22 February 2014

***** The Indian Ocean Region: A Strategic Net Assessment

By Anthony H. Cordesman, Abdullah Toukan 
Feb 20, 2014 

The IOR is one of the most complex regions in the world in human terms. It includes a wide variety of different races, cultures and religions. The level of political stability, the quality of governance, demographic pressures, ethnic and sectarian tensions, and the pace of economic growth create a different mix of opportunity and risk in each state. This can affect mid and long-term development, and sometimes creates near term problems in stability that can trigger internal or civil conflict.

The Burke Chair is issuing a new analysis of the region entitled The Indian Ocean Region: A Strategic Net Assessment. This document is available in a final review draft on the CISIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/140220_IOR_Strategic_Net_Assessment.pdf.

The Contents of the Net Assessment

The study provides a comprehensive overview of the subregions and countries in the region, drawing heavily on a new Country Risk Assessment Model developed by Dr. Abdullah Toukan, a Senior Associate with the Burke Chair at CSIS. It provides detailed graphs, tables, and maps covering the IOR as a whole, each major subregion, and each of the 32 countries in the region as well as the impact of US and Chinese military forces. 

Defence policy in a strategic void

Army modernisation has slipped behind a decade

Harsh V. Pant
INAUGURATING Defexpo India 2014 last week, Defence Minister A.K. Antony underlined the commitment of his government “to modernise the armed forces so that they are well-equipped with the best equipment, weapon systems and technology.” Speaking at the Land, Naval and Internal, Homeland Security Systems Exhibition in Delhi, he suggested that “efforts are being made to accelerate the pace of indigenisation in the defence sector” and that “the government is encouraging joint public-private participation in the defence sector, while thrust is also being given to the private sector to make a far more meaningful and substantive contribution.”

Defexpo India 2014, the eighth in the series of biennial Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition and the largest-ever defence exposition in Asia, was held in Delhi last week underscoring India's emergence as an attractive destination for investment in the defence sector and providing a platform for collaborations and joint ventures in the defence industry.

India has been one of the world's major defence spenders over the last few years, making more than US $35 billion of arms purchases over the past two to three years. Accordingly, India has asserted its military profile in the past decade, setting up bases abroad and patrolling the Indian Ocean to counter piracy and protect lines of communication. As its strategic horizons become broader, military acquisition is shifting from land-based systems to airborne refuelling systems, long-range missiles and other means of power projection.

When it comes to military defence aspirations, all eyes are on - and wallets open to - India, as big defence players vie for the Indian defence market. India has been the world's second-largest arms buyer over the past five years, importing 7 per cent of the world's arms exports. With the world's fourth largest military and one of its biggest defence budgets, India has been in the midst of a huge defence modernisation programme for more than a decade now; one that has seen billions of dollars spent on the latest high-tech military technology. According to various estimates, India will be spending around $100 billion on defence purchases over the next decade. This liberal spending on military equipment has attracted the interest of western industry and governments alike and is changing the scope of the global defence market.

India’s maritime gateway to the Pacific

Published: February 22, 2014 
Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy
APIndia favours a peaceful resolution of the South China dispute, in accordance with international law, as opposed to the use of threat in resolving competing claims.

Territorial sovereignty, contention on energy, threat to maritime security and overlapping maritime claims are at the core of the South China Sea dispute

Being one of the most important seas of the world, geopolitically, economically and strategically, the South China Sea (SCS) attracts considerable attention in the strategic community in India. It continues to be seen as one of the most difficult regional conflicts in the Asia-Pacific and an “arena of escalating contention.” India has vital maritime interests in the SCS. Around 55 per cent of India’s trade in the Asia-Pacific transits through the SCS region. In fact, in recent times, New Delhi has become more active in expressing its interest in the freedom of navigation in the SCS and the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes between Beijing and its maritime neighbours.Strategic importance

The SCS is an important junction for navigation between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It connects with the Indian Ocean through the Malacca Strait to the southwest, and commands access to the East China Sea to the northeast. The sea lane running between the Paracel and Spratly Islands is used by oil tankers moving from the Persian Gulf to Japan as well as by warships en route from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. Security in the SCS is a concern both for regional countries such as China, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, as well as the extra-regional countries, including India, due to their strategic and economic interests in this region. Any conflict in the SCS will pose a threat to regional and international security.

Territorial sovereignty, contention on energy, significance of the geographic location, threat to maritime security and overlapping maritime claims are at the core of the SCS dispute. Some scholars suggest that for the next 20 years, the SCS conflict will probably remain the “worst-case” threat to peace and security in the ASEAN region.

The SCS, an integrated ecosystem, is one of the richest seas in the world in terms of marine flora and fauna, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, fish and plants. The sea accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the annual global fisheries catchment, making it extremely viable for the fishing industries of nearby countries. Furthermore, value-added production (canning, filleting, fresh, frozen and chilled processing) has translated into valuable foreign exchange earnings and job opportunities for countries in the region. However, China has been imposing fishing rules to operate in the disputed waters, resulting in serious maritime security concerns and objections from other claimant states. Recently, China’s new fishing rules which came into effect on January 1, 2014 raised questions about its efforts to exercise jurisdiction over all fishing activities in the disputed waters.

The forgotten inheritance of Azad

Published: February 22, 2014 
S. Irfan Habib
The Hindu Archives Maulana Azad made extensive observations on the education system and syllabi in the context of his own education in the late 19th Century. Picture shows Azad (centre) with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Sayed Mahmud, and Kailash Nath Katju in 1955.

