2 March 2014

Need for action plan to counter KLO

February 28, 2014

The Kamtapur movement has been simmering for quite some time. The movement, led by the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), formed in 1995, had carried out at least three violent attacks in the latter part of 2013. The last one on December 26 at Paharpur in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, masterminded by Malkhan Singha, military chief of KLO, resulted in six deaths. The KLO is also extorting from traders and industrialists in its area of operations. The organisation is reported to be having a tacit understanding with the Kamtapur Peoples` Party (KPP).

The KPP, formed in 1997, however claims that it demands a unified territory and statehood for the Koch Rajbanshis inhabiting the north West Bengal and west Assam only, and not cessation from India. The KLO is contrastingly clear in its cessationist demand and is campaigning for restoration of the so-called past independence of a notional Koch Kamta kingdom, which existed during the 12th to the 15th century under the control of the Khen dynasty, with capital near Moynaguri in present Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri district. The KLO`s activities encompass the six districts of north West Bengal and Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara districts of west Assam.

The implications of the KLO movement in the sensitive eastern and north-eastern parts cannot but be ominous for India`s security. Though the KLO armed cadre strength has increased from 60 at the time of its formation in 1995 to a few hundred now, the organisation does not have the armed might of outfits like the ULFA, NSCN(IM) and the NDFB (anti-accommodation Songbijit faction). It has, however, developed operational and logistical coordination with these outfits. Nevertheless, the KLO’s potential for disrupting civic life and undermining civil administration, particularly in the six north West Bengal districts of Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, North & South Dinajpur and Malda, have been proven.

After Jibon Sigha, Chairman of KLO, was arrested in October 1999, and later released by Assam Police to wean away other KLO cadres from the organization and induce them to surrender, there has been a distinct change in strategy of the KLO. The organization has lurched towards a more violent path once again. While the Centre may be keeping a tab on the KLO`s activities, ground-level coordination towards intelligence sharing and prophylactic operations between the Assam Police and its West Bengal counterparts is required along with political initiatives by the Tarun Gogoi and Mamta Banerji governments.

India, Iran and Oman Open Talks On Deep Sea Gas Pipeline

March 01, 2014

The pipeline would extend 1,400 km and transfer 31 million cubic meters of gas per day to India.

On Friday, India opened formal talks on a deep-sea gas pipeline with both Iran and Oman. Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khrushid met Omani Foreign Minister Yousif bin Alawai bin Abdullah and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The project, which is being discussed for the first time at this high of a level, is expected to cost around $5 billion. The deep sea pipeline would be an alternative for India to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline which ran into several complications after Pakistan failed to meet its obligations in a timely manner.

According to India’s Hindustan Times, the pipeline would be mutually advantageous for Iran and India, with the former having a massive surplus of gas and the latter having high energy needs. India imports around 75 percent of its crude oil. According to Iran’s PressTV, the Iran-Oman-India pipeline would source its gas from Iran’s South Pars oil and gas field which is located in the Persian Gulf. The pipeline would run around 1,400 kilometers.

In December 2013, reports emerged that an Indian firm had conducted feasibility studies for the proposed deep sea pipeline route with favorable results. The cost estimate by India’s South Asia Gas Enterprise Pvt. Ltd. (SAGE) was around $4-5 billion. The pipeline is expected to carry 31 million cubic meters of gas per day. Also in December, the marketing manager for Iran’s National Iranian Gas Exports Co. said that that ”Negotiations were held with three Indian companies for [their] purchase of gas from Iran, and general agreements have been reached,” referring to gas that would be delivered via this pipeline.

Should India and Iran move ahead with the deep sea pipeline plan, the future of the land-based pipeline which was intended to channel gas from Iran via Pakistan appears increasingly uncertain. In December 2013, as Iran demonstrated additional interest in pursuing the deep sea pipeline project with India, it cancelled a major $500 billion loan to Pakistan for the construction of the land-based pipeline, all but ensuring that Pakistan would fail to meet its winter 2014 deadline for completing its portion of the pipeline.

Are US-China Academic Exchanges Worthwhile?

Recent criticisms of US-China academic exchange programs miss what these exchanges can do for US-China relations.
March 01, 2014 

Yesterday, the DC-based Cato Institute held an event called “Chinese Intrusions into American Universities: Consequences for Freedom” (a full video of which can be viewed on the Cato Institute’s website). As might be inferred from the title, the discussion was pessimistic about the increasing number of Chinese students and academics spending time at U.S. universities. The program called for “serious consideration of the practical and moral/ethical issues posed by dealing with authoritarian regimes.” While noting the value of academic exchanges, the discussion questioned whether increased interactions with China, where academic freedom is limited by the Communist Party, has had a corrosive effect on the academic integrity of U.S. institutions. “American universities should continue to engage with Chinese universities,” said senior fellow James A. Dorn in his introduction, “but American universities should not forget first principles, particularly the principle of non-intervention or freedom.” 

Perhaps the highlight of the presentation came from Xia Yeliang, a former Peking University professor who was fired last year in what many saw as retaliation for his vocal political stances. Xia has since moved to the U.S. and currently serves as a visiting fellow at the Cato Institute. Xia went beyond the normal questions of academic freedom for U.S. institutions that deal heavily with China. Instead, Xia warned that allowing Chinese students and academics to study in the U.S. can be dangerous. “Every year among those top universities there are some visiting scholars, and among them I can definitely say there are some people who are actually spies,” he said. Xia’s comments were picked up by Reuters, which used the headline “Dissident warns China sending spies to U.S. in scholarly guise.” 

