29 April 2014

Keeping the Faith

IssueNet Edition| Date : 28 Apr , 2014

Invited to speak at the National Defence University (NDU) at Washington DC in 2012 on ‘Countering Violent Terrorism & the Role of Military Special Forces, of one’s own volition JS (America), MEA was contacted, presentation e-mailed to him and same discussed in his office. The presentation explicitly covered the role of Pakistan and China in stoking the fires inside India right from the early 1960’s advice by Chou-en-Lai to Ayub Khan that Pakistan should prepare for prolonged conflict with India instead of short-term wars, and that Pakistan should raise a militia force to act behind enemy (Indian) lines.

…agencies have to seek GoI permission to question an MoD bureaucrat, which is never sought and never granted.That is why no MoD bureaucrat has ever been indicted despite score of scams.

The take was that if as military veteran, one cannot expose international audiences to ground realities, what is the difference from an all goody-goody presentation by someone in uniform. The JS (America) agreed one hundred percent. Interestingly, NDU arranged the same presentation next day at the Atlantic Council of US (also Washington DC based) much to the consternation of the Director, South Asia Centre of the Atlantic Council of the US who tried to wiggle out by saying that this was not the case as he had had access to official files in Pakistan. However, this did not cut much ice because all the quotes and references used in the presentation were of foreign origin including Pakistan, not India. How he had access to specific official Pakistani files remains a mystery considering his profile albeit his own brother did head the Pakistani Army in early 1990’s.

Last year, delivering the lecture on ‘civil-military relations’ at the annual national security event at a premier think tank in Delhi, the Governor of a State who had previously served as former Defence Secretary and Home Secretary, told the audience (predominantly serving military officers and veterans, and former diplomats) that our Service Chiefs were not delivering as required and that the MoD was professional, doing a fine job. He did not clarify what exactly the Service Chiefs were not delivering.

India’s new politics

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April 25, 2014 
By James Crabtree

As the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls, why are some of its business stars taking on the traditional elite?

Billionaire businessman and Congress party candidate Nandan Nilekani, part of the new wave of executives who are entering Indian politics

Driving home in the gathering darkness, Nandan Nilekani seems tired. His car crawls through Bangalore’s chaotic streets after a gruelling day of glad-handing, dense crowds and half-a-dozen speeches. Sitting in the back seat, the billionaire business executive-turned-aspirant politician coughs slightly as he talks. The man who first uttered the phrase “the world is flat” appears deflated.

Nilekani coined that phrase more than a decade ago, sitting with US journalist Thomas Friedman in his office at Infosys, the IT business he co-founded in the early 1980s. A pioneer of the outsourcing industry, Nilekani is one of India’s most celebrated technology entrepreneurs. More recently he has led a gigantic government effort to give digital identity numbers to each of his country’s 1.2 billion people. Yet his biggest challenge, he says, is breaking into the closed world of India’s parliament as a candidate for the Congress party. “It’s the toughest thing I’ve done, easily the toughest,” he says, without smiling. “We took Infosys public. That was a nonstop three-week global roadshow. But this is twice as long … It’s hard work, a 24/7 job.” He is saying this in mid-March, four days after his official campaign kicked off.

Nilekani’s aphorism about a flattening world – which went on to become the title of Friedman’s best-selling book – came to encapsulate a new era of globalisation and the economic and political growth of emerging markets. It was a moment of heady Indian optimism. Back then, the country’s democracy seemed a source of strength, providing a long-term institutional edge in the race to catch its autocratic Chinese neighbour.

Little has gone to plan. Growth slowed. Corruption ballooned. Confidence ebbed. And India’s system of government now sits at the heart of its troubles: gummed up, unable to act and dominated by elderly leaders and calcified political dynasties, most obviously the Gandhi family that heads its deeply unpopular Congress-led coalition government.

Nilekani defends Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s administration and remains upbeat about his country’s prospects. But he admits that this election – the largest in history, with results due on May 16 – comes at a moment of national self-doubt. India’s democracy seems closed off, as if unable to adapt to the growing ambitions of its people. “The political system was designed so outsiders can’t come in,” he says. Historically, those from the country’s professional business elite have rarely even attempted to join it. “Why would the system want an outsider, when there are already enough competing insiders?”

With his stellar career and considerable wealth, Nilekani is no stranger to India’s upper strata. Even so, he says that he agonised over entering elected politics. But driven by frustration over the narrow remit and limited legitimacy of his most recent role as an appointed bureaucrat, he jumped into the race for Bangalore South, becoming India’s highest-profile electoral newcomer. But he is not alone. This election will be among the most significant since India’s independence in 1947, ushering in a new prime minister – Singh announced in January that he would not seek another term – with ambitions to reverse a deepening slide into graft and stagflation. But a quieter revolution is under way too, as a mini-wave of new candidates drawn from the country’s professional classes tries to elbow its way into a political system long dominated by hierarchy and blood ties. “At this election in India, the arrival of unconventional politicians is unprecedented,” Nilekani says. “It shows the churn that is happening in the country. The voters are demanding it.”