Maulana Azad’s Islam was much more accommodative than the contemporary rigid and combative Islam

It was on this day in 1958 that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad passed away. It was not merely the death of an extraordinary human being but also the death of an idea that sparkled for a few decades — the idea of an undivided India where Muslims could live happily with the Hindu majority. Muslims made India their home centuries ago, and according to Azad, they had a huge stake in the idea of India. However, Azad’s idea received a jolt in 1947 as the violence of partition ravaged India. Azad went on to live for another ten years, helping in healing and rebuilding the scarred and bruised new India.

Azad lived many lives. Some of them are well known, yet some have remained mysteriously unknown. Not much is known or written about them in public. There was a decade in his early days when he was disenchanted with the inherited faith and had to brazen out some difficult and uncomfortable questions about Islam.

Even before arriving at this situation, he was a rebel as a child who disagreed with his father’s faith, got enamoured of Sir Syed’s modernism that his father Maulvi Khairuddin hated, and decided to learn sitar on the quiet though his father did not approve of music. His dissent against the inherited belief went even further — he became an atheist (dehri) and reposed faith only in materialism and rationalism. Religion was reduced merely to a superstition. From the age of 14 to the mid-20s, he just put up a facade of belief in public but inwardly remained completely without faith.A different Islam

A BUILDER OF BRIDGES - Remembering Verrier Elwin, who died exactly 50 years ago

Politics and Play - Ramachandra guha
On February 22, 1964 — exactly 50 years ago — an Englishman, whose books changed my life, died. His name was Verrier Elwin. Born in Dover in 1902, the son of a former bishop of Sierra Leone, he took two first-class degrees at Oxford before being ordained as a priest himself. In 1927, he came out to India, to join the Christa Seva Sangh — a small, committed group based in Poona that sought to indigenize Christianity.

The year after he reached India, Elwin visited Gandhi in his ashram at Sabarmati, and was utterly charmed. He became a strong sympathizer of the national movement, and decided to spend the rest of his life in India. He first thought of working in an urban slum in Mumbai; then, on the advice of the Gandhian businessman, Jamnalal Bajaj, chose to live among the tribals of central India instead.

I first heard of Verrier Elwin from an Odiya veterinarian in the summer of 1978. I was then doing an MA at the Delhi School of Economics. I was, in academic terms, somewhere near the middle of the class, but still hoped to make a career in research. When I returned to Delhi from Odisha, I found two of Elwin’s books in the college library — his Wodehousian diary, Leaves from the Jungle, and his richly readable autobiography, The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin. Reading them encouraged me to move to Calcutta for a PhD in sociology, a shift described by one of my erstwhile professors as a Pareto Optimum: good for me, and better for economics.

In Calcutta, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the social history of forests, in the course of which I encountered Elwin again. In his ethnographies, he had written sensitively about the destructive impact that colonial forest laws had on tribal livelihoods. Reading books like The Baiga and The Agaria deepened my admiration for Elwin, and my interest in his career. I was attracted by the fact that he was an engaged, rather than detached, scholar — and that he wrote so uncommonly well.

Talking in vain

Khaled Ahmed
February 22, 2014 

Negotiators from Pakistani Taliban committee. (AP)


The Taliban kills while it talks. And the Pakistani state doesn’t have the capacity to take it on

Peace negotiators hadn’t yet stopped high-fiving when the talks collapsed after a Taliban-claimed attack killed 13 policemen in Karachi. Pakistan says that by talking to a Pakistani panel of negotiators, the Taliban has recognised the constitution of Pakistan; the Taliban says Pakistan has de facto lifted its ban on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by officially talking to its panel.

As if to rebut the Pakistani assumption, the Taliban spokesperson, Shahidullah Shahid, says the Taliban aspires to making its chief, Mullah Fazlullah, the caliph of Pakistan under a suzerain in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, the “amirul-momineen” of a universal state that will come into being after the Taliban’s triumphal return to the throne of Kabul. One of the Taliban negotiators, Maulana Abdul Aziz of the rebellious Lal Masjid fame, has made the constitutional state of Pakistan shake in its tracks by saying: “the Taliban are most interested in implementing Sharia law in Pakistan” and that the US military presence in Afghanistan was “a very small factor” in the fight.

While the two sides talk and constantly “break” news to TV channels that the chances of success are bright, terrorist attacks have continued at the rate of one a day since the government announced the talks — the human casualty figure is eight innocent Pakistanis dead a day. Of course, the Taliban denies it is killing while talking, despite its signature on every incident. But last week, it broke the Pakistani heart by actually claiming that it had 13 police commandos, employed at INR 700 per month, killed in Karachi.

Instead of questioning the TTP on its double dealing, pro-talks politicians accept that the terrorists could not kill after they had given their pious word, and blame the “foreign hand”, which doesn’t want peace in the country. An official has dutifully announced that Islamabad was crawling with Khad and Mossad spies; another has allegedly arrested an Indian spy near the saintly shrine of Data Darbar of Lahore. Politicians fulminate against Blackwater and other elements to whom America has outsourced the job of scuttling peace talks. So while peace-loving Pakistan and the TTP engage in talks, Israel, India and the Karzai government, led by the US, were killing innocent Pakistanis, including, ironically, Christians. Clerics, wielding clout by reason of their well-funded madrassas, reject the Taliban’s recourse to terror but feel empowered by their challenge to the “pagan” state and are fulminating against the “obscenity of culture” and “nudity of women”, the latter reference being to unveiled women out shopping among men.

