24 August 2014

As Modi plans US trip, defence on everyone’s mind

Joshua T. White & Michael Krepon

While big-ticket deals—such as the possible sale of Apache and Chinook helicopters—have been in the news, perhaps the most important discussions will focus on smaller cooperative projects that align with Modi’s vision for ‘defence indigenisation’.

The Apache helicopter is on India’s wishlist.

PRIME Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in September will be an occasion for glowing speeches about the future of Indo-US relations. Behind the public effusiveness, however, there will be a mutual sense of strategic reserve. New Delhi prizes its strategic autonomy and not doing Washington’s bidding. Washington now has a more realistic understanding of what kind of partnership it can expect, and that New Delhi will pursue its own interests, in its own way.

The Bush administration’s high hopes that the civil-nuclear deal would become a bilateral game-changer proved unrealistic. Soon after the deal, India’s nuclear liability legislation stymied US firms and New Delhi decided to purchase European instead of US fighter aircraft. This time around, ambitions will be tempered, but tangible gains on mutual interests, especially on defence cooperation, are within reach. The most important outcome would be a revision and extension of the 10-year ‘New Framework’ for the US-India defence relationship, which is up for renewal in 2015.

A forward-looking ‘New Framework’ agreement could, for example, outline clearer priorities to shape US-India military exercises and sales, reflect aspirations for information-sharing agreements, and pave the way for more substantive exchanges by both civilian and military leaders.

Washington expects new defence sales to be advanced during Modi’s visit. While big-ticket deals—such as the possible sale of Apache and Chinook helicopters—have been in the news, perhaps the most important discussions will focus on smaller cooperative projects that align with Modi’s vision for ‘defence indigenisation’. These talks take place under the rubric of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), inaugurated by Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in 2012.

The DTTI is an effort to systematically address barriers to expanded defence trade and technology transfer in both countries. For its part, the US government and industry have proposed dozens of innovative co-development projects, which reportedly include cooperation on subjects as diverse as surface-to-air missiles, magnetic catapults, and big data exploitation.

The most likely major DTTI deliverable for September is an agreement to co-develop the next generation of the Javelin anti-tank missile—a project that would involve significant technology transfer, and would meet stated Indian Army needs. Regardless of the specific deal, however, defence cooperation will remain disappointing without a flagship co-development project. The ball is now largely in India’s court for decision.

As important as Modi’s visit may be, the real work of deepening defence ties will require leadership and follow-up by India’s new Defence Minister. Observers in the United States will be on the lookout for three developments. The first is whether the Indian bureaucracy can begin to move long-languishing deals through the procurement pipeline. Washington would like to see what Indians have also been hoping for: a decisive Ministry of Defence that can take military procurement decisions and stick to them. US industry does not expect to win every deal, but is confident that its comparative advantages in technology and transparency will solidify its place as a key defence provider over the long term.

Second, while the Modi government’s decision to raise the baseline foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in defence to 49 per cent was welcomed in the US, it is probably insufficient to drive significant foreign investment. The most pressing obstacle to high technology transfer is arguably no longer US government approvals, which on account of DTTI are more readily forthcoming, but creating compelling incentives for US industry to engage in real partnerships with Indian firms. That means raising the FDI cap to at least 51 per cent, and dealing with India’s onerous offset requirements.

Third, and perhaps most important, Washington is ready to engage in more substantive dialogue over regional security. US-India talks on Afghanistan and East Asia have already deepened dramatically over the past two years, largely without public notice. But still there is more to discuss, especially in the light of the risks of the US and NATO drawdown in Afghanistan, the heightened nuclear competition between India and Pakistan, and China’s increasingly aggressive manoeuvring with respect to maritime disputes in East Asia.

Modi’s visit to Washington can lend impetus to another new beginning in US-India relations. The last new beginning produced a historic civil-nuclear deal, followed by mutual let-down. Modi and Obama will not produce anything as dramatic as a civil-nuclear deal. Nor do they have to. The test of improved bilateral relations will now be to sustain and grow defence cooperation, to create favourable long-term incentives for the respective private sectors to partner together, and to have meaningful consultations on regional security.

The writers work on South Asia at the Stimson Centre in Washington

Both Pakistan and India overplayed their hand

While Pakistan made a huge miscalculation on meeting the Hurriyat, reviving concerns about its sincerity, there is a perception that India too has overreached in cancelling the talks.

Raj Chengappa

It may be a perverse view of India’s decision to call off foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan, but Nawaz Sharif should be feeling a trifle relieved. For if the talks were held as scheduled, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh would have been in Islamabad tomorrow and with the Pakistan capital remaining shut down because of Opposition protests, she would have faced great difficulty in reaching the venue. Instead of such embarrassment, Sharif can now conveniently blame India for walking away.

The big regret though is that a great opportunity has been missed to build good relations between the two countries. For there was promise in the air when Narendra Modi invited Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in Delhi in May and the Pakistan Prime Minister gracefully accepted it. When they met, the two leaders agreed that the foreign secretaries should be in touch to see how best to resume the formal dialogue process that had been stalled since January 2013.

When the Indian Foreign Secretary phoned her counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry last month to follow up, he invited her to visit Islamabad and August 25 was fixed as the date. The main agenda was to talk about talks — whether a composite dialogue of the past that included several major subjects or a whole new architecture. All was good till then.

A false start?

By the second week of August though there were clear signs that the talks had begun heading downhill. Former Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri had decided to lay siege to Islamabad till Sharif stepped down, forcing the Prime Minister to march to a different drummer: the Pakistan Army.

