21 September 2014

If Indians aren’t investing here, will foreigners?

September 21, 2014, SA Aiyar in Swaminomics |

Narendra Modi came to power by promising fast economic growth to create millions of jobs. So, it’s mysterious that he has spent so much time on foreign visits and receiving foreign dignitaries like Chinese president Xi Jinping. Foreign relations matter, but cannot create millions of jobs – that requires structural reforms that dynamise Indian investment. Till now, industrial data does not reveal any investment boom. If Indians are not rushing to invest in India, will foreigners really do so?

Based on Chinese briefings, newspaper reports claimed that Xi would pledge $100 billion of Chinese investment in India. Actually only $20 billion of deals were signed; the rest was apparently hype.

Besides, only a tiny proportion of proposals translate into actual investment. `The Economic Freedom of the States of India’, an annual report of the Friedrich Naumann Institute and Cato Institute, shows that of industrial memoranda of understanding signed by entrepreneurs in 2010-11, conversion into investment ranged from a low of 3% in Bihar to a high of 18.4% in Haryana, with Modi’s Gujarat achieving 8.5%. A separate calculation for translation of memoranda into investment between August 1999 and July 2014 reveals an implementation rate ranging from 1% in Bihar and Jharkhand to 13% in Gujarat and 19% in Haryana. Very low indeed.

Xi signed memoranda for investing in two industrial parks in Gujarat and Maharashtra at a total cost of Rs 40,000 crore. This sounds exorbitant. Even at one crore per acre, the land cost will be just Rs 2,500 crore. Top-class infrastructure is already available or coming via the Golden Quadrilateral and Dedicated Rail Freight corridor. The Chinese may offer cheap finance, but the huge debt nevertheless has to be serviced by India, so a careful look at costs -and relevance -is essential.

Over 600 Special Economic Zones have been approved since 2006, but barely 170 have come up, and these are mostly tiny software SEZs. Many promoters of SEZs have abandoned their projects for want of demand from industrialists, despite tax breaks. Companies setting up units in SEZs have to export more than they import, but can sell mainly in the domestic market. Mukesh Ambani’s SEZ in Navi Mumbai lies mostly unfilled, and his proposed SEZs in Maha Mumbai and Haryana have been abandoned.

How India should deal with new Chinese duality

Modi can be both deft and firm on foreign policy issues. He seems aware that engaging with China helps him get a better deal with the US and Japan even while he puts pressure on Xi when he shakes hands with Obama and Abe. 
Raj Chengappa

India had never quite seen a Chinese President like Xi Jinping in the recent past. On his just concluded three-day visit to India, his first as China’s boss man, Xi was a far cry from the stern, stiff and Mao-jacketed leaders. With his charming wife, Peng Liyuan, in tow, Xi wore a Khadi jacket gifted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, spouted verses from Rabindranath Tagore, sat in Vajrasana to try his hand on a model of Gandhi’s charkha at the Sabarmati Ashram and swung his legs like a little boy on a decorated swing. Then his wife, who is a famed Chinese folksinger and could give Michelle Obama a run for popularity, pulled off a surprise by singing the Chinese version of the Hindi classic Awara Hun.

If the Chinese President was on a charm offensive, Modi was not found wanting. The Prime Minister broke protocol by receiving Xi at Ahmedabad on his birthday, watched the sunset with the Chinese First Couple on the riverfront and then treated them to a lavish Gujarati meal. On the sidelines the two leaders found time to do business, which included signing two agreements that established a provincial partnership between Gujarat and Guangdong province and sister-city relationships between Mumbai and Shanghai and Ahmedabad and Guangzhou.

Xi and Modi at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. AFP

Both Xi and Modi exuded a rare self-confidence that portended well for relations between the two countries. Barely two years into his tenure, Xi has emerged as the most powerful Chinese leaders since Deng Xiaoping and some say even Mao. He has consolidated his hold on all major levers of power, including the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), enunciated his version of the Chinese dream that called for deepening of economic reforms and loosening of state control, flexed his muscles at other nations over China’s core national interests, including territorial claims, and carried out an unprecedented anti-corruption drive against some of China’s top leaders.

Towards ending the stalemate with US


At the outset, Modi may wish to reassure the US business community that he is not inattentive to their concerns. Now that he is firmly in the saddle he can signal that he will start to tackle economic reform.
Sumit Ganguly

SINCE President Obama’s mostly successful visit to India in 2010 the Indo-US relationship appears to have stalled. In India the disappointment stems mostly from a perceived lack of interest on the part of the Obama administration in addressing a series of Indian concerns about Pakistan and Afghanistan (especially as the US and International Security Assistance Force drawdown nears) and an apparent lack of willingness to focus on new and bold bilateral initiatives.

In the US, a pervasive sense of disappointment and even a degree of ennui has set in with India. The disappointment stems from a host of Indian decisions and choices. The nuclear liability Bill that the Indian Parliament passed made it all but impossible for US firms to invest in the Indian market. India chose to give the multi-billion dollar Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft to France despite intense American lobbying. Worse still, a series of economic reforms remained on the anvil but with little willingness to act on them.

With Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States there is a distinct possibility for pushing for a course correction. Obviously, a single visit cannot swiftly take the relationship out of the doldrums. However, it is possible to put some wind in its sails if both sides take cognisance of its significance.

Modi may have already made an initial nod to US concerns even as he refused to address the question of agricultural subsidies under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation. This gesture involved the dramatic expansion of India’s capacity to deal with questions and issues surrounding intellectual property. This was a non-trivial matter as a range of US and other foreign firms had expressed grave misgivings about India’s intellectual property regime.

China doesn’t take India seriously, at least not yet

Hindustan Times
September 20, 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first genuine foreign policy encounter proved bruising. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s airplane touched down in India even as a few hundred of his soldiers pushed across the Line of Actual Control. Modi spent much of his time wagging a finger at Xi about this. The Chinese leader was unperturbed: He had invited these gate-crashers to the party. And the buzz about a $100 billion in investments disappeared soon after.