How measly spending may jeopardise India's security

February 20, 2014

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The allocation in the defence budget is inadequate to meet India’s long-term threats, especially from China and Pakistan, says Gurmeet Kanwal.

The funds allotted for defence expenditure by Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the interim budget are inadequate to meet the growing threats and challenges facing the country, for undertaking modernisation of the armed forces to fight and win future wars and for discharging India’s increasing responsibilities as a regional power.

The interim defence budget is also insufficient to expeditiously make up the ‘critical hollowness’ in defence preparedness pointed out by General V K Singh, the former army chief, in March 2012.

The increase of 10 per cent in the budget estimates from Rs 203,672 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 224,000 crore for 2014-15 is too little to allow for inflation, which is ruling at about 8 per cent annually. Also, the rupee’s slide against the dollar from Rs 55 in March 2013 to almost Rs 62 in February 2014 has further eroded its purchasing power. In dollar terms, against last year’s figure of $37.46 billion, this year the defence budget totals $36.13 billion. Hence, in real terms the defence budget has actually declined and not increased.

China’s People’s Liberation Army has been modernising at a rapid pace for over a decade, backed by a double-digit annual hike in the defence budget. At $112.50 billion, China’s official defence budget for the year 2013-14 is 10.7 per cent more than the previous year and it is over three times India’s planned defence expenditure.

As China invariably conceals many items of expenditure on national security, its actual expenditure in 2013-14 is likely to be well over $150 billion. In 2014-15, China is likely to spend over $160 billion on defence.

China is investing heavily in modernising its surface-to-surface missile firepower, fighter aircraft and air-to-ground strike capability. It is acquiring strategic airlift capability, modern aircraft carriers and new submarines. It is investing in modern command and control and surveillance systems (C4I2SR) and is enhancing its capacity to launch amphibious operations. It is also upgrading the military infrastructure in Tibet to induct large forces quickly and sustain larger deployments over longer durations.

China Offers To Finance 30 Percent Of Indian Infrastructure Spending Through 2017

February 21, 2014

The offer would see $300 billion of Chinese funding flow into India through 2017. 

According to a report in India’s Economic Times, China has offered to finance a large portion of India’s infrastructure development via loans. A Chinese working group has reportedly submitted a five-year trade and economic cooperation plan to the Indian government that offers $300 billion of India’s $1 trillion targeted infrastructure investment during its 12 Five-Year Plan from 2012 – 2017. The investment would amount to 30 percent of India’s planned infrastructure spending through 2017. For comparison, China contributed a mere 0.15 percent of India’s total FDI inflows between April 2000 and December 2013. India has in the past refused Chinese investment in critical infrastructure, particularly telecom and power, over national security concerns.

The investment offer from China, if accepted, would be the largest single foreign investment India has received on infrastructure projects, far exceeding the funds contributed by Japan–a country with which India shares far fewer disputes. One government official told the Economic Times that India’s commerce department will hold an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss the investment proposal. Officials will surely be interested in deducing Chinese motivations for such a large offer for investment.

The Chinese working group’s roadmap highlights key sectors in Indian infrastructure including railways, roads, telecom, nuclear and solar power, and several others. ”China has expressed a strong desire to invest in India’s infrastructure sector,” one anonymous official said, according to the Economic Times. “However, it needs to be assessed how to leverage that. We need to identify sectors from where we can gain, such as software or IT, pharma, among others.”

China offers to finance 30 per cent of India’s infrastructure development plan

By Dilasha Seth & Yogima Seth Sharma, ET Bureau
20 Feb, 2014

That’s the biggest such offer by any one country, exceeding the funds contributed by Japan, which has traditionally financed some of India’s most ambitious projects.

NEW DELHI: China wants to fund a big chunk of India's infrastructure developmenteven though previous attempts have been rebuffed by a government nervous about allowing its neighbour to enter critical areas such as telecom or power over security worries.

But that hasn't discouraged the Chinese from making a concerted bid that envisages its companies and workers getting deeply involved in upgrading India's decrepit rail, road and power infrastructure besides telecom.

A Chinese working group submitted a five-year trade and economic planning cooperation plan to the Indian government in the first week of February, offering to finance as much as 30 per cent of the $1trillion targeted investment in infrastructure during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) to the tune of about $300 billion.

That's the biggest such offer by any one country, exceeding the funds contributed by Japan, which has traditionally financed some of India's most ambitious projects. The commerce department is likely to hold an inter-ministerial meeting next week to discuss the investment proposal by China to identify sectors of India's interest, a government official familiar with developments told ET.

Fire Up Defence Industry

By Bharat Karnad
21st February 2014 

The recent Singapore Air Show opened a week after the Indian Defence Expo (Defexpo 2014) ended in Delhi. What evoked interest in Singapore was the CN-235 turboprop maritime patrol aircraft that Indonesia displayed there. Considering the Indonesian defence industry was revived only in 1976 with the establishment of Indonesian Aerospace (IA), this is quite an accomplishment. With IA contemplating manufacture of the South Korean T-50i light fighter, Indonesia may soon have a cheap supersonic combat aircraft to sell to developing states hard up for cash.

