27 June 2014

Challenges, Offline and Online

By Jaswant Kaur

25th June 2014 

Around a decade ago, no one would have imagined the extent to which the Internet would change our lives. Be it payment of utility bills, filing income tax returns, buying a dress or contacting a childhood friend, everything is possible with a few clicks on the mobile or the laptop and that, too, without sacrificing the comfort of one’s home or office.

Ever since Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister, one item that has been engaging his attention is e-governance through broadband connectivity in rural areas and use of regional languages for the purpose. The task is easier said than done, as is evident from a report on global information technology released in April.

The World Economic Forum and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University had conducted a detailed study on the growth of information and communication technology (ICT) in 148 nations. The report mentions an index—Networked Readiness Index (NRI)—measured on a scale of 1 to 7 to calculate the extent of preparedness of a country to adopt and harness the benefits of ICT.

India ranked 37 among 82 countries in 2003. Though the number of countries increased, there has been a consistent decline in India’s ranking over the last decade. It slipped to the 83rd position in 2014 from the 68th position in 2013. The fall signalled India’s dismal performance in comparison to other countries. It is one of the least performing BRICS nations.

India’s vast size, huge population, lack of infrastructure and awareness regarding new technology pose a problem. If one goes by the information provided by the department of electronics and IT on its website, one is shocked to know the total number of e-transactions for standard services like utility service bills payments, transport facilities, education, etc. were only 121.63 crore during the last six months.

The number of e-transactions per 1000 people comes to 910 on an average. However, there are states like Assam, Bihar and Sikkim where this number falls to a paltry 27, 28 and 16 e-transactions respectively. On an average, only 0.75 per cent of transactions are done online for an average of 77 e-services provided throughout India. The Union Territory of Lakshadweep has the highest percentage (4.54 per cent) of online transactions with the lowest number (22) of e-services being provided since January, Andhra Pradesh offers the highest number (359) of e-services though the usage is only 0.27 per cent.

India's Unused Nuclear Leverage

By Bharat Karnad
27th June 2014 
The news that India had ratified the 1997 Additional Protocol permitting more intensive and intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle and research including nuclear installations and facilities excluded by the Indian government from the safeguards regime came as a shock. Especially as India did not condition its consent, as did the US in 1998, to the IAEA sticking to restrictive procedures for “appropriately managed access”. IAEA is hence free to inspect what it wants when it wants in order to get a “comprehensive picture” of India’s nuclear activity. Whatever happened to the dissatisfaction expressed in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto with the nuclear situation generally?

This development coming so soon after Narendra Modi assumed command suggests one of two things: Contrary to his party’s manifesto the prime minister had mulled the problem of how to advance India’s nuclear interests, and arrived at a definite view ere he assumed office that placating the US by buying its Westinghouse AP 1000-enriched uranium-fuelled light water reactors (LWRs) and thereby ensuring the country’s formal entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was best. Or, and this seems the more likely explanation, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) that has invested heavily in the Congress party-Manmohan Singh regime’s policy of nuclear giveaways used the excuse of the upcoming Washington meeting with US president Barack Obama to push its institutional agenda and secure Modi’s approval, as concurrently Minister for Atomic Energy, to “complete” the 2008 civilian nuclear cooperation deal with America.

The empowerment of the bureaucracy in Modi’s scheme of things without the prime minister first articulating a geostrategic vision and laying down new policy guidelines, put continuity of policy at a premium—something that was foreseen (“Modi’s ‘India First’ Agenda”, May 2, 2014). In this regard, the MEA was no doubt aided by the fact that neither Modi nor Sushma Swaraj, appointed as minister for external affairs, had other than limited exposure to international relations and the conduct of foreign policy would, therefore, be inclined to accept its advice. Except Swaraj was a stalwart of the parliamentary fight over the nuclear deal that, but for Amar Singh and his reportedly US-lubricated antics to convince the Samajwadi Party into supporting the ruling coalition, would have brought down the Manmohan Singh government on July 8, 2008. And she was in the forefront of the opposition move to blunt the nuclear deal by forcing the Congress regime to accept the 2010 Civilian Nuclear Liability Act. Apparently, by the time foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and officials in the disarmament and international security division briefed the minister, Swaraj had forgotten the reasons why the BJP had opposed the nuclear deal that Washington desperately wanted and the weak-minded Manmohan Singh fell in with, and failed to counsel rethink to the PM.

National imperatives in a complex world

Hardeep S. Puri

Afghan security forces watch a house burn at the site of a clash between insurgents and security forces at the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, in May. Recently the US assessment, based on credible information, was that Pakistan-based LeT was involved in the Herat attack. AP/PTI

A DECISIVE electoral mandate provides just the opportunity required for a comprehensive review of the national security architecture long overdue. It gives the Prime Minister the freedom and authority to evaluate existing systems. Considered judgement will be needed on the efficacy of existing systems and structures, particularly of their cohesiveness and efficient functioning. Should the “review” so warrant, new systems capable of assessing threats and delivering appropriate responses to challenges to the nation’s security will need to be put in place early before existing systems are tested.

New threats

The nature of threats to national security is fast altering. These emerge inter alia from the changing nature of violence in troubled hotspots like Afghanistan, Yemen, from Syria and Iraq where there are deepening and exploding sectarian fault lines, from trans-national organised crime like piracy and terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, cyber security and from instability in fragile states and cities.

