12 April 2014

Dancing with the nuclear djinn

April 12, 2014
Praveen Swami

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto promises to review India’s nuclear doctrine. What does this portend?

He saw the signs of the approaching doomsday all around him: in moral degradation, in casual sex, in the rise of western power, in space travel, in our high-tech age. God, wrote Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons guru Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood in Mechanics of the Doomsday..., had not privileged man to know when it would come, but “the promised Hour is not a far off event now.” It would come as a “great blast,” perhaps “initiated by some catastrophic man-made devices, such as sudden detonation of a large number of nuclear bombs.”

Long mocked by his colleagues for his crazed beliefs — the physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy records him as saying, “djinns, being fiery creatures, ought to be tapped as a free source of energy” — and condemned to obscurity after his arrest on charges of aiding the Taliban, Mr. Mahmood may yet be remembered as a prophet.The doctrine debate

India’s next government will, without dispute, find itself dancing with the nuclear djinn Mr. Mahmood helped unleash. In its election manifesto, the Bharatiya Janata Party has promised to “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it to make it relevant to [the] challenges of current times.” Mr. Seshadri Chari, a member of the group that formulated this section of the party’s manifesto said: “why should we tie our hands into accepting a global no-first-use policy, as has been proposed by the Prime Minister recently?”

The debate will come in dangerous times. Pakistan has been growing its arsenal low-yield plutonium nuclear weapons, also called tactical or theatre nuclear weapons. Estimates suggest some 10-12 new nuclear warheads are being added to the country’s 90-110 strong arsenal, and new reactors going critical at Khushab will likely boost that number even further. New Delhi must respond — but the seeds of a nuclear apocalypse could sprout if it gets that response wrong.

Mr. Chari’s grasp of fact doesn’t give much reason to hope for much else: India’s no-first-use commitment was made by a government his party led, not Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In 1998, battling to contain the international fallout from the Pokhran II nuclear tests, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee promised Parliament that “India would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.” Later, in August 1999, the National Security Advisory Board’s draft nuclear doctrine stated that India would only “retaliate with sufficient nuclear weapons to inflict destruction and punishment that the aggressor will find unacceptable if nuclear weapons are used against India and its forces.”

The future of Indo-US ties now lies squarely on America's shoulders


PUBLISHED: 7 April 2014 |

After entering a green light mode, India-US relations have slipped into an amber mode.

How soon we can get back into smooth circulation will depend largely on the US, as the responsibility for the malaise affecting our ties rests mainly on its shoulders.


It is irrelevant whether the current US ambassador to India has resigned or has chosen retirement. The ambassador would have done two years by the time she leaves, not an abnormal tenure by any means. With a new government in New Delhi in the offing, a change in ambassadors would not be inopportune even in the normal course of things.

That the present ambassador has contributed to driving the relationship into a corner despite a pro-US government in New Delhi makes the change even more advisable.

From our perspective, the present ambassador has outlived her utility. With regard to the State Department role in Khobragade's arrest and the evacuation of the maid's family, either the ambassador misjudged our reaction and therefore gave faulty advice, or she gave the right counsel but it was disregarded, which would suggest that her clout in Washington is limited.

In either case her usefulness, in any serious attempt to put the relationship back on track, is questionable. A more serious political misjudgment by the US, for which the ambassador cannot escape blame, is the failure to mend political fences with Narendra Modi in a timely manner following the European example.

Worse for her credibility, the day she met Modi, the State Department declared that the visa policy towards him remained unchanged. The ambassador would have undoubtedly been consulted beforehand about how her overture to Modi would be "balanced" at the Washington end, which further underscores the inept political handling of the US relationship with the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

To lift the morose mood in India-US ties, the US has to decide whether its strategic interest in India has wider geopolitical objectives, or depends on the redressal of shortcomings in our current trade, investment and IPR polices that affect the interests of US corporations in select sectors.

If US interest has flagged because the promised opening of the Indian market has not occurred and our growth rate has fallen, can one conclude that the US-India "strategic partnership" is largely a function of board room strategies of US corporations? If so, is the US hyping up its strategic partnership with India to essentially gain wider access to our expanding market?

The coming era of water wars


Posted on April 10, 2014

Upstream hydro-hegemony threatens to trigger downstream upheaval

By Brahma Chellaney, The Washington Times

There is a tongue-in-cheek saying in America — attributed to Mark Twain, who lived through the early phase of the California water wars — that “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.”

It highlights the consequences, even if somewhat apocryphally, as ever-scarcer water resources create a parched world. California currently is suffering under its worst drought of the modern era.

Adequate availability of water, food and energy is critical to global security. Water, the sustainer of life and livelihoods, is already the world’s most exploited natural resource.

With nature’s freshwater renewable capacity lagging behind humanity’s current rate of utilization, tomorrow’s water is being used to meet today’s need.

Consequently, the resources of shared rivers, aquifers and lakes have become the target of rival appropriation plans. Securing a larger portion of the shared water has fostered increasing competition between countries and provinces.