India: Urgent Defense Reforms Needed

After years of bungling, India’s next prime minister will need to move quickly on both foreign policy and defense reforms. 
By Nitin A. Gokhale

April 28, 2014

On April 2, India’s outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, told a conference that: “As a responsible nuclear weapon state that remains committed to non-proliferation, India supports the idea of a nuclear-weapon-free world because we believe that it enhances not just India’s security, but also global security.”

Less than a fortnight later, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), largely expected to lead the next government, sprung a surprise by declaring in its election manifesto that it will “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it to make it relevant to [the] challenges of current times.”

That was a surprise, because India’s 15-year old nuclear doctrine that decrees “no-first use” of nuclear weapons was put in place by the last BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government. If the BJP indeed comes to power and then delivers on its promise, it would mark a major shift in India’s nuclear policy.

Tweaking or changing the course of India’s nuclear doctrine will surely alter India’s foreign policy too. The challenge for the new government will be to balance India’s own national interest with the current – and fast-changing – geopolitical situation in Eurasia.

India and Pakistan: The Opportunity Cost of Conflict

APRIL 24, 2014

This report was launched at an April 24, 2014 event

A report released today by the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center argues that heavy military spending in India and Pakistan has in fact been detrimental to the citizens of both countries in terms of security and economic growth, and calls on leaders to reinvest in trade and confidence building.

In India and Pakistan: The Opportunity Cost of Conflict, Atlantic Council South Asia Center Director Shuja Nawaz and Nonresident Senior Fellow Mohan Guruswamy explain how high defense spending and low economic integration into South Asia’s regional economy have come at the expense of those living in poverty. Although many now favor rapprochement, Nawaz and Guruswamy argue that unless both sides begin a dialogue on economic and military relations, these issues will only worsen.

Read the Report (PDF)

In addition to military spending, a lack of strong bilateral trade relations between India and Pakistan has also exacerbated South Asia’s socioeconomic challenges. From GDP to job losses to investment, the non-fulfillment of trading potential is a cost that “neither of the two countries can afford to ignore.”

Nawaz and Guruswamy provide a set of actions both countries can take to decrease military spending and promote confidence building:
  • Increase the distance between land forces by withdrawing from border areas 
  • Engage in direct communications between militaries, including exchange visits 
  • Invest jointly in energy, water, and export industries 
  • Open borders for trade and eventually tourism 

Such measures will have a lasting impact beyond India and Pakistan, as the authors note: “economically intertwined and mutually beneficial economic systems in both countries will create a huge peace constituency that will not only be good for the two nations, but also for the region and the entire world.”

At last, a ray of hope for Afghanistan

Whatever the final outcome, voters in Afghanistan's presidential election have delivered a powerful mandate

27 April 2014

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, front-runner to succeed Hamid Karzai. 

Provisional results from the first round of Afghanistan's presidential election look as if they will stand the test of tortuous fraud checks and complaint processes. Decisive margins make them robust. AlthoughAbdullah Abdullah, who emerged in the lead, has raised serious concerns about fraud, the first round should leave him facing Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister, in a run-off.

Both Abdullah, a veteran of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, and Ghani say they are ready for the second round, as electoral law requires. But a winner-takes-all contest is not the only way this contest could end. Abdullah set a precedent in 2009 by pulling out of the second round. That allowed Hamid Karzai to be declared elected unopposed. This time, many Afghans expect a deal between the two leading candidates to form a unity government and avoid a second round. This would entail Abdullah and his running mates taking the presidential and vice presidential slots but drawing on the other campaign teams to form the new administration.

There are powerful reasons why a hybrid administration might be best for Afghanistan. It would be a case of collectively quitting while you are ahead. The Taliban, after failing to disrupt the first round are delighted to get a replay in which they can inflict more damage. Countless election workers and security personnel will pay with their lives if Abdullah and Ghani fail to reach a deal.

The purpose of the election was to allow Afghans to choose a legitimate successor to Karzai. If Ghani endorses Abdullah, together they can claim the support of 75% of voters, far more than any sole candidate will ever obtain. There is a pluralism argument also. Afghanistan has four main ethnic groups, the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. Both candidates deserve credit for campaigning in all regions, seeking cross-community support and articulating reform programmes. But on polling day, broadly speaking, Tajiks and Hazaras backed Abdullah and Pashtuns and Uzbeks backed Ghani. A run-off would become more divisively ethnicised, with Ghani obliged to rally the Pashtuns, undermining the idea of an inclusive administration with which all Afghans can identify.

Either candidate has the right to insist on the run-off – Ghani because he believes he can win or Abdullah to avoid coalition politics. Abdullah would start favourite. On a similar turnout he would need under 400,000 extra votes, attainable by attracting the supporters of either the number three or number four candidates. Ghani would need one million extra votes, equivalent to the total of both numbers three and four. For either of them and for the country as a whole, round two is a gamble.