When Sharif came to power in May last year with a landslide win, he had talked of restoring civilian supremacy over the army. He got over the first hurdle of replacing General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani with an army chief of his choice — Raheel Sharif. But differences soon cropped up on several issues. Nawaz Sharif pushed hard for his bête noir and former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s prosecution, obstinately turning down pleas to allow him to go abroad. Also while Sharif was keen on having a dialogue with the Pakistan Taliban and other militant elements, the Army pushed for military action against them, finally succeeded in doing so. Meanwhile, there were allegations that the Pakistan Army had lent tacit support to Khan and Qadri in a bid to weaken Sharif’s democratic standing.

By mid-August it was apparent that far from asserting his supremacy over the army, Sharif was on the back-foot in his relations with them. The balance had shifted and it was clear that a weakened Pakistan Prime Minister would now have to share power with the army especially when it came to dealing with India. Sharif had already roundly been criticised by his opponents for not meeting with Hurriyat Conference leaders when he came for Modi’s inaugural ceremony.


August 20, 2014

The apparent beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a stark reminder of the group’s terrible brutality and the seriousness required to counter them. Unfortunately, much of the political discourse about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is counterproductive to good policy. Many of the basic facts are wrong and the arguments—whatever the merits of the policies they prescribe—tend to be political, overly personal, and hyperbolized. President Obama’s policies in the Middle East have failed in numerous ways, but he is right that the paucity of our political debate is the greatest threat to our global standing.

One cannot credibly argue that the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2010 contributed to the rise of ISIL without also acknowledging that the U.S. invasion in 2003 did the same. The former without the latter is a political argument, not a policy position. The same goes for airstrikes in Syria and arming the Syrian rebels. It’s a reasonable hypothesis that supporting the Free Syrian Army earlier might have blunted ISIL, but that’s a pretty hollow position if one also gives Syrian rebel factions a pass for tolerating and even embracing ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusrah through late 2012. As a long-time analyst of jihadism in the Middle East, it was clear to me in the summer of 2011 that the Islamic State of Iraq was well-positioned to capitalize on what was then a largely peaceful Syrian protest movement. And it was just as obvious that the group—whose brutality, extremism, and grandiose political aspirations were well-documented long before the Syrian uprising—would later turn on the Syrian rebels whose cause they claimed to champion. The same should have been obvious to the Syrian rebels, their external supporters, and pretty much anyone interested in the Syrian uprising and the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Pete Mansoor is a serious man, but his assessment that the mission against ISIL will require 10,000-15,000 troops does not match up with the policy the President has chosen. Mansoor’s troop numbers are based on a policy “to roll back ISIL”, when the President has carefully limited his policy to “stopping the current advance” and aiding refugees. Reading most of the media coverage over the last few weeks, you’d be forgiven for thinking President Obama was seeking to defeat ISIL in detail, but had chosen ineffectual means. But that is not his goal, even considering the coordinated U.S., Iraqi, and Kurdish effort to retake the Mosul Dam from ISIL. It is fair to criticize the President’s policy as too limited or vague (I think it is both), but it is not to roll ISIL back and should not be measured on that basis. That distinction makes a difference, because as Doug Ollivant and Ken Pollack have both pointed out, airpower is much more effective against an army massing for an offensive than on troops settling in to govern in urban areas.

Time for India to use its Soft Power in China

July 2014 is an important month for global economics and China. It is the first time in recent history that China has overtaken USA in GDP [adjusted for purchasing power parity or PPP] and has become number one country in the world according to Euromonitor1. Now the order is China/USA/India/Japan in terms of GDP at PPP. Of course in per capita terms, USA has ten times more gross income than China given the population size of the latter.

Still China’s growth has been phenomenal and in the next two decades, it is poised to become numero uno even in nominal terms out running USA. This has implications for India from an Asian perspective and also we need to formulate our strategy about China. Traditionally in the last few decades, we have been looking at China using US or UK lens. This is due to the fact that we have not developed many China centers all over India. Hence we have few experts who understand their language and try to look at China with Indian glasses rather than Anglo-Saxon lens.

The major change that is taking place in China is not related to their growth rates and Three Gorges Dam and the shopping malls and Olympics stadia. That is a typical Western way of viewing China. The main change is in religious affiliation and assertion of Islamic followers and development of large scale underground Church. The middle classes have given up rice [perceived to be for the illiterate poor] and are embracing Christianity since it also helps in job mobility particularly in global companies where the heads could belong to the same Church. The Muslim population is less dispersed and more concentrated in specific locations like western part But there is also a growing interest in China about its past. The Ming dynasty tombs in Beijing which are made in marble were painted in red color during the great cultural revolution of the sixties and even today laborers are washing it to make it back in to white color without success. The guides are not reluctant to talk about it. The ten handed Buddha in the Summer Palace of Ching dynasty near Beijing has significant relationship with our idea of Lord Vishnu who destroys evil and even this is mentioned clearly. More importantly, China is opening what are called Confucius Institutes in more than fifty countries which is similar to British Council efforts but more focused on China’s ancient wisdom. . The first thing we should learn is to stop looking at China with Western glasses.

Israel Seen As Gaining the Upper Hand in Battle With Hamas Over Gaza

Jodi Rudoren,New York Times
August 22, 2014
Israel Kills 3 Top Hamas Leaders as Latest Fighting Turns Its Way

JERUSALEM — Hamas is the party that keeps extending this summer’s bloody battle in the Gaza Strip, repeatedly breaking temporary truces and vowing to endlessly fire rockets into Israel until its demands are met. But the latest round of fighting appears to have given Israel the upper hand in a conflict that has already outlasted all expectations and is increasingly becoming a war of attrition.

