12 May 2014

New govt will have to formulate policies to protect national interest

May 11, 2014
Jayadeva Ranade

As the dust of the hotly contested general elections begins to settle and memories of acid rhetoric begin to recede, India’s new leadership will have to grapple with a host of major problems.

Undoubtedly the domestic economy, security of its citizens and effective delivery of social security and health services must be priority. These challenges will be accentuated by the young voters, who constitute almost 21% of the electorate and have high aspirations, a low threshold of tolerance and demand visibly different policies from what they have witnessed over the years.

This makes it imperative for any new government to ensure that impactful and visible delivery begins within the first six months. Failure to do so will subject it to trenchant, persistent and possibly debilitating criticism.

A few immediate foreign and strategic policy challenges will, however, have to be tackled equally promptly if India is not to be marginalised even in its own strategic neighbourhood.

Most immediate are the developments unfolding in Afghanistan and the threat from Pakistan. As US troops prepare for withdrawal from Afghanistan and hitherto effective CIA-trained specialist forces begin to go home, the Taliban will regain lost ground in the Afghan countryside.

Attacks against the Afghan and international security forces have already intensified. This will simultaneously relieve pressure on Pakistan’s borders. India will have to find ways to retain meaningful influence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s establishment has in the past few weeks signalled its readiness to allow terrorist actions against India by increasing the incidence of firing along the LoC, attempting to push in terrorists, and permitting free movement by leaders of jihadi terrorist groups like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. India’s new leadership will need to keep carefully calibrated ripostes ready for prompt implementation against imminent terrorist attacks.

More significant, but longer-term, is the challenge posed by China’s recently unveiled policy of ‘Peripheral Diplomacy’ (zhoubian), which brings India’s strategically sensitive borders and neighbourhood within the ambit of Beijing’s assertive foreign policy.

This policy for the first time ever categorises neighbouring countries as ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’ and warns those obstructing China’s quest for pre-eminence in the region to be prepared for punitive measures over a sustained period.

It seeks to co-opt neighbours into supporting its regional ambitions through either outright financial largesse or economic dependency, supplemented by a network of bilateral and regional security alliances. The latter raises the spectre of India being ringed by China-led, or China-dominated, security alliances.

Bodo hopes and minority rights

May 12, 2014 

The violent rivalry between Bodo political outfits and gradually emerging non-Bodo political conglomerations is a reflection of the agenda of elite ethnic dominance

With the gunning down of 44 Muslim villagers, including many children, in a matter of 36 hours between May 1 and 2, the Bodoland debacle has now grown into a bigger issue for policymakers, marked by a continuing failure to contain its descent into an ever deeper abyss of violence. The Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) has emerged as one of the most volatile flashpoints of violence in the country with deadly clashes breaking out repeatedly over a mobilisation of identity, territory and resources being linked to claims on political power. The reason for the enduring political failure to prevent the violence lies in the very political-bureaucratic predispositions with which the government has been addressing the complex ethnic and security challenges in the region. With intensified inter-group competition over resources and the subsequent rise of the “son of the soil” doctrine, the escapist measure of the state in “allowing” selective elite dominance in Bodoland was only bound to explode into periodic violence sooner than later.Behind a political quagmire

The Bodos, who constitute the largest tribal community out of a total of 34 tribal communities in Assam, have been fighting for greater political autonomy since the early decades following independence; this gathered momentum with the organisation of the Plain Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA) in the 1960s and then matured with the demand for a separate State by the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) in 1987. According to the 2001 Census, the Scheduled Tribe (ST) population of Assam was 12.41 per cent out of which Bodos are about 40 per cent. But within the BTAD, an area of 27,100 square kilometres (or 35 per cent of Assam), the Bodos constitute less than 30 per cent with no other ethnic group (Assamese speakers, Bengali Muslims, Bengali Hindus, Koch-Rajbongshis) having an absolute majority. The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was formed as a special territorial privilege under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution as in the Memorandum of Settlement of February 2003 between the Government of India, the Government of Assam and the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT). The BTC has 12 electorate members with a reserved Scheduled Tribe seat in the Lok Sabha.

The BTC accord is an official recognition of Bodo political aspirations and promises to “fulfil economic, educational and linguistic aspirations and the preservation of land rights, socio-cultural and ethnic identity of the Bodos” — a special status that the Bodo nationalists claim as their historical due and which others term as a gross violation of equality and democratic rights of the nearly 70 per cent non-Bodo population of the area. This debate needs to come under the lens of history.

In the interest of early colonialism, new reservation policies were introduced to restrain “native” access to valuable forests and to stimulate the clearance of fertile “wastelands” for the setting up of tea estates resulting in an increasingly restrictive regime of “boundaries” that curtailed livelihood options. This colonial enterprise for revenue maximising, also accompanied by schemes like “grow more food,” radically altered western Assam’s demography as a large influx of poor peasants and labourers from Chota Nagpur, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Nepal and Maimansing was engineered in the interest of the colonial economy. Forest reservation policies as well as cross-border migration continued heavily in the first decades of independence. One estimate in the mid-1980s had the tribal population in northwest Assam surrounded by a wealthy forest zone of 3,539.95 sq.km — in formal-judicial terms, more than 80 per cent was inaccessible to them. This entrapment is not only of the community from the resources but is also an entrapment of one community from the other. The fear of all political minorities in Bodoland is a replication of the way the Bodo community was once entrapped (and in many ways continues to be so) which might influence the newly empowered Bodo political elites to create a system that would entrap them. Feelings of relative deprivation through an entrenched minority entrapment could spark off new insurgencies in the BTC/BTAD territory.

