22 June 2014

US dismisses report on India covertly increasing nukes

Published: June 21, 2014

The US on Friday dismissed a report suggesting that India is covertly enriching its nuclear weapons capabilities, describing it as “speculative.”

“We’re not in a position to speculate on its conclusions,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference when asked about a report which alleged India is covertly enhancing its nuclear weapons capabilities.

“We remain fully committed to the terms of the 123 agreement and to enhancing our strategic relationship. Nothing we provide to India under the civ-nuke agreement may be used to enhance India’s military capability or add to its military stockpile, but we don’t have enough information or confirmation of the report to speak to that,” Ms. Psaki said.

Nothing provided to India can be used to enhance their military capability, she reiterated.

“I’m not certain and...that would be highly speculative about this, given there’s only one external report that’s not a reflection of a US government report,” Ms. Psaki said.

In a report on Thursday the IHS Jane’s defence and security intelligence experts claimed that they have identified a possible new uranium hexafluoride plant at the Indian Rare Metals Plant (IRMP) near Mysore.

The report alleged that this site in India will support new centrifuges that will substantially expand India’s uranium enrichment capacity, most likely to facilitate the construction of an increased number of naval reactors to expand the country’s nuclear submarine fleet, but also, to potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons.

IHS Jane’s experts assess that the new uranium enrichment facility could become operational by mid-to-late-2015.

“The expansion of India’s uranium enrichment facilities allows the country to press ahead with the introduction of its ballistic missile nuclear submarine fleet, part of an effort to enhance its existing nuclear deterrent in the face of perceived threats from both China and Pakistan,” said Matthew Clements, editor, IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review.

Robert Kelley, consultant to IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review, said the US continues to treat India as a bona fide nuclear weapons state despite India’s failure to ratify the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Operation Zarbe Azb will throw many challenges

Pakistanis are waiting for the final move with caution and concern, while hopeful that a more secure, terror-free future lies ahead.
Nasim Zehra


AFTER having stayed with the dialogue option for almost eight months, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has finally gone for the long-awaited Operation Zarbe Azb (the sharp cut), named after the sword of the Prophet Mohammad. Cleared by the government, using airpower, regular troops, commandos, intelligence, tanks and artillery, the military leadership believes Zarbe Azb can destroy terrorist sanctuaries, principally in North Waziristan. For at least a decade, first the military command and subsequently the political leaders avoided undertaking a large-scale operation in the Tehreek-i-Talibaan Pakistan’s (TTP) primary base.

Over the last couple of years, the political parties passed at least two resolutions demonstrating political unity on trying the dialogue option with the Tehreek-i-Talibaan. Finally, the June 8 attack on the old Karachi airport ended the vacillation on the question of a large-scale operation. Instead of ifs and buts, an all-out operation is under way. It was the attack on the airport that struck the death knell for the dialogue process. Barring Jamaat-i-Islami, all of Pakistan’s political parties support Operation Zarbe Azb. Imran Khan’s party PTI and JUI have, however, supported it with some reservations. Among the multiple challenges that confront Pakistan and the government, especially with regard to the operation, four are noteworthy. The political challenge of unifying political forces and the people on the need for the operation is the key, especially given the fear of blowback in the urban areas. Pakistani people, hit by hundreds of attacks every year, have remained skeptical of the state’s ability to provide security to its citizens. Mindful of both the terrorist threat and the skepticism regarding the government’s track record, only a clear articulation by the Prime Minister of the problem will give the people the confidence that the risks attached to this military operation are worth taking.

The Prime Minister opted for the military public relations department to announce the operation instead of announcing it in a national address. The operation, which is viewed by the majority in Pakistan, requires complete backing by the government. The Prime Minister’s support only now seems to be rolling in. He has addressed the national Assembly on the issue and visited the Corps Headquarters of the Peshawar Corps which is leading the operation.

However in the last 72 hours, the Punjab government has managed to produce perhaps the gravest challenge ever faced ever by the PML-N government. With 20 people dead in police firing on the supporters of fire-brand religio-political Dr Tahir ul Qadri, the opposition is fast putting pressure to remove Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister’s younger brother. A worse political distraction at this critical point would have hardly been conceivable.

Iraq is Not Just a Sunni-Shia Clash; It's a Challenge Fundamentalist Wahabism is Posing to the World

By T J S George
Published: 22nd June 2014

The dimensions of the Iraq crisis began hitting us only when Indian workers were kidnapped and Indian nurses stranded. There is also an awareness now about possible economic disaster if oil prices go crazy. These are grave issues and we must exert every nerve tackling them. But the big danger Iraq poses is ideological. A militant religious force is on a conquering spree and India will be among its prime targets.

Other versions of this religious force were frightening enough. Al-Qaeda, conceived by one of the world’s richest men, Osama bin Laden, was stridently ideological. Calling on Muslim countries to shed all foreign influences, it proclaimed the goal of creating a worldwide Islamic caliphate based on a rigorous version of the Shariat law. Al-Qaeda’s call for a global jihad was taken up by other organisations that came in its wake, most noticeably the Taliban. In and around Afghanistan, the Taliban unleashed barbaric practices. Today even Pakistan has turned against it despite their early collaboration. Following the recent suicide attack on Karachi airport, Pakistan’s air force has been bombing the country’s frontier regions where Taliban fighters are entrenched.