It’s possible of course that some Chinese academics in the U.S. are spies. The Chinese Communist Party (CPC) has previously worked to block certain outspoken intellectuals (such as recently arrested professor Ilham Tohti) from taking up posts at foreign universities, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that Chinese academics visiting the U.S. have at least a baseline level of government approval. But it’s a big jump from there to outright accusing them of spying. Xia’s claim is juicy, no doubt, but ultimately a red herring. Focusing on that aspect ignores the larger debate over U.S. academic cooperation with China. 

China’s ‘Blurred Lines’ on Security Threats

Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party is purposely conflating external and domestic security threats.

March 01, 2014 

The Communist Party of China, particularly under Xi Jinping, has increasingly been blurring the lines between domestic and foreign security threats. This seems to be a deliberate undertaking by the highest levels of leadership to serve its most important objectives. However, it also may be a reflection of how CPC leaders perceive the challenges they face, and the capabilities they have to address them. 

The CPC’s efforts to blur the lines between domestic and foreign security threats is not entirely new. As Zheng Wang noted yesterday on China Power, from the earliest days of the PRC Mao viewed intellectuals’ attraction to Western ideas as a serious threat to the CPC’s power. 

What is more novel is that under Xi Jinping the CPC is re-organizing the Party and government to more seamlessly integrate decision-making (and perhaps implementation) on domestic and foreign security threats. 

The clearest manifestation of this was the State Security Committee that was first announced following the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress last November. Initially most observers interpreted this new body as analogous to the National Security Councils in the United States and more recently Japan. Some of us were more skeptical. As I wrote at the time: “Much of the talk outside of China has been about how it [the state security committee] may affect China’s foreign and military policy. Based on what’s been said about it in the communiqué and in state media, it seems to me that this body will be at least primarily tasked with upholding domestic stability.” As more information emerged about the state security committee, it was generally accepted that it would indeed have a domestic component that was at least as important as the foreign one, if not more so. 

Why China needs to divert the Brahmaputra

February 24, 2014

Several times during the last couple of weeks, I have mentioned the Chinese new plans for the diversion of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Siang/Brahmaputra) and other Tibetan rivers towards the Yellow river.

My information came from a longish article posted on the website of the Yellow River Conservancy Commission of the Ministry of Water Resources of China.

The article is entitled, 
Research on the Feasibility of Greatly Opening Up the Yellow River for Shipping(click on the link to read the original Chinese study).

Thanks to a friend, here is the translation of the two first sections which explain the rationale of the projected mega mega project. The map is strictly based on the description given in the article.

It goes without saying that there are probably different views in China, but there is definitively a strong lobby who wants to use the Yellow River as a navigation corridor and therefore needs the Siang/Brahmaputra's waters.

Navigation of the Yellow River and the Necessity of its Development

For a long time, people have been much more concerned with the exploitation of water resources than with the development of marine shipping. The NW of our country is dry, with little rainfall, and has a great need for water. There are vast areas of wilderness waiting for development, which really means they are waiting for large quantities of water to be brought in, because once they have water, the desert can become green, and only on that foundation can development begin. So people are very interested in projects to bring water from the South to the North. With regard to the extremely difficult "western line" project, many tempting plans have been proposed for large-scale water relocation. People have grasped the importance of water resources, but there is another important point still missing -- marine transportation and shipping. The Chang Jiang (Yangtze) has the best conditions for marine shipping of any river in the world, and can carry a greater volume of goods than any other river, but its utilization is not up to the standard of the Mississippi and Rhine, the other 2 great shipping waterways of the world. The Three Gorges project should have provided the best opportunity for full and efficient use of the Chang Jiang's shipping potential, but at that time, development proceeded under the principle of "power generation first, marine shipping second", and so the project never lived up to its potential to promote marine shipping. There is a limit to electric generation, but the river's capacity to carry goods can keep growing and growing as the riverbed is excavated deeper, so the potential economic benefits are very great. Even under the limits imposed by the current condition of the Chang Jiang, the Chang Jiang river basin area accounts for a solid 45% of China's GDP, and stands firmly as the main economic development axis of the entire country. If it can be said that survival and ecology are tightly linked to water resource management, then development and becoming strong and prosperous are even more tightly linked to marine shipping.

The People’s Liberation Army: Post Plenum III

01 Mar , 2014

President Xi Jinping (centre) and Premier Li Keqiang (to Xi's left) at the third plenary meeting with other Politburo Standing Committee members (from left) Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng and Wang Qishan (Photo © Xinhua)

The Third Plenum admitted that the forthcoming reforms would decide the destiny of modern China. The statement concluded with “the need to deepen reforms in order to build a moderately prosperous society, and a strong and democratic country, as well as realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.” Xi Jinping’s reforms may remain a dream. Sinocism, an excellent newsletter which analyzes the current events in China, commented: “The decision is impressive and shows that the leadership is both aware of and committed to deep reforms. …the truly hard part is not the drafting but the implementation of changes that will affect interests throughout society. But at least Xi has clearly articulated [his] resolve and vision for reform.” Is it enough?

The new leadership in Beijing had decided to bet on development and reforms…

The Central Committee’s Third Plenum

“China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is striving to maintain its glorious wartime reputation by advancing military reform and putting paid to the ethos of decadence,” said an editorial of The PLA Daily, the day after the Third Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee (a four day-conclave held from November 09 to 12, 2013). The Party had just delivered two new Leading Groups: one on reforms (it was expected) and more surprisingly, a National Security Committee (NSC).

The new leadership in Beijing had decided to bet on development and reforms, “The general objective of the approved reforms is to improve and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics …development is still the key to solving all problems in China,” affirmed a statement of the Central Committee. Xi Jinping and his colleagues seem to have seen the clouds gathering in the Middle Kingdom’s sky; for the present Emperors, the only way to avoid the fate of former Soviet Union (where the internal security apparatus had become weak, corrupt and ineffective), was to act fast; reforms needed to be introduced at once, or else the Communist Party’s days would be counted.