In this context, what is significant is growing political assertions by sections of Muslims under banners like The All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) and ‘Sankhyalagu Aikhya Mancha’ (Minorities United Front). ABMSU has even demanded proportionate employment policies for community numbers and reservation for minority students in medical and engineering colleges in the area. It has also asked political parties to reserve at least three seats for the minorities in those constituencies where they are in an absolute majority.

The Subverted Indo-Bangladesh Border

IssueVol 24.2Apr-Jun 2009 
07 May , 2014

Operation Zero Line Investigates the gateway of terror in the East – the 4,095 km (2,979 km land border and 1,116 km riverine border) long India-Bangladesh border, half of which is along West Bengal. Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura are the other states which encircle Bangladesh. The India-Bangladesh border is porous. It runs through rivers, ponds, agricultural fields, villages and even houses where the entrance is in India and the backdoor in Bangladesh. It is perhaps the most complex land border anywhere in the world.

That is why for nearly three decades this long stretch of the border was the hub for illegal migration, human trafficking, smuggling of narcotics, guns and ammunition and essential supplies.

The ease with which smugglers can bring in arms and ammunition and terror infiltrators to cross over into India is, perhaps, not adequately understood in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

All of the above continues unabated. But a new dimension has been added to the existing security threats. And that is infiltration by terrorists. The Border Security Force has identified 46 places along this border that is prone to infiltration. Fencing of this long border has already begun at several points along the border. Some sections have already been completed. Millions of Bangladeshis have entered India through this porous border and acquired Indian citizenship. Official figures stand at 1.2 million. But the latest Census figures of 2001 show that the demography of the six border districts of West Bengal have dramatically changed because of illegal migration.

To show how porous the border is and how easy it is for terrorists to infiltrate, I travelled along the South Bengal frontier from South Dinajpur till the Sundarbans. I crossed from India into Bangladesh at the Indian border town of Hilli to its namesake in Bangladesh and came back in via the same route. Here we also caught on camera stunning visuals of smuggling and Bangladeshis waiting to cross over.

Further down in Malda at the dead of the night I experienced first hand how despite the 24 hours vigil by the Border Security Force (BSF), it is possible for terrorists to cross over. I visited border villages in Malda and Murshidabad sectors which are right on the Zero Line and found out how easy it is for Bangladeshi illegal migrants, smugglers and terrorists to enter Indian Territory.

On paper, a long zigzag border separates India and Bangladesh. On the ground, little does. If the frontier along Malda is ideal for infiltrators to step across the zero line, at the border town of Hilli, a wall meant to divide two countries is now a channel for smuggling. There are border villages hugging the zero line where all anyone has to do to enter India is just walk across. The porous Indo-Bangladesh border presents a clear and present danger to India’s national security.

Smugglers on the Wall

At the border town of Hilli in South Dinajpur crossing the border simply means stretching a leg from a sturdy branch of tree to a wall. This is how easy it is to cross the border. Everyday, from the first daylight till sun down, a frenetic smuggling run takes place on a patch of a wall on the India-Bangladesh border. Nobody knows who built this wall in West Bengal’s border town of Hilli. The local administration says it was built during the pre-partition days. After all, Hilli was once a town with a railway line running right through its middle.

India ABM

May 9, 2014: India recently conducted a successfulof its larger Prithvi ABM (anti-ballistic missile) missile. This one is designed to intercept missiles (with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers) at altitudes of up to a hundred kilometers. This is a continuation of a longstanding effort to build missile defenses. In late 2013 there was a successful round of development tests of these ABMs that involved intercepting multiple incoming ballistic missiles. As a result of many successful tests in the last few years Indian missile development officials declared that their anti-missile missiles were ready for mass production and deployment. This would provide some Indian cities protection from Pakistani or Chinese ballistic missiles. But India also realized that just having a reliableinterceptor missile was not enough. You needed an integrated communications and radar warning system. The Israelis and the Americans are the only ones with years of experience with such anti-missile systems and India was already a steady customer for Israeli weapons and electronics systems. So in early 2014 India made a deal to hire several Israeli defense firms to work with DRDO (the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization) and several state-owned defense firms to design and build an integrated anti-missile defense system. India wants something like the anti-missile system Israel has developed and deployed over the last two decades. This may involve buying the latest models of Israeli Green Pine radar, which is a key element of the Israeli anti-missile defenses.

The Indian ABM missiles come in two sizes. The Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile is the larger of the two and is used for high altitude (50-80 kilometers up) interception. The short range Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile is used for low altitude (up to 30 kilometers) intercepts. The two missiles, in conjunction with a radar system based on the Israeli Green Pine (used with the Arrow anti-missile missile) provide defense from ballistic missiles fired as far as 5,000 kilometers away. A third interceptor, the PDV, is a hypersonic missile that can take down missiles as high as 150 kilometers and is still in development. India is the fifth nation to develop such anti-missile technology.