The sudden eruption of fighting in Iraq is the latest extension of the global-jihad ideology. Because it is Iraq, it is easy to say that the war is yet another showdown between Sunnis and Shias; Iraq is the only Muslim country where the rival factions are almost equal in numbers, Shias having an edge of one or two percentage points over Sunnis. Saddam Hussein, the President whom America hanged, was a Sunni. Nouri al-Maliki, present Prime Minister America enthroned, is a Shia. Ironically, the US came up last week with the suggestion that al-Maliki must make way for a Sunni for the sake of peace. The Prime Minister promptly rejected the idea.

It was a woolly-headed idea anyway. Just as America never understood Vietnam despite many years of war, it has not understood Iraq despite the vainglorious Bush War. Those who learn nothing from their mistakes are condemned to repeat them. There is indeed a bloody Sunni-Shia rivalry for dominance in Iraq. Why was this not contained like the bloody Catholic-Protestant rivalry for dominance in Northern Ireland? Both Irish factions received support from influential Western powers; neither was seen in adversarial colours. In West Asia, the US and its allies isolated Iran as an adversary and embraced Saudi Arabia as an ally. That was an error of judgment.

Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite has been globally promoting a fanatic ideology, Wahabism, which rejects even non-Wahabi Muslims as un-Islamic. It’s like Pentecostal Christians rejecting traditional Churches as un-Christian. (Perhaps both can learn from Hinduism’s uniqueness; Hindus can reject all their gods and still remain Hindus.) Shia Iran condemns Sunni Wahabism as a threat to Islamic civilisation. But Shias have their own strains of rigidity. Their central belief is that the 12th Imam, the Mahdi, will come to establish a global Islamic caliphate. The way to hasten the Mahdi’s coming is to annihilate Israel, the Little Satan. (The Great Satan is the US.)

Iran’s vehement opposition to Israel is the main reason for the US to see it in inimical terms. But Iran does not have an evangelical programme spread around the world to convert people to its ideology. That is Saudi Arabia’s area of attention. Western condonation has enabled an ideological and far-reaching Wahabi campaign to gain speed, spread fundamentalism in Muslim as well as other countries and elevate jihadism as a religious duty. The campaign is visibly successful in previously tolerant Islamic countries like Malaysia and Indonesia and in various parts of India. The US has not yet got the message. So the radicalisation of Islam proceeds unchallenged to the detriment of others, including non-fundamentalist Muslims.

India too sees Saudi Arabia as an honoured ally. This is as it should be. But it would be a mistake to ignore the fact that radical Islamist evangelism is strong in India. This is new in a tradition that saw Islamic scholars, artists and musicians contributing immensely to the cultural growth of India, and continue to do so. The extremists ignore this rich past and focus on narrow partisan issues. Partition itself is held against India. The demolition of Babri Masjid provoked the spirit of revenge among many fundamentalists abroad. They must have been incensed by the BJP coming to power in India, especially under a Prime Minister whom they hold guilty for the 2002 Gujarat riots. Wahabi victory in Iraq may well fire them into renewed action.

India Must Reclaim its Civilisational Symbols

By Anirban Ganguly
Published: 15th June 2014

Source Link

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An places a garland on one of the statues during a ceremony in Phnom Penh

Cambodia rejoiced last week and welcomed back, through a national celebration, three dominant figures of Hindu itihasa—Bhima, Balarama and Duryodhana. The millennia-old statues hacked off and smuggled out to the West sometime in the 1970s were finally returned after a tedious and long-winding process, often slowed down due to walls of legalese and avarice.

Welcoming back the statues from the US, the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister touched a deeper chord when he said, “In a long 40-year journey, surviving civil wars, looting, smuggling and travelling the world, these three statues have now regained their freedom and returned home.” The event, little noticed or discussed in India, demonstrated the national will of a smaller nation to reclaim its civilisational identity and to assert its right of being the proud inheritor and possessor of a legacy that produced a unique civilisation which was culturally, philosophically and aesthetically tied in an umbilical loop to the Hindu civilisation in India.

In a sense, this homecoming may perhaps be seen as a major step in dismantling the structures of a cultural colonialism put in place in the heydays of Western hegemonism where civilisations, which bloated materially through a parasitical process, came to eventually control and regulate the cultural and aesthetic expressions of other civilisations that were rendered weak in course of this material and cultural extraction. This reclaiming has pointers in it for us as well.

Looking at the structure and design of the statues, from a region that Ptolemy termed, “India beyond the Ganges”, and discerning their ethereal look of satisfaction, Voltaire’s famous exclamation in his Lettres sur L’origine de Sciences et sur celle des peuples de l’Asie that “everything without exception is of Indian origin” came to mind. These statues came forward, essentially, as symbols depicting the apogee of Indian civilisation which had successfully blended the material and the metaphysical.