The Third Plenum admitted that the forthcoming reforms would decide the destiny of modern China. The statement concluded with “the need to deepen reforms in order to build a moderately prosperous society, and a strong and democratic country, as well as realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.”

China Rejects Human Rights Report From US

China’s shrill response to the U.S. human rights report only reinforces the lack of concern for human rights in Beijing.

March 01, 2014

With fingers firmly in ears, China issued its traditional reaction to the U.S. “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013″ on Friday. Showing a deep, willful misunderstanding of even the term human rights, China continues to dodge all international criticism on the subject of its own internal human rights abuses.

While the original U.S. report was not discussed much in China, the PRC’s response is being plastered everywhere—ironically illustrating China’s most vulnerable area of human rights, i.e. China’s brutal and harrowing strangulation of any attempts at a free press. Two editorials issued by Xinhua, China’s official news organization, had tough words for the U.S., degenerating quickly into name-calling. One editorial stated, “Ironically, the long-time braggart human rights preacher has not acceded to key UN human rights conventions on the rights protection of children, women and the physically challenged.”

The response from China has at least been succinct: the U.S. is a bunch of “hypocrites” and China’s image is the victim. While this may be true in essence, it is far from it in scope. While China hit with gun control and, of course, PRISM—a PRC perennial favorite—the problems China faces are large and are not helped by the government’s bloody-mindedness regarding all human rights criticisms—from repression in Xinjiang to the lack of an independent judiciary. Even the normally stoic Reuters had a bit of fun with this: “The report, without a hint of irony in acknowledging China’s sprawling domestic security and intelligence apparatus, took the United States to task for spying on its own citizens.” International organizations the world over rank China at the bottom of many of their rights lists, but the U.S. takes most of the blame in the PRC, with an editorial in Xinhuaclaiming China is “a longtime victim of the U.S.’s groundless accusations.”

The U.S. list is issued for informative and legislative reasons, and comments on the human rights situation in nearly 200 countries—few of which complain. The nearly 30,000 word report on China is inevitably followed, every year, by a similar Chinese report on the U.S. human rights situation—which is then trumpeted by every state media publication in the country.

With New National Days, China Strikes At Japan

New national days commemorating the Nanjing Massace and the end of WW2 show the historical roots of China-Japan enmity.

February 28, 2014

Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee has approved the draft decision to make December 13 a National Memorial Day to “commemorate those killed during the Nanjing Massacre in the 1930s” and designate September 3 as “Victory Day of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.”

These two planned designations immediately remind people of China’s increasing resentment toward Japan in the enduring East China Sea standoff. This will be the first legislative act at the national level to commemorate China’s losses during the war and its role as victor in the post-war settlement. The Memorial Day designation, in particular, has been proposed to CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) and NPC since 2005 by officials and NPC members from Nanjing, where local memorial activity has been a routine since 1994.

China Youth Daily commented that the designations “come at the right moment,” when “the Japanese right-wing continues to rise.” A China Central Television (CCTV) news program also explained that the two designations are intended to stand with Japanese people in memory of the miserable war history and its deep lessons. Regarding China’s decision, Japan’s chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan has no further comment on the issue, but questioned the fact that China has waited for 69 years to take such an action.

So, what has happened during the past 69 years between China and Japan? Why has a historical reconciliation been so difficult to achieve between these two neighbors? A brief and quick glance of the history may help us to understand the nature and origin of current confrontational situation.

Let’s Figure Out How Not To Get Into One With China

FEBRUARY 27, 2014 

http://ricks.foreignpolicy. com/posts/2014/02/27/the_ future_of_war_no_10_lets_ figure_out_how_not_to_get_ into_one_with_china 

By Sean Kelleher
Best Defense future of war entry

Several recent commentaries on the emerging Air-Sea Battle doctrine have emphasized the escalatory risks of launching massive conventional attacks against an adversary’s home territory when the adversary has a range of retaliatory means at its disposal, including nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles (see theDiplomat, USNWC). These risks deserve close consideration, but they are not uniquely characteristic of Air-Sea Battle, rather they are endemic to any strategy aimed at achieving decisive victory.

The American military puts on its best performances when it goes for the jugular: Grant’s multi-pronged invasion of the Confederacy, Winfield Scott’s march to Mexico City, and the initial phases of the 2003 invasion of Iraq are all model operations. This record is consistent with the historical experiences of other armies; Alexander marched into the heart of the Persian Empire, Genghis Khan had no patience for borders, and Napoleon won most of his victories in other peoples’ countries. The attack component of Air-Sea Battle fits nicely into this pattern; massive cyber, electronic, air, and missile strikes paralyze an opponent’s capacity to coordinate its forces, followed by attacks on now isolated targets. It aims for decisive victory in multiple domains of warfare and, assuming appropriate intellectual and material investments, the Pentagon has a good chance of converting the nascent idea into an operational reality (useful documents: DOD-JOAC, CSBA 1, CSBA 2, Danger Room).

One may reasonably ask whether the probability of total war with China is high enough to justify a massive investment in the war-fighting tools that would be needed to win it. However, if we assume that the investment is justified, Air-Sea Battle is a sound idea. Yes, there are escalatory risks, but as long as the military infrastructure in China’s coastal provinces is central to the PLA’s operations, Washington will have to be prepared to destroy it. There is no polite way to bomb another country, and, in my decidedly non-expert opinion, much of the criticism of Air-Sea Battle is not about the doctrine itself, but about the wisdom of fighting China. 

The most salient criticism of the doctrine is not its expansive scope, but its limited purview. Basing our fortunes on an aggressive naval/air/cyber strategy assumes that a U.S.-China conflict will not involve land battles in Asia, or attacks in the Eastern Pacific. But what if we have to help Russia protect Siberia’s resources from a Chinese invasion, or if we need to evict PLA soldiers from Taiwan and Okinawa? Also, what if Chinese submarines launch cruise missiles against the West Coast, while ballistic missiles reign down on Pearl Harbor? Faced with a conflict akin to the World Wars, Air-Sea Battle would have to be combined with other operational concepts to create an effective strategy.