The BJP’s election manifesto acknowledges the comprehensive canvas of national security to include military security, economic security, cyber security, energy, food, water and health security and social cohesion and harmony. In the BJP’s view, the lack of strong and visionary leadership over the past decade, coupled with multiple power centres, has led to a chaotic situation. Clarity is required on the factors that have led to this. Revisiting the genesis of the national security architecture as it has evolved, including prior to 1998 when the first National Security Advisor (NSA), Brajesh Mishra assumed office is instructive. It was clear all along that crafting a national security architecture on a Cabinet Parliamentary model would pose difficulties. Members of the Cabinet, entrusted with responsibility for defence, external affairs, home and finance invariably are senior political figures. As members of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), given their seniority and influence, there was anticipation they could operate as independent silos.

Experience has shown there are in-built institutional constraints to correctly assess emerging threats in an evolving and fast-changing strategic landscape by functionaries within a silo. The institution of a National Security Adviser (NSA) has worked best in a Presidential system, such as in the United States, where the NSA draws authority from the President as the chief executive.

Middle East's bleak future Is Iraq set for soft partition?

S Nihal Singh

At the heart of the dilemmas presented by the evolving situation is the kind of Middle East major regional and world powers want to see.
BEHIND the frenzied diplomacy over the future of Iraq are new assumptions taking shape. First, is the division of the country among its Shia, Sunni and Kurdish areas a matter of time? Second, how far will the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (and its variant the Levant), collectively known as the ISIS, spread from its present swathe in Syria and Iraq?

What is being debated is the future shape of the Middle East some hundred years after the French-British division of the spoils of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire. There are no clear answers because of the variety of regional and world powers pursuing differing policies.

Of the regional actors, the most important are Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. Here is a conflict not only between Sunni and Shia countries but the very different inflections of the two Sunni powers and Shia Iran's interest in seeking the destruction of the ISIS as it protects its influence in Iraq, now being governed by the majority Shias.

The United States has an obvious interest in seeking to check the onslaught of the ISIS and to save a scrap of investment in all that it put into Iraq starting with its invasion in 2003. But the ISIS represents a danger also to its vital interest in Israel’s security, with the present ruling dispensation there bent on colonising the land of Palestine in perpetuity.

The dilemma for President Barack Obama is that having won his election and re-election on the strength of ending America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has been forced to re-introduce American military power in the shape of 300 military advisers and the threat of air strikes. Washington cannot allow a terrorist outfit of the shape of the ISIS to hold sway over Iraq. Here Iranian and US interests coincide, despite their backing of opposite sides in neighbouring Syria.

Agenda for nuclear diplomacy

Rakesh Sood
The focus should now shift to resolving the ambiguities of the 2010 Nuclear Liability Law. Without this exercise, India can only import nuclear fuel for the existing power plants; it will not be able to undertake the much-needed expansion of the nuclear power sector. It is not only the foreign suppliers who would like clarity on this issue; Indian vendors are equally concerned about its ambiguities 

On June 22, the Narendra Modi government announced that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol had been ratified. It is a welcome step marking the new government’s foray into nuclear diplomacy. However, by itself, it will not pave the way to the successful conclusion of negotiations with Westinghouse or GE or, for that matter, even AREVA. For that, more initiatives need to be taken, particularly if progress on the nuclear issue is to be registered during the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington. 

India signed the IAEA Additional Protocol on March 15, 2009, over five years ago. It was one of the boxes to be ticked for implementing the 2008 India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. But it was not a difficult obligation to fulfil because the Additional Protocol is customised for nuclear weapon states and this aspect had been successfully worked out by the Indian negotiators. It was left pending ratification because there were other, more difficult and more critical issues that needed to be tackled first, for which the political will could not be mustered in the last years of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II government. 

Addressing proliferation 

To understand the Additional Protocol, it is useful to look at its genesis. With the end of the Cold War, the prospects of a nuclear exchange between the two superpowers receded and the proliferation of nuclear weapons became the new threat that needed to be addressed at a global level. In 1993, the IAEA began to consider how it could play a role in this and began a deliberative two-year exercise, described as 93+2. 

Can India Avoid Iraq’s Sectarian Conflict?

June 26, 2014

Around 25,000 Indian Shias have volunteered to travel to Iraq to defend the Shia government in Baghdad. 
On the podcast yesterday, Ankit and I briefly discussed how India’s sizeable Muslim population might impact its position on the ongoing sectarian tensions between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. I noted that India has the second largest Shia population in the world after Iran, and wondered if this might affect how Delhi handles the Iraq crisis and the rest of the Middle East. This would not be wholly unprecedented — although the situation is somewhat different, it’s worth noting that India’s Tamil population has wielded enormous influence on how India handles ties with Sri Lanka.

There are now signs that in fact India is being dragged into the sectarian tensions, whatever the position of the central government may be. Specifically, Anjuman-e-Haideri — a Delhi-based Shia organization — has begun enlisting India’s Shia population to travel to Baghdad to defend the Iraqi government. According to the latest statements from officials of the organization, Anjuman has already registered 25,000 Shias who are pledging to go to Iraq if they are granted a visa. Moreover, it is only registering Indian Shias who already have valid passports.

Earlier, a leader of the organization had said:

“We started registrations about 10-15 days back just as tension broke out in Iraq. More than one lakh [10,000] people have registered but our target is 10 lakh, which should not be difficult to get, given the commitment of the country’s 5-6 crore [10 million] Shia population. We will go to Iraq under the leadership of Maulana Kalbe Jawad. He is traveling right now, but the moment he comes back we will get in touch with the Iraqi ambassador and apply for visas. Every person will pay for his own trip, they are going there because we cannot let terrorism destroy our sacred shrines.”

