is the distaste when any foreigner -- say, Russian President Vladimir Putin -- decides to appropriate the term and use it to criticize us. How visceral? Well, the sort of visceral that, as Democratic Senator Bob Menendez put it recently, leaves us barely repressing the urge to "vomit."

Now, it's not that we can't take a little self-criticism. If you imagine an over-muscled, over-armed guy walking into a room and promptly telling you and anyone else in earshot how exceptionally good he is when it comes to targeting his weapons, and you notice a certain threatening quality about him, and maybe a hectoring, lecturing tone in his voice, it's just possible that you might be intimidated or irritated by him. You might think: narcissist, braggart, or blowhard. If you were the president of Russia, you might say, "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation."

Yes, if you're a foreigner, this country is easy enough to misunderstand, make fun of, or belittle. Still, that didn't stop the president from proudly bringing up our exceptionalism two weeks ago in his address on the Syrian crisis. In that speech, he plugged the need for a U.S. military response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military. He recommended launching a "limited strike," assumedly Tomahawk missiles heading Damascus-wards, to save Syria's children, and he made sure the world knew that such an attack would be no passing thing. ("Let me make something clear: the United States military doesn't do pinpricks.")

Foreign Investment and U.S. National Security

Author: Jonathan Masters, Deputy Editor
September 27, 2013


The United States is both the world's largest foreign direct investor and the largest beneficiary of foreign direct investment (FDI). But like every sovereign country, it has sought to temper its embrace of open markets with the protection of national security interests. Achieving this balance, which has shifted over time, has meant placing certain limitations on overseas investment in strategically sensitive sectors of the U.S. economy.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States was established in 1975 to review acquisitions of U.S. firms by foreign entities that could erode national security. Recent political opposition to some high-profile foreign investment activity, including the 2006 Dubai Ports World controversy, has fed a perception among some that the United States has stepped back from its open-door policies. The federal government, however, reviews only a small fraction of the hundreds of annual foreign acquisitions, and it blocks transactions in only the rarest of cases. In a record-setting deal, CFIUS approved the sale of Smithfield Foods to Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. in September 2013, the largest Chinese purchase of a U.S. company in history.

A cleaner wipes the glass door of a Huawei office in Wuhan, Hubei province (Courtesy Reuters).

How does the United States benefit from foreign investment?

Washington has traditionally led international efforts to bring down barriers to cross-border capital flows, with the goals of expanding investment opportunities for U.S. multinational businesses and creating a more stable, efficient international system. At the same time, the United States relies greatly on foreign inflows to compensate for a shortage of savings at home. The United States routinely ranks among the most favorable destinations for foreign direct investors. Foreign direct investment—the ownership or control by a foreign entity of 10 percent or more of a domestic enterprise—plays a modest but growing role in the U.S. economy.

Expressed in billions. Note: The drop in U.S. investment abroad in 2005 reflects actions by U.S. parent companies to take advantage of a one-time tax provsion. Source: Department of Commerce.

According to the Department of Commerce, foreign firms owned more than thirty thousand businesses in the United States in 2010, employed nearly six million people (roughly 4 percent of the civilian workforce), and paid higher average salaries than their domestic competitors. Moreover, foreign firms are disproportionately involved in manufacturing—more than twice the ratio of the total U.S. economy—and they often provide high-skill jobs and training that lift local economies. In 2010, China-owned Pacific Century Motors bought auto-parts maker Nexteer, saving thousands of jobs in Saginaw, Michigan. "This city went from being an exhibit of America's industrial decline to a case study in the impact of Chinese investment money on U.S. communities," said the Wall Street Journal. Indeed, many states and cities aggressively pursue foreign direct investment.

Identifying The Big Dogs Of Cyber War

September 23, 2013

Over the last decade Internet security firms (especially Kaspersky Labs and Symantec) have been increasingly successful at identifying the hacker organizations responsible for some of the large-scale hacker attacks on business and government networks. The latest group to be identified is from China and has been called Hidden Lynx. This group appears to contain 50-100 hackers (as identified by their coding style) and is believed to be largely responsible for a large scale espionage campaign (“Operation Aurora) in 2010 and is still active.

The security firms also identify and describe major malware (software created by hackers for penetrating and stealing from target systems). Earlier this year Kaspersky Labs discovered a stealthy espionage program called NetTraveler. This bit of malware had been secretly planted in PCs used by diplomats and government officials in over 40 countries. Also hit were oil companies and political activists opposed to China. No samples of the NetTraveler from Israel were available for this analysis, but the program apparently did appear in Israel (but may have been prevented from stealing anything). Dissection of NetTraveler indicated it was created by about fifty different people, most of them Chinese speakers who knew how to program in English.