Until now, Modi has found handling the overseas world easier and more fun than he had expected. His first port of call was Bhutan. His last was Japan. Not exactly countries plotting India’s downfall. His sparring partner in Pakistan was Nawaz Sharif, a man lately struggling to keep unwanteds out of his own residence. Xi was the real world, not a decorative swing on the banks of the Sabarmati.

China was always going to be tough as nails. It has a leadership who rise through a brutal, take-no-prisoners system of internal succession that makes the politics of Uttar Pradesh’s badlands look fairly tame. Their school of negotiations has always been about power relations and barrels of guns.

So what, you may ask? Doesn’t Modi have a similar view of the world? One suspects he fell for the illusion that 21st century China can be fobbed off with money and markets. Anyone who thinks allowing yuan-funded railway stations will ensure Beijing won’t push the envelope is smoking an opium war. Japan has invested around $100 billion in China and the return gift is a demand for the Senkaku Islands. Vietnam and China trade $50 billion a year and it hasn’t done much good for their relations either.

This doesn’t mean India and China can’t do more on the economic front. Both sides have built artificial barriers in a foolish attempt to isolate the other. India’s pharma and software firms do well everywhere in the world — except in China. China, the world’s second largest economy and an exporter of billions of dollars in investment, has only $400 million in FDI in India. Neither side is welcoming to the other, and doubly so in India.

Kurdish fighters head to Syria to face ISIS militants

Sep 21, 2014

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pose with an Islamic State flag, which they pulled down after capturing Mount Batnaya, near Zummar. (Reuters Photo)

BEIRUT: Hundreds of Kurdish fighters raced from Turkey and Iraq into neighboring Syria on Saturday to defend a Kurdish area under attack by Islamic State militants. As the fighting raged, more than 60,000 mostly Kurdish refugees streamed across the dusty and barren border into Turkey, some hobbling on crutches as others lugged bulging sacks of belongings on their backs. 

The large-scale displacement of so many and the movement of the Kurdish fighters into Syria reflected the ferocity of the fighting in the northern Kobani area, which borders Turkey. Militants of the extremist Islamic State group have been barreling through the area for the past three days, prompting Kurdish leaders to plead for international help. 

Civilians seeking safety began massing on the Turkish border on Thursday. Turkey did not let them in at first, saying it would provide them with aid on the Syrian side of the border instead. By Friday, it had changed its mind and started to let in several thousand. 

The numbers grew quickly as more entry points opened, and by late Saturday afternoon, more than 60,000 had poured across the frontier, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said. 

Even by the standards of Syria's bitter war, it was unusual for so many refugees to flee in such a short time. Their numbers add to the 2.8 million Syrians who have become refugees in the past three years, and another 6.4 million who have been displaced within their own country— nearly half of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million. 

Many of those who came across Saturday cradled young children or carried them on their shoulders. Kurtulmus said some refugees were staying with relatives, while others took shelter in schools or tents. 

''Kobani is facing the fiercest and most barbaric attack in its history,'' said official Mohammed Saleh Muslim, head of Syria's powerful Kurdish Democratic Union. The groups' members dominate the Syrian Kurdish group known as the YPK, which is fighting the Islamic State militants. 

''Kobani calls on all those who defend humane and democratic values ... to stand by Kobani and support it immediately. The coming hours are decisive,'' he said. 

On Friday, the president of Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, warned that the militant group's attacks on the Kobani area ''threaten the whole entirety of the Kurdish nation.'' 

The battle over Kobani is part of a long-running fight between the Islamic State group and Syria's Kurds that has raged across a band of Syrian territory stretching along the Turkish border from the north to the far northeast, where large numbers of Kurds live. The clashes are one aspect of Syria's broader civil war —a multilayered conflict that the UN says has killed more than 190,000, 

The YPK is viewed with suspicion by many Syrian rebels and their Western supporters because of perceived links to President Bashar Assad's government. That may be changing, however, as Kurdish fighters battle alongside some Syrian rebel groups against the Islamic State in northern and eastern Syria. 

Nato member Turkey is wary of the group, which it believes is affiliated with the Kurdish PKK movement, a Kurdish movement that has waged a long and bloody insurgency in southeast Turkey. 

Several hundred Kurdish fighters streamed into the Kobani area from Turkey, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Kurdish official Nawaf Khalil also confirmed the movement of fighters into Syria. 

At least some of the volunteers looked to be PKK fighters, while others appeared to be eager civilians, according to Kurdish officials who insisted on anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to reporters. 

Some 600 PKK fighters also crossed from Iraq into Syria, heading toward Kobani, said a military official in Iraq's northern Kurdish region. That official also spoke on condition his name not be used because he wasn't authorized to speak to journalists. The PKK have a base in the Qandil mountains in the Kurdish region of Iraq. 

Ethnic Kurds dominate a mountainous region that straddles Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. 

Syrian Kurdish fighters had been successfully fighting off the militants for the past two years. They even clashed with the Islamic State group's fighters in northern Iraq, carving a safe passage for thousands of embattled Iraqis of the Yazidi minority, whom the militant group sees as apostates. 

But the tide changed in September as Islamic State group fighters began employing more powerful weaponry they seized from Iraqi soldiers who fled the militants' advance in June. 

The US has yet to launch any airstrikes in Syria to stem advances by Islamic State fighters, but airstrikes in Iraq have helped Kurdish fighters there and the Iraqi army stem attacks by Islamic State forces. 

US Central Command reported five airstrikes against militants on Friday and Saturday, including one southwest of Baghdad that destroyed an Islamic State group boat carrying supplies across the Euphrates River. The four other strikes were northwest of Haditha, targeting armed vehicles, checkpoints and guard outposts. 