Iraq Crisis: The Economic and Geopolitical Challenges for India

By Manish Vaid & Tridivesh Singh Maini
India is seeking to minimize its exposure to Iraq while improving its economic situation at home. 
Despite attempts to move the country towards normalcy after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has suddenly become a breeding ground for jihadists. An al Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has shown particular brutality and poses a significant threat to the region. A large number of Indians have been caught up in the crisis, including more than 40 nurses from Kerala, as well as workers from the north Indian states of Haryana and Punjab.
Apart from the safety of these workers, there are a number of other ramifications for India. These include the impact on crude oil prices, the Indian currency, growth rates and the nature of reforms that the government has planned for the upcoming budget. In addition, India must walk a fine line and avoid being seen taking sides, since publically it has never taken a stance on the division between Shia and Sunni.

The Indian government foresees the global crude oil price rising to as high as $120 per barrel, with a potential impact on the Indian budget of at least Rs. 200 billion ($3-4 billion). The Indian crude oil basket price rose to $111.25 per barrel on June 18, more than the average price for this year, according to government estimates.

The rupee, which was already under inflationary pressure, weakened further to Rs. 60.55 per dollar, whereas on June 18 Indian stocks fell more than 1 percent, on fears concerning the impact of the Iraq crisis.

Burma to Purchase Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Fighter Jets

According to local media, Myanmar will become the first foreign purchaser of the Sino-Pakistan jointly produced fighter. 

Myanmar will purchase the Sino-Pakistan jointly produced JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter aircraft, according to local news reports.
According to the Burma Times, Myanmar is looking to purchase a license to domestically produce the J-17 aircraft, which is called the FC-1 Xiaolong in China. If the report is accurate, it would make Myanmar the first foreign purchaser of the jet. Currently, only Pakistan’s Air Force operates the J-17 and, as Ankit has reported, Islamabad is in the process of making a number of upgrades to the fighter jet.

Although the report is unconfirmed, it is extremely plausible. To begin with, Myanmar has previously operated or currently operates a number of Chinese-made aircraft including: 48 NAMC A-5C fighters, 52 Chengdu F-7M Airguard fighters and 4 Y-8 medium lift transports. The Southeast Asian nation’s air force also recently purchased Sky 02A Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from China, and built domestic copies of them.

Most notably, Myanmar is also believed to operate 4-10 Karakorum-8 (JiaoLian-8) jet assault and trainer planes, which were also jointly produced by China and Pakistan. Some reports indicate that the deal for the K-8s also included a license in-country component.

Myanmar also reportedly considered purchasing the JF-17 a few years back before ultimately deciding to buy Russian-made Mi-29s. However, the Burma Times report said that Rangoon’s aircraft has suffered from serviceability issues in recent years, and thus a locally assembled aircraft like the J-17 would make sense.

Moscow’s Afghan Endgame

June 24, 2014

Worried about the NATO withdrawal, Russia has adopted several new policies for Central Asia. 
Few will have been watching the troubled Afghan presidential elections with greater attention than Russia. Although Moscow has not shown a strong preference for either candidate, and has managed to develop a good working relationship with outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Russian policymakers have been seeing nightmares in Kabul for years. Now the Iraq breakdown, coming after the years of civil strife in Syria, has deepened Russian anxieties about social and economic chaos along its vulnerable southern front at a time when relations with NATO remain strained over Ukraine.

Despite its public complaints, Russians have viewed the Obama administration’s initial surge into Afghanistan and its subsequent military drawdown with unease. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin acquiesced to the U.S. and then NATO interventions in Afghanistan, he did so reluctantly, with a fearful eye on potential threats to Russia’s regional influence. An initial Russian fear was that the United States planned to established permanent bases in Afghanistan and neighboring countries to dilute Moscow’s primacy in a region of vital Russian interest. Moscow likely encouraged Uzbekistan to order the Pentagon to stop using its territory in 2005. Putin later claimed that the United States had provoked Tashkent by acting as “a bull in a China shop.” For years, Russian representatives encouraged the Kyrgyz government to end the Pentagon’s lease at its other major base in Central Asia, at Manas International Airport near the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.

More recently, Russian leaders have expressed growing anxiety that NATO was withdrawing prematurely from the region, dumping a massive regional security vacuum into Moscow’s unwelcoming arms. Russia still exercises military primacy in Central Asia but is threatened already by religious militants in the North Caucasus and other Russian regions with large Muslim populations. Russian officials expressed dissatisfaction with NATO’s decision to remove most if not all its forces from Afghanistan while the Taliban insurgency remains severe, believing the withdrawal would contribute to terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and instability throughout Central Asia. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov has said that ISAF “has been too hasty about making the final decision to pull out.”

In response to the sharp drawdown in the Western military presence in Afghanistan and neighboring countries in recent years, and the expectation that most if not all NATO forces will leave Afghanistan by the end of this year, Moscow has adopted several policies as its Afghan endgame.

First, Russia has been increasing its economic and military ties with Afghanistan, such as by helping reconstruct or re-launch some projects that were started during the Soviet military occupation. As the withdrawal has proceeded over the past two years, Russians have resumed large-scale investments in Afghanistan by modernizing factories, rebuilding cultural centers, and restoring other vestiges of the Soviet occupation era. With their memories of that painful period increasingly overshadowed by more recent tragedies, Afghans have generally welcomed the assistance.

Meanwhile, the Russians have stressed their support for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and joined Karzai and other Afghan officials in denouncing NATO whenever the alliance was seen as violating it. For example, although persistently skeptical of the inter-Afghan peace talks, Russian diplomats backed an Afghan-led peace process with the Taliban, in which Western governments would play a subordinate supporting role. Russians’ growing influence in Kabul has already brought dividends; Karzai’s government was one of the few to support Moscow’s Crimean annexation.

