6 December 2014

The fading of non-alignment

Harsh V. Pant

Non-alignment - now that's a word few have heard over the last few months coming out of India. Even as a battered and bruised Congress tries hard to reclaim the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, Narendra Modi is busy challenging India's grand old party on its own turf. He might not have been welcome at Nehru's 125th birth anniversary celebrations organized by the Congress, but he is likely to shape Nehru's legacy more significantly than many in India anticipate. And one of the legacies that Modi is gradually dismantling since coming to office is India's default foreign policy posturing of non-alignment. Moving beyond ideological rhetoric, Modi is busy engaging confidently with all major global powers without inhibition. Foreign policies of nations do not alter radically with changes in governments. But with the backing of the Indian electorate's decisive mandate, Modi today has an opportunity to bring about a realignment of Indian foreign policy priorities and goals.

In his first few months, Modi has defied many expectations and confounded his detractors and supporters alike. On the economic front, the government is only now coming into its own as its recent spate of decisions underlines. But on the foreign policy front, remarkably for a politcian who was considered provincial before the elections, Modi hit the ground running from the very first day. On the security front, there is a new, purposeful response to China with a focus on more efficient border management and defence acquisitions. Modi has reached out to the United States of America, in spite of the personal grievance of having had his visa denied by Washington, and there is a refreshing focus on immediate neighbours. The manner in which evacuations from Iraq were handled earlier this year as the threat from the Islamic State gathered pace showed a government that is operationally well-prepared. The Modi government has been more hard-nosed about Pakistan and is not backing down in face of Pakistan's escalatory tactics. So the larger picture that is emerging in the first few months is of a government that is not as risk averse as the previous governments and will be willing to take risks should the need arise.

With India's immediate neighbours, there are certainly signs that there is a new dynamism in bilateral ties as New Delhi is putting renewed emphasis on revitalizing its regional profile. India's neighbours, barring Pakistan, are certainly looking at India with a new feeling of expectation. Delhi now has to operationalize the aspirations that have been articulated. Recognizing that the implementation phase has always been a problem for Indian credibility, the Modi government is focusing on completing projects in its neighbourhood that are already in the pipeline rather than announcing new ones.

Old new war

Despite a few serious setbacks in the past, the security forces have continued to make advances into Maoist strongholds.

Written by R K Vij | Posted: December 6, 2014 

Fourteen CRPF personnel laid down their lives while fighting Maoists on December 1 in Sukma district, the hub of Maoist activity in Chhattisgarh. Maoists claim to have transited from guerrilla warfare to mobile warfare in this area. According to the Maoist tactical commandment, in guerrilla warfare, “when the enemy [that is, the security forces] advances, we retreat; when the enemy camps, we harass; when the enemy tires, we attack; when the enemy retreats, we pursue”. However, mobile warfare is what a “regular army wages by concentrating its forces in a vast area with fluid battle-fronts and deployments and often changing from one place to another”. Further, this kind of warfare has “the mobility of attacking the enemy at his relatively vulnerable spots and withdrawing quickly and the potential for changing tactics when the conditions change”. In this attack, the security forces had ventured into one such base area. Though this was a slight departure from the earlier trend of ambushing road-opening parties and convoys, Maoist tactics broadly remained the same.

Despite a few serious setbacks in the past, the security forces have continued to make advances into Maoist strongholds. New security camps and police stations have been established and Maoist movement restricted. Due to continuous attrition in their cadre, Maoist formations have fragmented. Their expansion into new areas in order to extend “the red corridor” has also been checked to a large extent. Passenger buses now ply on roads that had once been blocked to disrupt the movement of security forces. People’s support for Maoists has weakened and more security camps are being demanded. It can undoubtedly be claimed that the Maoist hold has shaken.

But the question that looms large is: What next? How do we intend to defeat this insurgency, which thrives on the premise of a socio-economic-political deficit, but ultimately wants to capture power through armed struggle? Recently, the Union home minister said that it is a challenge and that we accept it with the ultimate objective of dislodging the Maoists. As an insider, I can appreciate the efforts made by governments so far to tackle the insurgency. Both our capacity and capabilities have increased manifold. Still, till their base areas and guerrilla zones are totally dismantled, no one can guarantee that such attacks will not be repeated. The ground reality must be understood in a holistic manner.