Put this development in perspective. The prototype of the indigenous multi-role Marut HF-24 supersonic combat aircraft, the first ever produced outside the United States and Europe, took to the skies over Bangalore in 1961. That project should have led to the emergence of a comprehensively-capable Indian defence industry supplying the Indian military and the rest of the Third World, and as generator of high-technologies to drive the economy. Instead, between a foreign aircraft-fixated Indian Air Force and short-sighted Indian politicians (to wit, defence minister Krishna Menon who decided against sanctioning `5 crore for rejigging the Orpheus-12R engine with reheat the British firm Bristol-Siddeley had produced as power plant for a NATO fighter to fit the HF-24) the Marut was eliminated on the excuse of being “under-powered”. It aborted growth of the defence industry in general, habituated the Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs) to an endless cycle of licensed manufacture, and turned the country into an arms dependency that can be jerked around at will by foreign suppliers.

Understandably, at the DefExpo the mood was morose in the stalls of the private sector majors, among them L&T, Tata, Pipapav, and Bharat Forge, as well as smaller private firms, all venturing into the high-value military market. The private sector defence industry has, time and again, proved itself in the most prestigious and sensitive indigenous high-technology projects, such as Agni missiles and Arihant-class ballistic missile firing nuclear-powered submarine. They have shown particular appetite for ingesting and innovating transferred technology and for complex designing and production engineering. It is talent the DPSUs seem bereft of in the main because profit-linked survivability is not their concern, even less motive. No matter how incompetent and wasteful, they keep getting showered with mega contracts by the Indian government, forcing the more productive, technologically capable, and cost-efficient private sector firms to make to do with meagre sub-contracts.

“Erstwhile foe”

The main presentation of interest on the first day of the 16th Asian Security Conference hosted by IDSA (Feb 19-21) was by Beijing’s designated hardline pitchman — Yan Xuetong of Tsinghua University. Yan made clear that the “new model for major power relations” that President Xi Jinping has articulated, tends in fact towards “competition” not “cooperation” as many in the West and the usual docile lot of China-pleasers in the Indian foreign policy establishment believe is the case. He, moreover, stressed that the world was moving towards bipolarity owing to the increase in China’s “material power” which, he claimed, is the sole reason for the “inevitable” rivalry with the United States. And, as regards Japan, Yan was almost vituperative. But he got as good as he gave from Vice Admiral (ret) Fuma Ota, former head of Japanese Military Intelligence, who responded with zest to Yan’s provocations — and on a projected map highlighted the growing incidents at sea and in the air, any of which could have escalated into military crisis. When asked how long the Chinese Navy would take to integrate their recently inducted aircraft carrier, Liaoning, into fleet operations — the litmus test of a carrier-centered navy, Ota estimated 20 years, and Andrew Scobell of RAND ventured that this eventuality “is long way off”.

In the first event of the morning, MK Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal, in his keynote address proved what I have publicly written and stated that he was, perhaps, the worst National Security Adviser India has had to-date. In the main because of his singularly risk-averse attitude and thinking. For instance, he went on and on about “the risk of unintended consequences” of the India-China naval race, and why “deft management” is necessary to avoid conflict — something, no doubt, he feels he provided as NSA. Worse, he yoked the country’s nuclear arsenal and policy not to its own national security interests or the emerging geostrategic situation in Asia and the world, but exclusively to Chinese aggressiveness and also to whether and how much America retrenched. It emphasized his way of thinking that had confirmed India’s status as a free-rider on security and is the sort of approach that helped Narayanan deliver the inequitable nuclear deal that enormously hurt India’s nuclear weapons program and strategic interests, to Condoleeza Rice in July 2005. He also confessed that in his time “We never worked very hard on an Asian security architecture” because of the divisions and differences between Asian states. He ended with a gratuitous dig at me saying MEA stalwarts such as — and he named — Rakesh Sood, who was in the audience, had stalled “our erstwhile foe, Bharat Karnad” in the foreign and security policy realms. While this mention was flattering, wonder what Yan Xuetong thought about it considering China is the foe Narayanan ought to have worked aggressively against as NSA, but did not.

The Nuclear Energy Debate in Pakistan

Ahmad Khan and Beenish Altaf 
19 February 2014 

Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad 

The very mention of the word nuclear more often than not invokes a sentiment of antagonism towards nuclear energy. Nuclear pessimists often associate this word with the mushroom cloud, the Three Mile Island incident, the Chernobyl incident, and the Fukushima disaster, among others.

This pessimistic outlook often tries and succeeds in overshadowing the enormous potential of nuclear for peaceful uses. The argument that nuclear energy is a curse for humanity, while it may seem logical to most laypeople, does not do justice to the concept of impartial judgment.

The argument of ‘no to nuclear energy’ is against the very spirit of scientific discovery, which has revolutionised the human civilization in the 20th century. In fact, the discovery of the atomic structure marks the beginning of the modern world. Pakistan is the only Muslim country, which has successfully utilised nuclear technology for both peaceful purposes as well as solidifying its defence against its adversary. 

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has successfully built, operated and maintained Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) with an experience of over 45 years. NPPs are not the only products of PAEC; it has also successfully harnessed Nuclear energy in the fields of food, agriculture, medicine, industry, environment, and Human Resource Development. It has established four agriculture and biotechnology institutes across Pakistan and built 18 state-of-the-art cancer hospitals all over the country. Besides, in the industry and environment fields, Research and Development (R&D) has resulted in enormous successes over the years. 