Efforts by some countries to turn transnational water resources into an instrument of power has encouraged a dam-building race and prompted growing calls for the United Nations to make water a key security concern.

More ominously, the struggle for water is exacerbating impacts on the earth’s ecosystems. Humanity is altering freshwater and other ecosystems more rapidly than its own scientific understanding of the implications of such change.

Degradation of water resources has resulted in aquatic ecosystems losing half of their biodiversity since just the mid-1970s. Groundwater depletion, for its part, is affecting natural streamflows, groundwater-fed wetlands and lakes, and related ecosystems.

The future of human civilization hinges on sustainable development. If resources like water are degraded and depleted, environmental refugees will follow.

Sanaa in Yemen risks becoming the first capital city to run out of water. If Bangladesh bears the main impact of China’s damming of River Brahmaputra, the resulting exodus of thirsty refugees will compound India’s security challenges.

International law only applies when it suits the strong


Posted on April 7, 2014

Brahma Chellaney, The National 
The looming cold war triggered by the US-supported putsch in Kiev that deposed Ukraine’s constitutional order and by Russia’s muscular riposte, including annexing Crimea, underscores the major powers’ unilateralist approach to international law.

A just, rules-based global order has long been touted by powerful states as essential for international peace and security. Yet there is a long history of world powers flouting international law while using it against other states.

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s action in annexing Crimea violated Ukraine’s territorial integrity, even though it followed a referendum in that historically Russian region, where the majority of residents indisputably lean toward Russia. The annexation represents a flagrant breach of international law.

This, however, cannot obscure the fact that the US and Nato have repeatedly shown contempt for international law. There’s a long list just for the past 15 years – the bombing of Serbia, the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq without UN Security Council mandates, the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime through aerial bombardment, the aiding of a still-raging bloody insurrection in Syria, and renditions and torture of terror suspects. The US has refused to join a host of critical international treaties – ranging from the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to the 1998 International Criminal Court Statute. Even its National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance policy mocks international law.

In this light, is it any surprise that the US’s moral authority and international standing have eroded?

A DREAM OF MODERNITY - EU membership is not Turkey’s only problem


Hordes of mosquitoes were battening on a fox caught in a thicket when a tiger offered to clear them all. “No,” replied the fox. “These mosquitoes are already almost satiated with my blood. If you drive them away, there’ll be a fresh lot with hungry stomachs thirsting for more blood!” That ingenious explanation for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party sweeping the recent municipal polls was given to me in the ancient town of Selçuk near the classical ruins of Ephesus and a house where some believe the Virgin Mary lived and died.

Turkey is unique. No other imperial power has with such conscious ostentation abjured imperialism. No other nation has tried to deny its sustaining faith with similar flamboyance. No other country so determinedly seeks the benediction of its former colonies in the European Union. I asked the Turk in Selçuk who told me of the fox and mosquitoes why they sought EU membership and he answered simply, “Because we want to be modern.” It’s the same reason that prompted Sultan Abdülmecid I to abandon the sprawling oriental grandeur of Topkapi Palace and engage a French-Armenian architect in 1843 to create the copycat Europeanization of Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus.

Rampant Euroscepticism in some countries and crippling financial crises in others are brushed aside. Many Turks believe EU membership will transform them as miraculously as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the great modernizer, thought banning the fez and the veil and abolishing the caliphate would turn Muslim Turks into secular Europeans. “The EU will only create a slump to lower wages because it can’t compete with China and India,” a Portuguese visitor warns. He is ignored.

McKinsey’s Vikram Malhotra: ‘India Has to Evolve’

Mar 28, 2014 

A few years ago, with a 9% plus GDP growth rate, India seemed set to become an economic powerhouse. Growth has now slipped to below 5%, and the country has been likened to a fallen angel. “What went wrong? Most of us have found ourselves asking the question, especially this past year.” With those words, the organizers of the 18th Wharton India Economic Forum, held recently in Philadelphia, introduced the theme of the conference: “Time to Reboot.” Vikram Malhotra, McKinsey & Company’s chairman of the Americas, provided his diagnosis of the challenges, and offered his prescriptions for re-imagining India as a land that fully delivers on its great potential.

What are India’s strengths — and challenges — in the battle to achieve greater prominence in the global economy? Malhotra began with a brief history lesson: Until the 19th century, India and China enjoyed a combined share of almost 50% of global GDP. But their share dropped precipitously after the newly industrialized nations of Europe and the U.S. expanded rapidly. In recent years, noted Malhotra, both China and India have been growing rapidly. Yet it remains to be seen whether India’s rate of growth will rival that of China over the long term.

In this race, natural resources aren’t India’s most significant advantage; rather, it’s the enormous scale and skills of its human capital. As Malhotra noted, one out of every six people in the world lives in India. Even more impressively, one out of every four of the approximately three billion people under the age of 25 today is Indian. “We turn out some 1.5 million college graduates a year. If you think about the power of those demographics and what it might do to the world in 15-20-25 years, it is quite remarkable. That gives us an enormous advantage. It is obvious that this young demographic is a growing market, and that you also have great entrepreneurs.”