The Indian system has been in development for over a decade. Back in 2003 India ordered two Israeli Green Pine anti-ballistic missile radars. That equipment was used in 2007 in one of the first successful Indian tests, where one ballistic missile was fired at another "incoming" one. The Israeli Green Pine radar was originally developed for Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system. Arrow was built, in cooperation with the United States, to defend Israel from Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles. India has since developed, with Israeli help, the Swordfish radar, which has similar capabilities to the Green Pine and has been operational since 2011. Swordfish is part of a system that integrates data from satellites and other sources in order to detect and track incoming missiles.

Containing Maoist Insurgency: An Organisational Approach

08 May , 2014

India has been suffering from armed internal violence for the past four decades. Terrorists and insurgent groups have created havoc in various parts of India, targeting combatants and noncombatants alike. These groups have a great impact on the national security of India, both internal and external. Presently, India has many terrorist and insurgent groups, of which, Maoist insurgency remains the severest threat to India’s internal security. India’s response to tackling Maoist insurgency has been multi-pronged. Though this response has incorporated all the approaches, namely integration approach, developmental approach and military interventionist approach, they have not been able to achieve their objective fully. These efforts have often been plagued by lacuna associated with the federal structure prevalent in India, erroneous policy vectoring and excessive reliance on a single approach instead of following a blended approach.

A military interventionist approach would augur well against the primary force of the Maoists but can be counter-productive against the base force as it might cause collateral damage on a noncombatant population.

The current organisational approaches are only two-dimensional, i.e., they focus on splintering and decapitation. However, to have an effective approach against the Maoists, a multidimensional approach apportioned appropriately with other approaches, like developmental approach, interventionist approach and rehabilitation, is required. However, the effectiveness of such a multidimensional organisational approach lies in implementing other approaches in tandem, which are subsumed to be a part of this broad organisational approach and cannot exist or operate independently.

The rationale behind such a multidimensional measure against the Maoists is that the strength of this group is determined by its workforce constitution. Hence, an ideal organisational approach has to target this human capital of the Maoists. The Maoists, as a movement, are made of people from different strata, both literate people and illiterate tribals. The Maoists’ military formation, known as People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), is divided into three force levels. They are:14 
The primary force, which consists of hard-core, ideologically motivated members in platoon, company and central/state special action team formations, which move anywhere to participate in the war depending on the needs of the movement under the instructions of the commissions/commands. 
The secondary force, which consists of local members of areas, regions, etc., in guerrilla squads, special guerrilla squads, platoons and district/division-level action teams. 
The base force, which is the people’s militia, which forms the bulk of their strength consisting of tribals (adivasis). 

Maoists, made up of different sets of people from diverse backgrounds, driven by different motivations, place serious questions on the viability of applying a single approach uniformly for all the segments or force levels. For example, a military interventionist approach would augur well against the primary force of the Maoists but can be counter-productive against the base force as it might cause collateral damage on a noncombatant population.15 Again, a developmental approach, which can impact the base force, may not be sufficient to veer away hard-core members of the primary force and secondary force. Hence, these compulsions dictate the approaches to be balanced, staggered and differential.

South China Sea Clash: Asia’s Dangerous Game

It is time for East Asia to step up cooperation to check expansionist tendencies.

By Sreeram Chaulia
May 10, 2014

Collisions between ships of Vietnam and Chinafollowing the latter’s installation of a deep water oil rigin the disputed South China Sea mark a dangerous escalation of simmering tensions. Simultaneous to this fracas near the contested Paracel Islands, maritime authorities of the Philippines have arrested Chinese fishermen close to another coveted portion of the South China Sea, the Spratly Islands, triggering a war of words between Beijing and Manila.

China, Vietnam and the Philippines represent a triad of instability and tension in the Asia-Pacific with their incompatible nationalistic claims over islets and energy-rich water bodies. (The South China Sea is estimated to hold 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.) So deeply entrenched is the animosity among the three that even the nomenclature of the terrain on which they make their shows of force is subject to controversy. For the Vietnamese, “South China Sea” is an affront; they prefer to call it the “East Sea,” i.e. the waters to the east of Vietnam’s coast. For the Philippines, the part of the South China Sea that falls within its exclusive economic zone should be called the “West Philippine Sea,” a term China dismisses. Beijing’s dreaded “nine-dash line” or “cow’s tongue” is based on arguments that the South China Sea waters and islands fell under its suzerainty during medieval times, evoking memories of an imperial past.

Although the South China Sea has long been a hotbed of rival nationalisms, the genesis of the current troubles lies in China’s post-2008 reincarnation as a more assertive regional power. Prior to that, Beijing had maintained an accommodative and non-provocative posture vis-à-vis its smaller Southeast Asian neighbors. The Chinese leadership that inherited the economic pragmatism of Deng Xiaoping around the turn of the millennium had placed a premium on avoiding hostilities with its ASEAN neighbors as it sought to deepen trade and investment links.

