29 October 2013

1947: Day One in Kashmir

Oct 27, 2013

The first few days were very critical in the Valley. On the first day, we had only 300 troops in Srinagar while the enemy at Baramulla was some 10,000 strong and engaged in rapine and plunder. Ranjit Rai went forward from Srinagar to Baramulla to delay the enemy’s advance.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah was unhappy at getting a moth-eaten Pakistan, with both Punjab and Bengal bifurcated. He was keen to incorporate Kashmir, the largest Muslim majority princely state, in his newly won country.

Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan provided hordes of Pathans modern weapons and logistic support. Along with them and Pakistan Army personnel in civilian clothes, he invaded Kashmir on October 22, 1947. They reached Baramulla, 30 miles from Srinagar, by October 25. Srinagar lay defenceless. Maharaja Hari Singh and his top officials fled to Jammu. Jinnah had moved to Lahore from Karachi, the then capital of Pakistan, waiting for a triumphant entry into Srinagar. The raiders wasted two days in rapine and plunder in Baramulla. The Maharaja acceded to India on October 26 and on October 27 the first batch of Indian troops landed in Srinagar to rescue the people.

A new skeleton Command Headquarters under Lt. Gen. Sir Dudley Russell, with 12 staff officers, was raised to maintain law and order in Delhi and Punjab, and to arrange evacuation of lakhs of Muslim refugees to Pakistan. I was the only Indian officer in this HQ, serving as a major in General Staff.

On the afternoon of October 26, 1947, we were told that Maharaja Hari Singh had acceded to India and we had to conduct operations against the invading Pakistan forces in Kashmir. One brigade had to move to the Valley by air from Delhi and another by road from Gurdaspur to Jammu. Necessary orders for these moves and operational tasks had to be issued. I was ordered to organise the airlift. On the first day, only six Dakotas, but thereafter 40 civilian Dakotas of private airlines were available. My immediate superior, Lt. Col. MacConachie, and I arranged the movement of troops and wrote the required orders for the two brigades. He was to leave for UK after a week, but, unlike other British officers, worked sincerely. The attitude of the others was not helpful. I had to do a lot of leg-work. Woollen clothing, ammunition and supplies had to be brought from Shakurbasti Depot and issued to troops at the airfield. Hot and packed meals for troops had to be provided. Reception and guiding of troops at the airfield had to be organised. Operation orders had to be given to Ranjit Rai, the leading battalion commander, and he had to be briefed. Load tables for Dakotas had to be prepared.

India & China: An Assessment of October 2013 Agreements

27 October 2013
No Tangibles 

Jayadeva Ranade

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 3-day (Oct 21-23, 2013) tour to Beijing marked the first time in sixty years that the Indian and Chinese Prime Ministers exchanged visits within a year. As seasoning for the event the Chinese threw in invitations to meals by Xi Jinping and former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the importance of which was sought to be exaggerated by diplomats. These could not, however, dispel the shadow cast on bilateral relations by China’s unusually protracted intrusions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh sectors just months earlier. As anticipated the visit was high on hospitality but short on tangibles. 

During his sojourn in Beijing, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and the Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Zhang Dejiang. He also addressed the Central Party School in Beijing, which is the crucible for training select upward-mobile Party cadres. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to the US earlier this September, when an important agreement on co-production of defence equipment and transfer of defence technology was signed, was one backdrop for the visit. Officers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had specifically taken note of the India-US Joint Declaration on Defence and identified use of the term "closest partners" to describe the India-US bilateral relationship as indicative of the growing India-US ties. They particularly observed that it provided for technology transfer, co-development and co-production of defence equipment. Note was taken of India’s decision to participate for the first time in the world’s largest US-led multilateral military exercises, the ‘2014 Rim of the Pacific Exercise’, in Hawaii. 

Beijing’s continuing suspicion and critical view of the US was separately revealed in a commentary published in the official news-agency ‘Xinhua’, on October 13, 2013. The Xinhua commentary called for a “befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world”. Interestingly, it was published only in English and only in Xinhua. 

Disaster Management: Why the Army continues to take the Lead

Issue Vol. 28.3 Jul-Sep 2013 | Date : 28 Oct , 2013

Conceptually, the armed forces ought to be called to aid the civil authorities only when the situation is beyond the capability of the civil administration. In practice, however, the armed forces form the core of the government response capacity and are the crucial immediate responders in all high intensity disaster situations. If the army is to do everything, then why is the nation spending huge amounts on the various civil instruments available down to even below district level?

Disasters may be natural or man-made or a combination of the two but governments are sadly lacking in the means to deal with them.

The devastating floods, cloud bursts and major land slides in Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh (HP) have once again drawn attention to the inability of both the Central and State governments in coping with disasters effectively. Disasters may be natural or man-made or a combination of the two but governments are sadly lacking in the means to deal with them.

The loss of life and property has been phenomenal, especially in Uttrakhand. Despite the setting up of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and allocating sizeable funds to the states, nothing has changed. The civil authorities are as clueless and ineffective as they were before the formation of the NDMA and the local authorities seem to have done nothing to earmark and train their personnel or have prepared plans to cope with different types of contingencies.

