20 October 2013

Bound and Shackled

Friday, October 18
10 countries where slavery is still rampant.
OCTOBER 17, 2013

Around 30 million people in the world are currently enslaved, with 10 countries accounting for 76 percent of all modern slavery, according to the newly released Global Slavery Index. "Slavery," as it's defined in the report, includes "slavery-like practices (such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and sale or exploitation of children), human trafficking and forced labour." The index, produced by the Walk Free Foundation, ranked 162 countries according to the percentage of enslaved people in a national population. Sourcing data from a decade's worth of government and NGO reports, as well as numerous secondary sources, researchers measured the prevalence of forced labor, child marriage, and human trafficking around the world, and calculated slavery risk factors as well as political interventions in each country.

Among the many factors that contribute to the prevalence of slavery -- extreme poverty, the absence of social safety nets, and war -- nations with the highest instances of the practice, such as India and Mauritania, tend to also have histories of colonialism as well as legacies of hereditary slavery that still persist today. Almost invariably, it is the women and children who are the most susceptible to abuse. What follows is a look at the 10 "worst" countries, as ranked by the Global Slavery Index.

Above a woman and a child walk away from a brick kiln ahead of an approaching monsoon storm in the outskirts of Lahore on July 13, 2012.


No. 1: Mauritania

Mauritania has the highest proportion of slaves in the world, accounting for between four and 20 percent of its population, or 160,000 people. Here, slave status has been passed down through the generations, and masters exercise complete ownership over their slaves and their slaves' descendants. The majority of slaves are women, who are responsible for both domestic charges and agricultural labor, and are subject to sexual assault.

China: Heavy Stress on ‘Ideological Struggle’ in the Run-up to November 2013 Party Plenum

D.S.Rajan, C3S Paper No.1198 dated October 1, 2013

Indications are emerging that a politically sensitive phase may await China in the run-up to the forthcoming Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in November 2013. On one hand, the Xi Jinping leadership may, for valid reasons, feel more confident in the face of its achievements in the domestic field like formulation of ‘Chinese Dream’ concept, the legal closure of the case concerning former political heavyweight Bo Xilai and its ability to widen the high level anticorruption investigations as well as entering into a period of ‘new type’ external ties particularly with the US; on the other, it seems to have become somewhat nervous about the lack of party unity, especially among leading cadres, on the ideological front on the approach of the November gathering, being called ‘historic’ on par with the 1978 third plenum which made the landmark decision on ‘reforms and opening up’.

2.Suggestive of the uneasiness are a spate of high level statements and official media articles, being noticed now, which, using a strong language occasionally, lay stress on the need for the CCP to carry out ‘ideological struggle’. How deep are the ideological differences in the party, now being officially admitted? Do they signal that Xi Jinping, in consolidating his political power, is still facing obstacles? In what way ‘party disunity’ can affect the atmosphere prior to the Plenum which is slated to adopt the already well-publicised CCP politburo ‘socio-political’ proposal , i.e to finalise ‘ a new comprehensive strategic direction and programme for next 10 years, the specific aim of which will be the realisation of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation’ (China Daily, 25 September 2013)? These are all questions for which there are no clear answers now.

3. The origins of the current party drive for ‘ideological struggle’ , which began in late August 2013, can be traced to five key theoretical standpoints adopted by the CCP in recent past – (i) ‘ Five Nos’ declaration of Wu Bangguo, the then Chairman of the National People’s Congress (2011) stressing that there would be ‘no multi-party election, no diversified guiding principle, no separation of powers, no federal system, and no privatisation’, (ii) Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese Dream’ concept ( November 2012) focussing on the need for the country to regain past glories and realise full modernisation of the country by middle of the century through following the path of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, (iii) Xi’s ‘Two- Non denials’ idea ( 5 January 2013) demanding that what was achieved before reforms cannot be denied on the basis of what happened after it and vice-versa and that Mao’s achievements cannot be totally denied), (iv) Xi’s postulates of ‘Three Self-confidences’ (17 March 2013) , calling upon the people to have self confidence in the direction, theoretical foundation and the system under the CCP leadership and (v) A Party Central Committee document (May 2013) entitled “Minutes of a Meeting of Officials from Propaganda ministries”, came to be known as Document No.9 , identifying ‘seven perils’ before the society.