At bottom, if current economic and military trends persist for several decades, and Washington and Beijing go to war in the grand style, there will be a dramatic risk of escalation. But the origin of the risk will be the conflict itself, not the strategies used to fight it (for economic projections, and U.S.-Soviet Union comparisons, see these posts: 1, 2).

*** The vicious schism between Sunni and Shia has been poisoning Islam for 1,400 years - and it's getting worse


Tracing the current conflict in Syria back to the year 632, when the Prophet Mohamed died
Wednesday 19 February 2014

The war in Syria began much earlier than is generally recognised. The conflict actually began in the year 632 with the death of the Prophet Mohamed. The same is true of the violence, tension or oppression currently gripping the Muslim world from Iraq and Iran, though Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A single problem lies behind all that friction and hostility. On Tuesday, Britain's leading Muslim politician, the Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, obliquely addressed it in a speech she made in Oman, the Arab state at the south-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula strategically positioned at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The religious tolerance of the Sultanate, she suggested, offered a model for the whole of the Islamic world. It certainly needs such an exemplar of openness and acceptance.

What most of the crucibles of conflict in the Middle East have in common is that Sunni Muslims are on one side of the disagreement and Shia Muslims on the other. Oman is unusual because its Sunni and Shia residents are outnumbered by a third sect, the Ibadis, who constitute more than half the population. In many countries, the Sunni and the Shia are today head-to-head.

The rift between the two great Islamic denominations runs like a tectonic fault-line along what is known as the Shia Crescent, starting in Lebanon in the north and curving through Syria and Iraq to the Gulf and to Iran and further east.

The division between Sunni and Shia Muslims is the oldest in the Middle East - and yet it is one which seems increasingly to be shaping the destiny of this troubled region as thousands of devotees from both sides pour into Syria. Jihadist al-Qa'ida volunteers on the Sunni side and Hezbollah militants on the Shia, are joining what is fast becoming a transnational civil war between the two factions.

There are around one and a half billion Muslims in the world. Of these, somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent - estimates vary considerably - are Shia. In most countries these Shia are minorities in a Sunni homeland. But in Iraq, Iran, Bahrain and Azerbaijan they outnumber their co-religionists.

A painting of the Battle of Karbala in 680AD, in present day Iraq, which is remembered by both Sunnis and Shias (Corbis)
What makes Syria different is that there a Sunni majority is ruled by a Shia minority. The Alawites, the sect to which President Bashar al-Assad and much of his army officer elite belong, are Shia. That situation is the mirror opposite of Iraq under Saddam, where a Sunni strongman lorded it over a Shia majority - until the invasion of Iraq, when elections put the Shia in charge, insofar as anyone can be said to be running that chaotic country.

The division between the two factions is older and deeper even than the tensions between Protestants and Catholics which bedevilled Europe for centuries. The two Christian denominations had a shared history for 1500 years. By contrast the rift between the two biggest Muslim factions goes right back to the beginning - and a row over who should succeed the Prophet Mohamed as leader of the emerging Islamic community when he died in the early 7th century.

Festering Wounds in Little India

Guest Column by Prof. V. Suryanarayan

In a turbulent region, characterized by xenophobia, the Republic of Singapore was considered to be an oasis of stability and orderly progress.

The Republic’s rapid economic strides made it an object of envy and admiration. But this image suffered serious setback following the unprecedented violent clashes in “Little India” between Indian migrants and security forces in December 2013. The spark was provided by the killing of an Indian worker by a bus. Angry spectators took the law into their own hands, went on a rampage and destroyed public property. The police soon arrived on the scene and brought the situation under control.

The immediate response of the Singapore Government was to detain large number of Indian workers who had congregated in Little India to spend the Sunday evening. 53 migrant workers were to be deported and 28 workers will face prosecution and, if convicted, will have to undergo imprisonment, in addition to caning, which is universally considered to be inhuman and barbarous.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long downplayed the seriousness of the incident and characterized it as an “isolated incident caused by an unruly mob”. But perceptive observers of Singapore scene are of the view that frustration, disenchantment and anger have been developing among migrant workers. A closer look at Singapore’s political evolution from 1963, when Singapore got its independence with the formation of Malaysia, provides illustrations of ethnic discontent among all three major ethnic groups - Malays, Chinese and Indians. 

In order to understand the problem in proper perspective, it is necessary to highlight certain unique characteristics of Singapore. Since the founding of modern Singapore by Stamford Raffles in 1819, Singapore was made a free port and it attracted migrants from China, India and Malay world. What is more, from the beginning, the Chinese outnumbered indigenous Malays and immigrant Indians. The population of Singapore today is estimated to be 5.26 million, of which the Chinese constitute 74 per cent, Malays 13 per cent and Indians 9 per cent. Of the total population of 5.26 million, 3.27 million are Singapore citizens, half a million are permanent residents and 1.46 million are foreigners. In Singapore one does not notice abject poverty, but there is increasing disparity between the filthy rich and the relatively impoverished many. The local people resent the presence of foreign workers who contribute to overcrowding in public transport and have hiked the cost of living. Singapore citizens of Indian origin are one of the worst affected. According to informed sources, the per capita income of a Singapore citizen of Indian origin is less than the national average. Complicating the situation, there is also a big divide between the highly qualified affluent expatriate Indians and local Indians. They do not interact with one another. Stay in any good hotel, invariably the girl who cleans the room and the toilet will be a local Tamil girl.