Military Disengagement from Politics: The Case of Pakistan’s Revolving Barracks Door

By Anthony Bell 
Jun 10, 2014 
It is not surprising that the recent spate of political clashes between the Pakistani civilian government and the military has generated widespread speculation among policymakers that a military coup could transpire in Islamabad. Pakistan has experienced four military coups and thirty years of military rule since the nation achieved independence in 1947. The Pakistani military is indisputably the most powerful political actor in one of the world’s most dangerous countries due to the nation’s political instability, violent internal strife, and its enduring rivalry with a more powerful India. In the civil-military literature on Pakistan, there are an abundance of explanations for the military’s political hegemony, the causes of military takeovers, and the consequences of its dysfunctional civil-military relations for democracy. Rather than examining why and how the military intervenes in politics, this paper will look at the other side of the coin: why and how the military chooses to disengage from politics.

Given the scholarly focus on military interventions in Pakistan, there has been little rigorous inquiry into why and how its four military regimes have ended, and even less investigation into the pivotal role the military has served in facilitating each transition and the implications this has for the wider body of civil-military relations theory. The central research question of this paper is: Why does the Pakistani military return to the barracks? It will explore the underlying causes that have led the military to abdicate from direct rule, arguing that withdrawals are best explained by the divergence of interests between the leaders of the military regime, who seek to preserve their grip on political power, and the active leaders of the armed forces, who seek to protect and advance the corporate interests of the military. This breach is the key motivation for the military to return to the barracks. The opportunity for withdrawal is triggered when the regime encounters political difficulties consolidating its authority, which often backfires by rejuvenating civilian opposition and requires the regime to turn to the military to enforce its will. So long as the domestic opposition to the regime does not pose a direct threat to the military’s core interests and there are viable civilian alternatives available, the military will seek to return to the barracks rather than incur the costs of repression.

This paper begins with an overview of Pakistan as a case study and a review of the civil-military relations literature related to military interventions and military withdrawals. It will then outline the civil-military scholarship related to Pakistan and provide an overview of its civil-military relations. This is followed by a short background outlining Pakistan’s political history after independence. Next, it presents a detailed examination of the conditions that have led to the end of Pakistan’s four military regimes in 1968, 1971, 1988, and 2008 and illustrates how the divergence of interests between the active leaders of the armed forces and the leaders of the military regime eventually caused the former to prefer a return to the barracks. The paper then analyze the commonalities and patterns of behavior in these cases to explain how and why this divergence of interests takes place and concludes by reviewing the causes of military withdrawal in Pakistan, providing theoretical implications, and offering paths for further research.

Asia's Most Fragile States Are in South Asia

June 26, 2014

The Fund for Peace’s 2014 Fragile States Index (FSI) scores South Asian states poorly on state stability. 
According to the newly released Fragile States Index (FSI) by the Fund for Peace, Asia’s most fragile states are heavily concentrated in South Asia. According to the index, Afghanistan is the most unstable Asian state, ranked seventh overall in the world, followed by Pakistan at 10 (the higher the ranking, the less stable the country is considered). Both countries are incidentally ranked higher than Iraq and Syria, both of whom are currently massively unstable internally. Myanmar and North Korea are the two highest non-South Asian states in the index, appearing at 24 and 26 respectively. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal appear at 29, 30, and 31 respectively, highlighting South Asia as the region most dense with relatively fragile states outside of the Middle East and North-Central Africa

Asian giants India and China did relatively better. India ranked at 79, making it moderately stable, and China ranked at 66. India’s rank particularly stood out in its region, where almost every other state was ranked in the top 30, painting a troubling picture of governance and state strength across South Asia. Asia’s least fragile states list was perhaps less surprising, including the likes of Singapore (158), South Korea (157), and Japan (156). Notably, Iran — owing to its success in nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 last fall, in part — is the most improved country on the index.

Bringing India Inside the Asian Trade Tent

Author: Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia
June 2014
The new Indian government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, has outlined trade as a national priority. But economic ties between the United States and India have soured recently, with both sides entrenched in acrimonious market-access complaints. Coming at a time when the United States and India have differences over post-2014 Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other regional security issues, the absence of a once-strong economic ballast matters. To reestablish a constructive economic dialogue with India at just the time a new government takes charge in New Delhi, the United States should champion India's long-pending request for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum as a step toward eventual inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Membership alone would not eliminate bilateral frictions, but would provide a good opening to resolve concerns and revitalize ties. 
Growing Commercial Ties, Growing Frictions 

India has the world's tenth-largest economy in nominal terms and the third largest based on purchasing-power parity, a measure of gross domestic product (GDP) incorporating relative costs and inflation. Not long ago, U.S. economic ties with India—which began to open its markets following a foreign reserves crisis in 1991—were minimal. That has changed; U.S.-India trade in goods and services grew from $15 billion to nearly $100 billion over the past fifteen years, and two-way investment has increased rapidly. Growing business ties during the 2000s propelled Washington and New Delhi closer. 