4. The last mentioned ‘seven perils’ , being the latest description of the ideological challenges to the party and similar to the targets of the current ‘ideological struggle’ drive, merit a close scrutiny; to facilitate it, a listing of them has been done and given below:

(i) Western constitutional democracy: Attempting to negate current leadership and deny the socialist political system with Chinese characteristics.

(ii) Universal value of human rights: Aimed at undermining the party’s ideological and theoretical foundation.

(iii) Civic participation: Attempting to disintegrate the social basis of the CCP.

(iv) ‘Neo-liberalism’ : Aimed at changing China’s basic economic system.

(v) Western-inspired notions of media independence: Challenging the principle of party-controlled media and the press and publication management system.

(vi) ‘Historical nihilism’: Attempting to negate the history of Chinese Communist Party and the history of the New China.

(vii) Questioning of ‘Reforms and Opening up”: Doubting the socialist nature of ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

(Source- globalvoicesonline.org/2013/…/leaked-chinese-document-warns-against- the –evils of western values, 24 August 2013).

5. Spearheading the ongoing ‘ideological struggle’ drive is the CCP chief Xi Jinping himself. It reminds one about the anti- ‘spiritual pollution’ campaign launched by the then CCP propaganda chief Deng Liqun in early 80s to oppose the spread of Western liberal ideas resulting from economic reforms; by end of the decade it turned into one against “anti-Bourgeois liberalization” , specifically attacking the then liberal party general secretary Hu Yaobang.

6. The drive started in August 2013 and still continues. All Party cadres, especially at senior levels, are now being asked to study the contents of an ‘important’ speech delivered by the CCP chief Xi Jinping at a National Conference on Propaganda and Ideological Work (Beijing, 19 August 2013). The full text of the speech has not so far been published in the official media. However, starting from 21 August 2013, the party and government mouthpieces are regularly giving publicity to the highlights of the speech, along with carrying authoritative commentaries on it (numbering more than 10 as on end September). Occasionally, the commentaries are making additional references to the need for ‘public opinion struggles’ (Global Times, 24 August 2013; Liberation Army Daily, 4 September 2013) and ‘showing swords’ (Beijing Daily, 2 September 2013), suggesting that the situation is becoming more and more sensitive.

7. The support to the present calls for ideological struggle / public opinion struggle has now spread from the Centre to provincial levels; five provincial party secretaries (Xinjiang, Shanxi,Gansu,Qinghai and Jilin) and heads of 31 provincial propaganda departments have so far backed the drive in public. Of special interest, is the demand for ‘ideological struggle’ coming from within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Xu Qiliang , a politburo member and vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission has defended it (‘Four Commmands’ meeting, 16 September 2013), specifically referring to the necessity for the PLA to “actively seize and control the internet as the new position in the ideological struggle,” and to “strengthen the line of defense against infiltration by hostile forces.” Two days later, the Liberation Army Daily (18 September 2013) has demanded that the Party must “adopt a position in the ideological struggle, similar to the one held by the PLA’s 15th and 12th Corps at Triangle Hill during the Korean War in 1952 ( Chinese Media Project, University of Hongkong).


October 14, 2013: 

China recently increased payments (pensions and death benefits) for former soldiers and their families. These payments are going up about 15 percent to about a million recipients. These are not pensions for career military personnel who retire but payments to soldiers who have been downsized in the last decade, or have been crippled during military service or families of those who were killed during wartime. Most of the “war death” incidents are from the 1970s, but some military personnel killed on duty since then have been declared “war dead” in order to take care of families and reward and honor the sacrifice. This, as well as payments to disabled soldiers is a combination of good public relations, a boost for morale of all troops and another inducement for young people to join. There are sometimes conditions attached to these payments, the main one being that if a downsized soldier came from a rural village you can only get paid if you return to live in the countryside (and not move to the booming and overcrowded cities). Currently China spends $4.9 billion a year on these payments, which vary from under a thousand dollars a year to over$7,000 a year per recipient. That’s a significant amount of cash for many Chinese and it gives a lot of people one less grudge against their communist police state government.

The government has long been especially concerned with the loyalty of its troops during the last 25 years. This became a major issue after 1989. It was in that year that major pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital (at Tiananmen Square) got out of hand and the government decided to call in the army because the police were not able (or willing) to handle the situation. Not all the generals were willing to march on the capital and kill fellow Chinese and party officials had to do some negotiation and persuasion to get troops to clear the Square using force. Ever since then the government has paid a lot more attention to ensuring loyalty and prompt obedience from the military.

