24 January 2014

India's new politics

Vikram Sood
23 January 2014

At moments like this, of political surrealism and bizarre events, it is worth turning to Robert Greene's "The 48 Laws of Power". Greene describes how politicians and leaders elsewhere in the world and, in history, had conducted themselves, either to attain power or having attained power, lost it. 

There is one story about the abdication of King Charles X of France following a revolution in July 1830, the selection of Louis Philippe Duke of Orleans to succeed him by the High Commission, and his fall. Events in our modern times in 21st century India seem to be drawing from 19th century France. Please do look for similarities. 

It was apparent that Louis Philippe wanted to be a different king not just because he did not belong to the same dynasty, had not inherited the crown but also because he had been granted this title by a commission. But more than that, Louis Philippe disliked pomp and all the trappings of royalty. Unlike Napoleon, who had created an imperial system after the revolution, Louis Philippe wanted to downplay royalty. He wanted to be seen to be more egalitarian by mixing with businessmen and the middle class who had supported him. Not for him the spectre and crown as he walked the streets of Paris in his ordinary clothes and umbrella. When he invited James Rothschild, France's most important banker home, to his palace and chummied with him, he spoke to him as an equal and talked business with him, something a king had never done before. 

The reign of the bourgeois king plodded on, achieved very little, created confusion, attracted disappointment first and finally scorn from the people. They began to turn against him in a few years. Even radicals like Robespierre who had supported him and cheered him were turning against him. They were dissatisfied because the ruler acted neither like a king nor governed as a man of the people. The bankers soon realised that it was they who called the shots and began to hold the king in contempt to the extent that Rothschild even publicly reprimanded the king for being late. 

The king started by treating the businessmen as equals and they responded by treating the king as inferior. 

Eventually by 1848, the same French who had brought down Charles X, were fed up and had begun to demonstrate against Louis Philippe. When the king tried to assuage sacked ministers with freebies, people sensed they could push the king to introduce true democratic reforms. The moment people threatened Louis Philippe, he surrendered to their wishes and demands. The people were looking for a ruler with a presence, clarity of vision and stature. 

Japan and India: The Twin Pillars of Asian Security

Paper No. 5636 Dated 24-Jan-2014
By Dr. Subhash Kapila

China’s emergence as Asia’s most prominent ‘regional spoiler state’ and its strategic trajectories betraying its ambitions to emerge as Asia’s most predominant power has left Japan and India to shoulder the challenges of operating as the twin pillars of Asian security.

Argued for nearly a decade in my Papers has been the strategic reality that China alone cannot exclusively grab the Asian strategic space and that Asian strategic space has to be shared by China with Japan and India. China down the years has demonstrated that it has no intention to allow this and that on the contrary China has increasingly indulged in escalation of its territorial disputes with Japan and India thereby strategically down-size them.

Asian security and stability in 2014 stands greatly endangered by China’s military provocations and military brinkmanship extending from the India-Tibet Himalayan borders in South Asia to South China Sea in South East Asia and finally to conflict escalation at Japan’s doorsteps in the East China Sea (Senkaku Islands).

With China not emerging as the leading stakeholder in Asian security and stability, and contrarily emerging as the major challenge to Asian security, Japan and India now have to strategically operate as the twin pillars of Asian security and stability.

Indicators exist that strategic realities have dawned on both Japan and India that they not only have to add substance to the Japan-India Strategic & Global Partnership 2006 but also hasten the process of their respective defence build-ups and strive for creation of an indigenous Asian ‘balance of power regime’ incorporating other Asian nations threatened by China’s military waywardness.

Japan-India Strategic & Global Partnership 2006 comes into detailed focus with the forthcoming historic visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day 2014 Parade and celebrations which was preceded by an equally historic visit of Their Imperial Majesties, The Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Related to these two significant events in the Japan-India relations extensive media analyses have appeared in the Indian media highlighting the imperatives of a continued and reinforcing Japan-India Strategic Partnership in a comprehensive sense.

In this Paper therefore I would not like to indulge in a repetitive analysis but focus on how well-equipped Japan and India are strategically and militarily to shoulder effectively the onerous challenge of emerging as the twin pillars of Asian security and stability in the face of unremitting conflict escalation and military brinkmanship by China.

China, it needs to be recalled has engaged in a massive build-up of its conventional military machine, nuclear weapons arsenal and its armoury of its nuclear ICBMs. China also has been engaged in an extensive build-up and expansion of its naval power including nuclear-powered and SLBMs equipped submarines. All in all China has amassed disproportionate military power, unrelated to its threat perceptions and now also a strategic concern for leading global powers like the United States and Russia.

Indian Companies - Need for a Clear Definition

January 22, 2014

Lagging behind the other services, and probably even the Coast Guard, in the race for modernization, Army has drawn up a ‘multipronged plan to boost its capabilities’.1 That is quite reassuring. But for this plan, or, for that matter, any other such plan to fructify, much ground work needs to be done.

On its part, the Army Headquarters will need to steer specific procurement proposals through the labyrinthine procurement procedure, first up to the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) stage and later through the tendering stage. But this path is beset with difficulties as many issues concerning the defence procurement procedure and the offset policy have remained unaddressed for far too long, leaving the companies – both Indian and foreign – in a state of perpetual perplexity. Ministry of Defence (MoD) will have to clear the air on all such issues, or, at least, on the issues which fall squarely in its own jurisdiction.