In the past two decades, the continuing energy crisis has been one of Pakistan’s biggest challenges, and has imposed significant threats to its national security. A country’s energy resources – energy reserves in particular – are considered a crucial criterion of the national security matrix. At present, Pakistan is listed among those countries that have dangerously risen in the energy security risk index in past few years. According to International Energy Security Risk Index 2012, Pakistan’s index scores were 1,365, whereas India's and China’s scores were 1,045 and 1,098 respectively. The economic cost of the energy crisis is a heavy burden for Pakistan. 

The Wrong Debate Over Afghanistan

By Daniel R. DePetris
February 21, 2014

Before discussion troop levels, the Obama administration needs to figure out what U.S. Afghan policy is. 

After a year in which Afghanistan was largely buried in the middle of the newspapers and relegated to a few seconds on the major television networks, the war is once again re-entering the international spotlight as Washington tries to push Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement before his tenure ends this April.

As America’s involvement in Afghanistan continues to draw to a close, commentators and reporters are increasingly speculating about how many U.S. troops will remain in the war-zone after the NATO mandate expires on December 31, 2014. And, if so, how much money will continue to be spent on developing Afghanistan’s security forces and strengthening its national institutions.

The Obama administration, looking forward to the exit, would have liked to have all of those questions answered by the time President Obama addressed the U.S. Congress and the American people during his annual State of the Union speech last month. But, as is often the case with Afghanistan, nothing is as easy or as smooth as it should be.

For a White House that keeps sensitive foreign policy and national security matters closely guarded, it is often difficult to pinpoint which options are being discussed behind closed-doors and whether the numbers floating around in public are accurate. But if press reports are any guide, the Obama administration’s national security team is once again divided amongst itself over the Afghanistan file. But instead of debating the wisdom of a surge of troops and counterinsurgency, the issue on everyone’s mind is the future of America’s commitment and how large that commitment should be.

Similar to the intense and drawn-out internal debate over the infusion of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan during the summer and fall of 2009, the ongoing discussions about a residual U.S. military presence are pitting the Vice President’s office and members of President Obama’s National Security Council staff against the Defense Department, State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the intelligence community.

Chinese Tilt to Indo-Nepal Axis

By Jayadeva Ranade 
18th February 2014 

After Beijing adopted a new policy for the conduct of relations towards its neighbours, or what Chinese analysts call “peripheral diplomacy” last October, Nepal’s importance has grown. Beijing has also broadened the scope of its political interactions and it has now seemingly opted to take on the role of mediator in Nepal’s domestic politics. Since the 1980s Beijing had avoided involvement, or interference, in a country’s internal affairs except, till recently, in the cases of Sudan and Myanmar. Beijing’s new “activism” in Nepal’s domestic politics threatens to adversely tip the delicate balance that Nepal’s political leaders have thus far maintained with India.

The unsettled domestic political situation in Nepal offers Beijing fresh opportunities to deepen and consolidate influence in that country. Considerations of security continue to be among the primary drivers, with Beijing extremely wary that Tibetans settled in Nepal could indulge in what it perceives as “anti-China” activities. Beijing remains apprehensive that Nepal, which has a 1,400km border with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), could be used as a springboard by “hostile powers”—short-hand for the US—for fomenting unrest inside Tibet.

A succession of high-level visits from various departments of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and government that Kathmandu witnessed over the past year point to China’s steadily growing interest. On an average, at least two Chinese delegations visited Kathmandu each month. The number has increased since October with four important Chinese delegations visiting Nepal in December alone. In 2011, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had, ignoring Nepal’s defence ministry’s advice to the contrary, established direct links with the Nepalese Army during the visit of PLA chief general Chen Bingde.

Two of the recent visits were more important. One was by a 10-member delegation led by Qiu Guoheng, former Chinese ambassador to Nepal and presently director general of external security in China’s ministry of foreign affairs (MFA), to Kathmandu in early December to ostensibly “understand” the new political developments.

Is Ukraine the Cold War’s final episode?

By George F. Will
February 20, 2014

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One hundred years ago this coming Aug. 4, the day Britain declared war on Germany,socialists in the German Reichstag voted for credits to finance the war. Marxists — including Lenin, who that day was in what now is Poland — were scandalized. Marx had preached that the proletariat has no fatherland, only a transnational class loyalty to proletarians everywhere. “In 1918,” wrote Louis Fischer, Lenin’s best biographer, “patriotism and nationalism, born of the ‘subjectivism’ Lenin so disliked, were ideological crimes in Soviet Russia.”

These are history-shaping virtues in Ukraine today. Because the nation-state is the necessary framework for durable political liberty, nationalism is a necessary, although insufficient, impulse sustaining liberty. Marx, whose prophesies were perversely predictive because they were almost invariably wrong, predicted the end of nationalism. Economic forces, he said, determine political, cultural and psychological realities. So capitalism, with its borders-leaping cosmopolitanism, would dilute to the point of disappearance all emotional attachments to nations. Ukraine’s ferment is an emphatic, albeit redundant, refutation of Marxism.

The political elites who cobbled together the European Union hoped that the pooling of national sovereignties would extinguish the nationalism that, they think, ruined Europe’s 20th century. They considered the resulting “democracy deficit” — the transfer of national parliaments’ prerogatives to Brussels bureaucrats — a price well worth paying for tranquillity.