It’s not just loyalty the civilian leadership is worried about. There is also a persistent problem with corruption. Ever since the economy was turned lose in the 1980s, China has been having more and more trouble keeping its generals and admirals under control. The big problem is not the threat of a coup but corruption, which can lead to all sorts of problems. This has led to many Chinese leaders wondering if they can have corruption-free as well as effective modernarmed forces. Thus the current military reforms in China, needed to turn the armed forces into a modern and effective organization, may end up putting the political leadership between a rock and a hard place. Many Chinese leaders believe that they cannot have military leadership that is corruption free, capable of fighting a modern enemy, and politically loyal and reliable at the same time. What it comes down to is agreeing on the most important criteria for promoting junior officers. Should it be those who are loyal (and often corrupt and not capable warriors) or those who can get things done (and are often disdainful of corrupt and politically correct officers and government leaders)?

China’s Air Force Comes of Age

October 17, 2013
By Robert Farley

Long subordinate to the army, the PLAAF is gaining greater autonomy while still cooperating admirably with other services.

Image credit:U.S. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash

A recent Andrew Erickson report detailed the constellation of institutional interest and cooperation behind the PLAN’s ongoing deployment to the Gulf of Aden. As Erickson notes, the deployment has required a substantial degree of interagency cooperation, and seems, by and large, to be meeting the needs of those institutions.

Of all the institutional challenges that modern militaries face, however, none compares to complexity of managing the need for and provision of airpower. On that metric, how is the People’s Liberation Army Air Force doing?

Historically, the pursuit of air force institutional autonomy has focused on providing space for the air force to procure appropriate equipment, manage doctrine and training, and create independent plans for warfighting. Airpower advocates have typically argued that tying air forces to armies or navies produces hamstrung forces that cannot realize the full, independent potential of airpower. However, independence has often put air forces at odds with already existing services. The histories of airpower in the United States and the United Kingdom, for example, are replete with nasty conflicts over equipment, missions and warfighting preferences.

But of course, the PLAAF is *not* an independent service. Indeed, there is a good case to be made that the PLAAF has suffered, historically, as much as any air force from the parochial interests of ground forces. A combination of poor doctrine, mismatched equipment, inadequate training and outdated technology made the PLAAF a non-factor in the Sino-Vietnamese War. Not all of this was the fault of the Air Force, as the tumultuous ideology of the Maoist period and China’s international isolation contributed to constraining the PLAAF’s development.

A combination of China’s changing strategic environment and the death of the PLA’s old guard have transformed the PLAAF’s situation. The PLAAF and the PLAN have enjoyed several autonomy enhancing reforms over the past decade, putting each on much more equal footing with respect to the Second Artillery and the ground forces of the PLA. The PLAAF also appears to have acquired considerably greater responsibility for planning and organizing air campaigns, and has also acquired a significant amount of modern equipment. However, although the autonomy and prestige of the PLAAF has grown, it remains under the umbrella of the People’s Liberation Army.

Whatever the drawbacks of this system, it has produced the appearance of inter-service comity. The system-of-systems that constitutes China’s A2/AD capabilities depends on tight integration between the PLAAF, the PLAN, and the Second Artillery. There is little open indication of any dispute or friction between the three branches, although serious problems of cooperation often only emerge in the context of real wars. Similarly, there is little indication that the procurement policies of the PLAAF have displayed the sort of service parochialism found in the United States or the United Kingdom.

The Psychology of Barack Obama

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)

October 16, 2013

In 1972, Duke University professor James David Barber brought out a book that immediately was heralded as a seminal study of presidential character. Titled The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House, the book looked at qualities of temperament and personality in assessing how the country’s chief executives approached the presidency—and how that in turn contributed to their success or failure in the office.

Although there were flaws in Barber’s approach, particularly in his efforts to typecast the personalities of various presidents, it does indeed lay before us an interesting and worthy matrix for assessing how various presidents approach the job and the ultimate quality of their leadership. So let’s apply the Barber matrix to the presidential incumbent, Barack Obama.