Cash transfers can work better than subsidies

APNECESSARY? “The Public Distribution System acts as a deterrent to local food production.” Picture shows a woman showing her ration card to purchase subsidised rice in Rayagada, Odisha.
Providing people with a modest basic income instead of subsidies would save public revenue
With oil prices falling, it was perhaps a good time to fade out fuel subsidies. All subsidies are inefficient and distortionary, and most are regressive. The same could be said of costly public works schemes as well.

By contrast, the debate on direct benefit transfers has moved into a more sensible phase, with the posturing criticism of a couple of years ago rather muted. In that context, perhaps it is time for a more dispassionate discussion.

This month my colleagues and I are publishing a book based on two pilot schemes conducted in Madhya Pradesh, in which thousands of men, women and children in nine villages received a modest basic income, paid each month, in cash, unconditionally, for 18 months.

The effects were evaluated by a series of surveys, comparing what happened to the recipients with what was happening to thousands of non-recipients in 13 other villages. The amount of money provided was modest, about a third of subsistence. But what we wanted to find out was whether, as scornful sceptics had claimed, people would waste the money or by contrast be able to use it rationally to improve their lives.

We made sure to issue no guidance as to how to spend the money. The only insistence was that recipients should open bank or cooperative accounts within three months of starting to receive the monthly payment. This showed that financial intermediation can be achieved effectively when there are incentives to do so. No less than 96 per cent of all recipients had opened accounts by the end of three months.

Journey with a fallout - Nehru's Singapore trip to see INA soldiers had unexpected results

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

As soon as World War II ended, Jawaharlal Nehru announced he would visit Singapore to see for himself how Lord Louis Mountbatten's British Military Administration treated Indian National Army prisoners. This was in addition to the two propitiatory gestures - donning his barrister's gown to defend INA personnel in the Red Fort trial and speaking warmly of Subhas Chandra Bose on his birthday in 1946 - Rudrangshu Mukherjee mentions in Nehru & Bose: Parallel Lives. The visit had momentous consequences for India. It also produced a revelation about Nehru's personal life that, if true, was equally momentous.

Before discussing that fallout, let me say that when I read of Nehru's decision, I assumed he was playing to the gallery. The tension in the "tension-fraught and passing friendship" between the two men Mukherjee describes loomed larger in the public mind than the friendship. Netaji had captured the nation's imagination. Most Indians thought INA prisoners were victimized heroes. Even though on Mountbatten's advice Nehru later refused to reinduct them into the regular army, he obviously deemed it politically advisable to court them then.

Sir Hubert Elvin Rance, Burma's last British governor, refused to grant Nehru transit facilities. Air Vice-Marshall L.F. Pendred, the BMA's intelligence chief, thought his request "should be refused". Officials of the Supreme Allied Command, South-East Asia decided to make things uncomfortable if Nehru insisted on visiting. He wouldn't get official transport. He wouldn't be allowed to meet INA personnel. Even regular Indian troops would be confined to barracks. His presence would be played down in every way.

They reckoned without Mountbatten who scolded the BMA for not realizing Nehru was "one of the most important political figures in the world". Rejecting him "would invite worldwide criticism which Nehru would not fail to exploit". Mountbatten also told S.K. Chettur, British India's representative in Singapore, Nehru was "a man of honour" and would not embarrass him "by carrying out any agitational activities". Inviting Nehru "as an official representative of the All-India Congress", Mountbatten flattered him with almost head of government honours. Two senior British staff officers received him at Singapore's Kallang airport with Brigadier J.N. (Muchu) Chaudhuri, later India's Chief of the Army Staff, whom Mountbatten had appointed Nehru's personal aide. Chaudhuri took the Congress leader through about 2,000 men in INA uniform with tricolour badges (courtesy Mountbatten) to Government House (today's presidential palace or Istana) where India's future (and last) viceroy entertained India's future (and first) prime minister to tea. They hadn't met before.