Why Facebook Is So Interested In India’s Elections

Inside the social network’s quest to reach voters in the biggest election ever.
April 9, 2014
BuzzFeed Staff

India’s general election this year will be the largest democratic election that has ever been conducted in the world — and also one of Facebook’s most ambitious pushes into electoral politics.

As Indians head to the polls over the next month to elect a new ruling party and prime minister, Facebook has launched a multifaceted campaign in the country, exploring what people want from Facebook on a political level and introducing new features, as likes have surged for candidates.

The scale of the elections, estimated to cost $600 million, is staggering. Ballots will be cast at 930,000 polling booths and 1.4 million electronic voting machines, with 11 million people — both civilians and government officials — helping facilitate. More than 100 million Indians are newly eligible to vote, bringing the total Indian electorate up to 815 million people.

Half of India’s total population is younger than 24, and about 150 million people in India’s total electoral pool are first-time voters. According to some estimates, more than 40% of India’s eligible voters are between 18 and 35 years old. Surveys have found that 70% of all Indian students own smartphones. This is all to say: For the first time in Indian history, there is a significant overlap between the urban, educated, tech-savvy India and the India that lines up to cast its vote.

“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected,” Facebook’s Public Policy Manager Katie Harbath told BuzzFeed in a phone interview. “Part of that is helping to connect citizens with the people who represent them in government. Elections are the first way that citizens have that opportunity to voice their opinions.”

The scale of the Indian elections is also an enormous opportunity for Facebook, which recently announced its ambitions to reach 1 billion users in India. Already, India is the only country aside from the United States where Facebook’s consumer base exceeds 100 million, and it’s certainly the only country in the world where Facebook can hope to corral 1 billion new users.

“Of the 800+ million people eligible to vote in India, 170 million of them are on the Internet and well over half of Internet users in India are using Facebook,” Facebook spokesperson Andrew Stone told BuzzFeed in an email. “In fact, you may have seen that just this morning we made the announcement about having reached 100 million active Facebook users in India.”

Elections serve as an excellent recruiting tool for Facebook and similar initiatives have been deployed in other nations holding elections in recent years. This year, that includes Brazil, Indonesia, and Colombia, as well as the European parliament elections. Last year, Facebook launched similar initiatives in Germany and Australia, when those countries were hosting elections.

And Facebook, in turn, is emerging as an increasingly central medium for electoral politics, with both paid ads and widely shared content within its networks emerging as key ways for politicians to communicate with voters.

So far, the Facebook India campaign has been both exploratory but also assertive, gradually introducing new features into the feeds of users.

On March 26, a week and a half before voting first opened, Facebook India put out an open call to ask users how they were using Facebook in the elections.

In early March when the elections were first announced, Facebook India launched an election tracker that tracks mentions of the leading candidates and parties, ranking them from most mentioned to least. This is modeled after a similar appFacebook launched in the United States during the 2012 presidential elections.

As of Wednesday, the top of the Facebook India homepage now features an “I’m a Voter” button, which will remain visible for the duration of the Indian elections. Clicking it allows users to share with all of their friends that they voted. The visibility of this button is contingent on voting eligibility; it is only visible to Facebook users over the age of 18, and only on days when voting is taking place in the region they are in.

The idea is to drive Indians to the polling stations. A UC San Diego study during the 2012 U.S. presidential elections found that social pressures, specifically on social networks and specifically from close connections, are a major influence on whether individuals vote or not. Although 4% of Facebook users who clicked the “I voted” button on Facebook admitted to not actually having voted, rates of voting were highest among those who had seen a message seeing that their friends had voted — particularly close friends.

In an election already historic for its scale, this Facebook initiative might — this is the hope — increase voter turnout by acting as a multiplier.

According to data provided by Facebook, mentions of the word “election” increased by 561% among Facebook users in India within the first 24 hours following the announcement of this year’s elections, and mentions of the “Lok Sabha” (India’s lower house of parliament, in which parties are competing for seats) increased by 150%.

Narendra Modi, one of of India’s two front-running prime ministerial candidates, has more than 12 million likes on his Facebook page (having gained 48,555 in the last day alone, at the time of writing). Among global politicians’ Facebook popularity, that number ranks him second only to President Barack Obama. In the last week, Facebook pages for Indian politicians and parties have garnered likes faster than any other political pages worldwide.


By C Uday Bhaskar

Afghanistan went to the polls on a rainy Saturday, April 5 , amidst considerable uncertainty, visible enthusiasm and deep anxiety about the violence and disruption that the Taliban had threatened. Yet the stoic determination of the Afghan electorate prevailed, and notwithstanding pockets of violence and reports of many voters being turned away, more than seven million voters exercised their franchise – which is more than 50 percent of the estimated 12 million eligible voters. This by itself is a strong rebuff to the Taliban who have described the election as a fraud engineered by the hated US and its Western allies.