Barrages of rockets from Gaza sailed into Israel nearly nonstop on Thursday, but they did little damage, and a Hamas threat against Ben-Gurion International Airport failed to materialize. Israel, meanwhile, killed three top commanders of Hamas’s armed wing in predawn airstrikes, and by afternoon had called up 10,000 reservists, perhaps in preparation for a further escalation but in any case a show of strength.

Israel’s advantage has never looked more lopsided. In contrast to the earlier phase of the war, Israel this week deployed its extensive intelligence capabilities and overwhelming firepower in targeted bombings with limited civilian casualties less likely to raise the world’s ire.

People looked at rubble of a house in Rafah that witnesses said was destroyed on Thursday in an Israeli airstrike that killed three senior Hamas military commanders. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian faction that dominates Gaza, buried some of its most beloved and effective leaders while launching largely futile homemade rockets from its depleted stock.

How U.S. Intelligence Community Is Gathering Intelligence to Target Airstrikes Against ISIS in Northern Iraq

David Axe and Robert Beckhusen
Anatomy of an air strike: Three intelligence streams working in concert
August 21, 2014

In a fast-moving war with an elusive foe like the Islamic State militants, information is as important as guns, jet fighters and bombs.

Sometime early this summer, U.S. Special Operations Forces launched a raid into Syria in an effort to rescue several American hostages being held by the group. But the commandos’ information was out of date. The captives were no longer in the target area.

The attempted rescue, which the Obama administration revealed one day after a graphic video was posted depicting an Islamic State member beheading kidnapped American journalist James Foley, underscores the importance of timely intelligence. The Pentagon’s escalating campaign against Islamic State fighters in Iraq depends completely on reliable information.

It’s about collecting as much intelligence as possible and piecing it together. Two schools of intelligence have often vied for primacy — signals intelligence from electronic eavesdropping and aerial surveillance versus human intelligence. Yet the most effective military attacks call on all sources of information.

U.S. spies, eavesdroppers and airstrike controllers now have a lot of work to do together to catch up to the situation on the ground in northern Iraq.

American intelligence agencies and military spies had largely withdrawn from Iraq when the last regular U.S. combat troops left the country in late 2011.

Iraq became a U.S. blind spot. Only recently have U.S. intelligence assets returned in response to the jihadist Islamic State’s attacks.

The reinvigorated intelligence effort includes aerial surveillance and probably air-based and ground-based electronic eavesdropping — what the military calls “signals intelligence” — plus traditional “human intelligence,” people on the ground who spot the target with their own eyes.

Now American intelligence collectors are back at work in the embattled country, accompanying U.S. Special Operations forces that are advising Iraqi and Kurdish troops. The intelligence experts are helping to find and track militants and guide U.S. close-air support — or CAS, in military parlance — as well as attacks by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

NATO's Brave New World

AUGUST 21, 2014 
With crises brewing in Ukraine and the Middle East, the transatlantic alliance needs a shot of fresh energy. 

As the NATO summit in Wales approaches, the 28 nations of the alliance should recall the words of Aldous Huxley, author of the classic 20th-century dystopian novel Brave New World: "And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability."

Indeed, there is clearly spectacular instability on the horizon, both in Europe, the Levant, and near Middle East. Europe has predictable divisions across the key issues -- from Russia to the Islamic State -- and the United States must stand and deliver leadership.

The first order of business at the summit is to address the new relationship with Russia. The idea of a "true strategic partnership" with the Russian Federation, duly embedded in NATO's 2010 Lisbon Strategic Concept, is in tatters. 

Finding a new modus vivendi with Russia is job one for the alliance, and the discussions will not be pretty.

Finding a new modus vivendi with Russia is job one for the alliance, and the discussions will not be pretty.

The components are fairly clear: a more robust force posture in the east, mostly with rotational ground forces; continue the program of missile defense installations both at sea and ashore; all stop on any discussion of withdrawing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe; maritime deployments to the Baltic and Black Sea; support to the Ukrainian military as they struggle to reclaim their nation's stability and territory; an aggressive exercise program; supporting a strong NATO Response Force; and a robust program of partnerships with other likeminded but non-NATO nations in Europe (e.g. Sweden, Finland, Austria, Georgia). Options for sequencing these actions should be spelled out by the Supreme Allied Commander to the political leadership and immediately accepted

Second, the European nations need to spend more on defense, at a minimum hitting their self-stated goal of 2 percent of GDP -- today, only a handful of nations (Britain, Estonia, Greece) do so. The United States spends twice as much on defense despite having a slightly smaller economy than the European NATO nations and Canada combined. This is not sustainable politically in the long term and should be corrected rapidly.

Nuclear weapons and Pakistan's naval strategy

22 August 2014 

Since 1998, when India and Pakistan both burst out of the nuclear closet and publicly revealed their formerly recessed nuclear capabilities to the world, scant commentary has been made on the impact that the introduction of sea-based delivery systems would have on the South Asian nuclear equation.

This can be attributed, in part, to the relatively recent nature of naval nuclearisation in South Asia. India launched its first indigenously produced nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant, in 2009, and Pakistan only formalised its ambitions for a functional nuclear triad (via an Inter Services Public press release) in May 2012. However, while public discussions in both countries on complex issues such as nuclear naval strategy still remain somewhat inchoate and have yet to fully mature, India's nuclear submarine program was, in fact, initiated over three decades ago. Furthermore, there are statements by Pakistani leaders and naval commanders referring to the need for Pakistan to acquire a nuclear triad that long precede India's public unveiling of the Arihant.

It is important, first of all, to emphasise that both countries have their own distinct sets of motivations to engage in naval nuclearisation.