The India-Bangladesh Power Trap

A reliance on India for its electricity could be contrary to Bangladesh’s geo-strategic interests. 
By Zahedul Amin
April 27, 2014

Following the election of its Awami League (AL) government in 2009, Bangladesh’s diplomatic relations with India have enjoyed some renewed vigor. In the years since, the relationship has flourished, with a series of high-level meetings culminating in a visit from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 to sign a joint communiqué. The communiqué focused on three key aspects: peacefully resolving a long-standing border dispute, ensuring a fair allocation of Teesta river water, and allowing transit to India through Bangladesh.

Although the Bangladesh government is already offering transit facilities on a selective basis (without charging a transit fee), India has yet to deliver on its promises. The border dispute remains unresolved in the face of stiff resistance from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while the Teesta water sharing agreement has stalled, thanks to the belligerence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. A promised $1 billion credit line from India has been caught up in bureaucratic red tape. As a consolation, India has at least agreed to export 500 MW of power to Bangladesh at a competitive rate.

For its part, Bangladesh has now decided to provide a corridor for Indian power transmission, from Assam to Bihar. In return, India has promised to increase power exports to 1500 MW in the near future, which would partially assuage Bangladesh’s persistent power shortages. However, could an overt dependence on Indian electricity spell danger for Bangladesh’s strategic interests?

Washington’s Flawed Myanmar Policy

Many of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities are growing increasingly disillusioned with America and may turn to China instead. 

By David Brenner
April 27, 2014

“The water stays cool inside even if the bottle sits in the sun for the whole day.” Tu Ja proudly explains the virtue of storing water in his 1943 U.S. Army stainless steel flask, one of the few belongings he could save when fleeing his village from the advancing Myanmar army in 2011. The internally displaced person (IDP) holds the bottle against a sun beam entering the dim communal cooking space in one of the countless makeshift camps in Kachin State. The smoke from open fires in the cramped space makes it hard to breath. Yet, Tu Ja goes on telling the story of a water bottle which seems to be as displaced as himself in this remote corner of northern Myanmar. It was given to him by his grandfather who fought with the Kachin Rangers for Detachment 101 of the American Office of Strategic Services against the Japanese on one of the Second World War’s most vicious battlefields. The Kachin, an ethnic minority group, have earned a reputation for being skilled mountaineers without whose courageous and fierce fighting abilities the Allied forces could not have driven the Japanese out of Burma. U.S. soldiers have long left these rugged borderlands in between Myanmar and China. Sadly, war has stayed.

For many decades this area has witnessed various ethnic armed groups struggling for minority rights and political autonomy against central government control. After the breakdown of a 17-year long ceasefire in 2011, conflict escalated again between Naypyidaw and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). Since then, large-scale army offensives against rebel-held positions have displaced more than 100,000 civilians. While this conflict is largely ignored by the international media, international affairs are closely followed in the tea houses of Laiza, a small town nestled on the border of China’s Yunnan province and headquarter of the KIO. “One of our long-term mistakes was to think that we can be allies of the U.S.,” an officer of the 10,000 man-strong Kachin Independence Army (KIA) – the armed wing of the KIO – explains over dinner. “You know, we helped the Americans in the past and we identify with them. After all they brought us Enlightenment: our script and the Bible,” he continues by referring to the Swedish-American missionary Ola Hanson, who spread the gospel in Myanmar’s borderlands and developed an orthography for the Kachin language in the late 19th century.

The Limits of Pacific Maritime Law

The new Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea will not bring peace in our time. 
April 28, 2014

Baby steps, baby steps. Last week, some twenty Pacific navies meeting at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao agreed to what participants are styling as a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea(CUES). CUES, like the Cold War-vintage INCSEA agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia, calls on mariners to forego provocative actions on the high seas and in international airspace, and to contact one another to clear up such misunderstandings as do arise. INCSEA is ironclad, as Russian forbearance toward the destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea proves. Right?

But still. Stupid things happen. Any American seafarer, and scurrilous ‘furriners as well, can relate a sea story or two about gobsmackingly dumb things he’s seen done while underway. Always by the other guy, mind you. One of mine: in the Persian Gulf many moons ago, a dhow skipper with a death wish decided it would be fun to pass fifty yards or thereabouts ahead of a 58,000-ton battleship that was traversing a narrow channel and couldn’t maneuver to avoid colliding. Imagine my relief when he reappeared on the other side of the ship after passing underneath the ship’s high bow. 1100 hours: Crunched small craft while exiting Abu Dhabi harbor is not a deck-log entry any naval officer wants to write. Some CUES guidelines would have been welcome about then. If, of course, that knucklehead abided by them.

Such informal pacts are worth pursuing whenever feasible, and whenever it appears mariners will comply with them. They could smooth out problems at the margins, easing misgivings over time among Pacific fleets that operate at close quarters. But let’s not break out the bubbly just yet. Rules of the road already exist to help vessels and aircraft steer clear of one another. And they have for many years. Rookie U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and merchant mariners learn to navigate and pilot by COLREGs, as do most seamen around the world. CUES, INCSEA, et al. largely duplicate existing rules. Rather than something new in marine safety, such agreements essentially represent diplomatic commitments not to provoke rivals. Nice, but no panacea.