Barber, who died in 2004, assessed presidents based on two indices: first, whether they were "positive" or "negative"; and, second, whether they were "active" or "passive." The first index—the positive/negative one—assesses how presidents regarded themselves in relation to the challenges of the office; so, for example, did they embrace the job with a joyful optimism or regard it as a necessary martyrdom they must sustain in order to prove their own self-worth? The second index—active vs. passive—measures their degree of wanting to accomplish big things or retreat into a reactive governing mode.

These two indices produce four categories of presidents, to wit:

Active-Positive: These are presidents with big national ambitions who are self-confident, flexible, optimistic, joyful in the exercise of power, possessing a certain philosophical detachment toward what they regard as a great game.

Active-Negative: These are compulsive people with low self-esteem, seekers of power as a means of self-actualization, given to rigidity and pessimism, driven, sometimes overly aggressive. But they harbor big dreams for bringing about accomplishments of large historical dimension.

Passive-Positive: These are compliant presidents who react to events rather than initiating them. They want to be loved and are thus ingratiating—and easily manipulated. They are "superficially optimistic" and harbor generally modest ambitions for their presidential years. But they are healthy in both ego and self-esteem.

Passive-Negative: These are withdrawn people with low self-esteem and little zest for the give-and-take of politics and the glad-handing requirements of the game. They avoid conflict and take no joy in the uses of power. They tend to get themselves boxed up through a preoccupation with principles, rules and procedures.

When Barber first put forth this matrix, it was correctly viewed as distinctively probing and original. And there is little doubt that such traits, if correctly identified and analyzed, can inform our assessments of how presidents do their job. But there is plenty of room for debate when it comes to attaching particular traits to particular presidents.

For example, do we really want to place George Washington in the Passive-Negative category, as Barber does? Did he have low self-esteem? Did he avoid power and shrink from conflict? Did he concentrate on small matters—procedures, etc.—at the expense of the big matters? Hardly. And my favorite mismatch was Barber’s insertion of Ronald Reagan into the Passive-Positive category, meaning his famous optimism was merely superficial, that he reacted to events rather than initiating them, that he was easily manipulated.

No, Reagan clearly was an Active-Positive who transformed the economic debate in America, injected profoundly new thinking into the body politic, and set about not just to counter the Soviet threat but to upend the Soviet Union itself. And he did this with hardly any evidence that he absorbed in any unhealthy way the barrage of harsh criticism thrown at him. Besides, who is to say his optimism, so eloquently projected, was artificial?

The Stimson Center

Syria And Iran: The U.N. Proves Its Worth To The U.S.

October 10 2013 -- At this year’s annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly there was less idealistic posturing and more hard work done on the most intractable of problems -- Syria’s violent civil war and Iran’s nuclear activities. The United States worked with and relied on the U.N. system to advance its interests and move towards the goal of establishing international peace.

One purpose of the U.N. Security Council is to regulate the legitimate use of force in the international arena. The willingness of the administration of US President Barack Obama to forego military action against Syria in favor of a coordinated diplomatic solution to rid the nation of its deadly stockpile of chemical weapons validates the role of the Security Council, as envisioned by its founders more than 65 years ago.

In both Syria and Iran, other parts of the U.N. system have also been mobilized and are playing important roles in managing, rather than preventing, conflict.

The U.N. is playing both humanitarian and political roles in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed in fighting and millions have fled their homes. The major U.N. agencies are implementing programs to provide food, shelter and health care for internally displaced people in Syria as well as Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Leaders of these U.N. agencies came to Washington over the summer to coordinate with their partners at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, to try to persuade members of U.S. Congress to appreciate and support their work. There is no doubt that the U.S. has been the largest contributor to the diverse -- and sadly insufficient -- efforts to assuage the terrible suffering of the Syrian people, working quietly and letting the U.N. take the lead role.

On the political front, the process to attempt a negotiated replacement of President Bashar Assad as Syria’s leader is now back in play – despite the U.N.’s past inability to persuade the factions in Syria to engage. The U.N.-led peace process stalled soon after it was established more than a year ago, as the civil war intensified and forces opposing Assad made clear they were not interested in a negotiated settlement.