The army (here, the term is used generically for all three services) was once again the lead force in bringing succour to the affected people. No doubt, some units of the NDMA and other forces like ITBP, CRPF, SSB, and others were also deployed, but it was the army that produced near-miracles. The moot question is – how long will the nation react to disasters in this manner, totally dependent on the army while the civil authorities remain stunned and paralysed into inaction? This situation becomes baffling when one considers that funds and resources have been lavishly provided to state governments and many civil agencies for this very purpose.

WHERE IS THE DRIVER?- Clever politicians have broken rules and made real changes

Writing on the wall: Ashok V. Desai

I have been missing the finance minister. It is his job to enlighten us about the economy. He played the leading role in driving it into the current crisis; having been at the helm together with Pranab Mukherjee for a decade, he may be expected to know the most. He does not take shelter behind his advisers like the prime minister, who seldom gives his own views. He is often wrong, which makes it easier to criticize his interpretation. It is impossible to find such a riveting combination of intelligence and fallibility. The nation is likely to be stuck with him for many years; a columnist would hope never to be without him.

Recently, he has been strangely silent. That cannot be due to his critics, for he hits out at them with abandon and then forgets them. But he went to the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings, and while in the United States of America, gave a lecture at the Carnegie Endowment. First he gave his sales pitch: that India’s economic slowdown was the fault of the world, that whatever the World Bank said, the slowdown would end forthwith, and that India’s “microeconomic fundamentals” are strong. India has millions of young people whom it is filling up with education. The sum of current and capital account flows exceeds India’s gross domestic product; all that interaction with the world will bring bright ideas into India. India invests a high proportion of its gross domestic product. Middle-aged people in the forties have spent their working lives in a reformed India, so they must be better than old people. And, of course, India is a democracy. There was no one in his audience to ask him just why he thought he was more likely to be right on India’s growth than the World Bank, what is the quality of education his young people are getting, and whether the ease of making money in politics, shown by the high proportion of corrupt politicians, is not draining the real economy of entrepreneurs. Foreign audiences are not so obsequious as Indian ones; but they are well enough behaved to avoid asking the finance minister awkward questions.

However, he appointed Raghuram Rajan governor of the Reserve Bank of India two months ago. He has attracted much attention. He is nearly as good-looking and fluent as P. Chidambaram; but he is also able. His new job does not give him much opportunity to show his expletive — sorry, explicative — skills. For the RBI speaks volubly in funereal jargon; it does not leave much scope for its governor to speak for himself. Luckily, he will get many chances to go abroad, so we will keep getting his views. Recently, he was in the US for the Fund-Bank meetings. It is not known what if anything he said there; but he gave a couple of public speeches.

He began his speech in Harvard Business School with a joke. He is lucky that not many Hindutwits can read English; otherwise, they would have been on the streets demanding his resignation. For he made remarks about Indians that were exceedingly funny and insufficiently respectful. He said that Indians were manic-depressive in their reaction to cricket: if the Indian team did well, they deified the players, and if it lost, they dissected its weaknesses, which were there when the team won as well. They brought the same sensibility to their analysis of the economy: when the economy was booming, India could do no wrong; now that it is doing badly, its every deficiency is dissected. Then he mentioned the deficiencies: poor infrastructure, excessive regulation, a small manufacturing sector, and a poorly skilled labour force. With this short list, he established his credibility as a serious analyst.

BDCA with China, a pernicious fraud on India

October 28, 2013

The border agreement with China is yet another dose of insidious placebos administered on the people of India by their own government that has been in perpetual denial over the steady incremental loss of strategic Indian territory, says R N Ravi.

Dr Manmohan Singh, the most widely foreign-travelled among Indian prime ministers, is learnt to have concluded his official foreign visits in his current term as the head of government with his latest trip to Beijing from October 22-24. The seminal achievement of this visit, as being touted by his government, is the Border Defence Co-operation Agreement he signed with Li Keqiang, his Chinese counterpart, on October 23.

The agreement is being hailed as a landmark progress in the chronically troubled India-China relationship and a historic achievement of the United Progressive Alliance government towards securing India’s border with China.

An observer of India-China border relations is baffled at the banality called the BDCA and shocked at the brazenness with which a repetitive deception on India is being peddled as an important measure for safeguarding India’s territorial interests from China’s strategic belligerence.

Status quo at the Line of Actual Control between India and China is at the core of the numerous agreements and protocols signed between the two countries since 1993. However, China has not yet revealed its position on the alignment of the LOAC. India, too, for some obscure and self-defeating reasons, has not yet categorically articulated its position on the geographical alignment of the LOAC. Its failure to do so helps China enormously in sustaining its strategic belligerence at the border.

China does not bind itself by articulating its own position on the LOAC and keeps making tactical incremental territorial advances into India to achieve its strategic objectives: a) gain crucial territories in geo-strategically sensitive areas and thereby irreversibly depleting India’s strategic territorial depth imperative for its national defence vis-à-vis China; and b) severely undermine India’s covert and overt potential capabilities for adventures across the border in Tibet or Xinjiang by keeping its own border region perpetually destabilised. 

The case for making it to Colombo

Suhasini Haidar 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should attend CHOGM and reaffirm the first principles of India’s foreign policy that he has so often spoken of.