By showing that mighty China could assuage the fears of weaker neighbors with maturity, Beijing burnished its “peaceful rise” argument, as it sought to assure the rest of the world that there was nothing to fear from China’s ascent. However, this non-confrontational regional diplomacy began to erode from 2008, giving way to a more hawkish and aggressive China given to hectoring its neighbors, deploying economic warfare, and relishing showpiece naval incidents and skirmishes.

The reprogrammed DNA of the Chinese civilian and military leadership expresses itself as a post-Deng confidence that the time has come for China to throw its weight around and for smaller countries to fall in line. The infamous remark of China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to his Southeast Asian counterparts in 2010, that “China is a big country, and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact,” captured the mood in Beijing: discard the niceties and bring out the knives.

Running parallel to China’s unabashed willingness to scare off Southeast Asian countries is its ever-widening fissure with Japan in Northeast Asia. Although U.S. President Barack Obama has trivialized the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, one of the major bones of contention between China and Japan, as a mere “piece of rock,” Beijing and Tokyo have been drifting towards conflict, one amplified by historical grievances about Japanese atrocities during World War II.

The China-Vietnam standoff: Three key factors

8 May 2014 
So, another maritime incident between China and one of its neighbours.

There are reports from officials in Hanoi that Chinese and Vietnamese vessels collided on at least two separate occasions in the South China Sea on Sunday, in waters 120nm off the Vietnamese coast. The dispute began last Saturday when China's Maritime Safety Authority (MSA) announced that the drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou 981, owned by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), would undertake drilling work in the South China Sea. The MSA announced an exclusion zone around the platform for any vessels unrelated to its operations.

Unsurprisingly, Vietnam reacted strongly, sending a fleet of coast guard and naval vessels to stop the rig establishing a fixed position in what it regards as Vietnamese waters. A fleet of up to 40 Chinese vessels (reportedly including naval vessels) was accompanying the rig, and the standoff and collisions ensued. 

At least three issues relating to this incident merit further consideration.

Firstly, there is a possibility that this standoff could last for months (or longer). The Banyan blog at The Economist rightly notes that this incident is more serious than other recent flare-ups, which involved fishing and oil survey vessels. This is believed to be the first time China has actually drilled for oil in waters claimed by Vietnam.

Unlike fishing and survey vessels, drilling platforms, while moveable, tend to stay in one location for long periods. In fact, the MSA announcement said drilling would continue in the same location until 15 August. If CNOOC does fix the rig in place, the MSA announcement reduces the likelihood that the rig will be removed before that date. At that stage, a relocation of the rig could be face-savingly described as a completion of drilling operations, though of course there is no guarantee China would remove the platform at that point.

From a Vietnamese perspective, in the short term this would seem to be a binary situation. Either CNOOC establishes a fixed location for its billion dollar rig in Vietnamese-claimed territory, or it doesn't.

The removal of the rig in August might be barely palatable for Hanoi, but there is no way Vietnam can guarantee the rig will actually be relocated at that time. As such, it could be drawn into a game of cat and mouse in waters near the rig against much stronger Chinese maritime and/or naval forces.

Secondly, although the decision to move the rig to disputed waters uncannily follows on from Obama's recent Asia visit, the two activities are not necessarily related. Obama's Asia visit did not include a stop in Hanoi, yet countries that Obama actually did visit haven't suffered a similar backlash. Yes, China and Russia will be holding a joint naval drillin the East China Sea, which could be seen as a response to Obama's Japan visit. But there have also been positive signs for Japan-China relations both before and since Obama's visit.

Finally, CNOOC has a history of conflating resource exploration in the South China Sea with sovereignty claims. Large state-owned enterprises like CNOOC are powerful players in Beijing, and CNOOC could be one of the drivers behind the decision to move the drilling rig into disputed waters. At the very least, it would actively support the rig being used as a tool in sovereignty disputes. 

China’s Monroe Doctrine

MAY 8, 2014
Roger Cohen

Excerpt (John Mearsheimer quote)

“My argument in a nutshell is that if China continues to grow economically, it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. The United States, however, will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony. Most of Beijing’s neighbors, including India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia and Vietnam, will join with the United States to contain Chinese power. The result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war.”


The Vietnamese pivot to the United States demonstrates how real its fears of China are. The little naval battle being fought around a Chinese rig suggests they have cause. The Mearsheimer prediction is not inevitable, as he acknowledges, but it is plausible. American retrenchment would make it more so. Rising hegemons seize on weakness when they see it. Deterrence is far preferable to war.

China’s Monroe Doctrine

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – In the new edition of his classic “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics,” John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago makes a powerful case for the inevitability of war in Asia as Chinarises:

“My argument in a nutshell is that if China continues to grow economically, it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. The United States, however, will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony. Most of Beijing’s neighbors, including India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia and Vietnam, will join with the United States to contain Chinese power. The result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war.”

This is the core strategic question of the 21st century. History is not rich in peaceful transitions of power from one hegemon to another. China needs resources. It will seek them near and far – and find America in its path. As with the Soviet Union, but without the ideological conflict, the issue will be whether the evident potential for a conflagration can be finessed through alliances or forestalled through the specter of mutual assured destruction.