Yet U.S.-India trade remains well below its potential—a little more than one-tenth of U.S.-China trade in goods, the scale of Taiwan or the Netherlands. Worse, in the last three years, disputes over issues such as Indian barriers to U.S. poultry and dairy imports, local content requirements (especially in solar energy), intellectual property protections, and investment limits have become major sources of friction. The United States has initiated three disputes with India in the World Trade Organization (WTO). India has its own countercomplaints about temporary worker visas and nonrefundable social security contributions. In 2013 the atmosphere deteriorated sharply when exasperated U.S. businesses, industry associations, and members of Congress began urging more aggressive action. In 2014, the U.S. International Trade Commission held hearings on India at Congress's request, and the U.S. Trade Representative's office reviewed India for Special 301 Priority Foreign Country designation, with a further out-of-cycle review in the fall. This all-sticks, no-carrots approach has achieved little with India, which sees these processes as illegitimate and outside the WTO. Getting back on track with India will require something positive to collaborate on, so a clear signal of U.S. support for India's bid would be beneficial. Finally, collaboration can be helpful in and of itself: while the U.S.-India civil nuclear initiative has yet to yield the commercial benefits many supporters expected, the deal improved the two countries' ability to work on nonproliferation, which had previously been the most intractable aspect of the bilateral relationship. 
The Case For APEC Membership 

The Pitfalls to China’s Mideast Policy

By Jeffrey Payne
June 25, 2014

China will realize that its presence in the region will cost more than planned and regularly ensnare it in conflict. 
Events over the past week in Iraq, where the radical group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) took control of Mosul and its surrounding environs, have drawn renewed attention to the fragility of much of the Middle East. These events also reinvigorated the debate about the continued viability of a unified Iraq, the role of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation in today’s instability, and the overall strength of U.S. Mideast policy. Such debate is valuable, particularly in relation to U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East moving forward. Yet, the events in Iraq have global implications and little attention has been directed towards the impact of ISIS’s advances on another nation-state with major interests in the Middle East – China. Whereas a weak and unstable Iraq will constitute a loss-of-face for the U.S., the same scenario represents a strategic impediment for the People’s Republic.

Over the past five years, China has gradually transformed its foreign policy from a more passively diplomatic approach into a more confrontational and activist orientation. Its aggressive actions in the East and South China Seas over the course of the past two years are evidence of the change. The emergence of maritime tensions in the east has become a focal point for much of the world and has led many to question China’s intentions. China has pursued a more robust foreign policy partly to fuel its domestic economy and partly due to the rise of Chinese nationalism (stoked by the Chinese Communist Party to enhance its legitimacy and direct attention away from internal issues). Much like the United States before it, China’s economy has expanded beyond the capacity of its domestic reserves of natural gas and petroleum. As such, China has become reliant on energy imports and is today the single largest customer for the majority of the energy rich states of the Middle East and Africa. With much of its imported natural gas and petroleum arriving via the Indian Ocean, China’s supply is at risk by having to traverse the chokepoint that is the Strait of Malacca.

As China has become more dependent on imports from its west, it has pursued means by which to alleviate its dependence on the Strait (which could be closed off in the case of a conflict). It has developed pipelines in Myanmar, desires to do the same in Pakistan, and has developed deals with nearby states to send energy resources overland, including the recent deal for Russian natural gas. However, its most ambitious plan to secure its energy supplies comes in the form of an overland energy corridor connecting China to the Gulf States. China has already invested heavily in Central Asia (both as a conduit for energy and as a producer) as a part of this strategy. The People’s Republic, with the possible exception of Iran itself, is the most vocal advocate of an Iranian nuclear deal. Hoping that a deal will lead to Iran being able to freely export its energy deposits, China is investing its diplomatic energies in decreasing tensions between Iran and the West. A footing in Iran would also allow China access to Iraqi reserves and the energy supplies of the Gulf Kingdoms. This overland Asian energy and trade corridor is a major aspiration of President Xi Jinping and China’s current leadership and reflects a key strategic element of China’s more robust foreign policy.

Manjari Miller, Wronged by Empire: Post-Imperial Ideology and Foreign Policy in India and China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 2013).

As Asia emerges at the center of international politics, China and India, each with a history of both glory as a cradle of civilization and humiliation as a colony or “semi-colony,” are perceived as on a journey back to their days as a center of civilization with the material capabilities to match. History is increasingly on the minds of their leaders and academic commentators as well. It is also on the minds of many of their neighbors, whose size and material power are of less consequence, but who have territorial disputes grounded in history with China or Japan.

Sino-Japanese relations keep spiraling downwards, as both sides strive to put it in a one-sided historical context. Meanwhile, as Daniel Twining pointed out in an Open Forum article and is continuing to discuss in Topics of the Month, Japan is trying to strengthen its relationship with India, which is seen as the next China, strengthening its economic partnership and also adding a security partnership. The BJP, calling for hidutva (a Hindu nationalist ideology), has come to power with aspirations to jumpstart the economy, but its leader, Narendra Modi, is reportedly in favor of forging closer relations with Japan and taking a firm stance on border disputes with China. International relations in the region cannot be understood only in terms of traditional theories. Asian countries are continuously emphasizing sovereignty, history, and apology. The review article is about a theoretical framework on ex-colonial countries with emphasis on foreign policy decision making, taking India and China as examples.

Manjari Miller’s argument is in line with Deepa Ollapally’s January Special Forum article, in its consciousness of what Deepa calls an “underbalancing” tendency in India’s foreign policy, not traditional balancing or bandwagoning, which is attributed to “strategic autonomy.” From Miller’s point of view, such a tendency is a natural outcome in colonized countries, not just confined to India. The experience of colonialism is seen as traumatizing these countries, causing a national identity shift that puts their right to self-determination in the forefront in policymaking. Miller’s work shows how and in what conditions such an identity shift affects policymaking. The collective trauma of colonization makes a country emphasize victimhood in the international community, and affects decision making, especially when “sovereignty is threatened, non-negotiable borders are at stake, or prestige is on the line.”