In the first line of his first speech on Indian foreign policy in 1946, India’s soon-to-be first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, pledged to adhere to the principle of “full participation in international conferences.” Nehru was referring to the fact that India, which was still not a full member of multilateral forums, would no longer be a colonial ‘dependent’ nation. Despite the different context today, it is that speech of Nehru’s made in the Constituent Assembly, that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must pay heed to as he makes his decision on whether to travel to Colombo next month for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet.

Demonstrating commitment

First things first. CHOGM is not an indispensible part of the Prime Minister’s agenda. In the past, the Prime Minister has requested the Vice-President or the External Affairs Minister to officiate on his behalf, with very little negative impact. But the events leading up to this summit are what make it imperative for him to attend. Not for the Commonwealth organisation. Not even for Sri Lanka, or the fate of India-Sri Lanka ties, although they will be dealt a decisive blow if Dr. Singh decides to skip the visit. It is necessary for the Indian Prime Minister to attend the meet, in order to show India’s commitment to its own foreign policy principles. None of these principles is set in stone, but they have been the base on which India’s image in the world has been built.

To begin with, there is the principle of supporting neighbours. In a speech to Indian Foreign Service probationers in June 2008, Dr. Singh said: “The most important aspect of our foreign policy is our management of our relations with our neighbours. […] We don’t know adequately enough of what goes on in our neighbourhood. And many a times our own thinking about these countries is influenced excessively by western perceptions of what is going on in these countries.”

Some would argue that India’s thinking on Sri Lankan human rights violations is, in fact, educated by western countries. In the past two years, India has voted at the United Nations Human Rights Council against Sri Lanka on the basis of U.S. resolutions. Western organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are the main accusers in this regard, and the U.S.’s neighbour, Canada, remains the only country that has heeded their call to boycott CHOGM so far. In an interview to the CNN-IBN channel last week, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner said: “Sri Lanka would be going ahead hosting the conference and we are happy at the level of participation that we have. It will be those who do not participate who will be isolated, not those who are participating.” While India need not worry about being isolated if it takes a principled stand, the question whether in fact only principles will be the ones that will be cast aside is important.

After all, the Prime Minister has always made a point of attending multilateral forums when they are held in the subcontinent. He has done this in the past despite outstanding bilateral issues with the host country. Within two years of the Parliament attack and Operation Parakram, for example, Prime Minister Vajpayee travelled to Islamabad for the SAARC summit, and just three months after the end of the war against the LTTE in May 2009, when most of the human rights excesses occurred, Dr. Singh attended the SAARC summit in Colombo. To not go now would be a departure from his own practice of continuing to engage at the highest level with neighbours, ignoring calls to the contrary from the Opposition and others within the country.

Terror, a major plank

Terror is another major foreign policy plank for India, and the Prime Minister must consider the inconsistent message that his government would be sending out on this issue. On the one hand, Dr. Singh has made strong statements at the U.N. on Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate in shutting down terror camps operating from its territory. On the other hand, if one follows the logic of the Tamil Nadu Assembly resolution last week, it is for the offences committed during the shutting down of LTTE terror camps that India must penalise Sri Lanka. The war on the LTTE was something India assisted Sri Lanka with at the time, especially given the LTTE’s record of killing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and many other Indians.

Active regional diplomacy belies 'China threat theory'

By Tian Dongdong 28/10/13

BEIJING, Oct. 28 -- The simultaneous and landmark arrival of three prime ministers from neighboring countries last week saw China raise its regional diplomacy to a new level.

The arrival of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag on October 22 for China visit was part of China's plan to further friendly relations with its neighbors, an goal considered by its new leadership as a foundation stone for the "China Dream".

From Eastern to Central Asia, from the Far East to Southern Asia, from the Pacific to the Indian oceans, China's new leadership is striving for a sound neighborly environment via more reciprocal visits and dialogue.

China is attaching increasing importance to relations with its neighbors. For one thing, consolidated neighborhood relations is essential for China's national rejuvenation in that no one can develop without a stable and sound regional environment.

For another, closer links and more frequent interactive exchanges between China and its neighbors require upgraded relations with deeper security, economic and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, which will fundamentally serve the common development of China and its neighbors.

As President Xi Jinping has put it, only through better integration of China's interests with that of its neighbors, can they benefit from each other's development.

But the upgraded neighborhood diplomacy leaves no room for those advocating the "China threat theory".

In a rare high-ranking conference on diplomatic work held last week in Beijing, Xi vowed the basic tenet of China's diplomacy with its neighbors was to treat them as friends and partners, make them feel safe and help them to develop.

With friendship as the consistent principle of China's regional diplomacy, cooperation with its neighbors will be based on mutual benefit and equality.

After all, the Asia-Pacific region is big enough for all countries to develop, and China itself will embrace this idea so it becomes the shared belief and norms of conduct for the whole region, as pledged by Xi.

Also read - Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Water Resources, the Republic of India and the Ministry of Water Resources, the People’s Republic of China on Strengthening Cooperation on Trans-border Rivers

India & China: An Assessment of October 2013 Agreements

Border Defence Agreement
D Suba Chandran
Source Link

Of the multiple agreements signed between India and China during Manmohan Singh’s visit, one of the most important is on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border between the countries. Given the tensions between the two countries few months ago in Ladakh sector, and continuing differences on the other sectors, this undoubtedly should be the highlight. Having signed a series of agreements almost on the similar lines in 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2012 (all relating to the border and Line of Actual Control), what is new in this agreement signed in October 2013?