All too often outside observers almost mechanically hyphenate the two South Asian nations and reduce the multi-layered complexity of their nuclear interactions to a simple action-reaction dynamic. India, for example, is motivated in part by a desire for prestige and international recognition, but also by a very rational objective to place its nuclear assets at a safer distance from a decapitation strike. This is particularly important in light of China's growing militarisation of the Tibetan plateau and the proliferation of Chinese ballistic-missile silos in strategic high-altitude points along the border. In addition, there are mounting concerns over the reach of Chinese air power, Chinese advances in electronic and cyber warfare, as well as over recent reports that indicate China is developing a navalised variant of its 3000km-range Dong Hai 10 cruise missile.

Pakistan has its own strategic rationale for developing a naval nuclear capability which is at least partly independent of a simple desire to mirror India's advances. But the point that bears most emphasis here is that through its threats to disperse nuclear assets among various components of its fleet, Pakistan can offset India's increasingly overbearing conventional naval advantage in the Indian Ocean. When interviewed, Pakistani commanders mention the precedentset by Israel's alleged decision to place nuclear-tipped cruise missiles aboard conventional submarines and have suggested to me, somewhat provocatively, that Pakistan should follow suit.

US Intelligence Official Describes Kuwait as the “Epicenter” of Fundraising for Terrorist Groups in Syria

Associated Press

August 21, 2014

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Kuwaiti police briefly detained and questioned two men designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as financiers of terror groups operating in Iraq and Syria, a lawyer and a security official said Thursday, amid mounting pressure from Washington on its Gulf ally to curb the flow of such funds.

U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen has described Kuwait as the “epicenter” of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria and earlier this month called on the Kuwaiti government to do more to disrupt such financing.

Kuwait’s ambassador to Washington says his country is committed to fighting terrorism.

A Kuwaiti police officer told The Associated Press that Shafi al-Ajmi was detained Sunday — for about seven hours — and Hajaj al-Ajmi was detained late Wednesday — for about 10 hours — after returning from trips to neighboring Gulf countries. He said the two were detained as a precautionary measure and questioned about the U.S. Treasury Department’s accusations. He said they may be banned from traveling.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Their lawyer Mohammed al-Jumia told the AP his clients only raised charitable donations for Syrians. He said that when his clients traveled to Syria they met with members of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, the mainstream rebel group fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

The U.S. Treasury’s designation freezes any assets they might have in U.S. jurisdiction and bans U.S. citizens from doing business with them, but it does not affect any assets or bank accounts in Kuwait. Kuwaiti law criminalizes supporting terrorist groups, but the government has not yet charged the two with anything.

"The question is did they really finance these groups like the U.S. says? We say no. They have not provided a single shred of evidence to the Kuwait government," al-Jumia said.

The Treasury Department alleges that Shafi publicly admitted to collecting money under the auspices of charity and delivering the funds in person to Nusra Front, which is al-Qaida’s branch in Syria. The U.S. Treasury alleges that Hajaj agreed to provide financial support to Nusra Front in exchange for installing Kuwaitis in the group’s leadership positions.

Meet Pakistan's Lady Cadets The Trials and Triumphs of Women in Pakistan's Military Academy

August 17, 2014 

A female police cadet in Karachi, December 16, 2013. (Athar Hussain / Courtesy Reuters)

Wardah Nur never imagined that she would become a soldier. And, until ten years ago, she couldn’t have. Yet here she was, in the cool air of the Himalayan foothills, among sergeants shouting orders and cadets falling quickly into formation. They pivot, turn, and march. Only four weeks into training, though, they struggle to stay in step.

Nur belongs to a small, elite group -- the 2013 “lady cadets,” as they are called -- the latest batch of women to train at the Pakistan Military Academy since it began accepting them in 2006 during General Pervez Musharraf’s presidency. Hundreds of women vie for a spot each year, although only 32 seats are open to them. There are 2,000 seats at the academy for men. And, although men can enroll after high school, women must first earn a bachelor’s degree and speak fluent English. The differences don’t end there: Once enrolled, male cadets spend two years training for the battlefield, whereas female recruits train for just six months and are forbidden from direct combat. Instead, they graduate mostly to army support jobs in engineering, IT, or communications.

Still, the female cadets say, even this is progress.

Nur, a slim and serious 24-year-old with a degree in electrical engineering from Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology, traveled nearly 300 miles to train here in Kakul, some 4,000 feet above the valley. “This opportunity was not handed to me,” she says. “I had to compete for it.”
Wardah Nur trains at the Pakistan Military Academy, June 2013. (Courtesy Aeyliya Husain)

Nur came to the academy by way of Mandi Bahauddin, a small and old-fashioned town in the central province of Punjab, where horse-driven carts still outnumber cars, and where girls have no place to continue their education past high school. When Nur was 16 years old, her father moved the family to Rawalpindi, a larger city near Islamabad, where she could stay in school. Her plight was not unusual: Of all countries in the world, Pakistan has the second-largest number of children without access to schools -- 5.4 million -- which includes 75 percent of primary-school-age girls. Most women have trouble finding jobs, and many are pushed into becoming teachers or housewives.

By joining the military, Nur and the other female cadets have guaranteed themselves employment for at least the next seven years, the required term of service.

Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India

Authors: M. Mayilvaganan, Aditi Malhotra, Sadhavi Chauhan, and Viswesh R

Executive Summary

Background: China’s rise, unresolved maritime disputes in Asia Pacific, and the US pivot to Asia have led to the re-emergence of Asia- Pacific as a strategically important region. This new found focus has created a growing need to understand the regional dynamics in a more nuanced way. Given this backdrop, the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP) of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore has been engaged in a medium term project focusing on China. A primary objective of this project was to study the behaviour of regional countries in the face of a crisis in the Asia Pacific. As a part of this effort, ISSSP organised a workshop titled ‘Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India’ on March 11, 2014.