Yes, there was violence and bloodshed despite the robust security arrangements that saw as many as 350,000 Afghan security and police personnel deployed to oversee the election. Prior to the polls, a German photojournalist was killed, ironically by a police official, and on the actual polling day some areas reported violent disruption and attacks. Afghan Interior Minister Omar Daudzai stated that four civilians, nine police and seven soldiers had been killed in violence during election day but also added that many attacks had been thwarted.

The elections were a long-drawn process with a total of eight candidates in the fray to replace President Hamid Karzai. However, among them only three are seen as serious contenders for the hot seat in Kabul. They include Abdullah Abdullah – a Tajik leader and former foreign minister and the second best known name in Afghan politics; Zalmai Rassoul – a former foreign minister and national security adviser and perceived to be Karzai’s candidate; and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai – a former finance minister and a respected technocrat but with a limited political base.

As per the election schedule, counting of votes will be completed by April 20 and preliminary results are expected by the 24th. However, none of the three top aspirants are expected to obtain more than the required 50 percent of vote to declare a clear winner, and as in the last 2009 election many complaints are expected about booth capturing and invalid votes. The review period will go on till April 27 and final results are expected only on May 14. And if the predicted result occurs, meaning that no candidate receives more than 50 percent, then a run-off will be held on May 28 and the final result can go into June-July.Thus, this will be a very long process and the Saturday election is only the first step.

Afghan Stability: New Equations

With the NATO drawdown, Afghanistan’s neighbors will have a growing role to play in the country’s stability. 
By SK Chatterji
April 09, 2014

With Afghanistan’s presidential election likely heading for a second round, it may be some time before the result is known. One issue the new president will need to address, though, is the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S., which incumbent Hamid Karzai has resolutely refused to sign, despite considerable pressure from the U.S. and the looming pullout of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Karzai’s stance may seem baffling, especially since the BSA was endorsed by a Loya Jirga last November. But he may be making a pragmatic judgment as to Washington’s long-term ability to keep the peace in Afghanistan.

The “zero option” that Washington has enunciated, if executed, will create a power vacuum in Afghanistan. Even if that option were avoided and a limited American force of approximately 3,000 were maintained, there would still be a steep drop in area dominance capabilities, with Afghan National Security Forces left almost entirely in charge. The Taliban would doubtless attempt to fill the vacuum.

Equally certain, Afghanistan’s neighbours would not be comfortable with a radical Taliban exporting terror to their countries across porous borders. Even those that do not share borders with Afghanistan would be concerned. What role might these countries play in the wake of the NATO drawdown?

Among Afghanistan’s more powerful neighbors is Iran. A Shia-majority nation, it feels a sense of responsibility for the considerable Shia population in Afghanistan. The two countries also share ethnic and linguistic overlaps. Iran’s concern for the Shia of Afghanistan is evidenced in its past responses. Following the 1979 Russian takeover and Afghan resistance, Iran provided support for the Persian-speaking Shia groups. When the Taliban came to power, Iranians supported the Northern Alliance partners. In 1998, when the Taliban overran Majar-e-Sharif and massacred thousands of Hazaras and 10 Iranians with diplomatic papers, Iran deployed its Army along its borders with Afghanistan.

Civilian Government Outwits Pakistan Army

By Karamatullah K Ghori
Published: 10th April 2014

As India enters the home stretch of a crucial electoral battle in its decades-old seasoned democracy, next-door Pakistan’s civilian government seems well poised on the threshold of its still-wobbly democracy to challenge the decades-old military supremacy in the country.

Ironically, the turf to Nawaz Sharif’s civilian government to challenge, if not yet assault, the ramparts of military power in Pakistan has been furnished by the shenanigans and antics of its last Bonaparte, General Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf’s indictment, finally, on March 31 by the special court trying him for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution—for having trampled and subverted it not once but twice—is arguably a huge leap forward by the civilian government to assert its democratic power, something taken for granted in any normal democratic set-up. But Pakistan all through its years and decades has been anything but a normal country.

Why Musharraf’s indictment is being interpreted by pundits and pollsters alike as a game-changer is because of the uniquely privileged status that generals in Pakistan have had up until this watershed. Generals—soldiers-of-fortune sans sophistry—seized political power with impunity and literally got away with the murder of democracy. A Pakistani Bonaparte could rest assured that he’d readily get from an obliging and accommodating judiciary a cachet of legality without much ado. The erstwhile judicial mandarins and satraps had coined this one-size-fits-all formulation that went by the sobriquet of “law of necessity”.

Military takeovers were condoned with munificence as a necessary evil to save the nation and its much-flaunted “ideology”. The generals had assumed the mantle of saviours of its frontiers and guardians of its ideological bequest.

The Challenges to Transition in Afghanistan: 2014-2015

Alliance Between Afghan and Pakistan Taliban Getting Closer, Afghan Commander

April 10, 2014
Afghan commander: cross-border Taliban alliance growing stronger

Taliban militants in Pakistan have established an increasingly close relationship with insurgents from across the border in Afghanistan, supplying them with explosives and well-trained fighters, a senior Afghan army commander said on Wednesday.