Now comes turbulent Ukraine, incandescent with nationalism and eager to preserve its sovereignty by a closer relationship with the European Union.

Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, is resisting the popular desire for constitutionally limited government and for a national existence more independent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence. Yanukovych wants to trade Ukraine’s aspirations for Putin’s billions.

Russia is ruled by a little, strutting Mussolini — the Duce, like Putin, enjoyed being photographed with his chest bare and his biceps flexed. Putin is unreconciled to the “tragedy,” as he calls it, of the Soviet Union’s demise. It was within the Soviet apparatus of oppression that he honed the skills by which he governs — censorship, corruption, brutality, oppression, assassination.

We Don't Need a New Cold War

By Colin Robertson
February 19, 2014

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After the anthems still and the athletes go home, will the enduring picture of the Sochi Olympics be that of Putin and the snow leopard as the precursor to a new Cold War?

That was the warning of Ukraine's Greek Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk who last week called on the West to adopt a "proactive policy" in the face of Russian aggression. Humanity, he declared, "may well be on the verge of a new Cold War."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded by accusing the West of trying to build "spheres of influence" in Eastern Europe. "Attempts to isolate our country," argued Lavrov, "inevitably set in motion processes that led to the catastrophes of the world wars."

The U.S. Intelligence Community in its recent Worldwide Threat Assessment concludes thatRussia "presents a range of challenges." Top U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper says that Russia's military took an "increasingly prominent role" in out-of-area operations last year, notably in the eastern Mediterranean, Latin America, and the Arctic.

Canada's Conference of Defence Associations Institute Strategic Outlook 2014 reaches a similar conclusion.

Putin's 104-point foreign policy doctrine, write authors Ferry de Kerckhove and George Petrolekas, is a "declaration of difference" bent on establishing Russia as one of the "influential and competitive poles of the modern world." This explains Russian behaviour towards its neighbours: armed intervention in Georgia, cyber-attack on Romania and now interference in the Ukraine.

The West's relations with Russia have been on a roller-coaster since the end of the Soviet Union. The West needs to develop a partnership with Russia, recognizing it has limits, argues Angela Stent in her excellent new book.

Stent says that Putin is determined to make Russia the leader of a new conservative international system with Russia upholding traditional family and Christian values and respecting states; sovereignty. In Putin's view, it is the West that is the disruptive force, imposing on others its system and ways.

** Is Russia's Destiny Autocratic?

February 20, 2014

In 1967, the late British historian Hugh Seton-Watson wrote in his epic account, The Russian Empire, 1801-1917, "If there is one single factor which dominates the course of Russian history, at any rate since the Tatar conquest, it is the principle of autocracy." He goes on to explain how the nations of Western Europe were formed by a long struggle between "the monarchial power and the social elite." In England, the elite usually won, and that was a key to the development of parliamentary democracy. But in Russia it was generally agreed that rather than granting special privileges to an elite, "It was better that all should be equal in their subjection to the autocrat."

This profound anti-democratic tradition of Russian political culture has its roots in geography, or as Seton-Watson prefers to explain it, in military necessity. Between the Arctic ice and the mountains of the Caucasus, and between the North European Plain and the wastes of the Far East, Russia is vast and without physical obstacles to invasion. Invasion of Russia is easy, and was accomplished, albeit with disastrous results, by Napoleon and Hitler, as well as by the armies of the Mongols, Sweden, Lithuania and Poland. As Seton-Watson argues, "Imagine the United States without either the Atlantic or the Pacific, and with several first-rate military powers instead of the Indians," and you would have a sense of Russia's security dilemma. Whereas in America the frontier meant opportunity, in Russia, he says, it meant insecurity and oppression.

Because security in Russia has been so fragile, there developed an obsession about it. And that obsession led naturally to repression and autocracy.

Russia's brief and rare experiments with democracy or quasi-democracy were failed and unhappy ones: Witness the governments of Alexander Kerensky in 1917 that led to the Bolshevik Revolution and of Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s that led to Vladimir Putin's neo-czardom. Truly, Russia's fare has been autocracy, and given the utter cruelty of czars and communists, Putin is but a mild dictator. When Western pundits and policymakers say they are unhappy with his autocratic arrangement, they are basically making a negative judgment on Russian history. For by Russia's historical standards, Putin is certainly not all that bad.

Putin now represents an autocrat in crisis, a familiar story in Russia. His problems are, for the most part, unsolvable, like those faced by Russian autocrats before him. And there are many of them.

Contentions From Kabul to Kiev


A subtle shift in the way Americans process foreign affairs has become apparent, and it’s one that will likely have far-reaching ramifications. That shift presented itself in two news stories today. The first was Gallup’sreport that “For the first time since the U.S. initially became involved in Afghanistan in 2001, Americans are as likely to say U.S. military involvement there was a mistake as to say it was not.” And in fact those who thought it was a mistake had the one-point edge in the poll.

It’s a bit jarring: the desire to be out of Afghanistan is one thing, but Americans saying they wish we never went into Afghanistan to root out the Taliban after 9/11 is really something else. It’s not war-weariness; it’s regret.

The other story was the continuing chaos in Ukraine. The death toll from the last two days of clashes in Kiev keeps rising, and the Ukrainian government seems to be losing even more control away from the capital. According to the New York Times, activists in Lviv, for example, claimed to have “taken control of the central government’s main offices in the region, resuming an occupation that had ended last Sunday. [An activist] said they had also raided the local headquarters of the state prosecutor, the Ukrainian security service and several district police stations.”