Singapore’s demography has undergone rapid transformation during last thirty years. Economic progress had been steady and this development has been fuelled by migrant workers. Singapore citizens are not available or are unwilling to work in sectors ranging from construction to domestic chores. According to the White Paper on population published in January 2013, the population of Singapore in 2020 will be 6.9 million, of which citizens will account for 3.8 million, permanent residents 0.6 million and migrant workers 2.5 million. There is an intense debate taking place among intelligentsia in Singapore as to what is the appropriate balance between growth and quality of life. Many Singapore citizens want quality of life to be maintained whereas the Government subscribes to the view that rapid economic growth alone can provide for a good standard of living.

Bangkok Turmoil and Thailand’s Deep South

Prospects for peace in South Thailand recede as Bangkok plunges into political turmoil.

By Sasiwan Chingchit
March 01, 2014

Exactly one year ago, hopes were high as the Thai government under the leadership of Yingluck Shinawatra made a historic move to end a conflict that had already claimed more than 5300 lives since its brutal resurgence in 2004. With the blessings of her deposed and now exiled brother Thaksin, who had previously approached Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak for cooperation, Shinawatra initiated a formal peace dialogue with the Barisan Rovolusi Nasional (BRN), one of the main insurgent groups that operate in the three violence-ridden provinces of Thailand’s Deep South.

Despite being lauded and supported by many local religious leaders, civil society groups, and scholars working towards a peaceful bottom-up resolution to the conflict, the dialogue soon ran into challenges, lasting only three rounds. A lack of command and commitment by the representatives of both sides, the uncertain and contested role of Malaysia, and the Army’s entrenched interests and stronger role have all contributed to undermine the dialogue.

One possible way out would be to upgrade the dialogue to a negotiation process focusing on the practical aspects of some form of political autonomy for the Southern provinces, which would increase the prospects of ending one of Asia’s oldest conflicts. But this is unlikely given the current political instability in Bangkok and the uncertain future of Prime Minister Yingluck and her government, now bereft of popular support and legitimacy.

Weak Command and Commitment

Plaguing the peace process at the outset was the lack of leadership unity, legitimacy, and genuine commitment on both sides. It is widely believed among Thai security officials, especially the Army’s top brass, that the senior BRN leaders who joined the talks no longer have command over the young militants operating on the ground and that the dialogue was consequently doomed from the outset. The Army raid on militant camps in July, even while the dialogue was in process, further reflected the military’s snubbing of the BRN-Thai government official agreement to refrain from violence during Ramadan.

Has China Awoken a Sleeping Giant in Japan?

In his dispatch from Tokyo, the Naval Diplomat reports that Japan has given up debating the nature of China’s rise.

March 01, 2014 

So the Naval Diplomat found a seam in the teaching schedule and promptly winged off to Tokyo, there to lend supersecret counsel to the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Self-Defense Forces. Be afraid, China; be very, very afraid. 

While here I have consorted with greatness. A journey down Tokyo Bay to visit the U.S.-Japanese fleet base at Yokosuka included a side trip aboard the battleship Mikasa, Togo’s flagship at Port Arthur, the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and Tsushima Strait. Strikingly, the museum ship’s organizers portray Togo as a peer not just of Lord Nelson, the usual comparison, but also of John Paul Jones of blessed memory, who proclaimed that he had not yet begun to fight during one single-ship engagement in the American Revolution. Generous, and diplomatic, of them to make room for Jones in such company. Also on the agenda was a trip to the JMSDF Staff College for meetings with the College faculty. There a bust of Akiyama Saneyuki presides over the educational enterprise. Excellent! 

My flash takeaway from this East Asia swing is a visceral one. The famously circumspect Japanese have taken to speaking bluntly about the prospects for victory and defeat, submission and survival in the strategic competition with China. Across the Pacific, American policymakers and pundits still quarrel over the nature of the China challenge, arguing about how to reinforce the U.S. strategic position in Asia without offending Beijing’s delicate sensibilities. Japanese can argue about methods for coping China’s effort to rewrite the rules of the Asian order. Situated just across the East and Yellow seas from China, though, they no longer enjoy the luxury of remaining aloof or debating how many angels fit on the head of a pin. Competition with Big Brother is everyday reality for them. 

The 25 Allies That Embaress the U.S. Government

February 28, 2014

America’s 25 Most Awkward Allies

Last December, National Security Adviser Susan Rice offered a remarkably candid insight into Barack Obama’s foreign policy. “Let’s be honest,” she said, “at times … we do business with governments that do not respect the rights we hold most dear.” 

American presidents have long wrestled with this dilemma. During the Cold War, whether it was Dwight Eisenhower overthrowing Iran’s duly elected prime minister or Richard Nixon winking at Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, they often made unsavory moral compromises. Even Jimmy Carter, who said America’s “commitment to human rights must be absolute,” cut deals with dictators. 

But Obama, an idealist at home, has turned out to be more cold-blooded than most recent presidents about the tough choices to be made in the world, downgrading democracy and human rights accordingly. From Syria to Ukraine, Egypt to Venezuela, this president has shied away from the pay-any-price, bear-any-burden global ambitions of his predecessors, preferring quiet diplomacy to the bully pulpit—when he is engaged at all. 

He has his reasons. A decade of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan soured Americans on George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda,” taking invasion off the table as a policy tool. And there are broader global forces at work too: the meteoric rise of China, new tools for repressing dissent, the malign effect of high oil prices. Freedom in the world has declined for eight straight years, according to Freedom House—not just under Obama. 

But if the president is troubled by these trends, he shows few signs of it. “We live in a world of imperfect choices,” Obama shrugged last year—and his administration has made many, currying favor with a rogue’s gallery of tyrants and autocrats. Here, Politico Magazine has assembled a list of America’s 25 most awkward friends and allies, from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Honduras to Uzbekistan—and put together a damning, revelatory collection of reports on the following pages about the “imperfect choices” the United States has made in each. “I will not pretend that some short-term tradeoffs do not exist,” Rice admitted. Neither will we. 