The ten articles of the October 2013 agreement on the border, which came into effect the same day it was signed (23 October 2013), provides a template as it explains in conclusion that this agreement “may be revised, amended or terminated with the consent of the two sides” and any such revision or amendment, “mutually agreed by the two sides, shall form an integral part of this Agreement.” Clearly, this is a work in progress and not a complete one. Keeping it open ended also provides elasticity to the agreement, in terms of addressing any future issues.

Will this agreement, despite being elastic, maintain peace and tranquillity along the India-China border? Or, will there be more such developments, as it happened in Ladakh few months before, leading to further revision and additions?

Motherhood and Apple pie Clauses

Few articles of the October 2013 agreement on the border are general; even the worst critique would not find faults with it. Consider the following: the decision to “jointly combat smuggling of arms, wildlife, wildlife articles and other contrabands” to “assist the other side in locating personnel, livestock, means of transport and aerial vehicles that may have crossed or are possibly in the process of crossing the line of actual control in the India-China border areas” and to “work with the other side in combating natural disasters or infectious diseases that may affect or spread to the other side” – these are general in nature.

India & China: An Assessment of October 2013 Agreements

24 October 2013
MoU on the Brahmaputra River
Wasbir Hussain
Executive Director, Centre for Development and Peace Studies, Guwahati, and Visiting Fellow, IPCS
Manmohan Singh’s visit to China could eventually turn out to be a bigger diplomatic success for India, especially on the memorandum of understanding the two neighbours reached on ‘Strengthening Cooperation on Trans-border Rivers’.

There is an existing pact between the two countries on sharing hydrological data during the monsoon season, particularly relating to the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo in China) and Sutlej Rivers. But in accordance with the latest MoU, India and China will be entitled to discuss not just flood-season hydrological data but also ‘exchange views on other issues of mutual interest’.

This can certainly be seen as a breakthrough on New Delhi’s part because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took up the water issue, rather persistently, with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during the latter’s visit to India in May. In fact, Dr Singh had sought a joint mechanism with China for better transparency on 39 project sites that Beijing has apparently identified on tributaries of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra), including seven on the main river. New Delhi had pressed for a joint mechanism because in the absence of a river water–sharing treaty between the two countries, such a mechanism will allow India to seek specific information about the upstream projects in China, their construction schedule, the likely impact on people, environment and downstream river flows.

On that occasion, all India could get was an announcement by the visiting Chinese Premier about the ‘renewal’ of the existing pact on sharing flood data during the monsoon season. There was no official word on setting up a joint mechanism to address India’s concerns on dams coming up on the Chinese side of the Brahmaputra. In terms of the earlier pact of 2008 and 2010, China has been providing India with information on water levels, discharge and rainfall at 8 am and 8 pm (Beijing time) twice a day from 1 June to 15 October every year at three hydrological stations. The latest MoU says China will be providing India data from May to October. 

Today, very few would tend to believe that the two great Asian neighbours could go to another war over issues like the boundary. Economic ties or compulsions are perhaps far too big for China to embark on another military adventure or misadventure against India. Be that as it may, there is also no scope for complacency because the Chinese continue to be unpredictable. A war over the border dispute looks remote, but that cannot be said about escalation of tensions over the securitisation of water.

India & China: An Assessment of October 2013 Agreements

27 October 2013
MoU on Sister City Relations
DS Rajan
Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies (CCCS)
Source Link
In the modern era, the concept of sister city ties between countries in the world which in the main focuses on ‘people to people contact sand learning from each other’, have come to play a strong supportive role in making the development of international relations positive; this is especially so in the case of those bilateral ties which have come to suffer from mutual distrust due to geo-political differences.
Looking at India-China relations in this perspective, one has to recognise  the likely healthy impact on them coming from  the  three agreements reached  by  the two nations, witnessed for the first time,   on  establishment of sister city relations between them (New Delhi-Beijing; Bengaluru-Chengdu and Kolkata-Kunming),  during the visit of the Indian  Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to Beijing in October 2013.  The agreements are bound to benefit India and China in realising the stated objectives of  ‘facilitating cooperation and linkages between sister cities  in a variety of fields including  public policy, culture, education, urban planning, waste water management, infrastructure, health, science and technology, tourism and culture’.
Importantly, the agreements convey the will of India and China to turn their attention now towards strengthening regional connectivity; this and other results of the visit of Dr Singh to Beijing, together indicate that the two nations have become keen to maximise the areas of convergence of their interests, while minimising the effect of their differences on strategic issues. But it has to be admitted that if India and China want to realise the full potential of their strategic partnership, they have to permanently eradicate all strategic discords between them.  A key question is how long the two are prepared to wait for the same to happen?  As of now, their approaches seem to vary substantially.  Beijing’s stand now is in favour of ‘putting aside’ the contentious issues by calling for   ‘shelving the differences and working for the common development’.  New Delhi, on the other hand, appears to be against any ‘shelving’, preferring a quick solution to the dividing issues; reflecting this of late are Manmohan Singh’s remarks at the Party School in Beijing on 24 October 2013 that “we should move quickly to resolve our boundary issue”.
A comparative study of sister city initiatives being taken by the two countries will be in order for the purpose of identifying areas for mutual learning by each side. Firstly, it is clear that India lags behind China in the number of sister city connections established (about only 100 for India as against China’s 2024, with Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing at the top of the table).
The Chinese cities have tie ups with cities throughout the word including Washington, and   London and in particular, the Asian cities of  Kathmandu, Yangon, Hambantota, Nuwara Eliya, Chittagong , Islamabad,  Tokyo,  Hanoi, Jakarta, Medan, Bangkok, Seoul, and Manila.   Secondly, the nodal agency for establishing sister city links in India is a government body - the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), whereas in China the corresponding agency  is the China International Friendship Cities Association, which functions under the sponsorship of ‘ a non-governmental diplomacy organisation’ , that is the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.  Third relates to the need for clarification in both India and China on whether the local authorities in the respective countries can take their own initiatives for doing sister city link ups. (As instances, the Mayor of   Hyderabad, India, made the first  move to establish ties with Brisbane, Australia and the administration in Hainan province of China did the same in setting up ties with Jeju-do, South Korea).