Bruce Sugden brings us this dour scenario, representing the last of our “Sacking of Rome” series. 

With its precision-strike complex, the United States has conducted conventional strikes on enemy homelands without fear of an in-kind response. Foreign military developments, however, might soon enable enemy long-range conventional strikes against the U.S. homeland. China’s January 2014 test of a hypersonic vehicle, which was boosted by an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), suggests that it has designs on deploying a long-range conventional strike capability akin to the U.S. prompt global strike development effort.[1] If China pushes forward with deployment of a robust long-range conventional strike capability, within 20 years Americans could expect to see the U.S. homeland come under kinetic attack as a result of U.S. intervention in a conflict in the western Pacific region. With conventional power projection capabilities of its own and a secure second-strike nuclear force, China might replace the United States as the preponderant power in East Asia.

The implication of Chinese long-range strike is that U.S. military assets and supporting infrastructure in the deep rear, an area that is for the most part undefended, will be vulnerable to enemy conventional strikes—a vulnerability that U.S. forces have not had to deal with since the Second World War. Furthermore, China would be tempted to leverage its long-range strike capabilities against vital non-military assets, such as power generation facilities and network junctions, major port facilities, and factories that would produce munitions and parts to sustain a protracted U.S. military campaign. The American people and the U.S. government will have to prepare themselves for a type of warfare that they have never experienced before.

Emerging Character of the Precision-Strike Regime

Will U.S. Military Advisors Face ‘Mission Creep’ in Iraq?

Jun 23, 2014

USF-I general meets with Iraqi troops in Besmaya 
President Obama announced as many as 300 U.S. military advisers may be deployed to Iraq to assist the government in fighting the Sunni extremist group ISIS, which has invaded areas of western Iraq. The White House is also considering airstrikes. In 2012 President Obama withdrew the last U.S. troops from Iraq, keeping a campaign pledge to end the American presence there. The President has promised that “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq” and that military advisers will only be there to assist Iraqi forces to repel the ISIS invaders. But some have called this misleading and pointed out that U.S. military advisors certainly have engaged in combat in the past and will again if sent back to Iraq. But would the deployment of U.S. military advisers mean U.S. troops will be engaged in combat in Iraq again?

I served as a U.S. military adviser while attached to a Military Transition Team (MiTT) in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. Our job was to provide for our assigned Iraqi infantry battalion what they did not have themselves–namely medical evacuation capability (MEDEVAC), air and artillery support, and certain forms of intelligence. We also facilitated training in administration, logistics, equipment and weapons maintenance, electronic communications, and operational and tactical strategy—all the skills of professional soldiers. We acted as liaison between our Iraqi battalion and its sister U.S. battalion responsible for the same sector. We also evaluated and reported on the readiness of the Iraqi unit to function autonomously. We were certainly engaged in combat, accompanying Iraqi units on patrols and cordon and search operations. Several U.S. members of our unit were killed and seriously injured in combat operations, along with scores of Iraqi soldiers.

Throughout WWII, U.S. military adviser General ‘Vinegar Joe’ Stilwell and his staff provided high-level military assistance to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and commanded Chinese and Western troops as Chiang’s Chief of Staff. Though their role was originally envisioned to be purely advisory in nature, the United States pushed for Stilwell to be placed in charge of all allied forces in the Chinese theatre, something Chiang resisted until the last. Stilwell and his staff had to fight their way out of Burma following Chinese defeat at the hands of the Japanese in 1941, and Stilwell spent the rest of his time in China fighting with Chiang rather than the Japanese.

The re-deployment of U.S. military advisors to Iraq will not automatically mean putting American troops back into combat. But it could.

Perhaps the clearest example of U.S. military advisors becoming engaged in combat comes from Vietnam. Following the 1945 Japanese surrender, France attempted to regain control of its pre-war colony, Indochina. They returned to strong nationalist and communist resistance in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos which they lacked the understanding or will to fight. A small contingent of U.S. advisers were first dispatched to Indochina in 1950 to support the French military, still recovering from WWII and desperately trying to fight the communist insurgency with antiquated equipment. The U.S. mission was to train French forces on new military equipment the U.S. had supplied them to aid France in its fight against the communists.

What makes young British Muslims want to go to Syria?

24 June 2014

The route to radicalisation is a complex one, and a coherent response can only be based on grassroots action in communities 
Islamist fighters, claiming to be British, in a recruitment video for terrorist group Isis. Photograph

The Isis recruitment video that emerged on the internet last weekfeaturing two men from Cardiff and another from Aberdeen has caught the media's attention across the UK. However, the issue of young British Muslims travelling to Syria has been a real concern to those working on the counter-terrorism agenda for many months now.

One of the main questions being asked is how are these young British Muslims becoming radicalised. Well, it is not something that happens overnight. It is a process of influence and persuasion that eventually leads to a change in world view and beliefs. It is an extremely complex phenomenon, and many factors are likely to play a role in it.

This is not just about the eternal rewards people mention when talking of "jihad" (though these are extremely important). It is also about those involved with these types of activities feeling special and significant; it is about them tapping into the perception held by certain people that extremism is cool; and it is a chance for them to be able to demonstrate their masculinity and define a distinct identity for themselves. It gives them an escape from their potentially normal and predictable lives.

The excitement of travelling abroad on an adventure plays its part, as does the exhilaration they may feel when they get to handle powerful military hardware. When I was collecting empirical data for my PhD in Cardiff I interviewed a number of individuals who once fought in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan. Many of them reflected on the emotions they felt before they travelled. As one particular respondent explained, "I was 19 … I got some military action and we fired guns, Kalashnikovs, M16s, hand grenades, 36mm canon and all this stuff, incredibly exciting. It would give you an adrenaline rush."