The Indian Navy’s ‘China’ dilemma

April 28, 2014

The Indian navy’s premier warship, INS Shivalik, has just completed a maritime exercise at Qingdao with the PLA-N and the navies of six other countries, including Pakistan. China’s invitation to India to participate in its first ever multilateral maritime exercises, held alongside the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) is an important landmark and, not surprisingly, it has drawn considerable attention with some views expressing it as “a new phase” in India-China maritime relations.

Media reports pointed to the intricate nature of the drills the Chinese had asked the Shivalik to participate in – an anti-hijacking exercise which also involved participation by a Chinese special forces unit; the ‘genuine’ curiosity on the part of senior PLA-N officers to know more about the Indian naval ship; and a Chinese Admiral’s admiration of the authority vested in theShivalik’s Captain who sailed without escort ships or supervising staff (‘unimaginable’ in China’s military culture). So encouraging, in fact, has the Indian ship’s Qingdao visit been that the Indian navy has apparently conveyed its willingness to hold another exercise with the PLA-N this year – curiously, at the same time as it would be holding the Malabar exercises, an event that will involve the presence of the Japanese navy.

These developments, counter-intuitive they are to the competitive ‘logic’ of the India-China maritime relationship, raise questions about the operational objectives and broader strategic calculations at play on both sides. Are the Indian navy and the PLA-N in the process of recasting their relationship in more cooperative terms? Can there be an effective operational synergy on substantive issues of maritime security? And what, if any, are the long-term ramifications of the underlying strategic shifts?

To begin, it is important to see the evolving India-China maritime dynamic as part of a strategic complex. By itself, a country’s invitation to another to participate in a multilateral naval exercise does not symbolise operational outreach. Maritime forces often come together for a regional or collective cause, and the Indian navy and PLA-N are known to have collaborated in combating Somali piracy. Navies that supposedly share an indifferent relationship, however, rarely invite each other to participate in high-level multilateral drill in their coastal waters; which is what makes Shivalik’s recent Pacific sojourn interesting.

China Goes Ballistic

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
April 28, 2014

CHINA IS INCREASINGLY A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH, not only economically but also militarily. Its aggressive stance toward some of its neighbors, along with Asia’s growing economic importance and the need to assure U.S. allies that Washington will increase its attention to the region despite budgetary challenges and fractious domestic politics, prompted the Obama administration to announce a “rebalance” toward Asia. Now Beijing’s relations with Japan—which has been indulging in what China sees as alarming spasms of nationalism, including a recent visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni shrine—have deteriorated to their lowest level in many years. In addition, China’s efforts to undermine Japan’s administrative control over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are raising the possibility of a crisis that could draw in the United States by challenging the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence. To deter negative Chinese actions in this vital but volatile region while avoiding dangerous escalation, Washington must better understand the ultimate instrument of Chinese deterrence: the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force (PLASAF), which controls the country’s land-based nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles and its ground-launched land-attack cruise missiles.

Possessing the world’s second-largest economy and a growing defense budget has enabled China to deploy more formidable military capabilities, such as the world’s first antiship ballistic missile (ASBM) and largest substrategic missile force. Wielding such conventional capabilities, it seeks to increase its leverage in disputes regarding island and maritime claims in the East and South China Seas and to deter or if necessary counter U.S. military intervention in the event of a conflict with one of its neighbors. Meanwhile, continued development of its nuclear forces—with a new mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) reportedly capable of carrying multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) under development and its first effective nuclear ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) going on a deterrent patrol this year—indicates China’s determination to further improve its position at the great-power table and force the United States to respect its vital interests.


By Michael Lelyveld

China’s government is taking pains to deny reports that it has launched a “mini-stimulus” program as it tries to stop a slide in economic growth this year.

In state media coverage, the government has been walking a fine line between responding to economic challenges and concerns that confidence may weaken if it is seen as taking any new measures at all.

The latest balancing act began on April 2 with a statement by the State Council, or cabinet, that it would extend a small business tax break, push railway construction and speed renovation of run-down urban areas after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

The steps were immediately portrayed as a “mini-stimulus package” or a “targeted stimulus program” in analysts’ comments reported by both Western and Chinese media, including Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal and the official English-language China Daily.

The government decided to pursue “a slew of pro-growth measures … after a run of disappointing economic indicators raised concerns that economic growth in the first quarter might slip below the official target,” China Daily said.

The official Xinhua news agency said the government was taking steps “to stabilize [a] faltering economy,” while in a separate report, China Daily cited a “railway stimulus plan.”

“Investment has again emerged as a key means to prop up the economy,” the paper said on April 4.

But within days, the government reacted sharply to perceptions that it was falling back on anything that might remotely resemble stimulus policy after resisting calls for a major pump-priming since taking office in March 2013.