Shed Counter-Productive Overcaution on Taiwan

Published: 22nd June 

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is an experienced and skilled diplomat. The very fact that he was among the first foreign ministers to visit India, as a personal envoy of President Xi Jinping, was noticed in Pakistan. It was one of those few visits by a high-level Chinese dignitary to India that was not combined with the ritual of a simultaneous visit to Pakistan. The Chinese are astute observers of the political scene in India. The attention that the Chinese media has focused on Narendra Modi having made four visits to Beijing and his interest in promoting trade and investment ties with China in areas like industry and infrastructure would also have been noted by our Communist parties. Having moved away from Communist ideology in China’s economic and foreign policies, the mandarins in Beijing doubtless regard the Communist Party ideologues of New Delhi’s AKG Bhavan as a 21st century anachronism.The writer is a former diplomatWang Yi’s visit came at a time when tensions have been rising in China’s relations with all its maritime neighbours, ranging from Japan and South Korea to Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. Like in the case of its land boundary with India, China is laying claim to huge areas in its maritime boundaries with these neighbours—claims which have no legal basis in terms of the UN Conventions on the Laws of the Seas. India has expressed concern in recent years about Beijing reinforcing its unwarranted claims on the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh, with issue of stapled visas for residents of the state visiting China. China also opposes international funding for development projects in J&K. At the same time, China warmly and officially welcomes high functionaries from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan.

Members of China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army have, in recent years, been involved in large numbers, in building roads and tunnels in Gilgit/Baltistan region of PoK. The construction work is said to be for a transportation corridor linking China to the Arabian Sea at the Port of Gwadar in Balochistan. But, tunnels across high mountain slopes are also ideal locations for nuclear weapons silos. One hopes New Delhi is keeping this in mind. China’s assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and missile programme and its supply of potent conventional weapons pose the most serious security threat to India.


By Amit Saksena

The national flag of India hoisted on the Red Fort in Delhi. Photo by Jasleen Kaur, Wikipedia Commons 

When the INS Arihant’s nuclear reactor went critical in August 2013, India not only joined the blue-water navy club of countries with the capability to build nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, but also picked on a major doctrinal headache. This, apart from the specification concerns and limited intended utility, puts the Indian Advanced Technological Vessel (ATV) programme in a quagmire. With the Indian Navy expecting to acquire and deploy the vessel in the first quarter of 2015, certain aspects of this project must be discussed to gauge New Delhi’s capability to field and utilise such technology.

The ATV project is believed to have been started with the objective of manufacturing SSNs –fast moving deep-diving nuclear powered attack submarines – largely based on the K-43 Charlie class vessel, leased from the Soviet Union at a time when India did not overtly possess nuclear capability. The project since then has been covertly developing in the backdrop of India conducting the Pokhran-II tests, declaring an ambiguous nuclear strategy, and making impressive strides in the development of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). The Arihant class seems to be a derivative of the Charlie class, with the specifications scaled up to the Akula class to accommodate a Vertical Launch System (VLS) for ballistic missiles. Although this would not hamper the general functioning of the vessel, as per reports of the sea trials, the full implications of this tweak will only emerge when the Sagarika SLBMs are integrated into the of the INS Arihant in early 2015. Furthermore, the inclusion of sail planes and a towed array pod are surprising, as they are generally avoided to counter limitations to speed and fragility.

The pressurised water reactor (PWR) aboard the vessel has also been developed with considerable assistance from the Russians, contradicting New Delhi’s claims of the Arihant being an indigenously developed submarine. With no word on the progress of a domestic generator in India, the Arihant class’s core component still uses Russian intelligence and technology. The initial vessel consumed more than a decade to be rolled out for primary tests, as opposed to the average five years taken for the development of vessels of the same class/category by the five other navies that possess this technology.

Iraq: India wastes Army’s Special Forces resource

19 Jun 2014
The ISIS onslaught in Iraq is being watched by the whole world. For India, many challenges have sprung with 46 nurses trapped in Tikrit that fell to the ISIS and some 40 Indian workers under evacuation from Mosul were kidnapped. Latter are reported safe and possibly held captive somewhere in Northern Iraq.

…to employ our Special Forces to evacuate the Indian nurses from Tikrit and abducted Indian workers.

Presently, some 20,000 Indian expats are reportedly working in Iraq. Media channels in contact with the nurses first reported that they are scared with the situation around but only 14 of the 46 wanted to return to India. This emergency appears over since as per latest inputs the nurses are staying put as the ISIS has contacted them and requested them to do so, promising to also pay them.

As per reports, the nurses have spoken to MEA as well as CM Kerala. Again, the abducted workers are reportedly safe.

As of now fighting between the ISIS and Iraqi forces is continuing some 40 miles away from Baghdad and Iraq has undertaken air strikes on the ISIS. Iraq has officially asked the US for air support but US is dithering for the time being with CIA citing lack of intelligence.