The US has now conducted 183 airstrikes across Iraq since the military action began in early August.

Afghan presidential rivals set to ink 'unity government' deal

Sep 21, 2014
Abdullah Abdullah

KABUL: Rival candidates in the bitterly disputed Afghan presidential election will sign an agreement on a unity government on Sunday, aides said, potentially easing months of tension that destabilised Afghanistan while foreign troops withdraw. 

The signing ceremony to be held at the Kabul presidential palace — still occupied by outgoing leader Hamid Karzai despite an election process that began in April — will coincide with the planned announcement of final results. 

The announcement follows a UN-monitored audit of all 8 million ballots cast in a June run-off vote that had been disputed by both major candidates — former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. 

Ghani and Abdullah struck a power-sharing deal on Saturday, their aides said. As part of that deal, former finance minister Ghani will most likely become the new president and Abdullah chief executive with newly expanded powers, although when those moves will come into effect remains far from clear. 

The election was showcased by Afghanistan's foreign backers as the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's troubled history but the drawn-out dispute ruined hopes for a smooth transition from Karzai, who has ruled since soon after the Taliban were ousted in late 2001. 

The uncertainty emboldened the Taliban-led insurgency to launch more attacks across Afghanistan, just as the newly trained Afghan security forces prepare to lead the fight against the militants on their own after foreign troops withdraw. 

Teams from the Ghani and Abdullah camps met late into Saturday night with UN representatives to try to finalise the power-sharing deal before the release of the audit results. 

The final bone of contention had been how the final vote tally would be announced. Aides and officials have said Abdullah insisted that the official percentages of the votes either not be made public or be altered to give him more votes. Abdullah is widely seen as trailing Ghani in the tally. 

It was unclear how the dispute over results was finally resolved but all sides in the talks said late on Saturday that the deal was done. 

"Both camps have agreed 100 per cent on everything ... Everything has been initialled and there is no disagreement on anything," said Faizullah Zaki, a spokesman for Ghani. 

Abdullah spokesman Mujib Rahimi also confirmed a deal had been struck, but did not give any details. 

Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Karzai, said the deal would be formally signed at the presidential palace on Sunday. Faizi also said in a text message the candidates had agreed on the announcement of results but gave no other details. 

Preliminary figures released in July put Ghani ahead with 56 per cent of the June 14 run-off vote, prompting street protests from supporters of Abdullah who alleged massive fraud and said he was the rightful winner. 

The political crisis threatened to rekindle the ethnic tensions that plunged Afghanistan into civil war in the 1990s. Abdullah derives much of his support from the ethnic Tajik and Hazara communities, while Ghani is widely supported by the Pashtuns, Afghanistan's largest ethnic group. 

The audit of the June 14 run-off was part of a deal brokered in July by US secretary of state John Kerry to try to avert a descent into violence. 

Abdullah and Ghani pledged to accept the audit results and form a unity government with the winner - presumably Ghani — as president and the runner-up either becoming chief executive or nominating someone for post with newly expanded powers. 

India eyes a strategic opportunity in the Bay of Bengal

The Andaman Islands 
From outpost to springboard 
Sep 13th 2014 | PORT BLAIR | 

Barrack room banyan

EXPLORE the palm-fringed bays of Port Blair, the capital of the Indian-owned Andaman and Nicobar islands, and intriguing sights appear. On one islet are the ghostly remains of a Victorian-era British settlement, its barracks, ballroom and Presbyterian church strangled by monstrous banyan trees. On another shore sits the headquarters of India’s only three-service—army, air and navy—military command. At a nearby wharf warships form a line, white ensigns flapping. A dry dock lies moored out in the harbour as a frigate steams out into the Bay of Bengal.

India had long neglected its island outpost close to mainland South-East Asia. Populated for thousands of years by indigenous tribes, the Andamans were used as a penal colony by the British until the Japanese invasion in 1942. After independence, India treated the Andamans as a remote backwater, too costly to supply or defend. The country’s military planners mostly faced west, to Pakistan. 

Attitudes are changing. India increasingly looks east, whether hoping for trade or fretting about China’s military heft. In the Himalayas China has built roads, railways and other infrastructure along a 3,380-kilometre (2,100-mile) disputed border. India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, says his country must build up there too. He will discuss the border with Xi Jinping, China’s president, who will visit India for three days from September 17th. Whatever progress he might make, India is at a strategic disadvantage in the Himalayas, since China looks down on it from the high Tibetan plateau. To compensate, Indian strategists seek advantages elsewhere.

That means bolstering strength at sea. A rising share of India’s growing military budget is being passed to the Indian navy. Three years ago it got just $4.2 billion; this year it has $6.2 billion, or nearly a fifth of total military spending. The navy is reportedly moving vessels and men from its western to its eastern command, which is said to include five guided-missile destroyers, three stealth frigates and a nuclear submarine. An aircraft-carrier is to come later. In the Andaman command a fleet of 15 vessels will expand to 32 in eight years. The army presence will also double, to 6,000.

War in Ukraine Exposes Russia’s Weakness

Chris Miller
16 September 2014

Putin, striving to wield influence over former Soviet states, must compete with EU and rising China

How not to win friends and influence people: Russian President Vladimir Putin accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, arrive for military exercises before annexing Crimea (top); Russian troops invade Georgia in August 2008

NEW HAVEN: With Russia quickly taking over Crimea and poised to bring other parts of Ukraine under its sway, President Vladimir Putin’s stock has soared not only in Russia but among some in the West. He is seen by many as a strong leader ready to take risks to achieve national ambitions.

Reality may be much bleaker for Russia. Instead of restoring the empire it lost when the Soviet Union collapsed, Putin’s new Eurasian Union, linking Russia’s economy with that of Kazakhstan and Belarus and seeking to include Ukraine , might be a marker of Russia’s continued decline. The appeal of European Union on the west and that of a resurgent China in the east continues to nibble away at Russian power and influence.