China’s economy “needs no stimulus,” said a strongly-worded Xinhua commentary on April 7, insisting there was “no need to panic” about slower growth.

Any talk of a stimulus was “misleading,” and those expecting a repeat of the 4-trillion yuan (U.S. $645-billion) spending package announced during the 2008 economic crisis “are likely to be disappointed,” the signed commentary said.

The State Council measures were “nothing new” and were only “follow-up policies” from previous announcements, it said.

Putin's Grand Strategy for Ukraine

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
April 25, 2014

The past several weeks of Russian activity in eastern Ukraine demonstrate that Moscow has found a winning tactic during its annexation of Crimea, and has made it the overarching strategy for achieving interests in broader Ukraine. Russia’s use of operational ambiguity to create confusion, mobilizing the populace in support of its objectives, and creating points for plausible disengagement all suggest one thing: Moscow has become far more clever and capable than the West originally gave it credit. Western leaders continue to misjudge the nature of Ukraine, and Russia’s plans for it. That has led to the loss of Crimea [3], and may conclude in the loss of other regions of Ukraine.

Russia’s military reforms have certainly made it more confident [4] and given it a capability it visibly did not have during the Georgian conflict. In 2008 Russia’s military deficiencies were laid bare for all to see. Before the reforms Russia had a large paper army that could not put together a combat ready force in response to a crisis, little ability to transport them to the crisis point, and terrible coordination amongst the different services. Out of one million men, Russia struggled to assemble anything coherent. In Georgia, Moscow won despite itself, because no matter how an elephant sits down, it crushes all the ants. Today, Russia has somewhere on the order of about 650,000 to 700,000 in its military, and can visibly transport 20,000 men to a crisis point on its borders. Its performance in Ukraine suggests that with a few weeks’ preparation, it can gather double that amount. That is enough to act decisively anywhere on its periphery and steam roll over any former Soviet republic.

However, it is not the better-trained, better-funded and better-equipped army that has given Russia the edge in this conflict. It is how skillfully Russia has chosen to use it. Western leaders continue to expect that Moscow will use heavy force in order to shape the environment for its objectives, but it continues to do the opposite. Russia is acting with intelligence operatives and disguised special forces, while using its conventional build up to blunt any effective response from the West or Kiev. Western leaders keep bracing for that Russian armored column to pull out onto the road and invade Ukraine with a classically heavy-handed approach, but it will likely never come. By avoiding the use of its conventional forces Russia has given itself the option to disengage, and the ability to spread disinformation about the conflict to sow confusion. In the interim, the credible threat of an all-out invasion has rendered the West helpless.

The Un-United States of Ukraine

April 27, 2014

This article first appeared in Kommersant

MOSCOW - Preparations for Ukraine's presidential elections are taking place against the backdrop of a major disagreement over the country's future. The presidential favorite, Petro Poroshenko, insists that the planned constitutional reforms should not fundamentally change the current model of a unified government. In the plan Poroshenko favors, the new constitution would greatly increase the responsibilities and powers of local authorities - but it doesn't mention "federalism."

That is also the position favored by the current leaders in Kiev. Faced with protests in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv, interim President Oleksandr Turchynov has promised to change the constitution to give the regions more authority to choose their own leadership. But there has been no talk about instituting bona fide federalization.

Reviewing the platforms of Ukraine's presidential candidates, it's also clear that supporters of a federalist system are in the minority. Of the well-known candidates, only two openly support federalization: Mikhail Dobkin from the "Party of Regions" and Community Party head Petr Simonenko. They both argue that only federalization can save the country from collapse. But they are also both outsiders, and have no chance of overtaking any of the three frontrunners.

The position held by Serhiy Tihipko, who is currently the third most-popular presidential candidate, is particularly interesting. As recently as 2009, he was calling on people not to fear federalization and saying that "well-designed federalism could do us good." But judging by his recent comments, his position has changed dramatically. "Just bringing up that question is criminal," he said recently. "Trying to solve our problems through federalization will only lead to a break-up and possible liquidation of our country. That is a terrible scenario, but there are powers that very much want to make it come true."

Why is it that Ukrainian politicians, who acknowledge the need for more regional autonomy, have drawn a red line when it comes to federalization?

The answer is related to Russian-Ukrainian relations. A significant part of Ukraine's elite considers federalism a "Russian project." They think that Moscow is trying to encourage it so it can pressure regional leaders to prevent the central government from taking steps towards integration with Europe.

"Federalization is one of the ultimatums that Putin has given us for a peaceful co-existence," Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and the candidate with the most experience dealing with the Kremlin, recently said. "We are told: Turn the eastern and southern regions into something like Crimea, in terms of rights and opportunities, and we will take advantage of that federalization to turn the rest of your territory into something resembling the autonomous republic of Crimea."

Who Will Influence Whom?