Workshop Agenda & Methodology Validation: The agenda and the proceedings of the workshop were finalised through a number of stages. The first stage involved in-house discussions over potential trigger events that could spur a crisis in the Asia-Pacific. The second stage involved the identification of crisis events and possible scenarios along with the compilation of a database, which included relevant information of all the countries in the region. Finally, the agenda and programme for the workshop were decided upon through a validation exercise, held on August 20, 2013, which brought together area experts and scholars. The validation meetings concluded with a consensus on the trigger events that would facilitate the simulation exercise. It was also suggested that the workshop be preceded by a seminar where subject experts would reinforce the current baseline positions of the various countries of the region.

The Groups: The workshop was structured into five groups, keeping in mind the alliances and the major power blocks in the Asia-Pacific region. The first four groups comprised of China and its allies, US and its allies, ASEAN, and India. There was a fifth group, the Control, which included all the other countries, coordinated the events and documented the responses of the other four groups. The groups were made up of area experts hailing from the defence and diplomatic services, academicians, and scholars.

Workshop Findings: The Workshop revealed the following strands of strategic thinking amongst the different groups:

The US

The workshop commenced with a baseline position wherein the US did not want to confront China but only deter it. However, the workshop exercise suggested that if the current tensions transform into a crisis that could escalate into a confrontation, the US will be willing to escalate the crisis and would not yield to Chinese threats. 
The workshop revealed that the US maybe willing to reassert its dominance in the Asia-Pacific if needed; this was displayed by its assertive actions in the region. 
As events progressed in the workshop, America’s stand transformed from deterrence to containment and eventually from containment to possible confrontation with China. 
The responses also suggested that the US looks at the region as an integrated entity. Specifically, the US clubbed the East China and the South China Seas, and the Indian Ocean region as one domain, when dealing with China. Thereby, it hoped to invoke a multilateral response to the China threat. This was achieved by a strengthening of ties with its current regional allies (Japan, Korea), and seeking more allies in the South China Sea (Vietnam) and the Indian Ocean Region (India). 
Although the US wanted India to be a part of its alliance, it was not willing to get involved in India’s bilateral issues with China. 


Unlike the US, China did not view the Asia Pacific region as an integrated entity. Whether this was a conscious part of its strategy or whether it was an inherent flaw in the way they think remained unclear. 
China’s treatment of regional and global issues seemed to reveal an absence of a clear link between them. Though Taiwan, the East China Sea and the South China Sea issues are all connected especially through geography, China chose to deal with them separately. 
The divide and rule approach adopted by China was also revealed in its preferences for bilateral negotiations even though many of the maritime disputes in the region are multilateral ones. 
China’s strengthening of its military and political partnerships with South Asian countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh were aimed to check India, which Beijing identified as a crucial US ally. 
China’s responses highlighted its aspirations to attain parity with the US in a new bipolar world order, where it enjoys the same status and power that the erstwhile USSR commanded during the Cold War Era. 

War in the Taiwan Strait: Would China Invade Taiwan?

August 22, 2014 

Carrier-killer missiles, anti-ship weapons, amphibious assaults. Asia's greatest fear—and the possibility of a great power war over Taiwan's future—is all still very possible.

Beyond doubt, relations across the Taiwan Strait have improved substantially since 2008—so much so that some analysts have concluded that the course of the Taiwan “issue” will continue unimpeded and inexorably towards even greater stability, if not “reunification.” But this is all wishful thinking.

Rapprochement has probably gone as far as it can, and whatever comes next will likely be hounded by complications, slow progress and growing opposition in Taiwan. Unable or unwilling to make any proposal for unification that has any chance of appealing to democratic Taiwan’s 23 million people, wrong footed by the rise of Taiwan’s combative civil society, and haunted by recent developments in Hong Kong, where “one country, two systems” is all but dead, China will have two options: give up on Taiwan, or use force to complete the job. Under the decisive President Xi Jinping, in the context of rising ultranationalism across China, and given the cost of “losing” Taiwan to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) credibility (at least according to Beijing’s rhetoric), it is difficult to imagine that Beijing would choose the former option. Use of force, therefore, would be the likely response, and hubristic China might well be tempted to try its luck.

The widening power imbalance in the Taiwan Strait, added to (mistaken) perceptions that Taiwanese have no will to fight, has led some Chinese officials and many members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conclude that the military option, which Beijing never abandoned even as relations improved, is not only a viable one, but one that could quickly resolve the issue. Granted, the ratio of annual defense expenditures reached about 12:1 in China’s favor this year (and that is only using China’s declared budget).

Moreover, while the United States, Taiwan’s principal security partner, has been reluctant to provide offensive military technology to Taiwan (the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 emphasizes the defensive nature of arms transfers to the island) and has abided by multilateral bodies, such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), to regulate arms sales to Taipei, Beijing has relied on Russia to procure some of the most modern weapons in service, from air defense systems to advanced fighter-aircraft. When Moscow hesitated or dragged its feet in delivering the systems sought by Beijing, the PLA simply turned to Ukraine to obtain what it needed. As a result, the PLA today is a much more formidable opponent than it was just a decade ago, when facing a much less amenable partner in Taipei, the use of force must have been a more inviting, if not likely, alternative.