In India, there is considerable strain on the government with relatives of the abducted Indians concerned about their safety and opposition parties capitalizing on the situation to add to the pressure. The MEA has opened a 24 hour helpline and has dispatched Ambassador Suresh Reddy (who had just returned to Delhi having completed his tenure as Ambassador at Baghdad) to Iraq for managing the crisis. The IAF is reportedly on standby for evacuation of Indians from Iraq, which is possible ex Baghdad.

Should the US Be Bullish or Bearish on China’s Rise?


A strong and rising China is something the U.S. should worry about—and so is a weak and unstable China. But perhaps most worrying of all is the fundamental uncertainty about which scenario we’ll see.

Published on June 20, 2014

Stories about the “rise of China” were the most widely read news items of the twenty-first century, garnering more attention than 9/11, the Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, or the British Royal wedding. Yet while China’s opening in the 1970s was widely hailed in the United States, its rise since then has generated growing consternation. Today opinions range between nervous hope that everything will turn out all right to outright fear that things will be worse than we can possibly imagine.

Part of the fear stems from the fact that the U.S. and China are both literally and figuratively worlds apart, with vastly different political and cultural histories. For the U.S. the national story has always been about winning and safeguarding individual freedom. For China, the national story has always been about creating and maintaining collective stability—whether it was the success of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in uniting warring territories and beginning the Great Wall in 221–210 BCE, Mao’s improbable and successful Communist revolution of 1949, or Deng Xiaoping’s crackdown on Tiananmen protesters in 1989. Political time runs in different increments, too. In the U.S., long-term thinking often means next year; in China, long-term more typically means decades or longer. While many young Americans have a hard time remembering the Cold War, their Chinese peers have a hard time forgetting the century of humiliation by the West that started in 1842. Even the same words mean different things. When U.S. officials first used the term “engagement” in diplomatic meetings with Chinese officials, the Chinese were said to be baffled about whether the Americans meant “marriage proposal” or “exchange of fire.” This is no “special relationship”, à la Great Britain. The Sino-American relationship was forged in the Cold War by hard-nosed realists on both sides who saw benefits to balancing against the Soviet Union, not shared interests or beliefs in democracy, capitalism, or universal values.

There is another explanation for why Americans should look warily at China’s rise, and it has to do with fundamental uncertainties about whether China will be a strong power or a fragile one.

From the outside, China’s rise provokes anxiety for three very good reasons—two that have to do with China and one that has to do with us. First, China’s economic development has fueled a dramatic military modernization campaign. The story of China’s economic miracle is widely known: In just 25 years, half a billion people were lifted out of poverty, making China the most successful development story in human history. In 1982, per capita GDP was just $200. In 2012, it hit $6,000.

Listen Guys, I Have The Perfect Solution To This Iraq Thing


June 21, 2014

By Donald Rumsfeld

Ever since President Barack Obama took over, we’ve seen the Middle East become completely and utterly destabilized. From Iraq to Syria to Afghanistan, this president has watched as the region has gone up in flames.

It’s just been really sad to see, especially when I saw firsthand what a stable and flourishing Middle East could actually look like. When I left my position as defense secretary in 2006, Iraqis — with a love for democracy just like our founding fathers — were refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of practically everyone, not just tyrants.

At least four or five Iraqis were optimistic about their future, while the so-called elites in our country constantly talked up bad news.

And then Obama came in, and all hell broke loose.

Terrorists have taken over Iraq once again. We know where they are, in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

And by God, what happens if these terrorists use nuclear weapons? That’s not a world I want to live in.

Now, I didn’t say they had nuclear weapons of course, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. They could have them. I mean, we just don’t know.

Anyway, listen up guys. I have the perfect solution to this whole Iraq thing.

While our president wants to just sit on his hands, we need to do what everyone knows we should do: Send in too few American troops in unarmored vehicles to fight in a country we don’t understand.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Secretary Rumsfeld, who can we rely on to right the ship? Who has the expertise to fix this terrible problem in Iraq?

Was that actually your question? Were you asking who has the military expertise or who is actually an expert on the Middle East from a policy standpoint?

Because that’s really a poorly-worded question.

U.S. Cyber Command Has Begun Tracking Hostile Cyber Threats Overseas

June 20, 2014

Pentagon cyber unit wants to ‘get inside the bad guy’s head’

Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post, June 19, 2014

After several years of planning, the Pentagon’s Cyber Command is finally beginning to conduct operations such as tracking adversaries overseas to detect attacks against critical computer networks in the United States, according to a senior defense official.

The Pentagon’s “national mission” cyber teams over the past year have begun monitoring servers used by “high value” adversaries, said the official, alluding to countries such as Iran and China.

When authorized, the national mission teams — the most prominent element of the military’s growing Cyber Command — can block or counter a foreign cyber attack, the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said in a recent interview.

But the teams’ focus is “strategic defense of the nation,” not offense, the official said. The command is slightly less than one-third of the way toward its full capacity, with almost 2,000 personnel in place out of a goal of 6,000 by the end of 2016.

Sequestration slowed the effort, but “solid progress” is being made, the official said. The command is led by Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who took up the job in April when he became director of the National Security Agency. It was launched in 2009 under then-NSA Director Keith Alexander.