AQIS claims plot to strike US warships was executed by Pakistani Navy officers

September 17, 2014

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed that Pakistani Navy officers were involved in the failed attempt to hijack a Pakistani warship and launch missiles at US Navy vessels in the Indian Ocean.

AQIS' spokesman, Usama Mahmoud, made the claim today in a statement released on his Twitter account. Mahmoud's statement was obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Mahmoud had previously claimed on Sept. 13 that AQIS executed the attack on the Pakistani warship, and published a diagram purporting to show the layout of the PNS Zulfiqar. He said that the attackers had planned to take control of the PNS Zulfiqar and launch missiles at US warships in the Indian Ocean. The PNS Zulfiqar carries at least eight C-802 surface to surface anti-ship missiles. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claims 2 attacks in Pakistan.]

In today's statement, Mahmoud accuses the Pakistani military and media outlets of attempting "to deliberately cover up the truth of this operation and the nature of its objectives," according to SITE. "In an obvious attempt to deceive the world, the official spokesmen for the army and navy portrayed the attack as targeting the Pakistani Navy alone, and its arsenal in the city of Karachi in particular."

But Mahmoud says the "true objective of the operation ... is the American naval fleet that is stationed in the Indian Ocean."

The AQIS spokesman denied that the Sept. 6 assault on the PNS Zulfiqar at the naval base in Karachi was carried out by "intruders," and instead said that Pakistani naval "officers" executed the attack.

"The official Pakistani story alleged that the attackers were merely a group of intruders that breached a military institution of the Pakistani Navy, and broke in from outside," Mahmoud says. "However, all the participants in this fearless operation were officers serving in the ranks of the Pakistani Navy."

The naval officers, Mahmoud claims, "responded to the appeal of the scholars and jihad and joined the ranks of the mujahideen."

Mahmoud described the officers' involvement in the attack as a "rebellion" and not just an attempt to strike at the US.

"Therefore, this operation does not represent an attack on the Americans alone, but it is a rebellion against the Pakistani Navy by its own elements, striking the policy of humiliation and subjugation to America, which the Satanic alliance - represented in the Americanized generals, selfish politicians, and corrupt government employees - imposes," Mahmoud says.

Mahmoud goes on to explain AQIS' "reasons for targeting America." The reasons are standard for al Qaeda, and include the US' perceived war on Islam, and America's support for Israel, Muslim countries, and "secular movements."

The US Navy was chosen as a target because "through its naval military superiority, America is able to control ours straits, our channels, and our waters, and loot the fortunes of our Ummah [Muslim community]," Mahmoud says.

Reports of collusion within Pakistani Navy

While Mahmoud's claim that Pakistani naval officers executed the attack on the PNS Zulfiqar cannot be proven, Pakistani officials and press reports indicate that at least some of the attackers are members of the Pakistani military.

Khawaja Asif, Pakistan's Defense Minister, said that "some of the navy staff of commissioned ranks and some outsiders" were involved in the attack, according to Dawn.

The Nation reported that a former naval officer known as Awais Jakhrani was killed during the attack. Jakhrani, the son of a Karachi Police Assistant Inspector General, had "links with [a] banned organization."

Additionally, three "Navy officials" were arrested in Quetta in Baluchistan while trying to flee to Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Navy has long been thought to be infiltrated by al Qaeda. In late May 2011, Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad wrote an article in the Asia Times on the jihadist attack on Pakistan Naval Base Mehran in Karachi. That attack was carried out by Brigade 313, a unit led by al Qaeda and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami leader Ilyas Kashmiri. In his article, Shahzad noted that Pakistani officials had begun investigating jihadist "groupings" within the Navy in the spring of 2011 and discovered a "sizeable al Qaeda infiltration within the navy's ranks."

After military officials detained and interrogated suspected jihadist infiltrators, al Qaeda threatened to launch attacks against military bases. The Pakistani military opened negotiations with al Qaeda, which ultimately failed. Then Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad on May 1, 2011. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani jihadists decided to take revenge, obtaining detailed information on Mehran from their Navy infiltrators.

"Within a week, insiders at PNS Mehran provided maps, pictures of different exit and entry routes taken in daylight and at night, the location of hangers and details of likely reaction from external security forces," Shahzad wrote.

Shahzad's article, which was published on May 27, 2011, is widely believed to have resulted in his murder at the hands of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. He was kidnapped and murdered just two days after it was published.

China Has Lots of Missiles in Asia: Time for America to Respond?

September 19, 2014

Washington should consider modifying the INF treaty to permit the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Asia while continuing to bar their deployment in Europe—despite the alternatives. 

How should the United States respond to Russian noncompliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty? For more than twenty-five years, this landmark arms-control agreement has prevented both nations from fielding surface-to-surface ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometers, whether they carry conventional or nuclear warheads. In late July, the State Department publicly revealed what the press had been reporting for some time, namely that Russia has violated the treaty by testing a prohibited weapon.

Suspicions of Russian cheating, along with official confirmation of Moscow’s transgression, have led to a flurry of articles outlining what the United Statesshould or should not do in response. For instance, I have suggested that Washington consider modifying the treaty to permit the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Asia, while continuing to bar their deployment in Europe. Unconstrained by INF, China has amassed a large arsenal of missiles that would be captured by the agreement if it were a signatory—missiles that pose a significant threat to U.S. theater bases and forward-operating forces in the Western Pacific. By pursuing similar weapons of its own, the United States could bolster conventional deterrence and enhance crisis stability. In a modern twist on the original “dual track” approach that characterized the deployment of intermediate-range missiles to Europe several decades ago, it might even gain leverage over China to negotiate limits on its offensive forces.

In a recent article here at TNI, Matthew Hallex criticizes this argument. In his view, altering or abandoning the INF Treaty and developing missile forces that are currently proscribed by it would be a bad move for Washington. Not only would these weapons have little utility, but they could also come at the expense of capabilities with greater value.