Lebanon Security Update: June 10-22, 2014

by Isabel Nassief, Logan Brog, and Alexander Orleans
JUN 2014

Key takeaway: ISIS resurgence in Iraq has had security implications in Lebanon. Renewed operations by Syrian rebels in the Qalamoun region could increase spillover of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon and revive rebel groups’ ability to attack Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon. The mobilization of Sunni extremist groups in Lebanon in response to ISIS success in Iraq is also possible. However, joint operations between Hezbollah and Lebanese security forces have thus far been successful in mitigating these threats.
In early 2014, a spate of car bombs connected to Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS targeted Hezbollah strongholds in retaliation for Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian conflict. In response, the Lebanese security forces conducted operations in Tripoli and the Beqaa valley which were largely successful in cracking down on extremist networks that were facilitating and conducting these attacks. On June 20, a thwarted assassination attempt and a suicide car bomb on the Beirut-Damascus highway disrupted a period of relative calm, underscoring the potential security implications of ISIS resurgence in Iraq for Lebanon.

As ISIS continues operations in Iraq, the redeployment of Iraqi Shi’a militia fighters from Iraq to Syria has exacerbated the regime’s manpower limitations, allowing Syrian rebels to renew offensive operations in the Qalamoun region along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Increased border instability and the potential for Qalamoun to reemerge as a staging ground could give way to renewed attacks against Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon. The mobilization of Sunni extremist groups in Lebanon in response to ISIS success in Iraq is another possible security threat. 

In the weeks following the seizure of Mosul, Hezbollah and the Lebanese security forces launched a number of joint preventative operations, to tighten security in Beirut, the Dahiyeh, the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Helweh, and in the border towns of Arsal and Tfeil. In the coming weeks these measures may also extend to curb potential activity in Tripoli and the northern district of Wadi Khaled and to protect other Hezbollah strongholds throughout the Beqaa Valley such as Hermel. Despite the upset caused by the attempted attack on June 20, operations between Hezbollah and Lebanese security forces thus far appear to have been effective in mitigating the risks posed by ISIS expansion in Iraq. With the exception of major gains by Syrian opposition groups in Qalamoun, it is unlikely that events in Iraq will cause a major escalation of kinetic activity in Lebanon. 

Better to be Feared Than Loved: ISIS and Why Nobody Likes It (And the Militants Don’t Care)

June 24, 2014
Iraq: Everyone Hates ISIL

ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria) began as Sunni Arab nationalists who lost their jobs, power and wealth when Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party were overthrown in early 2003. Saddam Hussein was a secular dictator, who tolerated Islamic terrorists if they attacked his enemies and behaved while hiding out in Iraq. After Saddam’s forces were thrown out of Kuwait in 1991 his policy changed and he declared that he was actually religious and he backed Sunni Islamic terrorist groups as long as they helped him keep the Shia Arab majority of Iraq under control. Sunni Islamic terrorists were willing to do this because Sunni conservatives consider Shia heretics worthy only of torture and death. The Iraqi Shia had staged a major rebellion against Saddam right after Saddam’s army get chewed up trying to hang onto Kuwait in 1991. That rebellion festered throughout the 1990s. Saddam and his key associates developed relationships with Sunni tribal leaders and Sunni Islamic terrorist groups, who had for decades been forced to keep their heads down. Once Saddam was out of power in 2003 the Sunni tribes and Islamic terrorists lost the financial and military support Saddam provided for over a decade. The Sunni Arab minority (about 20 percent of Iraqis) also lost control of the Iraq economy and all that oil money. This came as a big shock. Many of these Sunni Arabs wanted their wealth and power back and were willing to do anything to accomplish that task. That led to support for Islamic terrorist groups. The Sunni Arab minority in what is now Iraq has long dominated the area and feels that this domination is a right and a responsibility. They were always wealthier, better educated, more organized and prone to ruthlessness. By merging with Islamic terrorists they acquired the belief they had divine approval for their goals.

Sunni Islam is what the majority (over 80 percent) of Moslems believe and in Arabia itself (where Islam first appeared in the 7th century) the locals believe they are more Islamic than other Moslems. After all, the Koran was written in Arabic and all the founders of Islam were Arabs. For over a thousand years there has been a tradition of different factions in Arabia trying to be more Islamic than each other. One of those factions is the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam in what is now Saudi Arabia. Wahhabis are very conservative and very hostile to non-Moslems and Moslems who are not Sunni. This meant little to the non-Moslem world until lots of oil wealth appeared in Arabia after World War II. Suddenly it became possible for Moslems to show how pious they were by funding Wahhabi missionaries going to other Moslem (and many non-Moslem) nations and to preach, establish Wahhabi religious schools and mosques and create the current Islamic terrorism problem. Billions was spent on this and the policy of getting the young boys into these free religious schools and turning many of them into hateful (of non-Sunni) Islamic religious fanatics led to a major outbreak of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th century. Saddam had kept this out of Iraq until 1991. Many secular rules of Moslem countries (like Syria and Libya) had also resisted the Wahhabi and regretted it when they ran into problems with Islamic terrorism.