Despite the imbalance, invading Taiwan would not be a walk in the park. Relative weakness notwithstanding, the Taiwanese military fields a relatively modern force—F-16s, AH-64E attack helicopters, Kidd-class destroyers and so on—that could inflict a fair degree of damage to invading PLA forces. Furthermore, the fielding of offensive-defense platforms, such as the Hsiung Feng IIE land-attack cruise missile (LACM), the Hsiung Feng III supersonic antiship cruise missile and the Wan Chien—an air-to-ground, standoff, cruise missile-type missile mounted on aircraft that can be used to disable airbases and radar sites in China—would increase the potential cost of Chinese military adventurism in the Taiwan Strait.

Besides technology, Taiwan’s geography also poses a challenge to invading PLA forces. As Richard Bush and Michael O’Hanlon argue in their book A War Like No Other, the soil composition and inclination of Taiwan’s west coast facing China, where the Taiwanese military deploys most of its antiarmor capabilities, is even less conducive to a successful amphibious assault than were the beaches of Normandy, where Allied forces changed the course of World War II, at the cost of an estimated 10,000 casualties, including 2,500 dead.

Regardless of the impressive advances made by the PLA in recent years, the fact remains that no occupation of Taiwan will ever be possible without a major amphibious assault and putting enough boots on the ground. Anything short of that would fail to ensure Beijing’s control of Taiwan, and falls in the category of “limited strikes” for coercive or punitive purposes—not invasion. If the 1995-96 Taiwan Missile Crisis is any indication, coercive displays would accomplish very little besides encouraging Taiwanese to rally around the flag and thus undermine China’s efforts to annex Taiwan. Moreover, though damaging, Taiwan is resilient enough that it would weather such operations.

What China wants

After a bad couple of centuries, China is itching to regain its place in the world. How should America respond?

AN ALARMING assumption is taking hold in some quarters of both Beijing and Washington, DC. Within a few years, China’s economy will overtake America’s in size (on a purchasing-power basis, it is already on the cusp of doing so). Its armed forces, though still dwarfed by those of the United States, are growing fast in strength; in any war in East Asia, they would have the home advantage. Thus, some people have concluded, rivalry between China and America has become inevitable and will be followed by confrontation—even conflict.

Diplomacy’s task in the coming decades will be to ensure that such a catastrophe never takes place. The question is how?

Primacy inter pares

Some Western hawks see a China threat wherever they look: China’s state-owned businesses stealing a march in Africa; its government covering for autocrats in UN votes; its insatiable appetite for resources plundering the environment. Fortunately, there is scant evidence to support the idea of a global Chinese effort to upend the international order. China’s desires have an historical, even emotional, dimension. But in much of the world China seeks to work within existing norms, not to overturn them.

In Africa its business dealings are transactional and more often led by entrepreneurs than by the state. Elsewhere, a once-reactive diplomacy is growing more sophisticated—and helpful. China is the biggest contributor to peacekeeping missions among the UN Security Council’s permanent five, and it takes part in anti-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa. In some areas China is working hard to lessen its environmental footprint, for instance through vast afforestation schemes and clean-coal technologies.

China's Fifth-Generation Fighter Could Be A Game Changer In An Increasingly Tense East Asia

By Jeremy Bender 
21 Aug, 2014 

Alexandr Chechin/en.wikipedia.org

China is in the process of developing its own native fifth-generation fighter to compete with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and Russia's T-50.

Although China has been secretive about the exact specifications of the aircraft, experts are warning that the plane could be a game-changer in East Asia's

China's Chengdu J-20 is currently in its fourth round of prototypes. On July 26, the most recent version of the fighter flew for two hours before successfully landing. 

Information about the J-20 is limited, but an unnamed Asian government source told IHS Jane's that upwards of 20 J-20s could be deployed by within the decade.

The J-20 has evolved rapidly from its first documented prototype in 2011. Each successive prototype has shown a number of design advancements that help the plane evade enemy radar detection. These changes include modifying the plane's wing size and adjusting the air intakes to maximize stealth.

It's likely that China is also outfitting the J-20 with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar in the plane's nose.

AESAs are incredibly powerful radar systems broadcast at a range of frequencies, allowing a plane to remain stealthy in the process. And the use of the AESA in the J-20's nose marks a striking similarity to the design of the U.S.'s F-35 fifth-generation fighter.

The similarities between the F-35, the F-22, and the J-20 are likely not a coincidence.

Aviation expert Carlo Kopp notes that China imitates the basic shapes and skeletal designs of existing aircraft to speed development while minimizing the risk of a costly and embarrassing engineering failure later on.

"By cleverly exploiting contemporary United States-developed stealth fighter shaping design rules," Kopp writes for the independent Australian think tank Air Power Australia, "Chengdu engineers were able to rapidly get an excellent basic shaping design with a minimum of risk and cost, and significant long-term stealth performance growth potential." 

This potential, if China capitalizes on it, could allow the J-20 to achieve levels of stealth on par with, or even exceeding, the F-35.

This stealth capability could put all of East Asia at risk — the integrated air defense systems in the region rely primarily on types of radar that would be incapable of adequately detecting the J-20.

Yuya Shino/REUTERS

A soldier from Japan's self-defense forces fires a rocket during a live-fire exercise near Mt Fuji in August

Reminder: Qatar’s Foreign Policy: Islamists YES – Islamic State NO

Dr. Andreas Krieg, Lecturer Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, Qatar Armed Forces – @andreas_krieg

In recent weeks, Qatar has come under criticism once more – this time not for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, or for the inhumane working conditions of many local labourers, and also not for alleged unorthodox practices when it came to winning the bid for the FIFA World Cup 2022. This time criticism revolves around Qatar’s alleged support for the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) as the world’s current ‘empire of evil’. This time, it is not Qatar’s neighbours who engage in public ‘Qatar-bashing’ but Western politicians, blogs and social media outlets. These unsubstantiated allegations if echoed often enough, might develop into just another cyber-myth surrounding the rich Gulf Emirate.