India and Vietnam Call for Freedom of Navigation in South China Sea

September 18, 2014

The two countries also signed seven bilateral agreements during Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s trip to Vietnam. 

Ahead of Xi Jinping’s scheduled three-day visit to India, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee traveled to Vietnam for a state visit. At the conclusion of his trip to Vietnam, Mukherjee and his counterpart, Truong Tan Sang, issued a joint communique in which they jointly called for countries to stand for freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea. The communique is ostensibly aimed at China, which was engaged in a major stand-off earlier this year with Vietnam after it placed an oil rig within waters Vietnam claims as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

More specifically, the communique calls for South China Sea countries to codify and implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and work towards adopting a “Code of Conduct.” The idea of a code of conduct in the South China Sea has met considerable resistance from China, which instead prefers to handle disputes in the region on a bilateral basis. Apart from China, major disagreements exist within ASEAN regarding the need for a code of conduct. Such disagreements led to the disintegration of the 2012 ASEAN summit in which regional leaders were unable to agree to a joint statement. As per India and Vietnam’s joint communique:

The leaders reiterated their desire and determination to work together to maintain peace, stability, growth and prosperity in Asia. They agreed that freedom of navigation in the East Sea/South China Sea should not be impeded and called the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid threat or use of force and resolve disputes through peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the UNCLOS-1982. They also welcomed the collective commitment of the concerned parties to abide by and implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to work towards the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus. They called for cooperation in ensuring security of sea-lanes, maritime security, combating piracy and conducting search and rescue operations.

Mukherjee’s trip to Vietnam resulted in other agreements as well. Overall, India and Vietnam signed seven agreements over the course of the visit. As The Hindu reports, one of these agreements will see greater cooperation between the two countries in the oil sector. Vietnam has granted India oil exploration rights within its EEZ in the past and will likely continue to do so. Additionally, India will extend a credit line to Vietnam per an agreement signed during Mukherjee’s visit. The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on agricultural cooperation, and a MOU on “operating and jointly promoting direct air services between Vietnam Airlines (Vietnam) and Jet Airways (India).”

Information Warfare: Marxist News Values In China

September 17, 2014 

In late August the Chinese government issued a public demand that all Chinese journalists learn “Marxist news values”. This means only reporting things that the communist government wants reported and reporting in a way that the government approves of. This is nothing new. In late 2013 the government ordered all 250,000 “licensed” journalists to take 18 hours of training in “correct journalism” (sticking to the Communist Party line) each year and pass an examination in order to remain an officially recognized journalist. This was believed triggered by an embarrassing incident earlier in 2013 when Sichuan province was hit by a severe earthquake that killed hundreds, injured over 10,000 and left several hundred thousand people homeless. China promptly ordered nearly 20,000 troops, along with over a thousand trucks, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to join the relief effort. Journalists were advised to concentrate on the positive aspects of all this. The journalists generally complied.

The government media bureaucrats did not want more of the bad press the government got during an even deadlier earthquake back in 2008. In that one over 80,000 people died and millions were made homeless. In 2008 the media had a field day exposing local corruption that allowed flimsy public building to go up and quickly come down during an earthquake. Thousands of school children died because of that. The journalists also reported the shortcomings of using military personnel for relief work. The army sent in 130,000 troops to help and some remained until the end of the year. Chinese troops are increasingly used for disaster relief and arrived quickly for the 2008 disaster. This was one of the largest such deployments ever, with over six percent of armed forces personnel sent in. The media exposure of leadership and performance problems troops experienced alarmed and angered the government who saw the journalists ignoring all the good the troops were doing. Since then the military has added disaster relief training for commanders and troops and prepared more effective plans for these operations. But the government saw the main problem as undisciplined journalists who have forgotten who they work for.

The government also tweaked its Internet censorship software and procedures to catch and delete negative reports about the disaster and relief efforts from non-journalists. While many Internet users may not see those deleted comments, government officials do and seek ways to fix problems that are fixable. Now the government wants more attention directed at how some 2008 corruption issues were addressed (so that buildings put up after 2008 held up in the 2013 earthquake) and that the troops have gotten more effective at bringing aid to earthquake victims.

These censorship efforts are noted by most people. Chinese also notice that the government is no less fanatical about controlling what is reported about these disasters. Most Chinese believe that government suppression of free speech is expanding and that is

Success Stories A Reader's Guide to Strategy

Strategy: A History. By LAWRENCE FREEDMAN. Oxford University Press, 2013, 768 pp. $34.95

Lawrence Freedman’s monumental new book is one the most significant works in the fields of international relations, strategic studies, and history to appear in recent years, so readers should know what it is and what it is not. Despite its size and ambition, this magnum opus is not comprehensive. Strategy is instead a deliberately selective look at an important term that gets bandied about so much as to become almost meaningless. Scholars now have a work that arrests that slackness.

Readers should also know that Freedman’s book does not focus on “grand strategy,” a topic widely studied and a term often used to judge policymaking, since it concerns historical actors pursuing big ends. The index therefore contains no entry for the Roman Empire, and Freedman never discusses the grand strategies of such lasting players as the Ming dynasty, the Ottomans, King Philip II of Spain, the British Empire, or the Catholic Church. He does, however, tackle Satan’s strategy, in a dissection of Paradise Lost. There are diversions into literature, ancient myth, political theory, and the classics, and to the extent that they serve Freedman’s grander purpose of showing what strategy can sometimes be, the detours may be justified. But Freedman certainly likes to pick and choose, a tendency that can sometimes make it difficult for readers to follow the thread of his arguments even as readers move into the central sections.