1. Pakistan 

America’s worst ally—being home to Osama bin Laden will do that to your reputation—Pakistan has gobbled up billions of dollars in U.S. aid and “reimbursements” for services rendered in the war on terror. And while Pakistan’s powerful military and spy services have often collaborated with their American counterparts on drone strikes and militant arrests, they’ve just as often made mischief, hosting the Taliban and other extremist groups, planting false anti-American stories in the press and undermining the civilian government. “The cancer is in Pakistan,” Obama reportedly told his staff in 2009—but he has yet to figure out how to excise it. 

New Realities: Energy Security in the 2010s and Implications for the U.S. Military - Executive Summaries

Edited by Dr. John R. Deni
Added January 08, 2014 
47 Pages 
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Brief Synopsis

The rapidly changing global energy supply situation, coupled with a host of social, political, and economic challenges facing consumer states, has significant implications for the United States generally and for the U.S. military specifically. The U.S. Army War College gathered experts from the policymaking community, academia, think tanks, the private sector, and the military services at the Reserve Officers Association in Washington, DC on 19-20 November 2013 to address first the major ‘new realities’ both geographically and technologically and then the specific military implications. This compendium of executive summaries is based on the presentations delivered at that conference, which was funded through the generous support of the U.S. Army War College Foundation.

The No-Longer-So-Secret Swiss Bank Account

FEBRUARY 26, 2014

Bankers from Credit Suisse, one of the world's largest financial institutions, courted wealthy Americans in airports, at family weddings and on golf courses from Florida to the Bahamas with a simple pitch: We'll help you hide your money. The bankers shielded the funds using code names and shell companies. They even set up private airport branches clients could use to do their banking, as they flew in and out of Switzerland, without leaving a paper trail. 

The effort worked: A Senate investigation this week found that the bank ultimately held $13 billion of American money in 22,000 secret accounts. On Wednesday, lawmakers hauled Credit Suisse's top management before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and delivered an equally simple pitch: Stop your behavior or risk serious penalties, including potential jail time. "You want to do business here, you've got to comply with our laws," said Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, the panel's chairman. 

Credit Suisse is in talks with the Justice Department to settle an ongoing investigation by paying an $800 million fine, the largest ever for allegedly aiding tax evasion, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

At the hearing Wednesday, senators from both parties accused executives from the Swiss bank of using "spy novel" tactics to help Americans hide billions of dollars. 

The Credit Suisse investigation is part of a broader U.S. crackdown on Americans who use offshore accounts to hide their income. In 2009, the largest Swiss bank UBS agreed to pay a record-setting $780 million fine and admit to facilitating tax evasion. The tax cheat dragnet has already compelled over 43,000 Americans with secret accounts to come clean through an amnesty program, a Justice Department official said at the hearing. 

Credit Suisse has stopped accepting new American clients, unless they can prove that they are paying their taxes, bank officials said. In addition, Chief Executive Brady Dougan said his firm had investigated the problem on its own and shared with authorities what he said the law-breaking bankers had tried to keep hidden. 

America plays its role in a changing world right

By Fareed Zakaria, Published: February 28 

As America navigates a changing world, the people who seem to be having the greatest difficulty with the adjustment are the country’s pundits. Over the past few weeks, a new conventional wisdom has congealed on the op-ed pages: The United States is in retreat, and this is having terrible consequences around the world. 

This week, The Post’s Richard Cohen presented the usual parade of horrible things happening around the world — chiefly Syria — for which President Obama is to blame, and he added a few new ones for good measure, such as Scotland’s and Catalonia’s possible moves toward secession. In the face of all these challenges, Cohen asserted, Obama refuses to be the world’s policeman or even its “hall monitor.” Yes, if only the president would blow a whistle, the Scots and Catalans would end their centuries-old quest for independence!

Forget the Federal Reserve’s “taper,” Niall Ferguson tells us in the Wall Street Journal, the much greater danger is Washington’s “geopolitical taper.” He presents as evidence of Obama’s disastrous policies the fact that more people have died in the “Greater Middle East” under Obama than under George W. Bush. But there is a huge difference in the two cases. In the Bush years, the numbers were high because of the war in Iraq, a conflict initiated by the Bush administration. In the Obama years, the numbers are high because of the war in Syria, a conflict that the Obama administration has stayed out of. If this logic were to be followed, Bush is responsible for the tens of thousands of deaths in Sudan and Congo during his presidency. 

Most of the critiques were written before the fall of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanu­kovych, so they tend to view Ukraine as another example of the weak and feckless Obama administration. Events in Ukraine actually illustrate how the world has changed and how U.S. leadership is better exercised in this new era.

Global Forecast 2014

U.S. Security Policy at a Crossroads

Contributor: Jon Alterman, David Berteau, Ernest Bower, Samuel Brannen, Victor Cha, Heather Conley, Jennifer Cooke, Zack Cooper, Anthony Cordesman, Ralph Cossa, Matthew Goodman, Michael Green, John Hamre, Murray Hiebert, Christopher Johnson, Andrew Kuchins, Sarah Ladislaw, Robert Lamb, Maren Leed, James Lewis, Haim Malka, Carl Meacham, Scott Miller, Stephen Morrison, Clark Murdock, Aram Nerguizian, Daniel Runde, Sharon Squassoni, Johanna Nesseth Tuttle, Juan Zarate

NOV 1, 2013

After a dozen years of war, the 2008 financial crisis, budgetary contraction inside government, and growing political polarization, U.S. security policy stands at a crossroads as America finds itself lacking a durable political consensus on the nation’s role in the world. In Global Forecast 2014, CSIS scholars answer the questions that will determine the future trajectory of American power in 2014 and beyond. The report looks overseas at America’s ability to sustain its rebalance to Asia and adapt to the changing order in the Middle East. At the same time, the authors examine America’s ability to get its own house in order—to develop a sustainable resource strategy for defense and to rebuild a national security consensus to meet the challenges the United States will face in the years ahead.