APRIL 26, 2014

Ukrainian activists in Kiev have said that nobody asked them if they wanted Russia to come a calling. CreditLouisa Gouliamaki/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KIEV, Ukraine — SOMETIMES the simplest question speaks the biggest truth. I was meeting with some Maidan activists here in Kiev last week, and we were talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that Ukraine was part of Russia’s traditional “sphere of influence” and “buffer zone” with the West, and, therefore, America and the European Union need to keep their hands off. At one point, one of the activists, the popular Ukrainian journalist, Vitali Sych, erupted: “Did anyone ask us whetherwe wanted to be part of his buffer zone?”

Sych’s question cut right to the core of what is unfolding here. Quite simply, a majority of Ukrainians got mad as hell at the game imposed on them — serving as bit players in Putin’s sphere of influence, so Russia could continue to feel like a great power, and also being forced to tolerate a breathtakingly corrupt pro-Russian regime in Kiev. After a bottom-up revolution in the Maidan, Kiev’s central square, which cost 100-plus lives — “the Heavenly Hundred” as they are referred to here — Ukrainians are asserting their own sphere of influence, a desire to be part of the E.U.

But, in doing so, they’re posing a deep philosophical and political challenge to Putin’s Russia — as well as to the E.U. and America. How so?

If Putin loses, and Ukraine breaks free and joins the E.U., it would threaten the very core identity of the Russia that Putin has built and wants to expand — a traditional Russia, where the state dominates the individual and where the glory of Mother Russia comes from the territory it holds, the oil and gas it extracts, the neighbors it dominates, the number of missiles it owns and the geopolitical role it plays in the world — not from empowering its people and nourishing their talents.

If Putin wins and prevents Ukraine from holding a free and fair election on May 25, his malign influence over his neighbors would only grow. And you would see more of what you saw last week when Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of Siemens, the German engineering giant, went to Moscow to slobber over Putin and reassure him that all their deals would proceed — despite what Kaeser called “politically difficult times.” (That’s German for Putin’s blocking Ukrainians from E.U. membership that Germans already enjoy.)

You can’t walk the cobblestone streets of the St. Sophia Square in Kiev, or tour the magnificent 11th-century onion-domed church of the same name, without learning just how much Russia and Ukraine have influenced one another over the centuries — and today will be no different. The first unified “Rus” state was born in Kiev, when “St. Vladimir the Great, the Grand Prince of Kiev,” unified all the tribes and territories in the region into an entity called by historians “Kievan Rus.” St. Vladimir also made Orthodox Christianity the official religion.

Boko Haram: The Terror Group That Kidnapped 200 Schoolgirls

April 27, 2014
By Mathieu Guidere

As terrorist attacks go, it was as shocking for its scale and its choice of target: on April 14, at least 200 people were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School in the Nigerian town of Chibok.

More than a week later, the whereabouts of hundreds of young women remain a mystery. Within local communities of Borno province there is much sympathy for parents, but not a huge degree of shock. For this is just the latest in a series of attacks blamed on one outfit: Boko Haram.

To understand the kidnapping, we have to look at the terror group’s history, how it was formed, and how its ideology developed.

Boko Haram has made itself notorious with a long campaign of bombings and mass murders across Nigeria, often in concert with other Islamist groups. But to properly understand the group, we have to look at the terrorist group’s history, how the group was formed, and how its ideology developed.

In the aftermath of September 11 2001, a 30-year-old man called Muhammad Yusuf founded a new religious preaching group in Maiduguri, capital of Nigeria’s Borno State, and gave it the Arabic name “Jamaat ahl as-Sunnah li ad-Dawah wa al-Jihad” (literally, “The Group of the People of Tradition and Call for Jihad”). This group would later become known in Hausa as “Boko Haram”, meaning “Western education is sinful”.

Yusuf had studied theology in Saudi Arabia and converted to Salafism. He was convinced that the Western education model which prevailed in Nigeria, a legacy of British rule, was to blame for the country’s problems; he pledged to fight against it, and to introduce a model inspired by the Taliban’s Afghan education system.

The group began as a gathering of Muslim followers at a mosque and at a Koranic school. These gatherings were for poor families to send their children to study a different but parallel curriculum to the existing one: they were taught Islamic sciences, prophetic traditions, Koranic commentary, rejection of Darwinian evolution and the like. The number of these “schools” increased, attracting young adult students who failed in the government universities. They then began calling themselves “the Nigerian Taliban” (Taliban literally means “student of theology”).

The Arab World’s Options


When the Arab awakening began in 2011, its primary goal should have been to advance pluralism and democracy – causes that were neglected in the Arab world’s first, anti-colonial awakening in the twentieth century. But, after three years of struggle, the process has only just begun. Will the second Arab awakening finally achieve its goals?

The answer depends on which of three models Arab countries use to guide their transition: an inclusive, far-sighted model that aims to build consensus; a winner-take-all approach that excludes large segments of the population; or a stop-at-nothing approach focused on regime survival. These models reflect the vast differences among Arab countries’ current circumstances and prospects for the future.The strongest example of the inclusive model is Tunisia, where former opponents have formed a coalition government, without military interference. Of course, the process was not easy. But, after a tense struggle, Tunisians recognized that cooperation was the only way forward.