Pakistan’s Red-Carpet Treatment

By krepon | 27 October 2013

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his key civilian advisers received the red-carpet treatment in Washington last week. The Prime Minister’s state visit — the first official trip of a Pakistani leader in a decade – including meetings with President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry, Defense Secretary Hagel, NSC Adviser Rice and CIA Director Brennan. Talking points were exchanged primarily on Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, drones, regional security, and Pakistan’s economic and energy woes. Missing from the conversation – at least according to press reports – was the topic of nuclear weapons. Chalk this up to yet another negative consequence of seemingly endless warfare in Afghanistan.

In a 2,490-word joint statement following three days of meetings, 224 words were devoted to “Nonproliferation, Nuclear Security and Strategic Stability.” Here they are:

President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif emphasized that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security. President Obama appreciated Pakistan’s constructive engagement with the Nuclear Security Summit process and its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international forums, while acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts to improve its strategic trade controls and enhance its engagement with multilateral export regimes. Looking ahead to the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit at the Hague, the two Leaders reaffirmed the commitments of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, strengthening nuclear security; reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism; preventing terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials; and working closely for the objectives of the Summit. They acknowledged the importance of regional balance and stability in South Asia and pursuing increased transparency and uninterrupted dialogue in support of peaceful resolutions of all outstanding issues. Prime Minister Sharif affirmed Pakistan’s support for the universal objectives of non-proliferation and disarmament. The two Leaders underscored that all sides should continuously act with maximum restraint and work jointly toward strengthening strategic stability in South Asia. Prime Minister Sharif expressed Pakistan’s desire to join the multilateral export regimes. President Obama reiterated his confidence in Pakistan’s commitment and dedication to nuclear security and recognized that Pakistan is fully engaged with the international community on nuclear safety and security issues.

The Nuclear Security Summit as headliner? Here are some words missing from the Joint Statement: Pakistan’s growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and fissile materials; short-range, tactical or battlefield (take your pick) weapons; Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty; moratorium on nuclear testing; nuclear competition and nuclear risk reduction.

China nuclear subs ‘gallop to depths of ocean’

By Demetri Sevastopulo in Hong Kong and Jennifer Thompson in Tokyo

China has revealed that its first fleet of nuclear submarines has started sea patrols, in the latest sign of its military’s growing confidence which has raised concerns in the region.

Xinhua, the official news agency, released photographs of what appeared to be Xia-class vessels – China’s first generation of nuclear-armed submarines, which are several decades old – saying they were being “declassified” for the first time. 

It said the submarines would “gallop to the depths of the ocean, serving as mysterious forces igniting the sound of thunder in the deep sea”, and be an “assassin’s mace that would make adversaries tremble”.

The Chinese navy has in recent years increased in assertiveness as it has enhanced its capabilities. The US in June said Chinese warships had started patrolling its exclusive economic zone; the following month, Chinese destroyers passed through the strait between Russia and northern Japan for the first time.

In a bid to counter the growing power of the Chinese military in the region, the Pentagon last year said it would increase the proportion of US navy ships that are deployed to the Pacific as part of the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia.

While the submarines displayed on Sunday were the older generation of nuclear vessels that are part of China’s northern fleet – and not the more advanced Jin-class based at the southern Chinese island of Hainan – the display in the domestic media nonetheless reflects the Chinese military’s growing confidence.

“It is still the first time that the Xia class has been discussed in such detail in China’s state-run media,” said Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. “As China’s military modernisation continues to advance, the PLA has become more willing to discuss its capabilities.”

The People’s Liberation Army Daily also printed an unprecedented large spread on the submarines. Gary Li, a senior analyst at IHS Maritime, said the fact that China was showing off the submarines suggested they were “no longer considered an active vessel”, and would be replaced with the newer Jin-class submarines.

Monk Wirathu’s 969 quotes the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra

October 27th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron -- a Buddhist instance of the widespread use of sacred texts as offering sanction for religious violence, with Muslims depicted as the enemy on this occasion ]

Three dimensional Kalachakra mandala by Arjia Rinpoche, photo credit kalachakranet.org

I have commented a couple of times on texts from the Kalachakra Tantra literature about a future war between Buddhism and Islam, first in In a time of Religious Arousal and later more fully in Apocalypse Not Yet? — and today I ran across a reference to the same texts on the web page of the 969 movement in Myanmar.