Kaspersky also discovered a similar bit of malware called Red October, because it appeared to have been created by Russian speaking programmers. Red October was a very elaborate and versatile malware system. Hundreds of different modules have been discovered and Red October had been customized for a larger number of specific targets. Red October was found to be in the PCs and smart phones of key military personnel in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and dozens of other nations (U.S., Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Brazil, Spain, South Africa, Japan, and the UAE). The Red October Internet campaign has been going on for at least five years and has been seeking military and diplomatic secrets. As a result of this discovery Internet operators worldwide shut down the addresses Red October depended on.

Red October does not appear to be the product of some government intelligence agency and may be from one of several shadowy private hacker groups that specialize in seeking out military secrets and then selling them to the highest bidder. The buyers of this stuff prefer to remain quiet about obtaining secrets this way. In response to this publicity, the operators of Red October have apparently shut down the network. The Russian government ordered the security services to find out if Russians were involved with Red October and, if so, to arrest and prosecute them. Russia has long been a sanctuary for Internet criminals, largely because of poor policing and corruption. It may well turn out that the Red October crew is in Russia and has paid off a lot of Russian cops in order to avoid detection and prosecution. To date, the operators of Red October have not been found.

South Korea has been subjected to a growing number of Cyber War attacks over the last few years, some of them quite damaging. In the last year South Korean security researchers concluded that nearly all these attacks were the work of one group of 10-50 people called DarkSeoul. Given the extent of the attacks, the amount of work required to carry them out, and the lack of an economic component (no money was being stolen) it appeared to be the work of a national government. That coincides with earlier conclusions that North Korean, not Chinese, hackers were definitely responsible for several attacks on South Korean networks. The most compelling bit of evidence came from an incident where a North Korean hacker’s error briefly made it possible to trace back to where he was operating from. The location was in the North Korean capital at an IP address belonging to the North Korean government. Actually, very few North Korean IP addresses belong to private individuals and fewer still have access to anything outside North Korea.

'Not surprising India has become an important surveillance target'

By Shobhan Saxena
September 23, 2013 

AP GLENN GREENWALD: ‘The U.S.’s primary tactic is to try to scare citizens of the world by constantly manipulating the threat posed in order to induce submission … This has been particularly exposed with these NSA stories.’

For some time now, people around the world have suspected their emails are being read and phone conversations tapped into by government agencies. But there never was any proof. Everybody’s worst fears came true in June when Edward Snowden, a system administrator with the U.S. National Security Agency, disclosed information about mass electronic surveillance programmes being run by the agency since 2007. Glenn Greenwaldbroke that story for The Guardian.

Since then the American journalist, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, has done a series of hard-hitting stories that have exposed the reach of the NSA’s secret surveillance operations. His expose about the NSA snooping on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s phones and email has already led to the cancellation of her state dinner at the White House.

Now collaborating with The Hindu on a series of stories about the NSA’s spying activities in India, Mr. Greenwald spoke to Shobhan Saxena in the course of their meetings in hotel lobbies and at his house, which he shares with his partner David Miranda, 10 dogs and one cat, in the middle of Tijuca forest in Rio. Excerpts from the interview:

What do you think has been the most important impact of your stories?

It’s that not only Americans, but people around the world, now understand the true aim of the U.S. surveillance system: collect, store, and analyse all forms of electronic communication between human beings. In other words, their goal is, by definition, to eliminate privacy globally. And this realisation has produced profound and intense debates on every continent about the value of individual privacy and internet freedom, the dangers posed by secret U.S. surveillance, and more broadly, the role the U.S. plays in the world.

Your reports have revealed the United States to be a massive surveillance state. This image is very different from the US own projection of itself as beacon of individual liberty, freedom and protector of individual privacy. How have these revelations affected the image of U.S. in the world?

Paths to Victory

Lessons from Modern Insurgencies


When a country is threatened by an insurgency, what efforts give its government the best chance of prevailing? Contemporary discourse on this subject is voluminous and often contentious. Advice for the counterinsurgent is often based on little more than common sense, a general understanding of history, or a handful of detailed examples, instead of a solid, systematically collected body of historical evidence. A 2010 RAND study challenged this trend with rigorous analyses of all 30 insurgencies that started and ended between 1978 and 2008. This update to that original study expanded the data set, adding 41 new cases and comparing all 71 insurgencies begun and completed worldwide since World War II. With many more cases to compare, the study was able to more rigorously test the previous findings and address critical questions that the earlier study could not. For example, it could examine the approaches that led counterinsurgency forces to prevail when an external actor was involved in the conflict. It was also able to address questions about timing and duration, such as which factors affect the duration of insurgencies and the durability of the resulting peace, as well as how long historical counterinsurgency forces had to engage in effective practices before they won. A companion volume, Paths to Victory: Detailed Insurgency Case Studies, offers in-depth narrative overviews of each of the 41 additional cases; the original 30 cases are presented in Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Detailed Counterinsurgency Case Studies.