Kathleen H. Hicks

James A. Lewis

Maren Leed

Clark A. Murdock

David J. Berteau


Anthony H. Cordesman

Jon B. Alterman

Andrew C. Kuchins

Haim Malka


Should We Change Our Security Approach in Asia? A Conversation with Michael J. Green, Victor Cha, and Christopher K. Johnson
Moderated by Zack Cooper

How Important Is TPP to Our Asia Policy? A Conversation with Ernest Z. Bower, Matthew Goodman, and Scott Miller
Moderated by Murray Hiebert

Sarah O. Ladislaw

Sharon Squassoni


Are There Opportunities to Bolster Regional Security Cooperation? A Conversation with Heather A. Conley, Jennifer G. Cooke, Carl Meacham, Aram Nerguizian, and Ralph A. Cossa
Moderated by Samuel Brannen

What Can Civilian Power Accomplish in Foreign Crises? A Conversation with J. Stephen Morrison, Daniel F. Runde, and Johanna Nesseth Tuttle
Moderated by Robert D. Lamb

Juan Zarate
Publisher CSIS/Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN 978-1-4422-2783-5 (pb); 978-1-4422-2784-2 (eBook)

Cyber sharing

December 16, 2013 


Building partner capacity in cyberspace will make them, and us, less vulnerable 

It’s time for the U.S. military to add cyber activities to combatant commands’ regular security cooperation efforts with partner nations. 

This would bolster our partners’ capabilities, reduce U.S. vulnerabilities, and provide a forward posture for future operations. Certainly, many of the U.S. military’s cyber capabilities are classified, but there are areas where more cooperation is possible. Moreover, such efforts would likely be welcomed by U.S. partners who are aware of their vulnerabilities but are having difficulty coming to grips with the complexities of cyber defense. Such efforts would be far from altruism; in the cyber domain, perhaps more than in any other, our partners’ vulnerabilities are often our own. 

The stronger we build our virtual walls, the more our opponents will seek indirect ways to access U.S. information — and there is plenty of it on foreign servers. For example, much is shared to support the execution of a geographic combatant commander’s Theater Campaign Plan. During the coordination and execution of Joint Chiefs of Staff exercises, Joint Combined Exchange Training, and Foreign Military Sales, the U.S. reveals data about weapons and even individual personnel. As the U.S. seeks to help allies improve their military operations, it often shares and exchanges sensitive tactics, techniques, and procedures. Even innocuous-seeming information — unclassified, or For Official Use Only — might be stolen and put to good use by adversaries. And the threat extends beyond government and military secrets to U.S. corporations’ business information and trade secrets. 

Few partner nations have adequate cyber security measures to protect this U.S. data, even ones with the budgets and expertise to mount advanced defenses. Longtime U.S. partner Saudi Arabia suffered large-scale destruction to Saudi Aramco’s networks and systems in attacks attributed to Iran. In South Korea, where the U.S. exchanges extensive data as part of its shared defense of the Korean peninsula, North Korea and China are suspected of having gained access to portions of the defense plan through a compromised USB thumb drive in 2009. In Japan, which hosts forward-based U.S. forces, exercises, and FMS efforts, U.S. information is exposed to attack by China, Russia and North Korea. 

Nuclear Review Guidance: SecDef and Gen. Welsh

February 28, 2014 · by Fortuna's Corner ·
See attachments below re: DoD/SecDef/General Welsh guidance on the Nuclear Enterprise Review 

Learn cyber conflict history, or doom yourself to repeat it

December 17, 2013 

By Jason Healey 

There have been at least seven major “wake-up calls” in cyber conflict, attacks or other events that shocked and surprised defenders and decisionmakers, then were promptly forgotten until a similar shock “awakened” a new cohort of cyber leaders. 

This pattern will repeat itself until policymakers and practitioners pay attention to history. 

A study of the past 25 years reveals three main lessons. 

The first and most important: There is, in fact, history to be learned. Contrary to received wisdom, cyber conflict, as distinct from the fast-changing technologies through which it is fought, has changed only gradually. 

A second lesson is that the probability and consequences of disruptive cyber conflict have been overhyped for decades, while the impacts of intrusions have been underappreciated. How often have you heard about a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” as opposed to the data theft that is actually occurring? 

Lastly, the more strategically significant a cyber conflict is, the more similar it is to conflicts on the land, in the air and on the sea. For example, when cyber warriors talk about attacks “at the speed of light,” that is only true at the tactical and technical level — tactical engagements often happen quickly in any domain of warfare. The broader cyber conflicts of which they are part unfold over weeks, months and years. 

As in any domain, it is the job of senior decisionmakers to abstract these smaller tactical truths into a larger strategic whole. 

Ultimately, the major difference between online and physical war is the one U.S. cyber warriors least want to recognize: Few, if any, strategic cyber conflicts have been decisively resolved by governments. Instead, it is the non-state actors (such as telecommunications providers, cybersecurity companies, and non-government cyber-sharing organizations) that have played the most central role. If there has been any “partnership,” the government has been a very junior and quite needy one. 

Wanted: A Mahan For Cyber Space; Next Domain Of Great Power Conflict

February 28, 2014 ·

Wanted: A Mahan for Cyberspace 

Cyber Is the Next Domain of Great Power Conflict 

http://www.realcleardefense. com/articles/2014/02/27/ wanted_a_mahan_for_cyberspace_ 107112.html
By Christopher Fitzpatrick 

This year marks an important but likely overlooked anniversary – 100 years since the death of Alfred Thayer Mahan. A notable military officer and scholar, Mahan revolutionized military strategy and security policy with his 1890 book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History. Supporting vigorous engagement in the international community, he argued that states could best build and maintain strength through powerful navies, which open foreign markets and deter foreign aggressors. 