Those sections are threefold -- “Strategies of Force,” “Strategy From Below,” and “Strategy From Above” -- and Strategy is best read as three separate books in one. As he has with everything else in this elaborate study, Freedman has chosen these titles carefully. Still, his idiosyncratic and even peremptory claim on meanings and the logical chain of his chapters remind one of Alice’s encounter with the arbitrary Red Queen: things are as the author says they are, whatever one may happen to think about whether a “from below” strategy is included in his “Strategies of Force” section. Yet the book still stands tall compared to the many lesser works on strategy and policy out there, which is why it will still stand out in ten or 20 years’ time.

The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum

September 17, 2014

The idea of Scottish independence has moved from the implausible to the very possible. Whether or not it actually happens, the idea that the union of England and Scotland, which has existed for more than 300 years, could be dissolved has enormous implications in its own right, and significant implications for Europe and even for global stability.

The United Kingdom was the center of gravity of the international system from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until World War II. It crafted an imperial structure that shaped not only the international system but also the internal political order of countries as diverse as the United States and India. The United Kingdom devised and drove the Industrial Revolution. In many ways, this union was a pivot of world history. To realize it might be dissolved is startling and reveals important things about the direction of the world.

Scotland and England are historical enemies. Their sense of competing nationhoods stretches back centuries, and their occupation of the same island has caused them to fight many wars. Historically they have distrusted each other, and each has given the other good reason for the distrust. The national question was intertwined with dynastic struggles and attempts at union imposed either through conquest or dynastic intrigue. The British were deeply concerned that foreign powers, particularly France, would use Scotland as a base for attacking England. The Scots were afraid that the English desire to prevent this would result in the exploitation of Scotland by England, and perhaps the extinction of the Scottish nation.

The Union of 1707 was the result of acts of parliaments on both sides and led to the creation of the Parliament of Great Britain. England's motive was its old geopolitical fears. Scotland was driven more by financial problems it was unable to solve by itself. What was created was a united island, acting as a single nation. From an outsider's perspective, Scotland and England were charming variations on a single national theme - the British - and it was not necessary to consider them as two nations. If there was ever a national distinction that one would have expected to be extinguished in other than cultural terms, it was this one. Now we learn that it is intact. We need a deeper intellectual framework for understanding why Scottish nationalism has persisted.

The Principle of National Self-Determination

CIA’s Special Activities Division Already on the Ground in Iraq? The Answer Is Almost Certainly ‘Yes’

U.S. boots are already on the ground against the Islamic State

David Ignatius

Washington Post, September 16, 2014

Here’s a national-security riddle: How can President Obama provide limited military support on the ground to help “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State without formally violating his pledge not to send U.S. combat troops? The answer may lie in the legal alchemy known as “Title 50.”

Title 50 of the U.S. Code regulates the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. An often-cited passage is Section 413(b), which deals with presidential approval and reporting of “covert actions.” In essence, this statute gives the president authority, with a proper “finding,” to send U.S. Special Operations forces on paramilitary operations, under the command of the CIA. The best-known example was the 2011 raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.

Talking with U.S. and foreign military experts over the past week, I’ve heard two consistent themes: First, the campaign against the Islamic State will require close-in U.S. training and assistance for ground forces, in addition to U.S. air power; and, second, the best way to provide this assistance may be under the command of the Ground Branch of the CIA’s Special Activities Division, which traditionally oversees such paramilitary operations.

There are some obvious drawbacks with this approach: These “special activities” may be called covert, but their provenance will be obvious, especially to the enemy; they will build irregular forces in Iraq and Syria that may subvert those countries’ return to a stable, transparent system of governance and military operations; and history tells us (from Vietnam to Central America to the Middle East) that black operations, outside normal military channels, can get ugly — opening a back door to torture, rendition and assassination. That’s why clear guidelines and congressional oversight would be necessary.

Why Do Tel Aviv and Washington Continue to Treat Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Stockpile as a Secret?

Israel’s Worst-Kept Secret: Is the silence over Israeli nukes doing more harm than good?
Douglas Birch and and R. Jeffrey Smith
The Atlantic, September 16, 2014
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon present seized rockets that were allegedly supplied by Iran and destined for Gaza. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Israel has a substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Former CIA Director Robert Gates said so during his 2006 Senate confirmation hearings for secretary of defense, when he noted—while serving as a university president—that Iran is surrounded by “powers with nuclear weapons,” including “the Israelis to the west.” Former President Jimmy Carter said so in 2008 and again this year, in interviews and speeches in which he pegged the number of Israel’s nuclear warheads at 150 to around 300.

But due to a quirk of federal secrecy rules, such remarks generally cannot be made even now by those who work for the U.S. government and hold active security clearances. In fact, U.S. officials, even those on Capitol Hill, are routinely admonished not to mention the existence of an Israeli nuclear arsenal and occasionally punished when they do so.

The policy of never publicly confirming what a scholar once called one of the world’s “worst-kept secrets” dates from a political deal between the United States and Israel in the late 1960s. Its consequence has been to help Israel maintain a distinctive military posture in the Middle East while avoiding the scrutiny—and occasional disapprobation—applied to the world’s eight acknowledged nuclear powers.

But the U.S. policy of shielding the Israeli program has recently provoked new controversy, partly because of allegations that it played a role in the censure of a well-known national-laboratory arms researcher in July, after he published an article in which he acknowledged that Israel has nuclear arms. Some scholars and experts are also complaining that the government’s lack of candor is complicating its high-profile campaign to block the development of nuclear arms in Iran, as well as U.S.-led planning for a potential treaty prohibiting nuclear arms anywhere in the region.

Japan’s South Asia Strategy Takes Shape

September 18, 2014

With an eye towards Beijing, Tokyo seems set to increase its outreach to nations like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. 

Earlier this month, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up a three-day visit to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, adding to the list of his extensive travel itinerary since retaking office in December 2012. The trip followed a key visit to Japan from new Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, which served to add emphasis to a growing strategic relationship between Tokyo and Delhi. And, like many other of Abe’s travels over the past several months, the visit was very closely aligned with a trip to the region by Chinese leader Xi Jinping this week.