We Were Young, and Urban Once

September 27, 2013

Marine Corps General Charles Krulak said in 1996 the “the future may well not be ‘Son of Desert Storm’ but rather ‘Stepchild of Somalia and Chechnya.’” Ralph Peters, Robert H. Scales, Alan Vick, Roger Spiller, Russell Glenn, Paul Van Riper, John Arquilla,Michael Evans, and Justin Kelly had all written extensively by the late 1990s on urban operations in coastal cities. By 2000, Dave Dilegge - later a torch-bearer for the insurgency of ideas through the Small Wars Journal - had founded a community of interest through his Urban Operations Journal. At the same time, Duane Schattle, Dave Stephenson, and Frank Hoffman were thinking through the challenges of urban operations against hybrid threats.

And there are more in the acknowledgements, dear friends John Sullivan, Bing West, Tammy Schultz and Lou DiMarco. And others, also dear friends, who were part of what I called then “The Urban Operations Mafia”. Not mentioned were Frank Jordan and Randy Gangle , as well as Gary Anderson, of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab who led the Joint Urban Warrior Wargame series and MCWL’s series of urban operations experiments and TTP development, respectively. Also not included is my partner in crime at Small Wars Journal - Bill Nagle.

Career risks were taken but those risks paled in comparison to the risks taken by our young Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and non-DOD personnel who eventually conducted combat urban operations, often in a very high-intensity environment.

I pride myself and am humbled to be included with such forward-thinking individuals.

Game Changers: Disruptive Technology and U.S. Defense Strategy

By Shawn Brimley, Ben FitzGerald, and Kelley Sayler, Center for a New American Security.

In Game Changers: Disruptive Technology and U.S. Defense Strategy, three experts from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) discuss how the rapid diffusion of advanced technology throughout the world has the potential to challenge the U.S. technological advantage in defense capabilities. CNAS Vice President Shawn Brimley, Director of the Technology and National Security Program Ben FitzGerald and Research Associate Kelley Sayler urge the United States to refrain from assuming that “its current advantages will continue in the absence of sustained attention to both policy and investment choices” and urge the nation to “redouble its focus on sustaining technological dominance.” The authors make recommendations to ensure that the United States maintains its technological dominance for years to come, including congressional legislation requiring DOD to issue annual reports on defense research and development across the enterprise, the creation of a standing DOD next-generation technology task force, and initiation of a multiyear series of war games on how technological advances may alter military competition around the world.

The success story next door

By: David H. Petraeus and Michael O'Hanlon
September 24, 2013 

It’s easy for a casual newspaper reader to think the world is coming undone.

Syria’s civil war rages on despite the recent furor over the regime’s use of chemical weapons. Iraq is regressing. South Asia is still turbulent despite the first democratic handover of power in Pakistan’s history. From Egypt to Yemen, Somalia to Mali, vast slices of the planet seem to be in chaos, with no end in sight.

To be sure, there are serious problems in all of these places, among others. But there is also good news – a rare commodity at a time when many in the United States are questioning America’s ability to do big things in the world. With smart strategies and the right resources, the United States can still make a huge difference, especially when it has effective and willing partners.

Colombia is a great example. Its main insurgent group, the FARC, is now apparently showing at least some interest in peace talks largely on government terms. The on-again off-again negotiations in Havana may or may not work out, but because the Colombian government has the upper hand, they still reflect good news: Colombia has come a long way in its half-century fight against drug trafficking, insurgency, kidnapping, and murder. At a time of acute doubt over the future of the Middle East in particular, Colombia provides a model for hope as well as a reminder of what is required to make such progress possible.

But if there is much to celebrate, it is also too soon for America to declare victory and forget about Colombia, as we can be prone to do about neighbors to the south. The nation still has a considerable way to go to consolidate its successes. It also has a great deal to offer states in the region, perhaps most of all in crime-ridden Central America, in ways that can serve common Colombian and American national security interests.

First a capsule history on how far Colombia has come. For a decade shortly after World War II, class warfare exacerbated by political rivalry produced what Colombians call “la violencia.” Hundreds of thousands died. Then Colombia enjoyed a partial hiatus from the worst of its troubles, in the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Yet even in those relatively good times, problems were brewing. The country then entered into a long period of intense crime and mayhem, characterized by the world’s worst drug lords controlling large swaths of the state, by kidnapping and assassination on a scale rivaled by few countries anywhere else on the planet, and by the blossoming of insurgencies, most notably the FARC movement, which also took control of significant areas of the country and ultimately fused with much of the narco-trafficking community in drug-related violence while also pursuing its original vision of political revolution.

These problems mutated in various ways, but persisted for three decades. Even though drug kingpin Pablo Escobar had been killed a decade before, and other progress was made over the years, Colombia was still struggling badly at the turn of the 21st century. Annual killings from conflict-related violence exceeded 30,000, rivaling what Iraq experienced during the early post-Saddam years (albeit in a population 50 percent larger than Iraq’s) and dwarfed the reported deaths in Afghanistan in recent years. They also far exceeded, in per capita terms, what Mexico has suffered over the last half dozen years.