All told, there will be 13 national mission teams out of a total of 133 teams. Twenty-seven combat mission teams will assist combatant commands around the world. They might, for instance, disrupt an enemy’s computerized air defense systems before an airstrike.

There will be 68 cyber protection teams to help with defense of the department networks, the official said. The remaining 25 teams will provide support to the national and combat mission teams.

The national mission teams will not operate on private sector networks or inside the United States. “The national mission teams are not designed to sit on Wall Street and protect Wall Street’s networks or the power grid’s networks,” he said. “They want to catch an incoming round before it [hits].”

Part of their job is to do reconnaissance work on foreign networks to watch traffic in servers used by adversaries that the military has gained lawful access to, he said.

“We need to be inside the bad guy’s head and network,” he said. “That’s the mission of the national mission teams: to be inside the bad guy’s head and his network.”

Getting inside the bad guy’s network means monitoring the “hop points” or servers commandeered around the world by adversaries to route and disguise their computer traffic, not necessarily hacking into their command and control computers, he said. “Whatever these bad guys are using in order to do their work, that’s what we’re interested in.”

13 Alleged Terrorists Killed During Attack on Police Station in Western China

June 21, 2014

13 Shot Dead After Attacking Police in West China

Associated Press, June 21, 2014

BEIJING — Police in China’s restive western region shot dead 13 assailants who rammed a truck into a police office building and set off explosives in an attack Saturday that also wounded three officers, state media said.

The Tianshan website said in a one-line report that no civilians were hurt in the attack in Kashgar prefecture in Xinjiang’s southwest. Officials in the region contacted by phone either said they were unclear about the situation or refused to comment.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the German-based group World Uyghur Congress, said he called several residents in the Yecheng area who described hearing rapid gunfire, likely from police, before an explosion rang out. He said that authorities quickly placed the county under martial law and started rounding up people in a nearby market.

"It’s undeniable that the armed police are using excessive force to deal with the unrest in the region. Why did they need to shoot them dead on the spot?" Dilxat Raxit said. "If they just injured them they would still have a chance to be put through the legal process."

It was the latest in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest in the sprawling region of Xinjiang, where the native Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) people want more autonomy from Beijing. Last month, a market bombing killed 43 people in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi.

Chinese authorities have blamed the attacks on extremists bent on overthrowing Beijing’s rule. The government says the assailants have ties to Islamic terrorist groups abroad, but provides little direct evidence.

The government has sought to stem the attacks by handing down heavy punishments to people authorities say organized, led and participated in terrorist groups, committed arson, murder, burglary or illegally manufactured explosives. Earlier this month, China executed 13 people in Xinjiang for such crimes.

Uighur activists say public resentment against Beijing is fueled by an influx of settlers from the Han majority in the region, economic disenfranchisement and onerous restrictions on Uighur religious and cultural practices. China says it has made vast investments to boost the region’s economy and improve living standards.

Why the Iraqi army can't defeat ISIS

Updated by Zack Beauchamp on June 20, 2014,
Newly-recruited Iraqi security forces train outside KarbalaMOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images
The math seems so simple. The Iraqi army has 250,000 troops; its enemies, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), somewhere around 7,000. The Iraqi army has tanks, planes, and American training. ISIS has never fielded a tank or a plane and its troops didn't get formal training from an advanced military. Yet ISIS is demolishing the Iraqi army on the battlefield, seizing a massive swath of the country's northwest. Why?

It comes down to two things: training and professionalism. ISIS learned how to fight, while the Iraqi army has long been a weak fighting force. All the weapons in the world won't matter if you don't know how to wield them. And ISIS's victories, not to mention the Iraqi army's repeated failures, tell you a lot about the country's larger crisis.
The Iraqi army has never been disciplined

In Mosul, Iraq's second most populous city, about 800 ISIS fighters invaded and sent 30,000 Iraqi army troops running. That's been portrayed as a sudden collapse of the Iraqi army, but that's not quite right. "The Iraqi army has been collapsing for months now," Yasser Abbas told me.

Abbas, originally from Baghdad, is an analyst at the private research and consulting firm Caerus Associates. Before that, he served as a linguist in for the military in Iraq from 2005 to 2009. "At the end of 2006, I was involved in training the Iraqi national police in Baghdad," he said. "The amount of corruption and under-training was [astounding] ... insubordination became widespread."

Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

So, for Abbas, the military's collapse "didn't happen at once. It's been happening for a very long time." For instance, the governor of Mosul ordered the military units in the area to go to a particular town, and "the battalion commander said no, it was too dangerous." It's the same insubordination problem the army has had for years.

And even when they do fight, many units aren't all that effective. "They'll stand up with a PKM [machine gun] and blast off 250 rounds" says Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland. "What is that doing?"