While in Bangladesh, a state traditionally more influenced by China, Abe scored an important victory with Dhaka’s backing of Japan’s bid for a nonpermanent seat at the UN Security Council. This was an important concession as Bangladesh had previously indicated its own desire to bid for a seat on the Council. During the bilateral summit in Dhaka, Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina agreed to drop these plans, however, and lend support to Japan’s bid. Abe’s visit follows up a three-day visit to Japan from Hasina this past spring, through which both sides agreed to elevate their bilateral partnership to a new level. As part of this, both sides agreed last week to launch foreign-minister-level dialogues beginning next year in Dhaka.

Traditionally, Japan has always been a generous donor of overseas development assistance (ODA) to Bangladesh. Moreover, Japanese companies have looked at Bangladesh—with its large population and rising GDP growth—as an alternative business destination to China, thanks to the country’s massive cheap labor force. But what Bangladesh lacks to keep its engine running toward sustainable development is key foreign direct investment (FDI). Long-term political instability, bureaucratic procrastination and corruption have all marred Bangladesh’s image as an internationally business-friendly place. Worse, the wave of violence instigated by the uncertainty of a credible election has only prolonged the country’s woes since industries, including the ready-made garment—the world’s second largest—have been badly hit. Furthermore, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s disputed reelection has further spooked foreign investors.

Road without a signpost

by Bibhu Routray
September 7, 2014 

There is a need to distinguish between the outfits worth negotiating with and groups whose requests can be ignored.

In August 2014, the Khasi insurgent outfit, the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) in Meghalaya declared its intention for starting peace negotiations with the government. Through a bizarre ultimatum, bordering on desperation, it even served an ultimatum on the government for appointing an interlocutor within 24 days. The state chief minister has since responded in affirmation and is asking for the required sanction from New Delhi. In all likelihood, the number of insurgent outfits under peace processes will increase by one in the coming days. Whether this new peace process, like many others continuing at present, will bring peace to the state or the north-eastern region is a different question.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) maintains a list of over 20 north-eastern insurgent outfits, who are in negotiations with the government. In a conflict-ridden region, where outfits capable of orchestrating intermittent violence have mushroomed, to boast of a long list of groups that have found reason in negotiating is a definite achievement for the government. This constitutes a success of the counter-insurgency approach of the Indian state. Quite naturally, in MHA’s lexicon the rest of the outfits who have not joined a peace process are “secessionists and extortionists who indulge in illegal and unlawful activities like abduction, extortions, killings.” While the portrayal is not entirely false, the ministry’s achievement in converting the ‘ongoing’ status of the peace processes to successful deals has remained abysmal.

The oldest of the outfits in negotiations, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) has been negotiating for the last 17 years over 80 rounds of talks. Its bete noire, the Khaplang faction (NSCN-K) joined the peace process in 2001. A group of 19 Kuki outfits in Manipur signed a Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement in 2009. While the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC)’s peace process in Meghalaya is 10 years old, the Assam base National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) started its negotiations in 2005.

Maoists: Cash Crunch

Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

In a written reply to a question the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) on July 22, 2014, stated, “The Left Wing Extremists groups, particularly the CPI (Maoist) [Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)], are reported to extort ‘levy’ from industrialists, businessmen, contractors particularly Tendu patta (Diospyros melanoxylon leaf) contractors, transporters, Government servants and various illegal mining mafia groups in the LWE affected states. Though an exact quantification is not possible, a study conducted by the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), Delhi has assessed that the CPI(Maoist) party has been collecting not less than Rs. 140 crores [INR 1.4 billion] annually from a variety of sources”. Earlier, on February 12, 2014, the UMHA had also given a similarly worded reply. However, no further details about the various 'levies' imposed by the Maoists were available.

Meanwhile, media reports quoting Chhattisgarh Police suggest that Chhattisgarh was the centre of Maoist extortion, with the rebels collecting nearly INR 1 billion from the State. The June 22, 2014, report quoted an unnamed senior Police officer saying, "Numerous intelligence inputs suggested that Maoist have extorted money to the tune of Rs 80 – 100 crore [INR 800 million to INR 1 billion] from various sources, like contractors, businessmen, transporters and tendu patta contractors, every year in the state." Senior Maoist leaders were primarily focusing on mineral-rich Chhattisgarh to extort money to run the CPI-Maoist organisation across the country.

Details of accounts of money extorted by Maoists have been recovered by the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) in Chhattisgarh. Giving details, an officer disclosed that the Maoists had been extorting money to the tune of INR 30 million annually from locals, INR 100 million from businessmen, INR 200 million from contractors, INR 100 million from transporters, about INR 200 million from tendu patta contractors, INR 150 million from timber contractors, INR 200 million from industrialists based in Naxal-hit areas and INR 200 million from employees and officers. About 20 per cent of total cost of any projects or development work undertaken in the Maoist-affected zones is extorted as "protection money", to ensure the safety of the works and the people involved, a SIB document claimed. Moreover, mobile operators also pay protection money of INR 20,000 to the Maoists to ensure the safety of each mobile tower. From the locals, money is raised in the name of "revolutionary tax", which ranges from INR 10 to INR 2,000. Of course, these figures can, at best, be taken as 'guesstimates' given the significant variation in the totals and breakup given by various agencies. Thus, while the total is given as INR 800 million – 1000 million, the breakup exceeds the upper band of INR 1000 million by INR 180 million.

Beyond ISIS and Ukraine: What Else Happened This Summer

SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, ISIS, Ebola—the list of this past summer’s disasters is long. But buried among the tragic headlines and breaking news are other events that attracted less attention but could be just as consequential for global affairs.

Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, ISIS, Ebola—the list of this past summer’s disasters is long. But buried among the tragic headlines and breaking news are other events that attracted less attention but could be just as consequential for global affairs. Here are five to watch. 