South Africa marks one year since the death of ‘Madiba’ Nelson Mandela

December 5, 2014 

A mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela is placed on the wall of a building during his first dead anniversary in Cape Town, South Africa. (Source: AP photo)

South Africans on Friday began marking one year since the death of Nelson Mandela with services, blasting of vuvuzelas and a cricket match to honour his enormous legacy as an anti-apartheid icon and global beacon of hope.

An interfaith service kicked off the day’s events in Pretoria, at the Freedom Park building dedicated to the country’s liberation heroes.

“Twenty years of democracy has been possible because of Mandela,” tribal chief Ron Martin said as the sun rose over the Pretoria hills and the smell of herbs burning in spiralled antelope horns wafted over the ceremony.

Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the base of a five-metre statue of a smiling Madiba, the clan name by with South Africans affectionally call their nation’s favourite son.

“The body gave in but Madiba’s spirit never, never changed, it was always the same until the end,” Mandela’s widow Graca Machel said before laying a huge wreath of white flowers with pale pink roses at the base of the statue.

“Madiba is, in spirit, the same even today,” said Machel. “I know Madiba is smiling, Madiba is happy because he is amongst the family he chose to build.”

Later in the day, bells, hooters, vuvuzelas and sirens will chime, honk, blow and wail for three minutes and seven seconds — followed by three minutes of silence: a six-minute and seven-second dedication to Mandela’s 67 years of public service.

A long list of other events were set to take place into the weekend and beyond dedicated to Mandela, including motorcycle rides and performances.

South Africans were also finding their own ways of remembering the former president who led their country out of the dark days of apartheid after enduring 27 years in prison.

For example, tattoo studios in the country have reported an ever-growing demand for Mandela-inspired ink.

Fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called on South Africans to emulate Mandela’s example in a statement to mark the anniversary.

Chinese Prez Xi Jinping urges faster military development for a strong army

December 5, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged faster development of advanced new military equipment to help build a strong army, state media reported, as the country steps up an ambitious modernisation plan that has rattled nerves across the region.

Speaking at a two-day conference of the People’s Liberation Army, Xi said that military reforms should be “guided by the objective of building a strong army”, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Thursday.

“Advanced weaponry is the embodiment of a modern army and a crucial support for national security and rejuvenation,” it cited Xi as saying.

“Equipment systems are now in a period of strategic opportunities and at a key point for rapid development.”

Xi has been pushing to strengthen the fighting ability of China’s 2.3 million-strong armed forces as they project power across disputed waters in the East and South China Seas.

China has developed emerging stealth fighter technology, anti-satellite missiles and now has one aircraft carrier in operation and is planning more.

Defence spending this year is set to rise by 12.2 percent to 808.2 billion yuan ($131.3 billion), a number many governments and analysts say is not representative of the country’s true defence outlays.

Xi said that new weapons must be “innovative, practical and forward-thinking to meet the demands of actual combat and fill in the weak spots of China’s existing equipment”.

Clashes erupt as Islamist militants attack Grozny, 20 dead

December 5, 2014 

Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov. A gun battle broke out early Thursday in the capital of Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, puncturing the patina of stability ensured by years of heavy-handed rule by a Kremlin-appointed leader.

Police waged hours-long gunbattle with Islamic militants who attacked Chechnya’s capital on December 4, leaving at least 20 people dead and underscoring Russia’s vulnerability just as President Vladimir Putin used patriotic and religious imagery in his state-of-the-nation address to defend his standoff with the West.

The clashes in Grozny, the city’s biggest in years, dented a carefully nurtured image of stability created by Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed strongman after two separatist conflicts. The new violence raised fears of more attacks in Chechnya and widening unrest in the rest of Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region.

The Kavkaz Center website, a mouthpiece for Islamic militant groups operating in the North Caucasus, carried a link to a video message by an individual claiming responsibility for the attack. The man in the video said he was operating on orders from Emir Khamzat, reportedly a nom de guerre of Chechen warlord Aslan Byutukayev. The claim could not immediately be verified.

The insurgents in Chechnya and other Caucasus regions want to create an independent state governed by their strict interpretation of Islamic law. Some Caucasus militants have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join up with the Islamic State group. IS has vowed to launch attacks in Russia, but there have been no indications to date that it has followed through.