Deepak Lal: The new jihadist threat

Across West Asia, the old bonds of tribe and creed are causing states to unravel
Deepak Lal 
June 20, 2014 

When I was a young lecturer at the University of Oxford's Christ Church, the eminent British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper befriended me. In one of our conversations, on being asked who, in his judgement, were the greatest historians (and books), he replied: Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Ibn Khaldun's The Muqaddimah. These works have been on my bookshelf ever since. Rereading Khaldun is of help in understanding the latest form that the jihadist threat is taking.
Given the stunning military success of the Islamic State inIraq and Syria (ISIS) in those two countries, the continuing turmoil caused by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Mali and by Al-Shabab in Kenya, and the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban as an existential threat to that country, these and other countries face a new, more brutal and atavistic form of jihadist assault compared to the almost balletic destruction of New York's World Trade Centre towers by the planes flown by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda hijackers. Khaldun would recognise these new jihadists as the successors of the tribal warriors, with the nomadic kinship ties called asabiyyah, which he eulogised.

He saw that West Asia was sandwiched between the two great domains of pastoralist nomadism: the steppes to the north and the Arabian desert in the south. His macro history of Islamic polity saw history as punctuated by dynastic cycles linked to tribal conquest. His is a world of dynamic interaction between the barbarian nomadic pastoralists and the sedentary civilisations of the cities. Every now and then, asabiyyah throws up a tribe with enough warriors to conquer the cities of the sedentary civilisations and found a dynasty. But, in time, the luxurious temptations of civilisation sap the moral fibre and the asabiyyah of the dynasty. With its growing appetite for the fruits of the city, the tribal dynasty bears down harder on the sedentary civilisation by raising the burden of taxation, and, as its members lose their initial fighting vigour, dependent outsiders are introduced to shore up the dynasty. They or some other tribal group eventually take over, making use of the discontent that the increased burden of taxation has caused among the sedentary population.


June 19, 2014 

China Dominates U.S. Naval Strategy Discussion

Jun. 17, 2014 – 03:45AM |


Chinese Navy Chief Adm. Wu Shengli, left, and Adm. Johnathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, shake hands at a conference in China in early April.

NEWPORT, R.I. — The latest international crisis may be a terrorist land offensive in Iraq, but concerns about China’s ambitions clearly dominate those thinking about strategies for the US Navy.

“The rise of China as a challenger is the most significant strategic challenge for the US,” Hal Brands, a historian at Duke University, told a “Current Strategy Forum” audience Tuesday at the Naval War College here.

“The US is not devoting enough resources to addressing China’s rise,” claimed Aaron Friedberg, a professor of international affairs at Princeton University.

“We need to develop a credible military strategy for countering China,” Friedberg continued. “Our ability to come to the aid of our allies depends on having a plausible strategy in which our friends and allies believe.”

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, kicked off the two-day conference with remarks that addressed the importance of development strategies. One questioner asked if open discussions about counter-China strategies would antagonize the Asian power.

“In a classified nature we look at all of this,” Greenert said.

There are groups up here that do that full-time, he continued.

“But people say we need to talk about it more openly. We can’t do that. It will antagonize. It will unnecessarily muddy the waters.”

Speaking later with reporters, Greenert amplified his remarks.

“It would be antagonistic to any country to openly state, yeah, we are preparing, and here are our tactics,” Greenert said.

He also addressed the Air-Sea Battle concept, which China widely views as aimed specifically at them.

“Air-Sea Battle is about assuring access, and that includes anywhere in the world,” Greenert said. “So yeah, it is our intention, that all-domain access is a key part of our strategy.”

But one conference speaker strongly supported open discussions about China.

“I would disagree with Admiral Greenert,” Friedberg countered. “I think it’s going to be important for our readers to find ways to talk about China as a military challenge.”

“There should be an ongoing debate to define what China is doing,” Friedberg added. ■


June 19, 2014 

U.S. Opposes New Draft Treaty from China and Russia Banning Space Weapons

Arms control pact sought as Beijing, Moscow secretly build anti-satellite, space arms

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

BY: Bill Gertz

June 19, 2014 5:00 am

The United States is opposing a new draft treaty submitted to the United Nations last week by China and Russia that seeks legally binding curbs on weapons in space amid concerns that both states are secretly building space arms.

The draft treaty—updated from a 2008 version—cannot be verified, according to Frank A. Rose, deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance.

“The United States believes that arms control proposals and concepts should only be considered by the international community if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the security of all,” Rose told a June 10 session in Geneva of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament.

The Chinese-Russian draft treaty “does not meet the necessary criteria,” Rose said, adding that the U.S. opposition is based on a preliminary assessment that the new draft fails to address “significant flaws” in the 2008 draft.

“Namely, there is no effective verification regime to monitor compliance, and terrestrially based anti-satellite systems posing the greatest and most imminent threat to space systems are not captured,” Rose said.

Rose instead said the United States favors a less formal “code of conduct” for space being promoted by the European Union. The code has come under fire from the Pentagon’s Joint Staff that stated in a 2012 assessment that the code would harm U.S. military space activities.

A U.S. official said the Chinese-Russian treaty proposal would effectively kill international efforts on a code of conduct for space.

China is engaged in a major space weapons development program that includes ground-based anti-satellite missiles, lasers and electronic jammers, and small maneuvering satellites that can attack orbiting satellites.