Based on the populist image that has been drawn by Western media, Qatar is ruled by an ultra-conservative, Wahabist family who ideologically subject the country’s foreign and security policy to spreading radical Islam. In fact, Qatar has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and affiliate groups in Libya and Syria; it supports the Brotherhood’s Palestinian offspring Hamas, as well as backed jihadi militants in the Libyan and Syrian Civil War. Based on this observation experts believe to have identified a trend whereby Qatar’s foreign and security policy is increasingly ideologically motivated by radical Islamist considerations. In so doing, media reports lump together Islamist political parties, charity organizations or religiously motivated opposition forces and Al Qaeda. More recently, in many reports, particularly at the more conservative end of the spectrum, the distinction between political Islam and global jihadi organizations such as IS, completely vanished. Despite its development into an established, respected and sustainable political power in the Arab World, political Islam and its role in the Arab public sphere has been discredited. Yet, it is important to differentiate between those Islamists that primarily cater for the inclusive provision of public goods or adl (social justice), and those subordinating common good with brute force to the fanaticism of a minority. Although IS has realized in the meantime that the administration of territory and people requires more than terror and brute force, its mujahedeen nonetheless belong to the latter group.

These nuances are important to understand when judging Qatar’s raison d’état post-Arab Spring. As a small peninsula at the Gulf, wedged between the regional superpowers of Iran and Saudi Arabia, Qatar traditionally had to choose between autonomy and influence when defining its foreign and security policy. Influence meant typically having to bandwagon along Saudi Arabia as its bigger brother, thereby relinquishing its autonomy in parts. Achieving autonomy, on the other hand, was tantamount with the loss of influence, resulting in an augmented sense of insecurity. The Father Emir, who handed over his rule to his son Sheikh Tamim last year, tried in his reign to overcome this dilemma by establishing Qatar as an independently acting, yet influential regional player – a player who autonomously from the sometimes counterproductive ideological conventions of Riyadh approaches foreign and security policy with a degree of pragmatism. Fuelled by the sheer unlimited wealth generated from its hydrocarbon resources, Qatar managed to not only attract the US as its external protector or open an Israeli trade office, but also to build relations with the Taliban and Hamas as well as reach out to Hezbollah and the Houthis when needed. The hedging of international and transnational relations was the direct path to transform neutrality into influence.

A Five-Step Plan to Destroy the Islamic State

August 22, 2014

Defeating IS would involve a long-term, comprehensive strategy. Here is how to do it.

More so than encompassing narratives, such as Pan-Arabism and Islamism, local identities have gained in recent years in the Middle East, politicizing and militarizing the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis in Syria and Iraq. These trends have created an opening for the Islamic State (IS), which has morphed into a large, difficult and complex challenge.

The U.S. intervention to date has produced important gains. Although the city of Sinjar taken from Kurdish forces remains under IS control, humanitarian aid has reached the beleaguered Yazidi population on Mount Sinjar. Kurdish morale has been shored up, helping Kurdish forces to recover most of the areas briefly lost to IS in Gwer, Makhmour and the Mosul Dam, while preventing the group from advancing toward the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

However, the terrorist network is far from being defeated. IS has become the world’s most powerful quasistate and internationally networked extremist entity. This terrorist network is in the process of establishing a state called the Khalifat. Limited U.S. actions taken up to now are unlikely to be sufficient even to contain the threat from IS—that is, preventing IS from expanding beyond the large areas across Iraq and Syria that it currently controls—much less to defeat the network and eliminate its sanctuaries.

IS retains support from key power centers, such as tribes and former Baath military officers. After capturing immense financial resources, oilfields and military equipment from deserted Iraqi forces, IS is earning over $1 million in revenues per day. Since the U.S. strikes began, IS has taken over Jalula from the Kurds and is currently focused on the Iraqi town of Qaim on the Syrian border. The fall of Qaim would set the stage for an IS capture of Haditha—a vital link between the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, and home to Iraq’s second-largest dam—and eventually, the provincial capital in Ramadi. Losing Haditha and Ramadi would mean that the whole of Anbar province would come under IS control, leaving anti-IS Sunni tribes without major strongholds.

Obama vs. ISIS: This Time It's Personal


When ISIS beheaded an American journalist, it meant to intimidate—and provoke—the United States. It should be careful what it wishes for. The gloves just came off. 

The Obama administration signaled Thursday that the United States has begun a new war against the so-called Islamic State, and that group’s operatives will not be safe from America’s wrath in Iraq, in Syria, or wherever they can be tracked down. 

Since U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed the authenticity of a video that showed the beheading of American journalist James Foley this week, the president and top cabinet officers have employed rhetoric about the jihadists of the Islamic State (also known as the “caliphate,” ISIS, or ISIL) that echoes the Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. 

Secretary of State John Kerry called ISIS “the face of evil” and vowed that America “will continue to confront [it] wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred.” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the military’s response is to “take a cold, steely, hard look at” at ISIS and “get ready” for action. 

While the Justice Department on Thursday announced that the FBI would be investigating the murder of Foley, Attorney General Eric Holder also left open the possibility that the United States may not wait for the verdict of a jury and judge. “We will not forget what happened and people will be held accountable one way or the other,” Holder said. 

The most notable rhetorical tell came from Obama himself. 

In the aftermath of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Obama vowed to bring the attackers to justice. This week Obama struck a different tone, saying: “When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.” 

The difference between bringing suspects to justice and seeing that justice is done is roughly the same as the difference between treating terrorism as a crime and as an act of war. 