The crisis in Ukraine is getting far more attention. This is perfectly understandable: central Kiev is ringed by fire and the images, and the action they depict, demand attention. The Arab Spring earned this kind of coverage as well (if not more, at least in Tahrir Square). But the juxtaposition of the two stories is what makes the shift feel more pronounced: the Arab Spring, after all, had direct relevance to the war on terror. Americans today are having a very different conversation about matters of war and peace from the one we’ve been conducting for over a decade.

Geopolitics 101 -- Don't lose wars!

UPI Outside View Commentator
Feb. 19, 2014

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Prior to entering national office, politicians of all stripes and especially U.S. presidents-elect and members of Congress should take a short course in Geopolitics 101.

That course would have but two warnings: Don't start wars you can't win and above all don't lose wars. One would think that is common sense bit it isn't.

The United States' wartime scorecard isn't impressive with one major exception. Along with allies, the United States won the big one -- World War II. Korea was at best a draw. Vietnam, and let's not forget that was a war of choice, went to the other side. Grenada didn't count. Gulf War One was a tactical victory.

But Afghanistan and Iraq have turned out badly so far. Defeats were for political reasons in wars that couldn't be won even by the world's most powerful military force.

That record should give pause to politicians considering military action whether under a declaration of war or a congressional authorization to use military force. Every war the United States has initiated more or less unilaterally has led to failure of one kind or another.

In a "what if" moment, had the George W. Bush administration made capturing or killing Osama bin Laden a higher priority than overthrowing the Taliban, obviously history might have been different. Had the United States not intervened in Iraq ...But it did.

Today, the horror in Syria and its civil war continues with unconscionable slaughter of civilians and no end or settlement in sight. The Geneva talks have failed. Both the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition believe they are winning. Hence, there is little leverage to force either side to accommodate and accept some compromise.

Assad has the support of Russia and Iran. With ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5-plus-1 to reach a verifiable agreement that would keep Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Syria could be a spoiler. The likelihood is that securing an agreement will take precedence over attempts to muscle Iran out of Syria -- a tactic unlikely to succeed regardless.

Press Briefing on Release of DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy

 By Fortuna's Corner 
February 20, 2014 ·


Presenter: Teri Takai, DoD Chief Information Officer; Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, Deputy CIO for Command, Control, Communications and Computers and Information Infrastructure; and Fred Moorefield, DoD CIO Director of Spectrum Policy and Programs; and Karl Nebbia, February 20, 2014 

Press Briefing on Release of DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy

STAFF: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming today to cover the release of the department’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy.

I want to introduce the department’s chief information officer, Teri Takai, Major General Robert Wheeler, the DOD deputy CIO for command, control, communications, computers and information infrastructure, and Fred Moorefield, the DOD CIO director of spectrum policy and programs.

For today’s briefing, Ms. Takai will make a brief opening statement on the importance of this strategy before we open it up for questions.

For the on-record briefing, I will call on you for individual questions and a follow-up question.

Before we get started, I’d like to introduce Mr. Karl Nebbia. He’s with the Office of Spectrum Management, associate administrator at the National Telecommunications Information Administration. He’s gonna make some brief remarks about the federal government’s spectrum efforts.

With that, Mr. Nebbia.

KARL NEBBIA: Thank you for inviting me to come today. NTIA is the president’s principle adviser on telecommunications policy. We’re also responsible for managing federal government use of a spectrum. So that’s why we have a great interest in what DOD is doing here today.

How America’s Soldiers Fight for the Spectrum on the Battlefield


An electromagnetic mystery in northern Iraq changed the course of Jesse Potter’s life. A chemical-weapons specialist with the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division, Potter was deployed to Kirkuk in late 2007, right as the oil-rich city was experiencing a grievous spike in violence. He was already weary upon his arrival, having recently completed an arduous tour in Afghanistan, which left him suffering from multiple injuries that would eventually require surgery. In the rare moments of peace he could find in Kirkuk, Potter began to contemplate whether it was time to trade in his uniform for a more tranquil existence back home—perhaps as a schoolteacher. Of more immediate concern, though, was a technical glitch that was jeopardizing his platoon: The jammers on the unit’s armored vehicles were on the fritz. Jammers clog specific radio frequencies by flooding them with signals, rendering cell phones, radios, and remote control devices useless. They were now a crucial weapon in the American arsenal; in Kirkuk, as in the rest of Iraq, insurgents frequently used cell phones and other wireless devices to detonate IEDs. But Potter’s jammers weren’t working. “In the marketplaces, when we would drive through, there’d still be people able to talk on their cell phones,” he says. “If the jamming systems had been effective, they shouldn’t have been able to do that.”

A self-described tech guy at heart, Potter relished the chance to study the jammers. It turned out that, among other problems, they weren’t emitting powerful enough radio waves along the threat frequencies—those that carried much of the city’s mobile traffic. Once the necessary tweaks were made, Potter was elated to witness the immediate, lifesaving results on the streets of Kirkuk, where several of his friends had been maimed or killed. “To see an IED detonate safely behind our convoy—that was a win for me,” he says. It was so thrilling, in fact, that when Potter returned from Iraq in 2008, he dedicated himself to becoming one of the Army’s first new specialists in spectrum warfare—the means by which a military seizes and controls the electromagnetic radiation that makes all wireless communication possible.