Beijing’s January 2007 test of an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile to blast an orbiting weather satellite left tens of thousands of pieces of debris orbiting the earth. The debris threatens both manned and unmanned spacecraft with destructive high-speed collisions.

Russia also is developing space warfare weapons.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic analyst, said the administration’s opposition to the new space weapons treaty is one of the few times he has agreed with the administration on an arms control issue.

“All U.S. administrations have rejected space control because there are serious definitional problems, such as what is a space weapon,” Schneider said. “And there are serious verification problems associated with it.

Investigation Finds That More Than 400 U.S. Drones Have Crashed Since 2001

When Drones Fall From the Sky

Craig Whitlock
Washington Post, June 20, 2014

More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

Since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by The Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge.
The documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes.

Military drones have slammed into homes, farms, runways, highways, waterways and, in one case, an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane in midair. No one has died in a drone accident, but the documents show that many catastrophes have been narrowly averted, often by a few feet, or a few seconds, or pure luck.

“All I saw were tents, and I was afraid that I had killed someone,” Air Force Maj. Richard Wageman told investigators after an accident in November 2008, when he lost control of a Predator that plowed into a U.S. base in Afghanistan. “I felt numb, and I am certain that a few cuss words came out of my mouth.”

Air Force Maj. Richard Wageman operates a Predator from a ground-control station in Afghanistan on Oct. 25, 2008. A week later, he was the pilot of a Predator that crashed into a U.S. military base. The precise cause of the crash was undetermined. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Investigators were unable to pinpoint a definitive cause for the accident but said wind and an aggressive turn by the pilot were factors. Wageman did not respond to a request for comment through an Air Force spokeswoman.
Several military drones have simply disappeared while at cruising altitudes, never to be seen again. In September 2009, an armed Reaper drone, with a 66-foot wingspan, flew on the loose across Afghanistan after its handlers lost control of the aircraft. U.S. fighter jets shot it down as it neared Tajikistan.

The documents describe a multitude of costly mistakes by remote-control pilots. A $3.8 million Predator carrying a Hellfire missile cratered near Kandahar in January 2010 because the pilot did not realize she had been flying the aircraft upside-down. Later that year, another armed Predator crashed nearby after the pilot did not notice he had squeezed the wrong red button on his joystick, putting the plane into a spin.

While most of the malfunctioning aircraft have perished in combat zones, dozens have been destroyed in the United States during test and training flights that have gone awry.

After Iraq, Questions About Training Foreign Armies

By Sandra I. Erwin 
The collapse of the Iraqi army is likely to raise new questions about U.S. military plans to train foreign allies to help fight insurgencies and terrorist groups.
Building "partner capacity" has been a hallmark of U.S. military strategy and is viewed as a key mission for American forces in the coming decades. President Obama last month asked Congress to approve a $5 billion "counterterrorism partnerships fund" that would be used to "train, build capacity and facilitate partner countries on the front lines."

Members of Congress, many of whom have been longtime critics of security cooperation programs, see the situation in Iraq as another cautionary tale.

During a June 18 hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey defended the president's initiative and argued that the United States has no other choice but to build allied capacity to counter violent extremist organizations.

This threat is "going to be with us for another, in my judgment, 25 to 30 years," said Dempsey. The U.S. military could not possibly do this on its own, he added, especially as extremist groups continue to expand their reach from Pakistan, across the Arab world, Middle East, North Africa and Western Africa. "We've got to find a way to address them regionally," said Dempsey.

The United States needs "partners and capable allies. ... That's what this fund is all about," he said. "I don't think we have any choice, frankly, but to find more capable partners and in other cases build more capable partners because the thought of doing this all ourselves is a difficult one to grasp."

Who Controls Which Towns and Cities in Iraq?

June 20, 2014

Control of Terrain in Iraq: June 20, 2014

ISW Iraq Team, Institute for the Study of War

by ISW Iraq Team

If China and Japan Went to War: What Would America do?


Harry J. Kazianis

June 21, 2014

Editor's Note: The following was first published by the Lowy Institute Interpreter.

Picture it: It's March 1, 2015. Tokyo and Beijing are headed towards what was once the unthinkable.

Over the last several months China has instituted daily non-naval maritime patrols around the hotly disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Beijing is even sending fully-fledged naval assets within the islands' 12 mile exclusion zone while its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, exercised only 50 miles away from the islands back in February — truly the end of Beijing's small-stick diplomatic strategy.

But on 1 March the plot thickens. Two Chinese SU-27 fighters come within 25 feet of a Japanese P-3 Orion surveillance plane just 10 miles west of the Senkakus (sound familiar?). The Japanese pilot gets nervous. A slight tweak at the controls and the Japanese plane collides with one of the Chinese fighters. Both aircraft crash into the ocean, with no survivors.

Naturally each side blames the other. Beijing accuses the Japanese pilots of violating Chinese sovereign airspace and violating its Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ. Japan claims the Chinese pilots acted recklessly, flying so close. The media in both countries fan the flames of nationalism. Just 72 hours later, a group of twenty Chinese nationals land on one of the disputed islands under the cover of darkness. Rumors swirl that Beijing knew of the voyage but did nothing to stop it. A Japanese naval task force carrying a small detachment of soldiers is dispatched. Their goal: remove the only residents of the disputed five-island chain.