By de-legitimizing the Assad regime and calling for its ouster, America and other nations undermined the U.N. peace process – intentionally or not. Now there is renewed interest in seeing whether the U.S. and Russia, working with the U.N., can persuade the parties to stop the slaughter and work for a less-than-ideal outcome for all that would at least curb the violence and prevent the complete collapse of the Syrian state. U.N. mediators will need strong support from the key members of the Security Council to make such progress.

With respect to Iran, the U.N. structure has been in place for years, waiting for a push from both Tehran and Washington. The election in June of President Hassan Rouhani provided the opportunity for Obama to renew his pledge to engage Iran with an open hand, not a clenched fist. The new mood and momentum was palpable in New York at the end of September.

Iran Talks: Breaking the Mosaic of Mistrust

October 18, 2013
By Christian Cooper

The West should build goodwill and reduce mistrust, before imposing the demands of the Additional Protocol.

Image credit:REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

On January 20, 2009, a freshly inaugurated President Barack Obama took to the stage to deliver a speech with one very critical hidden signal – one he hoped might publicly begin to thaw U.S. relations with Iran even as Washington privately escalated sustained cyber attacks against that nation’s nuclear program.

This openness against a backdrop of a show of strength was another brush stroke in the complex mosaic of mutual mistrust that has increasingly darkened Washington’s relations with Iran since the latter was counted among former President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” in 2002. The very real risk is that the mistrust is so great that premature adoption of the Additional Protocol, which no doubt after this week’s negotiations will be on the table in November, could have catastrophic consequences. Resolving this fog of mistrust must be our first step if the parties can expect to have a chance a real and lasting resolution.

Obama’s veiled signal came just over 12 minutes into his inaugural speech, when he turned to foreign policy and stuck his landing with a two-word phrase aimed directly at Iran. The phrase no doubt made chins drop in Jerusalem and heads turn in Tehran, and was a calculated reply to a message first delivered to the United States way back in 2003 by our only contact with Tehran – the Swiss embassy.

By all accounts, Swiss diplomat Tim Guldimann is straight out of central casting: highly educated, precise and well adept at not just delivering the text of a message, but the tone as well. Guldimann was the Swiss ambassador in Tehran from 2001 to 2003, and in May of 2003 he hand delivered to the U.S. Department of State a simple, two-page document that offered huge concessions by Iran on a range of topics, including its nuclear program and support for Hezbollah, albeit with some fairly large strings attached.

Setting aside the merits, or lack thereof, inherent in that long forgotten document, it is important to note that in it Iran repeatedly used the phrase “mutual respect.” Acknowledging this single phrase in his inaugural speech, Obama sent a clear reply from the new administration: “Message received, lets talk.” Meanwhile, the ongoing cyber attacks made public in 2009 was a subtle hint that, while negotiations were preferred, very little is outside the reach of the United States military and intelligence complex. Escalating economic sanctions was another twist of that screw aimed at getting Tehran to the table.

When Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, one of the key authors of that 2003 overture by Tehran, landed in Geneva this week, he began a conversation he has waited a full decade to have. Yet the conversation is marred by decades of mutual mistrust. The key stumbling block for the West at the next round of discussions to be held in November will most likely be Iran’s adoption of the IAEA Additional Protocol, while for Tehran it will be the recognition of their right to enrich uranium to at least the 5 percent concentration – the level required for nuclear reactors. An intractable problem if there ever was, but one that requires an understanding of exactly what is in the Additional Protocol and how it could very quickly go wrong – for both sides.

Singapore and the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter

October 18, 2013
By Mike Yeo

Indications are that Singapore may go ahead with the purchase of the JSF. That would be a game-changer for its operational capabilities.

Image credit:Official U.S. Navy Imagery

In a wide-ranging interview with the Defense Writers Group in late July, General Herbert J. "Hawk" Carlisle was asked about Singapore’s interest in the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and if an initial sale had been made. He had this to say:

“I talked to their CDF (Singapore’s Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Ng) Chee Meng. I was just in Singapore. Singapore’s decided to buy the B model, the VSTOL variant to begin with. But I don’t know where they’re at in putting it into their budget. I know that’s a decision that’s been made and that’s why they’re part of the program, but I don’t know where they’re at in putting that in the budget”

That portion of the interview has mostly escaped the attention of media covering the event as coverage zeroed in on the U.S. Air Force’s plans for the Pacific pivot, which was also discussed at length. If General Carlisle is right, it would mean that Singapore will become the fourth operator of the F-35B, after the United States Marine Corps, the United Kingdom and Italy.