One such critical issue, relevant in the overall context of the procurement procedure and offsets, is the definition of an ‘Indian company’. With ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ and ‘Make (Indian)’ categories now occupying the pride of place in that order in the hierarchy of procurement categories, which companies will qualify as Indian companies assumes a great importance as under these categories the Request for Proposal (RFP) can be issued only to the Indian companies. Any ambiguity in this regard could put the procurement proposals in a spin.

This is also important in the context of the offsets. The offset guidelines provide that ‘Indian enterprises and institutions and establishments engaged in manufacture of eligible products and/or provision of eligible services, including DRDO, are referred to as the Indian Offset Partner (IOP)’ and the IOP shall, ‘besides any other regulation in force, also comply with the guidelines/licensing requirements stipulated by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, as applicable.’2

But the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2013, as also its earlier versions, does not define an Indian company, much less an Indian enterprise, institution and establishment. Some would argue that the answer is very simple: any entity registered in India under the Companies Act, 2013 or any other relevant statute and operating with a valid license, where such a license is required, qualifies as an Indian company, enterprise, institution or establishment. The question is whether it is so. Life would be simple if it is indeed so, but even then, this clarification must be officially notified by the MoD so that there is no ambiguity on this issue.

Malkangiri: The Tri-junction under Maoist Fire


January 23, 2014

While the Mao ideology is being regarded in China as ‘irrelevant’, the Indian Maoists continue to dream of achieving their political objectives by killing innocent tribals. Odisha is a case in point.

A compilation of Maoist related incidents indicates that the Maoists had killed 21 civilians in Odhisa in 2013 of which 17 tribals were killed in one single district of Malkangiri in south-western Odhisa. In most of the cases, the Maoists had killed the civilians by branding them as police informers. Despite the deployment of five battalions of security forces and specially declared developmental projects in the district, the people continue to suffer. Although, the chief minister of Odisha made a statement in the state assembly in December 2013 that the number of Moist attacks have come down in 2013 and three districts (Nayagarh, Jajpur and Dhenkanal) are freed from Maoist influence during the review period, the fate of Malkangiri remains unchanged. Out of 30 districts in the state the Maoists have influence over 18 with a strong presence in six districts— Malknagiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Nuapada and Sundargarh.

Interestingly, the governmental data on Maoists-related violence mismatches other sources which put the figures higher. Government figures indicate that the Maoist-related violence in Odisha and the number of fatalities has progressively come down from 108 fatalities in 2010 to 53 in 2013. In the intervening years 2011 and 2012 a total of 75 and 60 fatalities were reported respectively. While the Koraput districts witnessed highest number of fatalities since 2010, the Malkangiri district saw the highest casualties in the year 2013 including the September 2013 Padia incident in which 14 Maoists were killed1.

The level of violence can be assessed by comparing year-wise fatalities and incidents in Odisha with the level of violence in other Maoist affected provinces of India. Compared to Odisha, in the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the level of violence has come down substantially. For example, the number of fatalities in Chhattisgarh has come down to 126 this year from three hundred plus during the previous year. In the case of Odisha, although the level violence is less than other three worst affected states, 53 fatalities in the year 2013 shows that the Maoists influence continues in the south and western districts of Odisha with the presence of 100 plus PLA cadres even in the absence of a full fledged state organising committee. The Malkangiri district received maximum violence because: first, the Maoists are in revenge mode to boost the morale of their cadres by targeting security forces and killing village level political leaders in Jana Adalats by branding them as police informers; secondly, as part of the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC), the Maoists believe that the ground they lost in Padia, Kalimela and Motu area of Malkangiri can be regained by terrorising the tribal people, who are caught in the crossfire between them and the state. The free movement of the Maoists are also affected in these districts due to the presence of security forces and therefore they want to strike terror in the security forces and drive them out of the terrain.

Third, from the guerrilla operational point of view, the district has an ideal location because it is situated in a tri-junction where the borders of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh meet. Its terrain, forest cover and local socio-economic dynamics suit the Maoists and their guerrilla warfare. Therefore, the CPI-Maoist had shifted some of its arms manufacturing research units from Dandakaranya area to Malkangiri forests way back in 2004-2005. The outfit had tested its first rocket launchers in the Malkangiri forests and planed to develop a base area there. Fourth, the Maoists want to divert the attention of the security forces from their new found shelter zone in the Sunabeda forests, which shares border with Chhattisgarh by intensifying activities in Malkangiri. Last but not least, the Maoists would want to prevent human intelligence and police access to that area by unleashing a reign of terror. In the recent attacks in the district it was found that the majority of the PLA cadres were from Chhattisgarh.

Retooling for a new Asia

C. Raja Mohan
23 January 2014

That India has little sense of geography and history was once again underlined by the scant national attention paid to President Pranab Mukherjee's visit last week to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Mukherjee's visit to the Andamans, as his trip to Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland a few weeks ago, was about alerting the Indian political classes about the geopolitical significance of its far-flung and neglected territories. 

Even if New Delhi does not get it, the rest of the world is reminding us of the importance of space and time for the management of India's national security. No one is going to do it more clearly than Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who arrives in Delhi this week as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. Abe's visit, coming amidst mounting Sino-Japanese tensions, should help us reflect on the intersection of the Sino-Japanese rivalry with India's history and geography. 