In February, Tunisia adopted the Arab world’s most progressive constitution, which establishes equality between men and women, provides for peaceful alternation of government, and recognizes the right of citizens to be without religious belief – an unprecedented move in the region, supported by both Islamist and secular forces. Tunisia’s experience embodies the commitment to pluralism and democracy for which the second Arab awakening stands.

Fortunately, Tunisia is not alone in following this path. Both Yemen and Morocco have undertaken a relatively inclusive political process, with Yemen pursuing a national dialogue and Morocco forming a coalition government.

But this model had failed to take hold in several other countries. Consider Egypt, which has been pursuing the second, exclusionary approach, with all parties believing that they have a monopoly on the truth and thus can ignore or suppress their opponents. Egypt’s Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, adopted this philosophy while they were in power; the secular forces that ousted them in last July’s military coup are now taking the same approach.

Japan Gains Significant Strategic Pledge from United States: An Analysis

Paper No. 5692 Dated 28-Apr-2014
By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Japan today has a troubled security environment with China having lately indulged in conflict-escalation and political coercion in claiming sovereignty over the Japanese Senkaku Islands.

In this context, Japan gained a significant strategic pledge from the United States during President Obama’s visit to Tokyo last week that security of the Senkaku Islands too is covered under Article 5 of the Japan-US Mutual Security Treaty.

It needs to be recalled that when tensions arose between China and Japan two years back, the United States was diffident and hesitant in conceding that the United States under its Treaty commitments was treaty-bound to assist Japan against any aggression by China against the Senkaku Islands. United States’ ambiguity then was not only causing security concerns but also affecting the credibility of US security commitments not only in Japan but also in the Philippines similarly affected by China’s conflict escalation against it over its South China Sea islands.

The ongoing tour of President Obama to its three military allies in East Asia i.e. Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, and also Malaysia was intended to ‘rebalance’ the US Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific’ and further provide security reassurances to these nations against the backdrop of China’s unceasing military aggressive provocations in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Japan has been a reliable and long-standing ally of the United States and can be said to be the lynch-pin of the United States security architecture in the Asia Pacific. As explained in my last Paper this trip was to be a big strategic challenge for President Obama as the United States could ill-afford to ignore the security concerns of its major military ally in the region and a contending Asian power against Chinese hegemonistic impulses and that the United States could not subordinate this strategic reality to United States illogical ‘China-Hedging Strategy’

In the same context it was brought out earlier too that United States’ credibility was at stake in Asian capitals when it exhibited diffidence in standing up to China’s rising military adventurism in the Asia Pacific when the United States as the global superpower with substantial stakes in the Asia Pacific was found wanting in firmness.

Significant it therefore becomes, and a big strategic gain for Japan, when after hard negotiations, President Obama asserted: “Our commitment to Japan’s security is absolute and Article Five (of the Security Treaty) covers all territories under Japan’s administration including the Senkaku Islands”.

Taiwan Rocked by Anti-Nuclear Protests

Anti-nuclear protesters have taken to the streets of Taipei to demand the end of atomic energy on the island.
April 28, 2014

Less than a month after the unprecedented occupation of the Legislative Yuan by the Sunflower Movement, riot police and water cannons were once again deployed on the streets of Taipei. But this time, the object of the protests wasn’t a controversial services trade pact with China, but rather nuclear energy, a major point of contention since the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant in Japan.

At the center of the storm is the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant currently under construction in Gongliao, New Taipei City. Though ostensibly a much safer design than earlier generations of reactors, fears remain that the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) at the Fourth power plant is an unstable assemblage of various systems — a nuclear Frankenstein monster, if you will. Moreover, opponents of the project argue that Taiwan, a highly active seismic area, is too vulnerable to natural catastrophes, including tsunamis and powerful typhoons. Also, they argue that the small size of the island and proximity of nuclear power plants to high-density urban centers raise questions about the ability of the government to evacuate the population in case of a nuclear emergency.

According to the Central Weather Bureau, which also monitors seismic activity, Taiwan experiences an average of 2,200 earthquakes annually, of which more than 200 are actually felt. Based on statistics, the island was hit by 96 “catastrophic” earthquakes since 1900. On September 21, 1999, central Taiwan was ravaged by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that killed 2,415 people and injured more than 11,000, while causing more than $10 billion in damage and disrupting the global supply of key computer components.

Europe’s Dependence on Russian Energy: Deeper Than You Think

APRIL 27, 2014

Ukraine Crisis Shows Eastern Europe at Risk Not Only for Gas, But Also Nuclear Power

Steam rises from two of the cooling towers of the Temelín nuclear power plant, one of two in the Czech Republic. The country relies on the plants for a third of its electricity and recently renewed a contract with Russia’s state-owned TVEL to supply nuclear fuel for Temelín.

As European nations decide how staunchly to oppose Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, they have been pondering uneasily the prospect that Moscow could cut off the Russian natural gas supplies upon which many of them depend. Foreign policy specialists across the transatlantic community have scurried to promote ideas, such as a US promise to export gas to Europe, to reduce Russia’s leverage.