The seeds of conflict are evident. On his recent visit to Asia, President Obama made clear how the tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands to Beijing) could draw in the United States. His declaration that the Japan-administered rocks in the East China Sea “fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security” incensed China, which claims the islands. Mind your own business and get over the Cold War was the essence of the Chinese message to Washington.

The Fallout From China’s Property Downturn

By Sara Hsu
May 09, 2014

The repercussions of a weaker property market will test Beijing’s zeal for reform. 

China’s property market downturn has been officially called by Nomura’s Zhiwei Zhang and is supported by a plethora of statistics from across the nation, including falling home prices in 100 cities in April, declines in new residential property turnover, and developer funding shortages. The downturn is evident across the nation, with serious housing surpluses arising from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province to Ordos, Inner Mongolia and beyond. Junheng Li of JL Warren Capital and other analysts have remarked that the urbanization drive and similar forces will not foment ongoing demand for urban real estate. The situation looks grim, so what can we expect now that China has passed the property price inflection point?

First, and most directly, demand for manufactured construction materials like steel beams, as well as construction services will continue to decline. The construction industry alone employed more than 13 percent of the urban work force in 2012 according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This will have knock-on effects through the economy as workers lose wages and are unable to maintain current levels of consumption. This means that as consumption by laid off workers declines, industries that usually receive the benefits of their spending (such as grocery shops and retail outlets) will suffer through the multiplier effect and will be forced in turn to contract their spending too.

Second, real estate asset price declines will have an impact on household savings. As Nicholas Borst of the Peterson Institute points out, household wealth will decline as real estate values fall, as real property is viewed as an investment, leading to a decline in consumption given the negative shock to households’ holdings. This will further exacerbate the downturn in consumption caused by declining wages, with a net effect of reducing household standards of living and potentially generating social discontent. What is more, the drop-off in consumption comes at a time when the leadership is attempting to ramp up consumption in order to move away from the current investment-led model of growth.

Third, as real estate developers continue to find themselves unable to sell their properties, they will default on loans from various sources. Property developers borrowed heavily from banks until regulatory authorities warned banks in 2012 that there may be losses in the real estate sector, after which bank loans to property developers and local government financing vehicles were restricted. Property developers turned to trust companies and other shadow banking entities to obtain funding. Recently regulators have warned shadow banking entities such as trust companies to restrict lending to the real estate sector, but at this time the move appears to be too late to prevent financial fallout. In the short run, liquidity issues will likely present a real problem to the shadow banking sector and to some components of the banking sector. If liquidity issues become severe, solvency of shadow banking entities like trust companies and third party entrusted lenders may pose a problem. Middle class households that purchased wealth management products through banks and securities companies containing shadow banking loans will likely be outraged if payments are defaulted on, if recent history is any guide. This may provide yet another source of social unrest.

Is Iran Ten Years Away From a Nuclear Bomb?

May 10, 2014

A former Israeli atomic chief claims Iran would need ten years to develop an operational nuclear weapon. 

The former head of Israel’s nuclear agency says that Iran is at least a decade away from acquiring an operational nuclear weapon.

According to Israeli media outlets, Brigadier General (res.) Uzi Eilam, who served for ten years as the head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said that it would take Iran a decade to acquire a nuclear deterrent, and it might not even be seeking one.

“The Iranian nuclear program will only be operational in another 10 years,” Eilam said Ynet News reported. “Even so, I am not sure that Iran wants the bomb.”

Eilam said he based his assessment on his long history of working on Israel’s atomic and missile programs. “From being involved in many technology projects, I have learned the hard way that things take time,” Eilam said.

He also went on to say that the interim nuclear deal Iran signed with the P5+1 powers was significant in reducing Iran’s breakout capacity. “According to reports, the steps Iran has taken are most significant, the primary step being the dilution of more than half of its enriched fuel.”

He continued: “The main issues [for a diplomatic solution] are still ahead of us, but it is definitely possible to be optimistic. I think we should give the diplomatic process a serious chance, alongside ongoing sanctions. And I’m not even sure that Iran would want the bomb – it could be enough for them to be a nuclear threshold state – so that it could become a regional power and intimidate its neighbors.”

Eilam has a long history in the Israeli security establishment. Beside his stint as Israel’s atomic chief, as well as his military experience, Eilam has served as the Chief Scientist and Director of R&D in the Ministry of Defense. He also held positions in the Office of the Prime Minister, as well as in other parts of the MoD.

Eilam’s assessment about how far away Iran is from a nuclear arsenal is likely correct, although it’s important to understand what he actually said. At first glance, his statement seems to grossly contradict the most recent public intelligence assessments of Israel and the U.S., which predict that Iran could acquire a nuclear capability as soon as 2015 (the assessments are slightly dated at this point, and came before the nuclear deal however).

But part of this discrepancy is due to different definitions of when Iran would become a nuclear state. This should not be a surprise as the question of when a state become a nuclear weapons power is somewhat ambiguous. Moreover, as Jacques Hymans has pointed out, how one answers this question has “significant implications for proliferation assessment, analysis, and policy.”