While the current uncertainty in Sino-US relations has generated considerable debate in Delhi, there is a lot less appreciation of the consequences of the fast-deteriorating relations between China and Japan. The military standoff between Beijing and Tokyo over the disputed islands in the East China Sea —called the Daioyu in China and Senkaku in Japan —is only the most visible expression of a deepening conflict between the world's second- and third-largest economies. It has raised big questions about Asia's contemporary history, the new nationalist passions in China and Japan, and the future of the Asian security order. 

For many in India, the arguments between Beijing and Tokyo over Beijing's historic claims over disputed maritime territories and Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine that commemorates Japan's war-dead seem abstract and distant. But as in the past, so in the future, the nature of the relationship between China and Japan is of enduring significance for India. 

The rise of Japan at the turn of the 20th century and its victory over Russia in 1905 gave a big boost to Indian nationalism by demonstrating that Asia can indeed prevail over Western powers. But Japan's occupation of China in the 1930s and World War II in Asia produced a diverse set of responses from India. The Indian National Congress extended its solidarity to the people of China against the Japanese occupation in the inter-war period. But the intensification of India's own struggle against British colonialism generated serious complications. 

When Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek came to India in 1942, asking Gandhi to suspend the agitation against Britain and lend support to the Allies in the war against Japan, the Mahatma was reluctant. Yet, the war saw the full mobilisation by the British of Indian military manpower —7,50,000 to be precise —to reverse Japanese aggression in Burma and Southeast Asia. India also became the base from which America and Britain supported the Chinese war against Japan. Even as Indian resources helped China fight imperial Japan, a section of the nationalist movement, led by Subhas Chandra Bose, aligned with Tokyo to oust Britain from India. Another part of the national movement, the Communist Party of India, extended full support to the British war effort after the Soviet Union joined the Anglo-American alliance. 

President Mukherjee's recent visits to Nagaland and the Andamans captured India's contradictory responses to World War II. In Kohima, Mukherjee remembered the brave Indian and British soldiers who decisively turned the tide against Japan's advance into the subcontinent. In Port Blair, Mukherjee celebrated the arrival of Bose and the Indian National Army in the Andamans and the establishment of the Azad Hind government after the Japanese navy ousted the British from the islands. The national movement's ambivalent response to the shifting great power dynamic in the run-up to World War II had a huge impact on the manner in which the subcontinent was partitioned. It also severely weakened India's position in the postwar order that emerged in Asia and the world. A similar danger awaits India if it fails to correctly assess and respond effectively to the unfolding Sino-Japanese rivalry in Asia. 

Reports: US military wants 10,000 troops or none in post-2014 Afghanistan

By Chris Carroll

Stars and Stripes
Published: January 22, 2014

A U.S. soldier at a security post at Forward Operating Base Fenty in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2013.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has recommended that President Barack Obama maintain 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan to provide adequate force protection after the official end of combat operations this December — or bring essentially all U.S. troops home.

The recommendation came from Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. and NATO coalition commander in Afghanistan, who discussed it during a recent meeting of the White House National Security Council, officials said.

“The intelligence community, the State Department and military leaders believe that that’s about the right number to do the sorts of things we believe need to be done after 2014,” a U.S. government official familiar with the discussions told Stars and Stripes, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Dunford said a troop presence smaller than 10,000 would not provide adequate protection for U.S. bases in Afghanistan, the official said. And according to the Wall Street Journal, officials with intelligence agencies and the State Department reportedly told the White House an adequate number of U.S. troops is needed to protect their missions as well.

“The proposal is 10,000 or basically nothing, a pullout,” an official familiar with internal administration deliberations told The New York Times.

The 10,000-troop option also calls for the level to fall to near zero by the time Obama leaves office in early 2017, both newspapers reported, rather than perhaps 2024, as has been reported many times. After the drawdown — whether it happens sooner or later — officials said only a few hundred troops would be stationed at U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Defence Cooperation with Afghanistan


Strategic Perspective

Afghanistan is of immense strategic importance to India in view of its unique geo-strategic location and being in an area that forms a critical part of India's strategic neighbourhood. Afghanistan has an important bearing on India's national security concerns and can serve as a crucial link for furtherance of India's national interests in the Central Asian Republics Region. The fact that needs to be noted is that there will always be clash of interests over Afghanistan between Pakistan and India as Pakistan, since its inception, considers Afghanistan as part of its legitimate strategic depth in any Indo-Pak conflict scenario. Therefore, as a strategic compulsion, there will always be an endeavour on the part of Pakistan to exercise influence and seek a friendly government/ruling dispensation in Afghanistan. Thus, the inherent limitation that such Pak perspective imposes upon India in pursuance of her national interests and exercising influence in Afghanistan is the denial of direct land and air access to India by Pakistan. These are fundamental factors and hard ground realities which must be considered in any policy formulation for Afghanistan.

The prevailing scenario in Afghanistan has grave security implications for India, as the situation is bound to deteriorate with the withdrawal of the ISAF and drawdown of the US forces from Afghanistan by end 2014. Thus, the need of the hour for India is to foresee as to how to favourably position herself in the post US/ISAF scenario, fill the strategic vacuum and counter Pakistan in asserting its influence. It is imperative that India's Afghanistan Policy must encompass the political, economic, diplomatic and military dimensions. This entails a synergetic approach both in letter and spirit between the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministries of External Affairs, Defence and Finance so as to drive policy initiatives in the most cost effective manner to achieve the best possible pay offs .