969 is the monk-led Buddhist movement which has been rioting recently against the Rohingya Muslims, and the monks concerned are Therevadins. The Kalachakra Tantra is the empowerment HH the Dalai Lama gives in the cause of peace, and the tantras are Vajrayana teachings. I think this para from the current Wikipedia article on Buddhism gives the relevant distinctions in a non-contentious form:

Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana — practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia — is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.

I won’t go into the theological, philosophical and ritual differences, which are considerable, complex — and somewhat contested.

To refresh your memory of the relevant details regarding the Kalachakra’s treatment of “holy war”, here are my key paragraphs on the topic from Apocalypse Not Yet?:

Alexander Berzin has been tutored by HH the Dalai Lama and HHDLs own tutors on the interpretation of the Kalachakra Tantra, and served for some years as HHDL’s translator when HHDL was giving the Kalachakra initiation: indeed his book on the Kalachakra initiation carries a Foreword by HHDL. His writings are thus among the most scholarly and trustworthy available in the western world on the topic of the initiation which the Dalai Lama will impart for world peace again this July.

Berzin’s words introducing the topic of Holy Wars in relation to the Kalachakra, Buddhism and Islam, are therefore important:

Often, when people think of the Muslim concept of jihad or holy war, they associate with it the negative connotation of a self-righteous campaign of vengeful destruction in the name of God to convert others by force. They may acknowledge that Christianity had an equivalent with the Crusades, but do not usually view Buddhism as having anything similar. After all, they say, Buddhism is a religion of peace and does not have the technical term holy war.

A careful examination of the Buddhist texts, however, particularly The Kalachakra Tantra literature, reveals both external and internal levels of battle that could easily be called “holy wars.” An unbiased study of Islam reveals the same. In both religions, leaders may exploit the external dimensions of holy war for political, economic, or personal gain, by using it to rouse their troops to battle. Historical examples regarding Islam are well known; but one must not be rosy-eyed about Buddhism and think that it has been immune to this phenomenon. Nevertheless, in both religions, the main emphasis is on the internal spiritual battle against one’s own ignorance and destructive ways.

Bangladesh: Is Sheikh Hasina's Proposal to End the Political Crisis too Little?

21 October 2013 
Harun ur Rashid
Former Ambassadasor of Bangladesh to the UN, Geneva 

On 18 October 2013, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina oproposed forming an all-party election-time government to oversee the next general election."We want to hold the next parliamentary elections taking all parties with us. It's my proposal to the opposition party that we can form an 'all-party government' comprising all parties for the election period," she said in her 21-minute televised address to the nation.

Sheikh Hasina said that the aim of the government is to hold a free, neutral and peaceful election. "That's why I'm proposing the opposition party that you could send names from opposition MPs for including them in the interim cabinet for forming the all-party government so that no one could have any suspicion about the election," she said.In the same context, Hasina said that there could be an election to remove public mistrust and encourage people to cast their votes to elect a government according to their desire."I request the opposition leader to respond to my plea and she'll accept my request and value our goodwill with a positive gesture," she said.

While a constructive speech, certain facts remain uncertain. Many analysts argue that the Prime Minister has to come up with a more pragmatic proposal in order to end the political crisis. The 18 October speech has been conciliatory and constructive, especially since it comes from the Prime Minister who was earlier perceived as uncompromising and unnecessarily stubborn in responding to the demands of the major opposition party, BNP, which wants the restoration of a non-party government during election time.The speech is considered positive because it

• acknowledges the political crisis

• indicates a blue print to hold talks with the BNP on the type of interim government for the election period 

• declares the period of holding parliamentary elections between 25-24 January, and that the Prime Minister, after discussion with all parties, would write to the President in 'due time' to hold elections. This announcement has removed many wild rumours about the elections being held in April, as permissible under the constitutional provision.

3 Reasons Senkaku/Diaoyu Diplomacy Should Be Secret

By Mira Rapp-Hooper
October 28, 2013

The past few weeks have seen reports that a top Chinese official visited Japan to discuss how to alleviate tensions in the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute. Beijing’s secret envoy is said to have met with a high-level official from the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Rumors suggest that the two governments may have exchanged envoys on the islands dispute several times over the last few months.

Beijing and Tokyo had, apparently, hoped to work towards a bilateral summit on the Senkaku/Diaoyu, although they failed to find sufficient common ground to make that possible in their last exchange. But the fact that the two states are not proceeding quickly to a more public forum should not distress us too mightily: there are at least three good reasons why we should hope that secret diplomacy between China and Japan continues, and why it may be particularly crucial in a conflict like the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute. 

First, as has been obvious since 2010, the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyus engages nationalist sentiment about as much as a limited-stakes conflict could. It is difficult to make the case that either Beijing or Tokyo claims sovereignty over the islands for their inherent value. Rather, each side’s claims are informed by a long history (see here for a brief rundown of that). The last serious flare up of this dispute in 2012 resulted in energetic demonstrations, trade retaliation, and any number of other reactions that are not commensurate with the material object in dispute. We were reminded of this nationalist sentiment just last week when the Japanese Foreign Ministry posted to its website videos of its maritime claims, prompting outcry in both Beijing and Seoul.