Crimea, Climate Change, and U.S.-Russian Relations: A Perfect Storm

As Russian forces took Crimea in late February, commentators repeatedly emphasized the Ukrainian peninsula's strategic importance as a warm-water port.

Meanwhile, the rapidly growing importance of Arctic waters is sometimes overlooked. The polar ice cap, now 40 percent smaller than it was 35 years ago (PDF), will continue to thaw in the coming decades, opening new shipping routes and access to oil and gas.

Russia possesses the world's most Arctic shoreline, water, and operating resources. But the United States is also an Arctic nation, even if much of the American public tends to under-appreciate this special status.

With frigid international tensions and the severe impacts of climate change (PDF) swirling like a perfect polar storm, the United States can't afford to ignore the opportunities and obligations that come with being one of the world's few Arctic nations.

Less than a decade ago, presumed cooperation and overt reliance on external assistance became popular planning factors for U.S. polar activities. Given the condition of its aged icebreaker fleet, the United States turned to leases with Sweden and Russia for icebreaker capability. This approach was considered a more efficient way to traverse polar regions.

Cooperation with Russia has long been among the greatest challenges to implementing a comprehensive U.S. Artic strategy. But the crisis in Crimea has already resulted in a significant retreat from engagement and cooperation with Russia: The United States and its allies dismissed Russia from the G-8, and NATO is reviewing the extent to which it cooperates with Russia.

These actions are warranted, given Russia's violation of Ukraine's borders and the troubling precedent it sets. But the West should avoid disengagement with Russia when it comes to the Arctic, a unique region that deserves special consideration.

Allowing or forcing Russian withdrawal from Arctic engagements and regulating forums could seriously weaken America's ability to manage the increasing amount and diversity of activity in the Arctic, as well as adaptation to the impacts of climate change. Excluding Russia could even bring about Arctic militarization.

But despite chilling relations with Russia and the slow burn of climate change, the United States can prevent diplomatic frostbite in the Arctic through a number of actions:

Russia After Putin

Added May 02, 2014 
Type: Monograph 
134 Pages 
Download Format: PDF
Cost: Free 

Despite many obstacles, the leadership in Washington and Moscow must find ways to address security threats even as the United States rebalances toward Asia. Moreover, he agrees with prominent statesmen like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger that ultimately, Russia must be integrated into a Euro-Atlantic security system. The unexpected events of September 2013 that have resulted in a United Nations resolution compelling Syria to surrender its chemical weapons and a re-start of the Geneva negotiations to find a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian crisis offers evidence that a partnership, even if limited and fragile, is plausible. A major consideration of the U.S. national security establishment must include how to operationalize the partnership. For all intents and purposes, the United States and Russia now have taken responsibility for resolving the Syrian crisis and in the process have reached a new chapter in the reset of relations. If they succeed in finding a diplomatic solution to it, further cooperation on other shared security concerns will follow. If not, they will take a turn for the worse. Note: This research was completed in the fall of 2013, which was obviously prior to the recent crisis in Crimea and Ukraine.

Ukraine and Latvia: Welcome to "The Clash of Civilizations"

"Like Ukraine, Latvia is a cleft country, with ethnic Russians making up nearly 30 percent of the population and the Russian language being the native tongue for nearly 40 percent." 

May 10, 2014 

Ukraine and Latvia. One is large and located down on the Black Sea; the other is small and situated up on the Baltic Sea. But both sit upon the Russian border, and both encompass internal cultural conflicts that put them in play amid the current tensions between the West and Russia. Major lessons can be drawn from what they have in common and what distinguishes them. The biggest lesson is that culture matters—and culture tied to any nation’s fundamental strategic interests represents a force that shouldn’t be trifled with.

Realists who have advocated a cautious and measured approach to NATO expansion and, more recently, to events in Ukraine, have been attacked by neoconservatives and Wilsonian liberals as weak agents of appeasement. But these neocons and Wilsonians are dangerous, because they ignore distinctions based on culture. Indeed, they generally dismiss culture as irrelevant, except the Western culture, which they wish to spread throughout the world. That is the outlook that has generated so much havoc since the end of the Cold War, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria—and now in the border regions of Europe, where the dangers are much more ominous.

Hence, it isn’t surprising that neocon and Wilsonian commentators and officials can’t see a distinction between Ukraine and Latvia. In their view, both should be bathed in the glow of Western attitudes and Western institutions. Yet, an analysis of the two nations’ history and cultural currents can lead to an understanding of the geopolitical realities along the fault line between the West and Russia and the proper approach to U.S. foreign policy in the region. Let’s begin with Ukraine.

When the United States and the European Union adopted a policy of NATO expansion, without regard to cultural boundaries (the so-called Open Door policy), it set in motion a confrontation between the U.S.-led West and the Russian-led Orthodox civilization. Particularly combustible was Ukraine, a nation that is split down the middle between a Western half (nationalist in outlook, oriented toward the West and toward the Uniate Church, which practices Orthodox rites but acknowledges the authority of the Pope) and an Orthodox half (adherents of Eastern Christianity and oriented toward Russia). This is a nation with two separate cultures, two religions, two heritage concepts. As such it is intrinsically a flash point nation, as we’re seeing in the current crisis.