Brief Overall Policy Review

India's political support and commitment to the Afghan Government has consistently been very strong and has recently been formalised by the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement of October 2011 with a view to achieving India's core interests of security, peace and stability in Afghanistan. India, however, needs to enhance its aid of $2 billion for under taking further development and reconstruction/ rebuilding projects. Due to the non-availability of direct access to Afghanistan through Pakistan, the access through Iran via Chabahar and Bandar Abbas Ports is to be developed. In view of the recent nuclear agreement between US and Iran underway, India should be in a position to leverage with Iran the opening of the land route to Afghanistan. However, India must expedite development of Chabahar Port, which has been delayed inordinately. This will remain one of India's most vital national interests for a very long time.


Joe Banavige
January 22, 2014

As the sun sets on the NATO mandate in Afghanistan, the progress made thus far in that troubled country will be lost unless the United States changes the game to its advantage. For the United States to obtain a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which has been elusive thus far, current U.S development assistance offers the best leverage available. Longer term, properly calibrated development assistance also represents America’s best chance to align Afghan and U.S. enduring interests in support of an eventually self-sustainable government. As such, Washington should immediately freeze development assistance in Afghanistan, to the greatest extent possible, until the BSA has been signed by the Karzai government. Once the BSA has been signed, the U.S. must also completely recalibrate the way it provides development assistance in Afghanistan going forward to focus on conditionality tied to very specific goals, metrics and measureable progress.

The Impact of Not Acting Quickly

With continued American financial and military backing, the Afghan National Security Forces can deny al-Qaeda safe havens and prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the Afghan government. A U.S. official familiar with the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) recently said that, “In the absence of a continuing presence and continuing financial support,” the intelligence assessment “suggests the situation would deteriorate very rapidly.” In fact, this does not take it far enough. If the U.S does not change the game soon to obtain a signed BSA, time will run out, troops will leave, financial assistance will evaporate, and Afghanistan could quickly return to a state worse than when we arrived, especially if the Afghan National Security Forces collapse in on themselves due to political pressures, lack of pay, hedging behavior, or a combination of the three.

As we watch the impact of America’s premature departure from Iraq, the United States should be keen to refrain from going back to that playbook. Even a modicum of success will take time, money and partnership. The U.S. needs to fundamentally change its approach, starting immediately with the BSA.

Maldives 2013: End of Political Stalemate

23 January 2014
N Manoharan
National Maritime Foundation (NMF), New Delhi

A small atoll state, Maldives witnessed numerous events in 2013 on the political, socio-economic and diplomatic fronts. 

The political issues revolved around the long-delayed presidential polls. The second multi-party presidential elections took place on 07 September 2013. There were four leading candidates in the fray: former president Mohamed Nasheed representing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP); recent president Mohamed Waheed of Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP); Abdulla Yameen (half-brother of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom) of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM); and Gasim Ibrahim of the Jumhoree Party. Nasheed was contesting on the main plank of ‘restoring’ democracy, development and diplomacy. The PPM slogan was ‘Opt PPM or fail’. Except Nasheed, who was pitching for ‘liberal Islam’, all other parties were wielding the Islamic card. Jumhoree Party had, in fact, appealed for a ‘defence of Islam’. 

After dramatic twists and turns in terms of postponements and annulments, Abdulla Yameen, a four-time parliamentarian and half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was sworn in as the sixth President of Maldives on 17 November 2013. He got 51.39 per cent of the votes, while former president Mohammed Nasheed got 48.61 per cent of the votes. Despite trailing Nasheed by more than 17 per cent (46.93 per cent for Nasheed vs. 29.72 per cent for Yameen) in the first round, Yameen managed to win the second round mainly because of support from a wider coalition of parties: Maldives Development Alliance, Adhaalath Party, Jumhooree Party, GIP and Islamic Democratic Party. Interestingly, this was a repeat of the 2008 trend when the second-placed candidate Nasheed went on to win the presidential run-off with the support of several parties against the then incumbent Abdul Gayoom.

Despite losing by a thin margin (6,022 votes), the MDP leader Nasheed graciously’ and ‘sincerely’ accepted defeat. He neither challenged the elections in a court of law nor took to streets to force another round of elections. 

Economically, the country was not in good shape. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Maldives’ “weak macroeconomic situation had resulted in large economic imbalances, both in the domestic economy and in terms of the balance of payments.” Since the Maldivian economy was mostly outward-looking, with tourism and fisheries contributing about 50 per cent of the GDP, the global economic slowdown had a severe impact in addition to the political crisis. 

Internally, the issue was high government expenditure. Unemployment was another serious issue staring at the government with the unemployment rate at a two-figure mark in 2013. The ouster of foreign entities like GMR and Nexbis did not go down well with the business community. The main economic challenge before the new president, therefore, was reducing governmental expenditure on the one hand and to make Maldives more business-friendly. 

Political Crisis in Thailand and Its Effects on Foreign Relations

January 22, 2014

There is still no end in sight for Thailand’s political crisis that has lasted for more than seven years since the government of Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled by a military coup in September 2006. Without the intervention by the Thai military, the judiciary or other decision-making forces, Suthep Tuagsuban’s “Shut down Bangkok, Restart Thailand” campaign, which started on January 13, will merely prolong the present political deadlock. Indeed, it may last even after the February election as the Democrat Party and its anti-government supporters boycott the national poll.

But the side-effects of the years-long attempt to root out Thaksin influence from Thai politics goes beyond domestic political instability and polarization. On the international front, Thailand’s relations with foreign countries are being jeopardized by political scams aiming to discredit Thaksin and his party-led government. For some countries, engaging with Thailand without being drawn into the existing political game becomes more and more difficult.