After 2003 many Iraqi Sunnis were always certain they could regain power. They considered that the natural order of things, temporarily interrupted by evil and ignorant foreigners. They had history on their side. Even when the Turks controlled the area for centuries before the Turkish Empire fell apart after World War I (1914-18) it was the Sunni Arabs of Baghdad the Turks depended on to keep the Shia majority under control. The oil wealth and independence came in the 1930s and for the next 70 years the Sunnis did quite well for themselves. Losing it all in 2003 encouraged the Islamic terrorist groups to make common cause with the Sunni nationalists (including the Baath Party) to put Sunni Arabs back in charge. What was left unresolved was whether the new Sunni dictatorship would be secular (like Saddam) or religious (like neighboring Iran).

81 Killed in ISIS Attack on Police Convoy Only 20 Miles South of Baghdad

Maria al-Habib 
June 24, 2014 
BAGHDAD—Sunni militants brought their campaign against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki closer to Baghdad on Monday, attacking a police convoy just 20 miles from the center of the capital and triggering a shootout that left at least 81 people dead. 

Rebels of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham struck the convoy in Babil province on the main highway leading south from Baghdad. In the exchange of fire that followed, at least 71 prisoners in police custody, five policemen and five insurgents were killed, security officials said. 

In a gruesome sign of the Sunni-Shiite hatred now fueling the conflict, into its third week, the bodies of 15 Shiite fighters were returned to the town of Basheer, 2 miles south of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. 

The fighters, which included one woman, were defending the Shiite-dominated town from an ISIS assault when they were captured by rebels, strung up on electrical poles and lynched. Their bodies were kept hanging for days until they were taken down by Sunni tribal leaders and transported by tractor to Basheer on Monday. 

The brutality of the fighting underlined the determination of Sunni insurgents to tighten their grip over areas in the north of the country where they now hold sway after driving out government forces. 

Nour al-Dine Kablan, an official in Mosul, said Monday that ISIS rebels were in control of most of the military airport in nearby Tal Afar. Rebels and government forces have been fighting for control of the city of 200,000 people, located 270 miles northwest of Baghdad, near Iraq’s border with Syria. 
Iraqi soldiers man a post Monday at the border with Saudi Arabia. Insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham can now move their forces easily between Iraq and Syria. European Pressphoto Agency 

The Iraqi Army commander in charge of Tal Afar, Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Quraishi, fled the ISIS offensive to the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan. There, local TV stations have shown him posing with Kurdish Peshmerga forces. 

The retreat is widely seen here as a personal humiliation for Mr. Maliki, who ordered Gen. Quraishi to Tal Afar to retake the city after dismissing the general’s predecessor for poor performance in battle. 

The government’s military spokesman, Gen. Qassim Atta, denied that Gen. Quraishi had fled Tal Afar, dismissing the news as “propaganda” at a news conference on Monday. 

In another notable setback for Mr. Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government, one of the few Sunni towns in the country that supports him surrendered to insurgents on Monday after days of fighting with ISIS-led militants. 

A delegation from Al Alam in northern Tikrit province, surrendered to insurgents and handed over government-issued weapons and vehicles to them, security officials said. 

"The truce came after the army abandoned us. We were surrounded," said a resident of the town, sounding a now-familiar scenario since ISIS insurgents attacked and took over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, two weeks ago. 

The truce with the rebels, who now occupy the president palace in Tikrit, called for the merger of the insurgents, able-bodied residents and police into one military force, the town resident said, adding that the police were first required to ask ISIS for redemption. 

ISIS is riding a wave of Sunni dissatisfaction with the Shiite-led government of Mr. Maliki, whom they accuse of discriminating against their sect. The insurgents have overrun Iraqi towns and cities with the aid of Sunni tribal leaders and supporters of the Baath Party, which was banned after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that deposed former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. 

Besides expelling government forces from key cities and towns between Baghdad and Mosul in the north, ISIS rebels have seized most of the Iraqi towns that border Syria. 

On Sunday, they took over the Turaibil border outpost, Iraq’s only crossing with Jordan, only hours after capturing the al Walid crossing, the last Syrian-Iraqi border outpost in the Iraqi government’s hands. 

As fighting continues between Iraqi troops and ISIS in the Diyala province, the militant group hands out copies of the Quran to passersby in Mosul, the city they captured two weeks ago. 


June 25, 2014

Editor’s note: We’ve partnered with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) to publish a series of infographics based on data from their Global Terrorism Database and related START projects. Each week we’ll release a new set of graphics that depict trends in global terrorism activity. Sign up for the War on the Rocks newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of them!

These graphics were designed by START’s William Kammerer, Michael Jensen, and Brian Wingenroth.

Suicide terrorism is a difficult phenomenon for us to conceptualize. It’s very existence seems to directly contradict much of what we know about basic human survival instincts, which clearly has ramifications for the ways in which we seek to measure such intangible factors as radicalization and ideological commitment. Our understanding of suicide terrorism can also vary depending on whether it is based on the qualitative examination of particular case studies, some other empirical methodology, or attacks perpetrated by specific groups or types of groups. By relying on START’sGlobal Terrorism Database, however, which includes details of more than 113,000 terrorist attacks since 1970, some very noteworthy, macro-level conclusions become apparent.

Figure 1 depicts the geographic distribution of both non-suicide and suicide terrorist attacks in 2013.

As we noted in our first infographic on worldwide terrorism trends, terrorism was a widespread phenomenon in 2013, impacting 94 of the world’s countries. By comparison, suicide terrorism, while still common, was far more geographically isolated last year. Suicide attacks occurred in 24 countries, the majority of which are found in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. The geographic isolation of suicide terrorism is likely driven by myriad causes, but one worth noting is the physical presence of a distinct set of groups that have adopted the tactic as a central feature of their armed campaigns. This list includes a number of al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya; Boko Haram in Nigeria; al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen; and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq and Syria.