The Taliban in Pakistan have always operated separately from their Afghan namesakes, fighting to topple the democratically elected government in Islamabad and establish a strict Islamic sharia state in the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people.

But in recent weeks the two groups have secretly agreed to work together, with Pakistani militants announcing a ceasefire with their government in order to preserve militant bases used to stage cross-border attacks.

Major General Muhammad Shareef Yaftali, in charge of several eastern provinces on or near the Afghan border with Pakistan, said this relationship was growing stronger.

"They are working together now. They are going to hold this relationship. It helps them," Yaftali, commander of the 203rd Corps, said at a military base in Afghanistan’s Paktia province.

"The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have the same ideology. They are the same people. They are of the same school."

The alliance complicates the picture for Yaftali’s troops as they try to bring law and order to some of the most violent and inaccessible areas of Afghanistanwhere militants linked to al Qaeda are believed to be holed up in remote mountain lairs.

But some are sceptical about the Taliban’s current ability to inflict heavy losses, pointing to the fact that there were no major attacks during last weekend’s presidential election in Afghanistan which the insurgents had vowed to disrupt.

Afghanistan has a notoriously bad relationship with Pakistan and often accuses its neighbour, as well as its ISI intelligence agency, of supporting militants and helping stage attacks on Afghan soil - a charge furiously denied by Pakistan.

Militant commanders have told Reuters the recent ceasefire was mainly imposed on the Taliban by the shadowy Pakistani Haqqani network which fears that an offensive by the Pakistani military in their North Waziristan stronghold could hamper their own push to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

The changing nature of the war is a concern to commanders on the ground, particularly those like Yaftali who are deployed near Afghanistan’s porous and lawless border with Pakistan where Taliban attacks on security forces and civilians occur daily.

It also comes at a worrying time when U.S.-led forces are preparing to pull out by the end of the year, leaving Afghan troops to tackle the insurgency largely on their own.

Operations are winding down across the country. At Camp Thunder, a sprawling base near the city of Gardez where Yaftali spoke to reporters, U.S. army officers are working with his men only as advisers and leave front-line fighting to Afghan forces.

Yaftali said many students brainwashed in strict Islamic religious schools, or madrassas, in Pakistan had crossed the border to join forces with the Taliban. He said some 30,000 madrassas were shut in Pakistan last year, prompting an exodus of radically minded fighters.

"If one group is defeated they bring new fighters and it is easy for them to do that," said Yaftali, whose command extends over an area of about 83,000 square kllometers with a population of five million people.

He said most of the explosive devices also came from Pakistan. “There are no explosives-making factories in Afghanistan,” Yaftali said. “All the explosives enter Afghanistan from Pakistan. We are close to North Waziristan and there are Taliban training ground and funding sources.”

Dozens Killed in Armed Clashes Between Two Pakistani Taliban Factions in Waziristan

April 9, 2014
Dozens killed in Taliban infighting in South Waziristan 
Bill Roggio
The Long War Journal

Two factions of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, one led by Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the group’s emir for South Waziristan, and another by Sajna Mehsud, a senior commander, are currently fighting in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency. At least 24 fighters, including a local commander known as Kasheed Mehsud, are reported to have been killed since Sunday, according toThe News.

Reports say the fighting is occurring between factions of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan that disagree over negotiations with the Pakistani government. And Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, who led the group’s executive council, was gunned down in North Waziristan in February for supporting negotiations. The Taliban’s spokesman denied, however, that the infighting is due to negotiations:

TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid confirmed the fighting between the two militant factions but denied that it was due to differences over negotiations. “It happens and sometime people of one group develop differences over certain issues. But I want to explain that the fighting between the two groups was not over the peace talks,” Shahidullah Shahid insisted.

Jihadist factions in Pakistan’s tribal areas occasionally clash over various different issues. These disputes are often resolved after senior Taliban and al Qaeda officials step in. For instance, top leaders of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and the Haqqani Network intervened after the Mullah Nazir Group fought with the Islamic Jihad Group in 2007 and 2008.

New Energy, New Geopolitics

Balancing Stability and Leverage 

By Sarah O. Ladislaw, Maren Leed, Molly A. Walton 

Contributor: Michelle Melton, Andrew Metrick, Jane Nakano, and Frank Verrastro 

APR 10, 2014 

This report evaluates the energy and geopolitical shifts that have arisen from the production of shale gas and light tight oil in the United States. It begins by assessing how much the unconventional energy trend has already impacted energy, geopolitics, and national security. The report then posits several possible energy futures that could emerge from the unconventionals revolution. Finally, it offers views on the major geostrategic question: how will the United States seek to utilize this, so far, domestic resource trend, and given the range of potential future energy outcomes, what might the geopolitical and national security implications be. 