The Shadow of Preah Vihear Temple

The classic case is the Thailand-Cambodia dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple that flared up in 2008. Following the joint communique in which Thailand expressed support for Cambodia to list Preah Vihear as a UNESCO World Heritage site, The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), or the so-called Yellow Shirt movement, accused the People Power Party’s Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama of ceding the 4.6 square kilometer area surrounding the Temple to Cambodia and abandoning Thailand’s right to reclaim the Preah Vihear in exchange for business concessions in Cambodia.

The Democrat Party, the then main opposition party, repeated the PAD’s charges againstNoppadon in the no-confidence debate despite the Foreign Minister’s insistence that Cambodia had agreed with Thailand to list the Temple’s vicinity in accordance with the 1962 Thai Cabinet’s Resolution which would not alter the existing territory. It also ignored the fact that Thailand can no longer request the International Court of Justice (ICJ)to reverse its 1962 verdict to award Preah Vihear to Cambodia. With the Democrat’s push, the Thai Administrative Court and Constitutional Court both ruled against the validity of the joint communique. Noppadon resigned from the post and Cambodia went on to register the Temple with the UNESCO but the relations between the two countries significantly deteriorated due to the nationalist fervor being stirred up on both sides. From 2008 towards the end of Democrat Party’s government in July 2011, the Thailand-Cambodia border had witnessed several alleged incursions, diplomatic tensions and military skirmishes.

Thaksin has close personal ties with Hun Sen and may even have used that to benefit his family business in Cambodia but the Preah Vihear case has proven to be a wrong move of the anti-Thaksin forces which vows to protect their national territory. In May 2011, Cambodia finally requested the ICJ to interpret its 1962 rule on Preah Vihear and claimed its right over the 4.6 square kilometer area. The verdict was announced last November entitling Cambodia to the whole area of the Temple’s promontory. While the Thai government insists that Cambodia did not succeed in taking what it had claimed, it is certain that Thailand will lose some of the area it has occupied for more than 50 years.

Inside the Ring: China seeking to drive U.S. out of Asia

re Sharing Services
The Washington Times
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Former State Department official Kurt Campbell recently explained why 20 years of Pentagon efforts to build trust with the Chinese military have been difficult: China wants to drive the U.S. military out of Asia, and operates under a different strategic culture from that of the United States.

Mr. Campbell, a longtime Asia policymaker at both State and the Pentagon, said the danger of a U.S.-China military confrontation was highlighted by the Dec. 5 near-collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS Cowpens and a Chinese warship in the South China Sea.

The former assistant secretary of state for East Asia said at a meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that a local incident — not a planned military attack — is more likely to produce a future U.S.-China crisis.

The U.S. government has sought for years to develop a “rules of the road” for military interaction with China in Asia — with limited success, Mr. Campbell said Jan. 15.

“Our forces are out there, they’re going to be out there, we’re going to sail near one another. We need to know how we will operate in close proximity,” said Mr. Campbell, head of The Asia Group consulting firm.

The Cowpens “almost collided, literally less than 100 yards, from a Chinese vessel that went across its bow,” he noted.

For nearly two decades, the U.S. has tried to hold talks with China on maritime rules. “And frankly we have to ask ourselves why we’ve had such difficulty,” he said.

Among the reasons behind China’s reluctance is that Beijing regards the U.S. military as “the gold standard” for armed forces, Mr. Campbell said, “and they don’t want to reveal certain limitations of capabilities, so they’re very careful how they expose us in those interactions.”

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites the ASBM

January 22, 2014
Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

With the recent launch of the Yaogan 19 satellite China has in place an advanced space capability to identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up.

The current 19 satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors. Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

Yaogan 9 (Yaogan 9A, 9B, 9C), Yaogan (16A, 16B, 16C) and Yaogan 17 (17A, 17B, 17C) are the three clusters that are equipped with ELINT sensors that provide broad area surveillance over the Oceans. With a coverage radius of about 3500 Km, they provide the first coarse fix for identifying and locating an ACG in the Pacific Ocean.

Yaogan 13, Yaogan 10, Yaogan 18 and Yaogan 14 are the satellites carrying a SAR sensor. With Local times of crossing of 02 00, 06 00, 10 00 and 14 00 hours and a resolution of 1 to 3 m , they provide all weather as well as day and night imaging capabilities over the regions of interest.

Yaogan 11, Yaogan 4, Yaogan 2 and Yaogan 7 constitute the high resolution optical satellites in the current constellation. The sensors they carry may have resolutions of between 1 to 3 m. Their local times of crossing of 09 00, 11 00, 13 30, and 15 00 hours respectively ensure favourable illumination conditions for their imaging missions. Yaogan 19 and Yaogan 15 satellites with local times of crossing of 10 30 and 14 30 hours respectively are optical imaging satellites with medium resolution (5 to 10 m) capabilities. They act as a broad area coverage complement for the SAR as well as the high resolution optical imaging satellites.

The Yaogan 12 which replaced the Yaogan5 has the orbital characteristics of a SAR mission but its local time of crossing is 10 30 AM. This is very close to the 10 00 hours crossing time of the Yaogan 18 SAR satellite. Having two satellites spaced so close to each other makes it unlikely that it is a SAR mission. Most probably this is a high resolution optical imaging satellite that complements the broad area coverage provided by the 1200 km orbit of the Yaogan 15 and Yaogan 19 satellites.