Even though special operations teams were dispatched to Libya after Benghazi to target the jihadists suspected of carrying it out, Obama chose to treat the attack, which cost the lives of four Americans, as a crime. It took until June of this year for the FBI in conjunction with U.S. special operations teams to capture one of the ringleaders of the attack and bring him to the United States to face trial. 

Islamic State can’t be beat without addressing Syrian side of border, top general says

August 21 

Islamic State cannot be defeated without addressing “both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border” between Iraq and Syria, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday. 

The United States and its allies in the Middle East and beyond need to join together to defeat the terrorist group “over time,” Gen. Martin Dempsey said. Asked whether the United States would extend its current campaign of airstrikes in Iraq into Syria, Dempsey said airstrikes were “only one small part” of what is necessary to defeat the group. 

“I’m not predicting those will occur in Syria, at least not by the United States of America,” he said. “But it requires the application of all the tools of national power–diplomatic, economic, information, military.” 

President Obama has long resisted direct U.S. military intervention in Syria, where Islamic State is the strongest of several militant groups fighting both the Syrian government and U.S.-backed rebels. But the group’s rapid advance into Iraq, and this week’s videotaped execution of an American hostage it was holding in Syria, have led to calls to revisit that policy. 

The Islamic State video said that photojournalist James Foley was beheaded in retaliation for U.S. strikes in Iraq. The air attacks continued Thursday as the U.S. Central Command announced an additional six strikes around Mosul Dam in northern Iraq. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, at a Pentagon news conference with Dempsey, said that “we are looking at all options” to stop the expansion of an organization he said was as “sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen.” 

“They’re beyond just a terrorist group,” Hagel said. “They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded.” 

Asked whether airstrikes against the group in Syria was under consideration, Hagel said that “we continue to explore all options…and how best we can assist partners in that area, the Middle East, particularly in Iraq.” 

“We will continue to stay focused…on what we’re doing now and exploring all options as we go forward,” Hagel said. 

A senior Defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity following the news conference, said that no decision has been made to expand airstrikes into Syria, and the White House has not requested any new military options. 

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq began on Aug. 8, as militants there continued their bloody sweep across the country and closed in on the Kurdish capital of Irbil, where the United States has military facilities and a consulate. U.S. military officials said Thursday that the U.S. military has carried out a total of 90 strikes, 57 of them in the vicinity of Mosul Dam. Earlier this week, Obama announced that Iraqi and Kurdish forces had retaken the dam, near Iraq’s northern border with Turkey, from Islamic State control. 

Following the death of Foley this week, Obama called the Islamic State a “cancer” and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the group must “be crushed.” Dempsey, who was more measured in his remarks Thursday, said it is possible for the United States to contain the group. But he said the threat of the Islamic State must be addressed in both Iraq and Syria. 
A militant with the Islamic State waves the group’s flag in Raqqa, Iraq, in June. REUTERS/Stringer 


As everyone who has seen Lawrence of Arabia knows, British General Edmund Allenby led Britain’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) during the latter part of World War I and campaigned successfully in Palestine against the Ottoman Army. An important part of Allenby’s work was the capture of Gaza in November 1917 and the breaking of the Gaza-Beersheba line. Accompanying Allenby was U.S. Army officer Colonel Edward Davis whose photo album from Palestine is available online thanks to Fort Leavenworth’s Combined Arms Research Library (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Davis’ photographs are a remarkable glimpse into a pivotal period of modern military and political history. They bring into relief some of the similarities of war across the last century and highlight some of the differences.

Allenby’s predecessor General Archibald Murray had made two costly and unsuccessful attempts against the town of Gaza, on March 26 and April 17-19. Allenby replaced Murray in June 1917 and soon started receiving reinforcements in preparation for a renewed offensive. In the meantime, the Turks had been busily fortifying Gaza since Murray’s first assault.

On October 27, Allenby’s artillery forces started a relentless bombardment of Gaza. They were joined two days later by a naval bombardment from British and French warships. However, Allenby had actually decided that his main effort would be against Beersheba. His forces’ attack there on October 31 was successful and the battle was culminated by a dramatic cavalry charge by Australian forces. Davis provides some fascinating photos of the trenches around Beersheba over which the Australian cavalry jumped (see p. 11, for instance), as well as some that show the arrival of British forces in the town.

Allenby wanted to keep the Turks fixed in the area of Gaza, however, while he maneuvered around Beersheba. Accordingly, he launched ground assaults against the Turkish positions just south of Gaza on the night of November 1. These were only modestly successful in terms of capturing their assigned objectives, but they did hold the Turks in place and even attracted some Turkish reinforcements. In any event, Allenby kept up the pressure. Intensified bombardment followed on the night of November 6, accompanied by renewed British assaults that drove the Turks out of several major parts of their trench lines. The next morning British observation planes spotted Turkish units pulling back. The Ottoman Army had concluded that holding Gaza was a losing proposition given the loss of Beersheba and had slipped away in the night. Upon arriving in the Turkish trenches, the British found that their adversaries had pulled down houses in the town of Gaza in order to obtain better materials for their revetments (p. 31). The resulting pursuit led to the British capture of Jerusalem in early December (pp. 73 to 93.)

As debates and disagreements flare over the still sputtering shooting match between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, it is interesting to examine Davis’ photographs. In an effort to maintain the support of the Arabs, many of whom were not happy about their domination by Turks, Allenby had issued orders that mosques were to be respected sometimes even when they were being used by Turkish forces. However, Davis’ album includes a photograph on page 25 of the badly damaged Great Mosque in Gaza. All sides agree that the Turks were using the mosque as an ammunition depot. One account from the time claims that the Turks blew the mosque up themselves but generally it is agreed that the British did it, apparently carefully, after the Turkish malfeasance had been established.