By way of illustration, consider the vote totals in the 1994 presidential election between Leonid Kravchuk, who identified himself as a nationalist, and Leonid Kuchma, a product of eastern Ukraine. Kuchma carried the eastern provinces with vote totals as high as 88 percent in Luhansk, 90 percent in Crimea and 79 percent in Donetsk (scene of much of the recent violence). Meanwhile, Kravchuk carried the western provinces with similar vote totals—84 percent in Volyn, 93 percent in Lviv, 95 percent in Ternopil. When Kuchma won with 52 percent of the vote, American foreign policy expert Ian Brzezinski said the election “reflected, even crystallized, the split between Europeanized Slavs in western Ukraine and the Russo-Slav vision of what Ukraine should be. It’s not ethnic polarization so much as different cultures.”

Hence, Ukraine is what the late Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington called a “cleft country,” where large groups belong to different civilizations. Cultural tensions inevitably arise in cleft countries, Huntington noted, “when a majority group belonging to one civilization attempts to define the state as its political instrument and to make its language, religion, and symbols those of the state.” This is particularly true when two groups are largely equal in population and influence, as in Ukraine. When America and the West sought to foster Western dominance of Ukraine, it was sure to set off Russia-oriented peoples in the eastern part of the country.

"Where’s the US on Ukraine?"

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel participate in a joint news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 2, 2014. Obama and Merkel are putting on a display of trans-Atlantic unity against an assert

Op-Ed, Boston Globe
May 8, 2014

Author: Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Middle East Initiative; The Future of Diplomacy Project

VLADIMIR PUTIN’S campaign to divide, destabilize, and dismantle Ukraine has reached a new phase with this week’s surge of violence in the pivotal Black Sea port of Odessa. As bands of armed ethnic Russian brigands battle Ukrainian government security forces in cities big and small throughout eastern Ukraine, the stakes for the West become all the more clear.

Putin has a plan — disrupt Ukraine’s May 25 presidential elections in order to delegitimize the interim government in Kiev. Moscow can then retain effective control over Ukraine’s future. The American and European response — weak, disjointed, and ineffective — hasn’t been nearly as impressive. All this matters because what happens in Ukraine is important to American interests in a still-vital Europe. Here are three reasons why.

First, Putin’s success in Ukraine is resounding ominously in Central Europe — the countries once prisoners of the Warsaw Pact and, in the case of the three Baltic states, the Soviet Union itself. If he gets away with the destruction of a major state like Ukraine, what would stop him from destabilizing an even weaker Moldova? Might he then even be tempted to undermine NATO itself? By launching covert campaigns to incite the large ethnic Russian populations in NATO allies Estonia and Latvia, Putin could deliver a potentially devastating blow to NATO’s credibility to safeguard the security of its members. Unless NATO confronts Putin with much tougher sanctions and a credible conventional force in the Baltics, he may calculate he could get away with it.

Second, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has thrown Washington’s relationship with Moscow into a deep freeze. The Obama administration has tried working with a troublesome Moscow to curb Iran’s nuclear program, secure Syria’s chemical weapons, resupply America’s army in Afghanistan, and stop Muslim terrorists. It is not at all certain Putin will continue to cooperate on these front-burner issues. As a result, while the United States and Russia may not be experiencing a new Cold War, they have resumed a long-term struggle for power in Europe. For someone whose first years in the American Foreign Service coincided with the battle against Soviet influence in the Middle East and Europe, it is surreal, indeed, to return to a modern variation of President Kennedy’s “long twilight struggle.”

Africa at a Crossroads

Overcoming the Obstacles to Sustained Growth and Economic Transformation 

MAY 7, 2014 

Many of Africa’s economies are at a crossroads, with an unprecedented opportunity for sustained growth, structural change, and accelerated development. Each will face a unique set of economic and political circumstances, but key to the success of all will be building critically needed infrastructure, deepening regional integration, and building a skilled workforce. Across these three challenges there are new possibilities for corporate and public actors to work in partnership to overcome barriers to investment and structural transformation. This report highlights examples of progress and positive collaboration and identifies areas where African governments can do more to make the most of current opportunities. 

Publisher CSIS/Rowman & Littlefield 

ISBN 978-1-4422-2847-4 (pb); 978-1-4422-2848-1 (eBook) 

Ministry of Defence reveals how future wars will be fought entirely in cyberspace

'Call of Duty' will become REAL: 
Philip Hammond says internet warfare is next military 'frontier' 
Says there will 'never again be a conflict in which cyber does not play a role' 
Public no longer prepared to tolerate soldiers being killed in foreign wars 

8 May 2014 

Future wars could be fought entirely on the internet, the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond claimed today.

The Cabinet Minister said military technology was changing rapidly with 'cyber' warfare the battleground of the future.

He told a Westminster gathering that internet-based attacks could replace boots on the ground - in the same way tanks replaced horses in the 20th Century.

The Call of Duty video game is hugely popular - but could become a reality in the future. While cyber warfare will have nothing to do with video shoot 'em ups, malicious computer viruses are likely to be the new weapon of choice for Western countries that are unwilling to risk their soldiers lives on a real battlefield

Mr Hammond said the internet was the 'new frontier' for the military because the public was no longer prepared to accept British soldiers being killed on the front line.