Using typical sensor geometries and the two line orbital elements available from public sources the ability of the current constellation to identify, locate and track the Aircraft Carrier Group was simulated.

The three ELINT clusters typically make 18 contacts in a day with the moving target. The maximum period for which the target remains outside the reach of the ELINT satellites is about 90 minutes in a day. The SAR and the optical imaging satellites together typically provide 24 satellite passes over the target. About 16 targeting opportunities, during which the uncertainty in the target’s location is less than 10 km, are available in a day.

The analysis and the simulation results suggest that China has in place an operational ASBM system that can identify, locate, track and destroy an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Ocean. This seems to be an important component of a larger Chinese Access and Area Denial Strategy focused around a conflict over Taiwan.

Syria, Geneva II, and the Era of "Least Bad Options"

By Anthony H. Cordesman
JAN 22, 2014

It does not take much by way of prophecy to predict that the Geneva II conference will not achieve any of its stated goals. Assad will not step down, the opposition will remain divided and continue to become more extreme, and outside states will be as divided in their goals as before the meeting.

Excluded states like Iran will – if anything – pursue their own self-interests in supporting Assad with even more dedication. Key Arab Gulf states – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE – will continue to fund violent Sunni Islamist factions, and truly dangerous extreme movements like Al Qaeda and ISIS will continue to gain funding and volunteers. The spillover of violence into Lebanon and Iraq will continue, and likely will expand.

The maxim that any dialogue is better than no dialogue – “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war” – may produce some benefit, although there are times when better understanding does lead to even more hostility. There may be some token humanitarian pledges and concessions, but neither the Assad regime nor much of its opponents will stop funneling or blocking aid to their own respective advantages. Moreover, the sheer scale of the human tragedy in Syria – with more than 20% of its population displaced or refugees – will still present internal problems in a war zone that cannot be solved, and cause problems in neighboring states that cannot adequately cope with the added challenges.

This mix of pressures makes it equally easy to predict the conference will be a failure even if it does produce some kind of cosmetic declaration or agreement, as so many such conferences do. It also makes it easy to criticize the United States for lack of leadership. Additionally, in today’s bitterly partisan environment, there will be plenty of Americans who will also miss no opportunity to criticize the Obama Administration. Such action is fair game in any democracy; a system of government where even the greatest success can be described as failure by the opposition.

What Thailand Means for Southeast Asia

January 23, 2014
By Robert Kaplan

Once upon a time Thailand was the bulwark of American power in the heart of Southeast Asia. It was a strong, anti-communist state that was easy to govern because of a rich agricultural heartland protected by mountains and the relative absence of ethnic or religious conflict. Great moral authority emanated from the royal palace under King Bhumibol Adulyadej, still on the throne today, whose pillars of power were the Royal Thai Army, noble families and bureaucratic elites and the reverent masses. The military was, in turn, buttressed by force of arms, the king's aura, American patronage and control of state corporations. Rice farming was the basis of the economy, and the peasant farmers revered the king, who dispensed wisdom, infrastructure funds and development aid. The oldest U.S. ally in the region, Thailand served as a staging post for the American military during the Vietnam War.

Thailand had other advantages, too. It formed an identifiable nation from the 13th century, after the Siamese migrated from southern China and carved a space for themselves over the succeeding centuries through conflicts with the neighboring Khmer and Burmese kingdoms. Thailand has never been colonized, unlike the rest of Indochina. It dealt with rival British and French colonists, and collaborated with the Japanese before switching to the American side in World War II, in order to preserve its independence. Hence the Western world did not humiliate the Thais as much as it did others; the Thais have fewer chips on their shoulders or axes to grind. An intricate and organized bureaucracy has existed here for centuries, yet it has been a flexible one that never condemned itself to the wrong side of history by resisting Western technology. In modern times Siam became Thailand, the word "Thai" loosely associated with the notion of a "free people." The Thais established a constitutional monarchy after a military intervention in 1932 and have retained it despite numerous subsequent coups.

Thailand hasn't collapsed. It still is the beneficiary of geography and a more or less unified ethnic makeup. It is also a place where commercial interests and Theravada, or "lesser" Buddhism, with a marked Indian influence, help make for an open and congenial national culture and service economy, emphasizing moderation and compromise. But the downfall of regional communism and the resulting transition away from the military-led Cold War regime has yet to run its course. The result has been a more complex polity than the one that existed in the 1960s and 1970s -- and one in which compromise is lacking.

An Economic Turnaround?

By David Ignatius - January 23, 2014

WASHINGTON -- A funny thing happened on the way to the decline of the United States and the rise of China, Brazil and other emerging markets: Many prominent analysts began wondering if the pessimistic predictions about America were wrong -- and whether it was the emerging markets that were heading for trouble.

These international economic fads are always suspect, up or down. They seem to follow what I was told years ago (facetiously) was the guiding rule for columnists: Simplify, then exaggerate. So beware this latest revisionism, just like any other variety.

But there are some startling new assessments of global economic trends that stand the "declinist" wisdom of recent years on its head. The revisionists argue that U.S. economic fundamentals are now stronger than they seemed, and that those of the BRICs -- the emerging giants Brazil, Russia, India and China -- are weaker.

Certainly, the financial markets are registering this new view. The Morgan Stanley Emerging Markets Index fell 5 percent last year, compared to a nearly 30 percent gain for the U.S. benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund predicted Tuesday that economic growth will rise this year and next in America, and decline both years in China.