Under these circumstances, private diplomacy is particularly important, as it allows Tokyo and Beijing to probe each other’s positions for some common ground without enraging their domestic audiences. China claims that the Diaoyus are part of its “inherent” territory and Japan, who administers the islands, has traditionally claimed that there is, in fact, no dispute at all. For an arrangement to be reached, each state will have to give some ground. It seems a lot more plausible that this could happen behind closed doors and in hushed tones, disengaged from domestic audiences and their reactions.

"Strength" or Strategy in the Taiwan Strait?

October 26, 2013

In his recent commentary, Elbridge Colby argues that a report from Taiwan’s National Ministry of Defense that highlights the shifting cross-Strait military balance, should be of grave concern to the United States. While Colby acknowledges that there is “no silver bullet on the Taiwan question,” he argues that if the United States is to uphold its alliance commitments to Taiwan and other states in the region, it should project unambiguous strength, defined in terms of investment in specific military capabilities (primarily those associated with AirSea Battle). Colby is of course correct that the report is noteworthy, and that Washington must remain attuned to allies’ defense concerns, particularly in the Pacific region. What his analysis misses, however, is that the China-Taiwan conflict is fundamentally a political dispute with a military dimension. For more than three decades, the United States’ policy of “Strategic Ambiguity” towards Taiwan has been remarkably successful, precisely because it has recognized this fact. A cross-Strait policy that is primarily focused on building up for AirSea Battle could potentially undermine this carefully-calibrated balance, and with it, broader US interests in the region.

The United States’ policy of Strategic Ambiguity towards Taiwan was adopted in in 1979, with the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act. An Act of Congress, the TRA effectively replaced a longstanding mutual-defense treaty between Washington and Taipei, which was abrogated as part of the Nixon administration’s historic decision to open diplomacy with China. The TRA states that any efforts to determine Taiwan’s fate by nonpeaceful means will be considered a threat to the “peace and security of the Western Pacific,” and “of grave concern” to the United States. It also guarantees that the United States will continue to sell Taiwan military hardware so that it may provide for its own defense.

The history of this act is important, because it was an effort to wrestle with several complex political goals. First, despite having formally ended the security treaty, the United States was interested in deterring any efforts by Beijing to settle the Taiwan conflict with force, and ensuring that Taiwan could defend itself it did. Second, Washington wanted to support Taipei while also encouraging restraint—the language of the TRA is not as strong as most US mutual-defense treaties. Third, the TRA was born in the first place because the United States had decided to pursue rapprochement with China. Had recognition of and cooperation with Beijing not been politically important, Washington could have kept up the mutual-defense treaty and none of these calculations would have been necessary. But US presidents from Nixon onwards have recognized that Washington has a fundamental interest in a working relationship with Beijing, and this more ambiguous stance over Taiwan created the space necessary to pursue that. This arrangement struck many as tenuous balancing act when it was first implemented, and this triangular relationship has certainly seen its ebbs and flows. But it has been remarkably successful at ensuring the United States’ three strategic cross-Strait goals.

China to Japan: Shooting Down Drones Would Be Act of War

Source Link
By Zachary Keck
October 28, 2013

Some Monday defense and security links:

According to the Global Times, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson defended Beijing’s drone flights as consistent with international law, and said that any attempt by Japan to shoot down a drone would be a “severe provocation” and an act of law.

South Korea hopes to deploy two light aircraft carriers by 2036 Defense News reported, citing comments made by parliamentarian Rep. Chung Hee-soo during the confirmation hearing for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to report, the ROK Navy hopes to deploy the 30,000-ton light aircraft carriers between 2028 and 2036. The aircraft carriers will be similar to Italy’s Cavour, which can support about 30 aircraft.

In any interview with The Washington Post, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said he hopes to expand ties with China while reiterating Taipei’s desire to purchase submarines from the U.S., which he called “vital for maintaining effective deterrence in national defense.”

Boeing and Lockheed Martin will team up to submit a bid for the U.S. Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB), according to Reuters. Boeing would be the prime contractor with Lockheed serving as the primary sub-contractor the report said.

Robert S. Spalding, III, a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues in Defense One that nuclear submarines alone cannot maintain the U.S. strategic deterrence. He was responding to another recent commentary in Defense One by the Cato Institute’s Christopher Preble and Matt Fay.

The Middle East Power Vacuum

When Iran starts to look competent and responsible, you know you've got a problem.

Despite the surface froth, the Middle East has been frozen in place for the last few months. Nothing of consequence has happened in Egypt since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's military coup and the blood clearing of the Rabaa sit-in. Syria's civil war remains the grinding, destructive stalemate which was inevitable the moment the revolution morphed into an insurgency. Iran and the United States have made some tantalizing diplomatic moves, but nothing tangible has changed. When Foreign Policy is dominated by gawking at a Twitter troll's downfall and parsing an impotent tantrum by Saudi Arabia's Bandar bin Cheney, it's probably a good time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The key structural feature shaping today's Middle East, it seems to me, is the dissolution of power. During the early days of the Arab uprising, this could be seen in the fall of long-ruling leaders and the surge of popular protests against the old order. But those uprisings have failed to create any enduring new regimes, and the power of popular movements has dissipated into sectarianism, political polarization, and -- in the worst cases, such as Egypt -- capture by the state.