Though based on historical example, his message was particularly prescient for the 20thcentury, in which the great naval armadas of two world wars moved men and materiel in unprecedented quantities to the far reaches of the earth. One could hardly dispute that naval strength remains relevant today. Aircraft carrier groups, for example, are a critical tool of power projection, and essential sea lines of communication and trade rely on naval protection. 

The 21st century, however, brings new battlefields and new challenges. In the early 2000s, the most visible of these has been asymmetric engagements with non-state actors. But the continued rise of China and the resurgence of Russia’s regional ambitions have reopened the door for great power conflict. Fortunately, international norms and economic integration make conventional warfare unlikely and Cold War fears of nuclear conflict almost unimaginable. 

Nevertheless, incompatible visions of the international order and simmering tensions in the Middle East and the South China Sea make conflict of some sort a distinct possibility. Though traditional military forces – including navies – will be essential to deter or respond to such conflict, the great battlefields of the 21stcentury may lie on an existential plane where land, sea, or aerial forces cannot venture – cyberspace. 

The U.S. Military’s Over-Reliance On The Electromagnetic Spectrum Is A Potential Vulnerability In Future Conflict

February 28, 2014 · by Fortuna's Corner

How The Army Plans To Fight A War Across The Electro-Magnetic Spectrum 

Patrick Tucker had an online article in the Feb. 26, 2014 edition of DefenseOne.com with the title above. Mr. Tucker notes that while the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Army have made significant efforts to “showcase their budding capabilities, the service/s and DoD have been less forthcoming about a key, more tangible component of cyber — electronic warfare — until now.” 

Mr. Tucker notes that the Army has just publicly released its first ever, “Field Manual for Cyber Electromagnetic Activities,” which he adds, “covers operations related to cyber space and the electromagnetic spectrum.” This publication,” he says, is a recognition of the importance of access to the electromagnetic spectrum; and, highlights the importance of being able to fight in an electromagnetically challenged/degraded battle-space. 

Mr. Tucker adds that this new manual, describes a variety of electromagnetic warfare (EW) operations — from sending confusing signals and messages that degrade the enemies’ communication capability on the battlefield, to finding enemy equipment and destroying it with big bursts of electromagnetic radiation. Mr. Tucker says “remember the James Bond movie Goldeneye? The manual doesn’t explain how to conduct specific EW attacks, but it does provide guidance to soldiers on what these sorts of operations might look like — in terms of protocol, terminology, and command and control.” 

The electronic spectrum is the dimension that allows us to control drone flights, utilize GPS, drop a smart bomb, find an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and/or conduct satellite communications. The frequencies at the lower end of the spectrum are useful for radio and cell communication; while, the higher end of the spectrum is utilized to target cruise missiles and lasers.In essence, a major disruption to the electromagnetic spectrum — whether intentional, or an act of nature, would leave us “deaf, dumb, and blind,” for a period of time. 

“The military has been fighting to maintain spectrum dominance since WWII,” argues Mr. Tucker,; but, the reliance on the electromagnetic spectrum is only increasing and is likely to take a variety of forms.” In essence, we are no longer spectrum enabled but, spectrum dependent — making that domain an attractive target for terrorists and others. Indeed, the unclassified military literature in China speaks of having to fight “disconnected” from the Internet and the electromagnetic spectrum. 

The Profession of Arms is decaying

By Maj. Matthew Cavanaugh, U.S. Army 
Best Defense guest columnist 

The Profession of Arms is decaying (weakening or fraying -- as opposed to a relative decline), and the primary causes are neglect, anti-intellectual bias, and a creeping, cancerous bureaucracy. 

Permit me to explain, to diagnose the patient's condition, in order to arrive at a common understanding of the illness. Let's begin with the Profession of Arms: This is society's armed wing, principally charged with guarding the safety and interests of that society. In some way, every political entity must use force or at least threaten to use force for it to survive in the international system. The members of the Profession of Arms are the custodians of the specific military knowledge that enables national survival. As Don Snider has put it, these commissioned members have one critical function, which is to successfully provide "the repetitive exercise of discretionary judgment[s] ... of high moral content." In essence this is military judgment, which today is decaying and being compromised through apathy, disregard for intellect, and a mammoth bureaucracy. 

Symptoms: Where there's smoke... 
I teach a course called DS470: Military Strategy at West Point. I was accepted to the assignment in 2009, and attended graduate school from 2010 until the summer of 2012. While in graduate school, I read everything I could to prepare myself for teaching the course. The course includes a two-week block on the Iraq War, and in preparation I came across Professor Richard Kohn's scathing criticism in his 2009 World Affairs Journal article (previously a lecture), "Tarnished Brass: Is the U.S. Military Profession in Decline?" His commentary was stunning at times, and this line chilled me: 

Iraq has become the metaphor for an absence of strategy.... In effect, in the most important area of professional expertise -- the connecting of war to policy, of operations to achieving the objectives of the nation -- the American military has been found wanting. The excellence of the American military in operations, logistics, tactics, weaponry, and battle has been manifest for a generation or more. Not so with strategy.

Not long after, I came across a troubling note from a peer (then-Major Fernando Lujan) already stationed at West Point. He wrote on this blog, "From my own limited perspective, I can say that the Academy is falling heartbreakingly short of its potential to prepare young officers." He continued, "We lecture the cadets on professionalism but we practice bureaucracy. To summarize the difference, professional cultures debate, discuss, and continually innovate to stay effective in the changing world. Bureaucracies churn out ever-restrictive rules and seek to capture every eventuality in codified routines."