1) The fall of oil prices. Over the summer oil prices dropped to the lowest level in a year. The fluctuation alone is nothing special. What is remarkable, however, is that this drop occurred amid severe sanctions against Russia and wars in the Middle East and Ukraine—in other words, at a time when crude-oil prices should be soaring. What’s going on? The energy revolution taking place in the United States has reached sufficient scale where it is beginning to alter international dynamics. 

The U.S. has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s main oil-producing nation. In August, U.S. monthly oil production was at its highest level since 1986. Meanwhile, the anemic global economy is not generating as much demand for energy as it did during the booming years that preceded the Great Recession that started in 2008. The combination of greater supply and weaker demand is pulling prices down and having a much larger effect than the upward push created by the current geopolitical instability. This summer we witnessed a clear manifestation of an incipient and potentially transformative energy order. 

2) The worst American drought in more than a century. The western United States, Mexico, and Central America have gone three years with very little rainfall, and the situation grew direthis summer. Sixty percent of California is now experiencing “exceptional drought,” the most extreme category according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The volume of water lost by lack of rain and snow could cover the entire area stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast with four inches of water. California’s three largest reservoirs are at roughly 30-percent capacity and a new study from the University of California, Davis estimates that the current drought will cost the state $2.2 billion in damages and 17,000 jobs. The west’s severe drought wasn’t this summer’s only climatic surprise. “2014 has not been typical,” reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Never before have such large areas of the country experienced such radically different temperature extremes as they have so far this year. (The map below shows just how divergent temperature patterns were across the contiguous United States between January and July 2014.) 

January - July 2014 Minimum Temperature Rankings 

National Climatic Data Center 

Russian Advocacy Group Publishes Names of 52 Russian Soldiers Killed and 20 MIA During War in the Ukraine

New List of Russian Soldiers Killed in Ukraine: 52 Killed, 20 Missing.


September 18, 2014

On the morning of September 17, a consolidated group of the 21th separate mechanized infantry brigade of the 12128 military unit came under artillery fire near Debaltseve. About 20 Russian soldiers were killed and 40 wounded.

It is reported by Elena Vasilieva, the coordinator of the Cargo-200 from Ukraine to Russia and a Russian human rights activist, on her website, Censor.NET reports. She published a long list of 52 killed and 20 missing Russian soldiers, whose fate the organization the Cargo-200 from Ukraine to Russia is going to investigate. 

The 12128 military unit is located in the village of Totskoe-4 in the Orenburg region. The 21 separate mechanized infantry brigade, formed on the basis of the 506 mechanized infantry regiment of the 27 mechanized infantry d ivision.

“What actually happened? Early morning a convoy of ammunition (the 4th mechanized infantry company and the 2nd platoon of supplies and a maintenance company) were heading to a specified point. Suddenly they were attacked by salvo strikes. They destroyed the whole convoy, including 4 Ural trucks. More than 20 people were blown up and many other were wounded. Please note that Debaltseve is far enough from Rostov and on the territory of Ukraine,” Vasilieva said.

“In Debaltseve, it is not the first time that the militants are shelling Russian servicemen with the artillery. Of course, you can think of the losses as errors in calculation, but it the empty steppe. Over the last a few days the militants-terrorists have violated a ceasefire more than 40 times. They shot Russian columns point-blank, while asking for assistance from the Russian government in defining the status of their bandit republic.

And, again the Defense Ministry will antedate servicemen’s (including conscripts) dismissals, making the servicemen into “volunteers” for whom not bear any responsibility? Again, dozens families of the military will lose their survivors’ benefits? And how many times has this happened already? How long can you deceive your own army? How long can you deceive mothers who believed the state and sent their sons to the army?” the human rights activists writes.


September 18, 2014 
Is NSA Planning To Beef Up U.S. Cyber Response Capabilities?

Patrick Tucker, writing in the September 17, 2014 publication DefenseOne.com, writes that “ADM. Mike Rogers, Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, and Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) said that the Obama administration’s controversial spying programs have not cost the country friends, or allies — either in the technology industry or abroad. Indeed the agency shows no signs of slowing down,” Mr. Tucker added.

“I fundamentally reject the premise of the question that says the NSA is no longer in a position where it has a relationship with a foreign counterparts, or with the corporate sector; or, that foreign counterparts have walked away from the NSA. That’s not what I’ve observed in the five months as Director,” he said.

Rogers comments, at the Billington Cyber Security Summitt held Tuesday in Washington D.C., “contradicts wide[spread] reports of the worsening relationship between foreign partners like Germany and the United States. In July, Germany ejected the CIA Station Chief in that country over spying allegations,” Mr. Tucker wrote.

ADM Rogers “spent the majority of his speech describing the growing threat posed by cyber attacks against [U.S.] infrastructure, banks and regular citizens,” Mr. Tucker asserted. “It was a threat that was “foundational to the future,” of Cyber Command,” he said; and, “one that future technology would only exacerbate — not solve. He also suggested that a growing role for NSA-style spying in the fight — not against the Islamic State or al Qaeda; but, against the murky malefactors of the Internet, whatever they may be.”

“Historically,” Mr. Tucker writes, “Cyber Command, which is tasked with cyber war activity; and, signals intelligence collection under the NSA have been separate. It’s one reason why Cyber Command is pursuing partnerships with businesses that make up the nation’s infrastructure — to get them to report on breaches much more quickly.”

“I’m a big advocate that we need cyber-sharing legislation,” said Rogers. “When I see the level of [cyber threat] activity out there, versus what’s being shared with us….I see a huge delta…there are clearly liability concerns,” and stock price, etc. “They’re working on that on the Hill.”

“Of course there is also the concern among many business [especially in the social media domain] that partnering with NSA could garner them public mistrust,” Mr. Tucker added.

A Bolder NSA To Come?