He said: ‘I can tell you with some degree of confidence that there will never again be a conflict in which cyber does not play a major role.'

Mr Hammond said this would either be in the form of background support for the 'conventional application of force'. 

But it was 'possible to envisage entire conflicts being fought in cyberspace', Mr Hammond said.

‘The vulnerability that modern societies, modern militaries have to networked IT systems makes this inevitable and makes our exposure all the more significant,' he said.

DoD, private sector collaborate on cybersecurity best practices

May 7, 2014 

John Pellegrino manages the Cyber Security Alliance, which focuses on cybersecurity best practices. 

At the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, John Pellegrino sees no reason to go it alone. In the sprawling, shifting world of cybersecurity, he’ll take all of the friends he can get.

“We are all looking at cyberprotection together to come up with some fundamentals that will hopefully help us to make our networks more robust,” said Pellegrino, who manages the lab’s Cyber Security Research Alliance, which brings together military, academia and industry in an effort to share best practices.

Army knows the need, universities know the science, and private-sector information technology brings it together.

“We are not a production house, that is something industry is capable of doing at scale,” he said. “So industry is really our partner in taking it home, in putting it into practice.”

The Defense Department told Congress its Cyber Command needs $5.1 billion for fiscal 2015. With cyber threats evolving at a rapid clip, it serves the military well to tap into private-sector best practices as early and as often as possible. A range of collaborative efforts have been put into place so Defense can keep its finger on the pulse, and industry can show off its most promising new ideas.

In a Silicon Valley venture capital shop, Dwayne Melancon recently got together with a dozen cybersecurity leaders to brief the military brass on emerging security threats and solutions.

“We talked a lot about other projects, how we have implemented on what kinds of systems,” said Melancon, chief technology officer at IT security software firm Tripwire. “They are not looking for a specific product. They are looking for other industries that are facing similar problems. They want to look at what is happening outside their own world.”

Military leaders are frequently inviting private-sector chiefs for informal talks. At Melancon’s most recent meeting, he said he got about 45 minutes to present.

“When they do that, you get higher-level participation from the agency, where if you set up a meeting on your own, it can be hard to get to a decision-maker or someone who is in charge of strategy,” he said.

Hard Choices for Manned Spaceflight

America as Icarus 

MAY 8, 2014 

There are two possibilities for America’s defunct manned space program. One is that this is a temporary hiatus and America will soon be able to again do what it could do in the 1970s and put small capsules in low earth orbit. The other possibility is that a combination of political indifference and a decline in the government’s ability to manage large, complex projects means that the age of manned space exploration by America is over.

The rhetoric of space reflects the politics of an earlier era, when space was a new, strategically important technology and manned spaceflight had immense symbolic value. But policy is best measured by outcomes, not speeches, and the decision to let manned spaceflight stagnate says much about how America thinks about space. America’s political leaders may be right to be indifferent to space. Or they could be making a strategic miscalculation in ceding leadership to China, assuming they are the tortoise and we are the hare whose speed remains unsurpassed. 

Publisher CSIS 

Australian Military Says It Will Use Cyber Warfare Techniques In Future Ops

Military acknowledges it will use cyber warfare

Philip Dorling
Sydney Morning Herald
May 7, 2014

The Australian Defence Force has embraced cyber warfare, deception and disinformation through the internet as key elements of future military operations. However newly declassified ADF papers provide no guidance on how efforts to influence and deceive adversaries will not also mislead the Australian public and media. 

While the Australian government has in recent years highlighted the need to defend Australia from cyber threats, including hacking and foreign spying, Australia’s preparedness and capabilities to undertake offensive cyber operations have remained a closely guarded secret. 

However release of the Australian Defence Force’s newly revised ”Information Activities” doctrine, approved by Defence chief General David Hurley last November, for the first time reveals the ADF will engage in offensive ”information operations” in future military conflicts. 

Declassified in response to a Fairfax Media freedom of information request, the new doctrine provides ”authoritative” guidance for planning Defence Force operations aimed at ”undermining the adversary’s ability to develop, disseminate and execute sound decisions”. 

Information operations are designed to ”persuade, convince, deter, disrupt, compel or coerce” audiences that include foreign governments and military commanders, local chiefs and communities, non-governmental organisations as well as ”domestic players such as the general public and government”. 

Offensive measures to be employed by the ADF against adversaries include ”computer network operations” - otherwise known as cyber warfare - which are defined to include attacks on and exploitation of information and data networks.

The ADF’s information operations doctrine emphasises the importance of degrading an enemy’s information systems as well as engaging in psychological warfare and deception. This includes ”manipulation, distortion, or falsification of evidence … to influence the mind, decisions and actions of the adversary … to form inaccurate impressions about friendly forces, squander intelligence assets, or fail to use other resources to best advantage”.

Significantly the doctrine also refers to ”special technical operations” which use ”highly compartmented and closely protected” capabilities that are ”particularly useful” for offensive information operations. 

”Some information-related capabilities are quite technical in nature and may require long lead times to be able to support the operation,” the document says.