Publisher CSIS/Rowman Littlefield 
ISBN 978-1-4422-2835-1 (pb); 978-1-4422-2836-8 (eBook) 

Crimea and Bangladesh: Behind the Controversy

Dhaka’s abstention on the UN resolution on Crimea should not have been a surprise. 

By Arafat Kabir
April 10, 2014comments

Bangladesh’s decision to abstain from a UN resolution on the crisis in Crimea passed largely unnoticed, until the Russian envoy expressed his gratitude in return for Dhaka’s inaction at the United Nations.

Bangladesh was among 58 nations that abstained from the recent vote on the Crimea referendum at the UN General Assembly last week. Eleven nations favored the Russian position, while 100 voted to reaffirm Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

A grateful Russian ambassador rephrased the West’s “annexation of Crimea” as “reunification” while addressing a seminar held at the Bangladesh Institute of Strategic Studies on Sunday.

The next day, U.S. Ambassador Dan Mozena slammed Dhaka’s abstention. “I regret that Bangladesh was not able to join the majority on that important issue,” said Mozena during a press briefing at the American Club.

The response from the diplomatic community in Bangladesh was mixed. The Daily Star quoted one anonymous diplomat as saying, “It looks like they’re sitting on the fence, given the recent trend of leaning gradually towards Russia.” Yet some praised Dhaka’s show of independence.

Regardless, Bangladesh’s position on the Crimea resolution was hardly surprising.

Since its foundation, Bangladesh’s foreign policy has been guided by the principle “friendship to all, malice to none.” This was reflected in Dhaka’s enthusiastic participation in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Even in its more recent history, Bangladesh has been reluctant to take sides when it comes to country-specific resolutions at the UN: it has abstained on resolutions concerning Bosnia, Georgia and Kosovo, for instance. Kosovo’s request for recognition as a sovereign state is still under consideration at Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry. The Crimea abstention is merely a continuation of a long-term policy.

Can the Chinese and US Air Forces Get Along?

Policymakers from both states should pay close attention to the prospect of maintaining ties between their air forces. 
April 09, 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit to the PLAN aircraft carrier Liaoning has received a great deal of attention in the last few days. As Shannon Tiezi points out, Hagel will struggle to improve ties with Beijing while also increasing coordination with Tokyo. And yet the project of engaging with the Chinese military is not the same as making friends with it. Because effective communication requires shared priors, China and the United States both have an interest in developing a common understanding of military problems and capabilities.

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh and General Hawk Carlisle displayed a deft understanding of this dynamic in an article in the January-February 2014 issue of Air and Space Power Journal, which recounted the two officers’ recent visit to China. The visit was conducted mostly at the strategic and institutional level, giving the USAF leaders an appreciation for how the PLAAF understood the role of airpower in Chinese history. While the visit displayed only some of the PLAAF’s most modern technologies, it did serve to highlight the institutional reforms that drive improvements in Chinese capabilities.

The history of the relationship between the PLAAF and the USAF is complex. The Korean War looms large in the history of both services, representing the first real test that either faced. The relationship eased after Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, with the USAF supplying update kits for several older Chinese fighter types and exchanging intelligence with the PLAAF on Soviet dispositions and capabilities. Also in the 1970s, Chinaexported a group of J-7 fighters to the United States in order to support the latter’s “Red Eagle” MIG squadron. These fighters so faithfully copied their Soviet models that they reproduced several production errors that American engineers later had to correct.

How to Calm Asia's History Wars

April 9, 2014

As President Obama prepares for his trip to Asia in two weeks, tensions are remarkably high in a part of the world that was supposed to be smart enough to focus on getting rich even as the Middle East remained bogged down in conflict. Although much of the problem originates in China, American allies sometimes play a role too—including the government of Shinzo Abe in Japan. His visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo are one big reason. Mr. Obama, like other American officials, will probably ask him to desist from future visits when the two heads of government meet in Tokyo. But in fact, Obama should concentrate on a more realistic agenda—asking Abe to redefine and transform the shrine, rather than stop visiting it.

The wounds of history are profound in East Asia. Simple repetition of the official Japanese apology first articulated by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in August 1995 will not suffice to promote historical reconciliation. And as Abe demonstrated by his visit to Yasukuni in December 2013, Japanese political leaders like their counterparts in other countries naturally feel compelled to honor their country’s war dead. The Yasukuni Shrine memorializes millions of rank-and-file Japanese soldiers who died for their country, not just the fourteen Japanese leaders who were convicted of “Class A” war crimes or who died while on trial for such crimes.

If Prime Minister Abe or his successors want to visit Yasukuni in the future, it should be a transformed shrine. The Yasukuni grounds currently contain a military museum that downplays Japanese aggression and ignores Japan’s war responsibility. An exhibition with such a distorted view of Japan’s past does not belong at a solemn shrine that should be primarily about remembering the sacrifice of ordinary Japanese soldiers. In addition to closing down this military museum, the Yasukuni Shrine should find a creative way to remove the names of the Class A war criminals from among the millions who are memorialized. This option was indeed proposed by a leading political patron of Yasukuni in 2007 and even by then prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone after his controversial visit to the shrine in 1985. When Emperor Hirohito learned of the enshrinement of the Class-A war criminals in 1978, he was reportedly so angry that he refused to visit Yasukuni again. If Japanese patriots want to honor their war dead, the best way to do so is to transform Yasukuni so that the Japanese emperor can once again visit the shrine, as was frequently done before 1978, without stirring international controversy.