Some bad news for this effort is that, across much of Eastern Europe, from Bohemia to the Black Sea, Russia holds a second ace in the energy politics game: nuclear fuel. Five countries – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine – rely almost entirely on Russian state-owned companies to fuel their nuclear power plants. For these 80 million Europeans, the Russian state provides services essential to some 42 percent of electricity production.

This dependence on nuclear power, and hence Russian cooperation, is greatest in Slovakia (which gets more than 50 percent of its electricity from nuclear generation) and Ukraine (about 50 percent). Hungary generates 46 percent of its electricity through nuclear; Bulgaria 35 percent and the Czech Republic about one-third.

Europe’s dependence on Russian gas is deepest in the same zone. Four of the five nuclear-dependent states are among at least nine countries that rely on Russian gas pumped through Ukrainian pipelines for about three-quarters of their total gas supply, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow John Roberts wrote last week. They, along with the fifth country, Ukraine itself, are especially vulnerable to any break in Russian gas supplies, whether accidental or intentional, that could occur amid the spreading conflict over eastern Ukraine.

The Europeans’ nuclear dependence on Russia varies in small ways. Ukraine and the Czech Republic do some of the work of making their nuclear fuel, notably mining and milling the raw uranium. But they rely on Russia’s national nuclear-fuel manufacturer, TVEL, for high-tech parts of the process, including enrichment of the uranium and its fabrication into fuel rods for use in Russian-designed reactors. TVEL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power conglomerate.

Ukraine Crisis: Who Will Blink First?

OP-ED APRIL 28, 2014, CNN

Russia's seizure of Crimea last month may have unfolded with a lightning quickness, but Vladimir Putin and the West are now engaged in a much slower match of wits on a chessboard stretching across most of eastern Ukraine.

Rather than going for checkmate, both sides now seem content to wait for the other to make a mistake. Putin made a strong first move by placing 40,000 troops on the border -- and separatists, who are not officially linked to Russia, on the ground in Ukraine.

Ulrich Speck
Now Moscow is waiting for the pro-Western government in Kiev to try to retake the parts of the east it has seemingly lost. In Russia's eyes, any such move from the capital would legitimize an overwhelming counterattack -- a re-run of the Georgia crisis in 2008, when President Mikheil Saakashvili lost his nerve, shot first, and prompted a Russian invasion.

Putin's problem is time; he cannot wait forever to strike. Troops cannot remain ready for combat for many months at a time. Separatists in eastern Ukraine are lost without outside support, and may become nervous as time drags on without any glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel.

On the other side of the board are U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukraine's fledgling government. The biggest challenge for Obama and his German counterpart is to keep a united Western front. They need to uphold a credible threat of massive economic sanctions that could undercut the Kremlin's funding if it doesn't toe the line.

But cracks in Western unity are visible everywhere. Europe may be concerned about Russian aggression in Ukraine, but the continent is dragging its collective feet on taking a more confrontational stance towards Putin.

Profitable Development Solutions: How the Private Sector Can Contribute to the Post-2015 Agenda

Report | April 2014

Deliberations around the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals and what comes after them are infused with optimism that the end of extreme poverty is within the world’s grasp. 

When United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon convened a high-level panel to forge a new global post-2015 Development Agenda, the centerpiece of the group’s final report called for “eradicating extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030.” The prospects for achieving this goal do not seem so far-fetched; half a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty (those living under $1.25 per day) since 2000 alone. However, further progress will require broad-based and sustainable economic growth across the developing world, innovative and affordable ways to deliver basic needs for the poor as well as major new investments to tackle global challenges such as climate change. Addressing these issues will require an all-hands-on-deck approach from all the players involved in international development. Notably, the private sector—from small and medium-sized enterprises to major global corporations— must play an expanded role if this vision is to be realized.

By some measures, this shift is well underway. In 2011, the combined private flows of the 23 traditional donor countries (members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee) were four times larger than their official development assistance. Private equity funds have become increasingly significant players in the developing world, even in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the size of investment funds and private capital investment in the region expanded 15-fold and 5-fold respectively in the 2000s. Meanwhile, the developing world is benefiting from the proliferation of thousands of social enterprises that seek to lower the price and increase the accessibility of a range of goods and services for the very poor while still turning a (modest) profit. 

This essay identifies actionable areas that can enhance the development impact of private sector activity while overcoming the mistrust of other development stakeholders. It presents a taxonomy of various private sector actors that distinguishes among the range of constraints they face in contributing to poverty alleviation.

This essay argues that investments in individual enterprises serving low-income customers can be complemented by focused efforts to foster the industry “ecosystem” within which enterprises operate. It suggests that this approach may offer the most promising path for accelerating the discovery of enterprise solutions and the speed with which they are brought to scale.

This essay explores the key issues facing the US government as it engages with the private sector in pursuit of development goals. It offers suggestions for the US government as it deepens such engagement in the post-2015 Development Agenda process..


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