A densely populated island nation sitting at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore sits at a choke point along the vital sea lines of communications between the economic powerhouses of East Asia with the Middle East and, further afield, Europe. Its deepwater port is the lifeblood of a booming economy, while world-renowned Changi International Airport serves as a vital Asian air hub for travellers throughout the globe. With so much to defend and so little strategic depth (the main island measures just 723 square kilometers or approximately 277 square miles), Singapore has responded by building a powerful military, widely regarded as among the best in Asia.

Singapore joined the F-35 program in February 2003 as a Security Cooperative Participant (SCP). As an SCP, Singapore is believed to be able explore configurations of the JSF to meet its unique operational needs and form its own program office. However, the island nation’s interest in the STOVL variant started to catch the eye only in 2011, when Rolls-Royce revealed that Singapore had launched studies aimed at considering the F-35B.

Having the United States and Australia, both of whom have close defense ties with Singapore, also planning to operate F-35s in the neighborhood, it would be no surprise if Singapore was keen to follow in their footsteps. Together with Japan’s (and possibly South Korea’s) aircraft, the type’s network-enabled capability and integrated sensor suite is a definite plus for interoperability with allied F-35s in the event of a need to conduct joint operations in the region.

Notoriously secretive about its military matters, defense officials in Singapore have neither confirmed nor denied the reports about its interest in the F-35B. However, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen had previously gone on record a number of times to say that Singapore is evaluating the F-35 for the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) next fighter, but that no decision has been made. General Carlisle’s remarks are the first indication of the direction Singapore’s Ministry of Defence will be taking with regards to an initial purchase.

Can We Save Taiwan?

October 18, 2013
A piece of serious and potentially grave news appeared last week. And it wasn’t on the government shutdown or the raid in Somalia or events in Syria. Rather, the news came in the form of a release of a document from the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND). This document, which represents the Taiwan military’s official statement of the island’s current security environment and national-defense policy, pronounced that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would have “the comprehensive military capability to deter any foreign aid that comes to Taiwan’s defense by 2020.” China is doing so, the report announced, by building up a formidable set of strike assets—such as advanced missiles and aircraft, amphibious capabilities, defenses against counterstrikes, and the associated enabling infrastructure. These will allow the People’s Republic, the report judged, not only to do extensive damage to Taiwan (something it can already do), and not only to mount a protected and sustained amphibious flotilla and airborne assault, but also to block any attempt by a foreign power (read: the United States) to intervene and defend and/or recover the island.

This is a big deal. Why you ask?

Because the United States is pledged by long-standing national policy and urged by its own law—namely the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979—to come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of Chinese aggression or attempts at coercion. U.S. administrations have, even since Washington transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, believed that preventing a coerced integration of Taiwan into the PRC is an important U.S. interest, not only for its own sake but because they saw that other U.S. allies as well as fence-sitters in Asia would take their cues from how Washington dealt with the island.

Nor has this defense commitment been merely theoretical. The United States sailed the Seventh Fleet and its aircraft carriers in and around the Taiwan Strait not only in the depths of the Cold War, but as recently as 1995-1996, when Beijing sought to signal its displeasure with the prospect of Taiwan electing politicians favoring the island’s independence by barraging the waters surrounding it with test missiles. Meanwhile, Beijing views the unification of the island with the PRC as a core national interest, meaning they are in earnest about the objective. Indeed, many observers believe that Beijing’s major upgrade of its military capabilities has been driven in large part by the desire to field a military that can influence, and ideally even force, Taipei to settle the decades-old cross-Strait dispute on terms favorable to Beijing. This has led China to develop and begin to field an increasingly impressive set of interlocking capabilities, ranging from advanced antiship ballistic missiles and quieter submarines to more sophisticated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets.

Cyber war of the states: Stuxnet and Flame virus opens new era of war

CENAA Policy Papers
Október 18, 2013 

CENAA presents new issue of the Policy Papers series, this time as a part of our new longterm program Global Netizenship in Cyberworld-GNC. Veronika Macková in her article called Cyber war of the states: Stuxnet and Flame virus opens new era of war describes new era of cyber security that came with Stuxnet a Flame viruses and shows how cyber security is becoming a center of defence policy in some countries.