By Ozdem Sanberk

Turkey attributes great importance to its relations with Russia. Relations between the two countries particularly improved after the Soviet Union collapsed, and today, bilateral ties have reached to the level of inter-dependency. However, it is clear that Turkey cannot possibly turn a blind eye to the annexation of a particular territory under the sovereignty of its close neighbor Ukraine, regardless of who does it.

Russia’s hasty annexation of Crimea severely undermines international law and the global balance of power. This situation also threatens the atmosphere of relative stability and security, owing to the joint endeavors of Black Sea littoral countries throughout decades.

Turkey is rightfully concerned about the recent course of events amid a constructive process through which the Black Sea recently became the locus of cooperation between Ankara and Moscow. On the other hand, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s visit to Ukraine implies that Turkey will not be a mere spectator to the ongoing crisis, despite its limited political elbow room.

Crimean Tatars

Crimean Tatars are the primary source of Turkey’s concern. They had experienced great tragedies in the not too distant past. They were exiled from their homeland by the tsarist regime and once again during Soviet era, and subjected to massacres. Many Crimean Tatars had immigrated to Turkey since then, primarily the 19th century onward. They have since played a prominent and respectable role on the economic, political, and social stage in Turkey. However, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many Crimean Tatars had the opportunity to return to their homeland. At the end of the day, they still make up almost 15% of the peninsular population. These people are against Crimea’s annexation by Russia, and they did not vote during the latest Russian-arranged referendum in Crimea. No Turkish government has the privilege of remaining silent in the face of what these people are currently going through. Turkey will surely provide political, economic, and humanitarian aid to these people. Nevertheless, we should also take note of the latest statements in favor of Crimean Tatars, suggesting that their language will be designated as one of the three official languages in the peninsula along with Russian and Ukrainian. Moreover, it is also noteworthy that they were recently promised cheap housing by Moscow.


By Hasan Selim Ozertem

After the Russian annexation of Crimea a rather complex situation appeared in European security. Moscow justifies its position by arguing that it acted to protect the rights of the Russian minority and also claims that Crimea had already been Russian territory. At the same time, Moscow emphasized that the attitude of the West in Kosovo ought to be evaluated within the framework of this chaotic situation. In fact, the Kremlin followed a similar policy in the 2008 Georgian intervention. However, this time, the Kremlin acting unilaterally and annexing Crimea under the pretense of a Russian minority—even before a security risk emerged— substantially disturbed the West in terms of international and regional balances.

Russia’s use of an iron hand in a velvet glove by keeping a force of 40,000 on the Ukrainian border caused significant tensions between Europe and Russia, which had been working on confidence-building measures via the Conventional Forces Treaty in Europe. In this sense, the possibility of Russia intervening in Ukraine is being discussed at the highest level by General Breedlove and Anders Fogh Rasmussen of NATO.

Under this tense atmosphere Barack Obama came to the Hague on 24-25 March to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit. Later he had chance to make a meeting with European leaders to discuss Russian steps in Europe. In this meeting the common stance was to find a common basis among Western partners to speak with one single voice for the actions to be taken against Russia. In this sense, the message Europe gave to the United States is that the steps to be taken against Moscow’s posture in Ukraine need to be felt in the Kremlin. In this respect, the parties focused on how to balance Russia’s supremacy regarding natural gas.



The Russian-speaking population of Ukraine has been at a disadvantage since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the Ukrainian parliament, this occasionally erupts in violent brawls caught on YouTube; for average citizens, it is a humanitarian problem. Early on in this conflict the Peace Corps instructed its volunteers in Ukraine to avoid speaking Russian whenever possible. This almost certainly stoked the tensions that have now, years later, destabilized the country.

In the fall of 1997, just after graduating from college with a degree in English and Russian Studies, I completed Peace Corps training in the city of Cherkassy, then was sent north to Chernigov, my placement city. I then spent several weeks in Kiev before “early terminating” – that’s Peace Corps jargon for leaving your assignment before completing the customary two years of volunteer service.

The cities where I clocked time in Ukraine are all situated along the northern section of the Dnieper River, which serves as a dividing line between the Ukrainian-dominant west and the Russian-speaking east. Most of the people I met in this central region preferred conversing with me in Russian, or lapsing into Surzhik, the cozy colloquial hodge-podge of both languages. Yet Peace Corps maintained a rather adamant policy that Ukrainian was the preferred language for all our interactions with the Ukrainian public in this part of the country. Ukrainian had become the country’s only official language after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This never sat well with me. Peace Corps Ukraine volunteers were instructed to side with a single language in a bilingual country. Now that Russia has annexed Crimea and is threatening a military invasion of eastern Ukraine, I can’t help but see the Peace Corps’ approach as evidence of America’s interference in a cultural conflict in which it should never have been a player.