S. Korea Seeks Cyber Weapons to Target North Korea’s Nukes

February 21, 2014

South Korea’s said it is developing offensive cyber tools to target Pyongyang’s atomic and missile facilities. 

South Korea is developing offensive cyber weapons to target North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, according to the country’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s Defense Ministry outlined its long-term cyberpolicy to the parliament’s defense committee on Wednesday. The report stated that, “A strategic plan for the second phase calls for developing cybertools for offense like Stuxnet, a computer virus that damaged Iran’s uranium enrichment facility, to cripple North Korea’s missile and atomic facilities.” Yonhap also quoted an anonymous senior defense official as saying: “Once the second phase plan is established, the cyber command will carry out comprehensive cyberwarfare missions.”

These missions will be carried out under a new Cyber Defense Command that South Korea plans to establish in May. It will operate under the purview of the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the report.

South Korea first established a Cyber Command in 2010 to guard against the threat posed by North Korea’s elite unit of hackers. So far, its aims have primarily been to protect vulnerable national networks from cyber attacks originating from North Korea, as well as to wage psychological warfare campaigns against Pyongyang. The decision to equip South Korea’s cyber warriors with the capabilities to attack North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities therefore represents a dramatic escalation.


“The defence forces on their part have adopted information warfare doctrines, which include infosec as a vital element. There is a growing partnership between defence and private industry to evolve IT security solutions for the defence information infrastructure….As defence reliance on commercial off the shelf technology (COTS) grows, the dilemma of selecting an appropriate vendor has been to a large extent addressed by the CII [Confederation of Indian Industry] online defence directory—a web-based listing of Indian software vendors working on defence related systems and applications.” – Lt. Commander Prashant Bakshi, “Security Implications of a Wired India: Challenges Ahead” Strategic Analysis, April 2001


Security analysts are predicting that 2013 is when nation-sponsored cyber warfare goes mainstream — and some think such attacks will lead to actual deaths. In 2012, large-scale cyber attacks targeted at the Iranian government were uncovered, and in return, Iran is believed to have launched massive attacks aimed at U.S. banks and Saudi oil companies. At least 12 of the world’s 15 largest military powers are currently building cyber warfare programs, according to James Lewis, a cyber security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. So a cyber Cold War is already in progress. But some security companies believe that battle will become even more heated this year. The U.S. has already put would-be attackers on notice. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said recently that the United States reserves the right to use military force against a nation that launches a cyber attack on the country.

Even if hackers aren’t capable of killing with a cyber attack, there is no doubt that they’ve become more destructive1. Cyber attacks pose more than a theoretical challenge to the Indian government’s day-to-day national security agenda due to the intrusions and web defacements experienced after New Delhi’s nuclear weapons test and in the confrontation with Pakistan over Kashmir. The Indian authorities announced a shift in military doctrine in 1998 to embrace electronic warfare and information operations.

Strategic Depth & Israel's Maritime Strategy

Three Sa'ar 5 class missile corvettes of the Israeli Navy during a training exercise.

Israel’s military accomplishments have often approached their biblical antecedents. Surrounded by the combined invasions of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in 1948, the newly created Jewish state triumphed decisively. Anticipating attack by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in 1967, Israel gained air superiority with a surprise strike that destroyed most of the Egyptian and—later in the same day—Syrian air forces as they sat parked on the ground. Israel’s success in the south helped the late Ariel Sharon decimate Egyptian tank forces in the Sinai. Israel won in six days and, among other accomplishments, threw Syrian forces from their commanding position atop the Golan Heights. 

But the future strategic focus for Israel may be as much at sea as on land or in the air. What is concentrating the attention of Israeli strategy toward the sea? The need for physical distance between a threat and what needs to be protected – strategic depth. 

The strategic depth that the Mediterranean offers will play an increasingly important role in Israel’s defense. This defense will be tested by the U.S. Mediterranean fleet’s virtual disappearance, and the increasing presence of Russia’s navy. It will be probed by Turkey, whose modernizing navy upended the regional balance of power in December 2013 by ordering a massive amphibious assault ship that can also function as an aircraft carrier. Israel’s defenses may also face the possibility of having to defend against Iranian nuclear-armed missile attack. 

Russia to Establish Arctic Military Command

February 21, 2014

By the end of this year, Russia will establish the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command. 

Russia will establish a new strategic military command in the Arctic by the end of the year, according to local news reports.

RIA Novosti, citing a high ranking official in Russia’s General Staff, said the new force would be called the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command. The news agency quoted the source as saying: “The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures.”

The report went on to say that the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command “will be responsible for protecting Russia’s Arctic shipping and fishing, oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf, and the country’s national borders in the north.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made boosting Russia’s military presence in the Arctic an important priority during his third term in office. At a meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry Board last December, Putin said: “I request that you pay special attention to the deployment of infrastructure and military units in the Arctic.”

Other Russian officials have said that Moscow will reopen at least seven airfields as well as a number of ports on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic. Moscow has also begun enhancingits aerospace defense and early warning radars in the Arctic region. Last November the commander of Russia’s Aerospace Defense Command stated: “The expansion of [missile early warning] radar coverage is one of the key areas of our work, especially when it comes to [Russia’s] extreme north – we have already started the deployment of electronic warfare units in the Arctic.”