One influential revisionist has been Antoine van Agtmael, the economist who coined the hopeful term "emerging markets" in 1981. Van Agtmael has written several blistering assessments recently about the former rising superstars.

"A few years ago there was a widespread feeling that the developed world had fallen off its pedestal -- that Asia had not only escaped the global financial crisis but that its system was somehow superior. That overconfidence seems gone now. Instead there is a sense of vulnerability," he wrote in Foreign Policy in June 2012. "The despair and fear felt by many in the United States is misplaced. In fact, there are early signs that the United States may be regaining some of its lost competitiveness in manufacturing and that China is losing some ground."

Russia's Growing Regional Debts Threaten Stability

AnalysisJ ANUARY 20, 2014 |


Editor's Note: The following is the first installment of a three-part series on growing debt for Russia's regional governments.

Since the 2009 financial crisis, the Kremlin has allowed Russia's regions to take the brunt of the country's economic decline in order to keep the federal government seemingly healthy, with a nominally small budget deficit and large currency reserves. But now most of Russia's regional governments' debt is so high, it is becoming dangerous for the federal government and big banks and could soon become unmanageable.


Russia is so large that the Kremlin lacks the resources to run each region of the country directly. Currently Russia is split into 83 regions of all shapes and sizes, which fall into categories of oblasts, republics, krais, federal cities and autonomous okrugs. Historically, the Kremlin has given regional leaders (mayors, governors, heads or republic presidents) the power to run their own regions and ensure loyalty to the Kremlin and stability for the country.

However, the Kremlin is constantly concerned with its control over the regions. The federal government's ability to maintain the loyalty of each region has been tested often throughout history. For instance, dozens of regions attempted to break away after the fall of the Soviet Union, occasionally leading to wars such as those in Chechnya.

The central government's control over the regions was demolished during the devastating financial crisis in 1998. Many of the regional heads defied the federal government in order to look out for their own regions' survival. It was the second-worst regional breakdown in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it was related directly to the chaos caused by that collapse. This is why the currently growing economic strains in the regions will be of great concern for the Kremlin.

The Regions' Mounting Debts

Most of Russia's regional governments have always had some level of debt, but resource-based export revenues have kept it mostly manageable since the 1998 crisis. However, since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, most of the regions' debt has risen by more than 100 percent -- from $35 billion in 2010 to an estimated $78 billion in 2014, and Standard & Poor's has estimated that this will rise to $103 billion in 2015. Russia's overall government debt -- the federal and regional governments combined -- is around $300 billion, or 14 percent of gross domestic product. This is small for a country as large as Russia, but the problem is that so much of the debt is concentrated in the regions, which do not have as many debt reduction tools as the federal government does.

Of the 83 regional subjects in Russia, only 20 will be able to keep a budget surplus or a moderate level of debt by 2015, according to Standard & Poor's calculations. This leaves the other 63 regions at risk of needing a federal bailout or defaulting on their debt.

How the ‘rampant’ US is setting global oil supply for 2014

Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014 |
By: Sri Jegarajah | Senior Correspondent, CNBC Asia Pacific

Rising U.S. oil production - led by the country's shale revolution - will help neutralize supply disruptions from Libya and Iraq, making global markets less vulnerable to price shocks.

Abundant U.S. supply, together with the possible return of Iranian crude exports, will guide prices lower, possibly forcing the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut production this year if benchmarks fall well-below $100 a barrel, traders and analysts say.

The U.S. - the world's largest energy consumer - is set to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as world's largest oil producer, raising production by a projected 1 million barrels a day next year, the third annual increase in a row, Deutsche Bank said in a Jan. 14 report.

"Rising U.S. oil supply growth alone is sufficient to effectively take the edge out of geopolitical risk for the oil market," said Soozhana Choi, head of energy research at Deutsche Bank. "While the U.S. shale oil revolution has more often than not been framed within a North American context, the pressure is coming to bear on the global oil balance."

Global oil balances are looking increasingly "oversupplied" because of "rampant" U.S. oil supply, Deutsche's Choi said, while the expected normalization of Iranian oil exports "poses meaningful downward pressure on oil prices."

Technological breakthroughs in the upstream oil and gas industry have helped accelerate the extraction of hydrocarbons trapped in shale rock formations though opponents claim this is causing major environmental degradation.
BP outlook: Oil demand to decline before 2035
Christof Ruehl, BP's chief economist, comments on the group's 2035 energy outlook and says it expects oil demand in 2035 to be at the level seen in 1985.

Germany's NSA Naivete

Malte Lehming |
January 23, 2014

There are more than a few German words that have been adopted straight into English without undergoing the baptism of a translation—Autobahn, Kindergarten, Angst, and Schadenfreude. Since the past weekend a new one should be added, namely, the term Fremdschamen. Its a verb that means to remain passive but so flagrantly that others become embarrassed for you because your passivity causes them such profound embarrassment. Recall the appearance of Colin Powell before the UN Security Council in which he declared beyond a shadow of a doubt that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Now a fresh example can be added: On late Saturday night Barack Obama gave a fifteen minute interview on German television that piled on one embarrassment after another. German television never asked the White House for the interview. Rather, the National Security Council asked for it. The goal was clear: a charm offensive because of the spying scandal in Germany. The president pleaded for understanding for the practices of the NSA. He acted contemplative, feeling himself, you could say, into the feelings of the Germans. He declared that he could not allow the relationship between Germany and America to be damaged through surveillance. The interview reached its highpoint with Obama's characterization of himself that is surely unique in the history of the presidency. He announced that he is not the ruler of the world. No, he's an average guy. Obama said that he is only "one man, one person," in a long "process." This sort of self-pity is no substitute for policy.