Other volunteers told me that in its early years, Peace Corps taught everyone Ukrainian, even the volunteers who were placed in Crimea and the far eastern cities like Donetsk, Kharkov, and Lugansk, where almost all of the locals spoke little or no Ukrainian. Eventually, Peace Corps conceded that these volunteers were better off learning Russian, when it became clear that they were being sent into the field woefully unprepared to communicate.

In the central part of the country, where both languages were relevant, we were told that we needed to be role models for the citizens who knew Ukrainian but were more comfortable speaking Russian. These people were complacent, they told us; lazy, even. They only spoke Russian because the Soviet Union had forced it on them in school for several generations. If they heard Americans speaking Ukrainian better than they did, they would feel ashamed of themselves, and that was a good thing (or so we were told).

How Putin is losing in Crimea: A reality check

By Michael Cohen
April 7, 2014 
Yahoo News

Pro-Russians Call East Ukraine Region Independent 

A funny thing happened on March 21: Russia lost a war and virtually no one noticed.

On that day, at the same time Russian President Vladimir Putin was signing a treaty finalizing the annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was putting his own signature down: on a partnership pact between Ukraine and the European Union (EU).

It was precisely this agreement — and the refusal of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to sign it — that led to the bloody demonstrations in Kiev that forced Yanukovych from power and spurred Russia’s seizure of Crimea.

It’s the kind of trade that looks bad for Russia on the surface — and will only look worse in the future. Russia’s political influence in Ukraine and its dreams of creating an economic union to compete with the EU lies in tatters. Rather than push the U.S. and EU away from his western border, Putin’s actions have practically invited them in by strengthening the bonds between Kiev and the West. It is yet another reminder that Putin’s decision to seize Crimea, rather than serve as a triumphant moment, is far more likely to end up a disaster.

Economic costs

While Putin clearly imagines Russia to be a great power, the country is a hollow shell of its former self, with waning political and military influence and an economy that is teetering on the brink. Higher inflation, a weakening ruble, huge capital outflows and a lack of economic reforms contributed to a major slowdown in the growth rate last year — from a projected increase of 3.6 percent to a mediocre 1.3 percent clip. The Crimea crisis will only add to these economic woes.

A recent World Bank report makes clear that even in a best case scenario, Russia will be treading water economically for the near future. The bank’s worst-case scenario is, well, a lot worse — a contraction of 1.8 percent for 2014.

More on Russian Spetsnaz Operations in Crimea and Along Ukrainian Border

April 10, 2014
Special Operations: Spetsnaz Ascendant

April 10, 2014: The United States is studying recent Russian special operations techniques used (and still being used) in Crimea and the Ukraine. American intelligence realized early on that this was all about spetsnaz (Russian special operations). This was made obvious in March when the U.S. sanctioned a number of Russian officials for their role in the annexation of Crimea. One of the guilty officials named was the chief of the GRU (military intelligence) who apparently sent in one of the army spetsnaz regiments into eastern Ukraine and Crimea with orders to wear civilian clothes or uniforms with no insignia, contact pro-Russians civilians (GRU maintains lists of those kinds of people) and carry out a plan to return Crimea to Russian control. As more information comes out of Crimea and eastern Ukraine it appears that the army spetsnaz had a pretty extensive bag of tricks and techniques and are still hard at work. The Crimea/Ukraine operation was a skillful combination of bribery, stealthy recruiting (of pro-Russian locals), clandestine movement of spetsnaz operators and weapons, bribery of key officials and intimidation of others plus carefully calculated and staged operations that neutralized Ukrainian forces in the Crimea and led to a pretty bloodless victory. It was all classic special operations work and other operators around the world are impressed.

Most of the work is being done by several hundred members of the GRU 45th Spersnaz Regiment. They were then sent in to the Crimea disguised as civilians, to create a “popular uprising” that would enable Russia to annex Crimea. Some of the uniformed men who then took control of Crimea were apparently hired, pro-Russia, locals, but the core of this “local militia” are men with obvious military training and who have been using those skills recently. These were the spetsnaz men and they were obviously in charge. Nearly 60 percent of Crimeans are Russian and GRU appears to have been recruiting, or prospecting there for years. Some of these locals admitted that money changed hands and they were glad to be part of the effort that returned control of Crimea to Mother Russia. When you use armed amateurs you have to expect this sort of unauthorized contact with the media but these comments did not sidetrack the takeover plan. The armed men were obviously briefed and most would not talk to reporters or even let journalists get close. But a few of these fellows, apparently local recruits, just could not resist a reporter with a camera crew looking for a few snappy comments for the evening news. Some of the anonymous armed men may be civilian contractors (which Russia exports to some parts of the world) and some were just pro-Russian veterans willing to take a gun and endure a bit of risk.