Beijing threatens force if its citizens are harmed. As Japanese naval forces come within 20 miles of the islands a Chinese J-10 fighter jet buzzes the task force. On its second pass it comes dangerously close to a Japanese destroyer. In a perceived act of self-defense, the destroyer shoots down the aircraft.

Hours later, as Japanese forces begin operations to remove the Chinese nationals from the Senkakus, Beijing fires a warning shot, a DF-21D or “carrier-killer” missile which hits the ocean just 10 miles away from the Japanese task force. Undeterred, Japanese forces press ahead. Domestic pressure on Chinese leaders becomes intense. They feel they have no choice but to escalate, launching a massive saturation strike with ballistic and cruise missiles against the Japanese task force. Three vessels are hit with heavy loss of life. Global media coverage of the burning hulks and bodies in the water reaches a fever pitch. Prime Minister Abe urgently phones President Obama formally requesting America's help under the terms of the US-Japan alliance — a 3am call no president would ever wish to receive. War in Asia seems imminent.


Amitav Acharya
June 19, 2014 ·
The dramatic advance in Iraq by the extremist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) poses perhaps the most serious test of the Obama Doctrine as outlined first by President Barack Obama at West Point on May 28, then by his National Security Susan Rice at Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C., on June 11.

The Obama Doctrine has two aspects: The first and the more well known (and critiqued) concerns the selective use of force. In the president’s words:

…let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it: when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger….On the other hand, when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States, when such issues are at stake, when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us, then the threshold for military action must be higher. In such circumstances, we should not go it alone.

But for those interested in the future of international order, the second element of the Obama Doctrine is no less important. This has less to do with American power, and more with U.S. leadership in world affairs. In fact, it is the logical corollary to the first. If the United States is to be selective (critics would say too selective) in using direct force, then diplomacy and leadership must take on an ever-more important role.

Let me be quite upfront. I am a supporter of the first element of the Obama Doctrine. But I do have serious concerns about the second element, which is marked by vagueness and contradictions.

On the question of leadership, the president had an Albright-esquepunchline: “Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.”

How realistic is this pledge? It faces at least three major challenges.

The first is domestic politics. In the United States, some conservative critics are likely to see Obama’s “America must always lead” principle as a prescription for free riding by emerging powers like China. Another challenge would be Congressional opposition to international agreements that might support U.S. leadership. In fact, this was highlighted by Obama himself when he drew references to two key areas of U.S. policy: climate change and the Law of the Sea, which is relevant to U.S. diplomatic credibility in managing East Asian territorial disputes.


June 19, 2014 
Iraq Could Split, Says Former CIA Head

Mike Morell thinks a democratic, unified Iraq is unlikely to emerge from current chaos.

http://www.nationaljournal. com/defense/iraq-could-split- says-former-cia-head-20140618

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Kaveh Waddell

Follow on Twitter

June 18, 2014

The current conflict in Iraq may have already inflicted irreversible damage on the country, leading either to partition or to an Iran-backed dictatorship.

That’s according to Mike Morell, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in an in-depth interview with Charlie Rose on Tuesday. A militant group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has made substantial advances in Iraq in the past several weeks, and is within striking distance of Baghdad.

Morell said this conflict represents “the most serious set of circumstances in the Middle East” since the Arab-Israeli war in 1973.

The former deputy director envisioned three possible scenarios for Iraq’s immediate future. The first possibility is partition. This would be the bloodiest scenario and would stir up sectarian violence, according to Morell, and will likely come true in the absence of any outside intervention. In this scenario, Morell said, “there will be an awful lot of blood. There will be humanitarian crises.”

This would also mean that the militants could use the territory they’ve taken over “as a safe haven from which to attack Western Europe and from which to attack the homeland.” And the conflict could also “spill over into the rest of the region.”

In another scenario, Iraq could remain intact, but significant Iranian intervention would turn it into a “Shi’a dictatorship” and a de facto puppet state. This would leave the country in just as bad a situation as it was before the American invasion in 2003. “In essence, what happens is, you have an Iraq as you did under Saddam [Hussein], but the leader is a Shi’a,” he said.

There is third possibility, however. The ideal outcome would be if Iraq comes together in a new democracy under a new governing coalition. This would require the involvement of the U.S., Iran, and moderate Sunni states, and the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Morell was not optimistic about the chances of reaching a democratic solution. He ranked the three scenarios above in descending order of likelihood: a partitioned Iraq, an Iranian puppet state, then a unified democracy. Specifically, he said that the ideal, democratic outcome is unlikely because of the twin challenges of getting Maliki to step down and of finding someone to succeed him who will be supported by both Iraqi Sunnis and Shi’a Iran.

As ISIS advances on Baghdad, Iraq’s fate remains unclear. Any of these three scenarios is possible, but the only one that is remotely attractive to the U.S.-and the one that is most promising for Iraqi citizens-is the least likely.