Indeed, it availed Obama nothing. Quite the contrary. On the Monday after the interview, the tenor of the German media was pretty much uniform: too vague, too little, no change in course. Obama, it was said, remains a paranoid marionette of the American national-security state. Now is the time to after America: the federal prosecutor's office wants to institute as quickly as possible an inquiry into American spying.

Bird Dogs & Drones, Terminators & Swarms: The Race Towards Robotic Warfare

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. on January 23, 2014

More robots, fewer people. That’s where the US military is headed in the future. But what kind of robots?

Army Gen. Robert Cone, four-star commander of the powerful Training and Doctrine Command (aka TRADOC), said that the service is studying how robots could help replace 25 percent of the soldiers in each of its 4,000-strong combat brigades. That’s because the current budget crunch is pushing the military to replace expensive human beings – and the expensive hardware required to keep them alive — with cheaper and expendable robots. The Army is under particular pressure because it has the most people, spending almost half its budget on pay and benefits, and those people take the heaviest casualties.

What’s hotly debated, however, is what jobs robots should do, under what level of human control. Should do they the drudge work of war, sparing humans the “dirty, dull, and dangerous” jobs like clearing roadside bombs? Or should we trust robots to kill on their own initiative?

The Army basically wants R2-D2s and mechanized mules, helpful bots that haul supplies, scout ahead, and provide technical support to the human heroes who do the actual fighting. They want small robots that trundle alongside the foot troops, loaded with sophisticated sensors so they can point out potential dangers, “robots that respond, if you will, like a bird dog,” said TRADOC’s Maj. Gen. William Hix in a conference call with journalists this morning. They want mid-size robots that carry extra supplies for infantrymen on long patrols, a concept once officially called MULE. They want big trucks that drive themselves, entire supply convoys where a long line of robots plays “follow the leader” behind a single human-driven vehicle at the front. They want scout drones that fly ahead of manned helicopters and report back what they find.

But, as TRADOC Col. Kevin Felix once told me, “No Terminators.”

Not so outside the Army. In a thinktank report released today, 20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age, former Navy Under Secretary Robert Work and co-author Shawn Brimley call for developing “autonomous attack systems” cheap and numerous enough to form “reconnaissance-strike swarms.” Think big, robotic killer bees that attack with smart bombs instead of stingers and that coordinate their maneuvers using wi-fi instead of pheromones.

Lessons From Previous Competitive Strategies

by Octavian Manea
Journal Article | January 21, 2014
Octavian Manea

Thomas G. Mahnken is currently the Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College and a Visiting Scholar at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at The Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Dr. Mahnken served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning from 2006-2009.

SWJ: When we talk about the history of the Cold War, we tend to focus on pivotal personalities like George Kennan or Paul H. Nitze. But what was the role of the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) in shaping the history of the Cold War and the decision-making process in the competition with the Soviet Union?

Thomas Mahnken: The mission of the Office of Net Assessment has been to provide strategic advice to the Secretary of Defense and other senior leaders. In order to understand the specific contributions of the Office to U.S. strategy during the Cold War, one needs to focus on decisions that various Secretaries of Defense made and to understand how they were informed by strategic insights and advice from the Office. The Office also played a critical role by sponsoring research and developing intellectual capital on a whole range of topics that have proved to be important to the Defense Department and the United States. To take just one example, a good portion of the field of military innovation studies arose out of investments that the Office made in trying to understand military innovation and military effectiveness.

SWJ: A key concept that Andrew Marshall and ONA developed and shaped is that of competitive strategies. To what extent did the concept of competitive strategies provide an intellectual construct for winning the Cold War and managing the great power competition during peacetime?

Thomas Mahnken: At one level, the term “competitive strategies” is a redundancy - one certainly wouldn’t want to implement uncompetitive strategies. Indeed, the very notion of competition lies at the heart of strategy. That having been said, the logical notion that one should pay attention to one’s enduring comparative advantages and exploit a competitor’s enduring comparative weaknesses can at times be an alien way of thinking in a large bureaucracy like the Pentagon and the national security community.

One of the things that the Office of Net Assessment did from its founding in the mid 1970s was to tap into thinking in the business and management literature about how to formulate and implement a long-term strategy for competition. A competitive strategy is focused on peacetime interaction and is about the peacetime use of military power to shape a competitor’s choices in ways that favor our objectives. That is, it is concerned with the development, acquisition, deployment, and exercising of forces, as opposed to their use in combat. A competitive strategy assumes that the choices that the competitors have to make are constrained. A competitive strategy seeks to identify and exploit these constraints.

This overall concept did play a role in U.S. strategy in the 1970s and 1980s by pushing the senior Defense Department leadership to think more in these terms. That meant thinking more about areas of comparative advantage and disadvantage, about areas where we needed to be ahead and areas where we could afford not to be ahead. Over time, that approach played an important role in the U.S. strategic effectiveness, particularly in the late Cold War. First unconsciously and later consciously, the Defense Department carried out a series of competitive strategies against the Soviet Union and in the end that approach played a role in convincing the Soviet leadership that they couldn’t compete with the U.S. in a whole series of areas.