This power fade can be seen at every level, though: the international system, where American struggles have not been matched by the rise of any competing power; the regional system, which lacks even a single serious great power; domestic politics, where almost all states suffer from institutional incompetence; political movements, where old organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood are on their heels but no new alternatives have emerge. The diffusion of power to do anything constructive lies behind the political paralysis which seems to beset every Arab country today and the strategic floundering of almost every regional player. 

The diffusion of power isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course. Arab states for decades had far too much power, which they used to ruthlessly repress and control their citizens and to maintain a highly unpopular regional order. Nobody should seriously mourn the problems these states now face in controlling the flow of information or ideas. More people in the region will celebrate declining American power than will mourn it. But, as Libya and Yemen so painfully demonstrate today, a basic functional state which provides security, predictability, and legitimate governance is a necessary condition for politics. The absence of power also means that endemic problems will not be solved -- from unemployment to sectarian violence to the Syrian civil war.

Underground Truths: Shale Won't Save Us ***

Daniel L. Davis, Jeremy Leggett|
October 28, 2013

On October 16, Foreign Policy published an article written by Ed Morse and Amy Jaffe entitled “The End of OPEC,” in which they argued that emerging technology and American production of tight oil and gas is revolutionizing the energy industry. This transformation, they argue, will allow the United States to “use its influence to democratize global energy markets” and as it does so, “the United States becomes an energy exporter—at competitive prices—[and] that should seal the deal.” The views contained in this article reflect a growing body of published works over the past two years that claims to herald the dawn of “energy independence” for the United States. The fundamentals of global oil supply and demand, however, suggest a very different scenario to us: a supply-constrained future. The consequences of such an occurrence could have severe economic implications for the U.S. and global economies.

America’s view of future world oil supply experienced an abrupt change about two years ago. In this short period of time, the pendulum swung dramatically from a concern over insufficient supplies during the mid-2000s to “energy independence” by early 2011. We believe a hard scrub of the facts shows such optimism was never justified, and combined with an analysis of tight oil production data over the past decade, indicates the potential for near-term supply problems.

The pivot point for the abundance meme probably dates to September 2011, when well-known energy consultant Daniel Yergin published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “There Will be Oil.” In this opinion piece Mr. Yergin denigrated those warning of future imbalance between oil supply and demand as having no credibility and reassured all that to the contrary, “the world has decades of further growth in production before flattening out into a plateau—perhaps sometime around midcentury.” Six months later Ed Morse grabbed headlines around the world with the publication of a Citigroup study which claimed “there is little doubt that the U.S. tight oil play lies at the heart of U.S. energy independence and North America becoming the new Middle East.” The facts about global oil supply we present below, however, suggest claims of “independence” amount to misplaced hype.

According to Forbes, China by itself is expected to increase oil consumption by an additional 4 million barrels of oil per day (mbd) by just 2020. Meanwhile, according to EIA data, during the same time the world as a whole increased its consumption of oil by 13% (2000-2010), OPEC countries as a group increased domestic consumption almost four times faster over the same timeframe (56%): the world’s major oil-exporting countries are consuming ever-increasing amounts of their own oil leaving progressively less available for global export. And given the explosive population growth expected in OPEC countries in the coming decades, this trend is likely to intensify.

The Global War on Thinking Bad Thoughts

Can America really win the battle against Islamic extremism?

In the speech he gave last May announcing a re-formulation of the war on terror, President Barack Obama acknowledged that "we cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root"; the only alternative to "perpetual war" is a sustained effort to reduce "the wellsprings of extremism." The president should hardly have needed to make this obvious point; he had, after all, used almost identical language from his earliest days as a candidate. But after five years of responding to terrorism with many of the same lethal tactics George W. Bush had used, Obama needed to remind his listeners, and perhaps himself, that Islamic extremism can be blunted, but not defeated, by force.

It's not at all clear, five months later, how Obama plans to dry up those wellsprings. But the administration made a modest start in that direction with the announcement in September that the United States and other nations would establish a $200 million, ten-year effort to counter violent extremism. For reasons of marketing, the new entity is blandly called the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience and has been scrubbed clean of any explicit reference to Islam. But the goal is clearly to fund local programs designed to counter Islamist extremism. The initial programs will be based in six Muslim-majority countries and, in a show of nonpartisanship, Colombia.

The White House, which understands very well that any such effort will be doomed from the start if it carries a U.S. stamp, has spent several years trying to find an appropriate platform for the anti-extremism campaign. The sponsoring body is something called the Global Counterterrorism Forum, a harmless and high-minded body of which the United States and Turkey are co-chairs. The fund is structured as a partnership -- like, say, the Global Fund for AIDS -- which will receive funding from private sources as well as states. Republicans who consider foreign aid a waste of money should be mollified by the fact that the U.S. plans to spend all of $2 or $3 million on the effort this coming year. Nor has anyone else rushed to fill the coffers: Qatar, with its bottomless resources, has pledged just $5 million. Indeed, the whole thing will probably collapse unless Secretary of State John Kerry becomes the fund's cheerleader and fundraiser-in-chief.