The Problem With Making A Nuclear Deal With Iran

Someone might want to tell President Obama that, when it comes to Iran, he should be careful what he wishes for.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has doggedly pursued “engagement” with the Iranian regime. The idea, formulated while the president was still a senator on the campaign trail, was to provide a more diplomatic counterpoint to the George W. Bush-era policy of economic and political pressure. “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” the President famously explained in March of 2009.

The Iranian regime had other ideas, however. It repeatedly spurned overtures from Washington, and deftly used the diplomatic breathing room created by them—most conspicuously, a negotiating track that ran for most of 2012—to forge ahead with its nuclear development. Meanwhile, in media appearance after media appearance, Iranian officials intoned that their government would give up none of its nuclear rights. The message was crystal clear: as far as Iran was concerned, there really wasn’t anything to talk about.

Until now. Over the past year, the economic pressure levied against the Iranian regime by the U.S. and its allies over the past decade has begun to bite in earnest. Inflation within the Islamic Republic is soaring, unemployment remains high, and poverty is worsening. The Iranian national currency, the rial, cratered earlier this year and remains very weak, while commodity prices are on the rise, progressively outpacing the ability of ordinary Iranians to pay for them.

All this has left the Iranian regime battered, and eager for an easing of the economic pain. This is the motivation behind the charm offensive undertaken in recent weeks by Iran’s new, “moderate” president, Hassan Rouhani, as well as his calls for “constructive engagement” with the West.

That’s the backdrop of the current round of talks with Iran, which got underway in Geneva earlier this week. At least publicly, U.S. officials are counseling tempered enthusiasm, but the writing is already on the wall. Iranian officials say they met with a “positive atmosphere” from Western diplomats for their three-stage proposal to gradually come into compliance with international demands regarding their nuclear effort.

But even if a deal does materialize, the Administration is liable to soon find out that “getting to yes” with Iran was the easy part. Because, in exchange for its nuclear proposals, the Islamic Republic is seeking to extract a steep price. As the German newsweekly Der Spiegel outlined last month, Iran is looking for “the United States and Europe [to] rescind their sanctions against the Islamic Republic, lift the ban on Iranian oil exports and allow the country’s central bank to do international business again.” (The Iranians, moreover, are likely to stick to these demands, despite compromise plans now being floated within the Beltway to leave sanctions intact while providing Tehran with other economic relief.)

That’s bound to be a tall order, given the fact that most in Congress remain deeply skeptical about Iranian intentions, and because new sanctions that further tighten the noose around Iran’s energy sector and other points of economic leverage are already in the works. But it’s also a policy headache for the White House, for a simple reason.

Ever since the modern Iran sanctions era started in 1996, U.S. economic pressure wasn’t specifically tailored to Tehran’s pursuit of WMD. Instead, for more than a decade-and-a-half, U.S. sanctions have focused on the totality of Iran’s rogue behavior, from nuclear development to human rights abuses to support for international terrorism. And even though Tehran might be beginning to play ball on the nuclear front, it certainly isn’t on the others.

Rather, as the State Department’s most recent Country Reports on Terrorism makes clear, Iran not only remains a major state sponsor of terrorism but has actually stepped up its “terror-related activity” in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere in recent months. On human rights, too, Iran’s policies remain deeply troubling; the February 2013 report of the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran, for example, found continued systemic violations of freedom of expression and the widespread official use of torture as a political instrument. And little on this front appears to have changed since Rouhani’s inauguration back in August.

These issues, however, have taken a back-burner to Iran’s nuclear file of late, as the Obama administration has scrambled for some sort of compromise with Tehran—one that now seems within reach. As a result, the White House is in danger of effectively becoming a lobbyist for the Islamic Republic, one that will need to coax and cajole a reluctant Legislative Branch into turning a blind eye to Iran’s other deformities because of tactical successes on the nuclear front.

That’s not just bad policy; it’s also a ruinous legacy for an Administration that has become obsessed with leaving a lasting one on foreign affairs. President Obama has pinned a great deal of hope on avoiding a confrontation with Iran’s ayatollahs over their nuclear ambitions. And because he has, his Administration now runs the risk of going down in the history books as the moment that America stopped caring about Iran’s human rights atrocities and fomentation of radicalism abroad.

All of which can hardly be considered a victory—either for us or for the Iranian people.

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