The fighting in Grozny began about 1 a.m., when roughly 10 gunmen riding in three cars fired on traffic police who had stopped them for a check, killing three officers. Some of the militants then holed up in a nearby office building and exchanged gunfire with police who quickly cordoned the area.

The battle left the 10-story Press House, which housed local media offices, gutted by a blazing fire that also spread to a nearby street market. Some gunmen fled to an empty school nearby. It took police more than 12 hours to kill 10 militants, according to Russian authorities, who also reported that 10 officers were killed and 28 wounded.

PM makes fresh push for truce; House stalemate on

Vibha Sharma
Dec 6 2014 
The Opposition successfully stalled proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the fourth consecutive day today while Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to their Lok Sabha members, asking them to be generous and accept the apology made by Niranjan Jyoti over her derogatory remarks.

The Prime Minister’s appeal, citing her rural and social background (Dalit as the BJP claims while the Opposition maintains she is an OBC), her "inexperience" as a parliamentarian and his own strong disapproval of her language, failed to impress his opponents in the Lok Sabha. “It is the duty of the distinguished members of the House that when a colleague seeks apology, we should be magnanimous,” the Prime Minister said in what was almost a repeat of his statement in the Upper House yesterday.

But Opposition members, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who had covered their mouths with black cloth as a sign of protest, staged a walkout.

But there was perceptible melt-down in the Opposition’s resistance against the “abusive” minister. In fact, senior Opposition leaders in the Rajya Sabha talked of “scaling down” their demand for her resignation. They said they were willing to settle for a joint resolution condemning the remarks of the newly inducted Union Minister who otherwise deserved “outright removal”. Derek ’O Brien of the Trinamool Congress said the Opposition’s intention was clear — to run the House as in the past two days five Bills were passed by the House. “We have scaled down our demand. Just pass the resolution, don’t be so arrogant and adamant,” he advised the government.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said: “We are not interested in disrupting the House business.” Charging the government with forcing a stalemate in the House, Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Opposition had listened to the Prime Minister and collectively taken a considered view to “ask for a resolution... It is up to the government to restore the dignity of the House. This is unreasonableness of the government which has forced stalemate in the House”.

Indian States Need a Free Trade Deal

By Ritesh Kumar Singh and Prachi Priya
December 04, 2014

India is advancing international trade deals, but it still hasn’t solved its domestic trade woes.

India is a full-fledged member of the WTO and isnegotiating a series of bilateral, regional and trans-regional trade pacts with countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. However, India’s domestic market trade is fraught with impediments that inhibit the seamless movement of merchandise across its different state and union territory borders. Thus it wouldn’t be wrong to assert that India itself is not a free market area. As a result, it is easier to move merchandise internationally than within the country. This limits growth and employment.

India Inc. has often complained about the underdeveloped transportation infrastructure, the complex tax regime that results in cascading taxes, and the over-regulation of inter-state trade with the frequent checks, stoppages and inspections that lead to delays in moving merchandise from one state to another.

All these factors add to the cost of doing business in India (more so for the manufacturing sector that the Make in India campaign aims to promote) and escalate the final price of tradable goods for consumers. That, in turn, encourages importation and puts pressure on the balance of payments. 

Factors Inhibiting an Indian Free Market 

A series of market distorting rules and regulations are impeding India’s evolution as an integrated common market. In the case of agricultural commodities, two good examples are the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) and the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act. ECA empowers the government to declare any commodity essential and impose stocking limits which creates uncertainty in the market.

On the other hand, the APMC Act mandates the purchase and sale of agricultural commodities in the government-regulated local mandis. So farmers cannot transport and sell their produce to better paying markets that may be located outside their districts or states.

Movement of Manufactured Goods

Another major deterrent to free inter-state trade is the multiplicity of taxes levied on manufactured goods which has fragmented the Indian market into numerous state level markets. There were some improvements with the introduction of VAT. However the cascading effect of taxes still exists.


By Shebonti Ray Dadwal

India, unlike China, has tended to look at energy security through an economic prism rather than from a purely strategic perspective. China has been aggressively making energy deals – be it acquiring assets or negotiating decades-old procurement deals – without seemingly being worried about the cost to its exchequer, and has thereby succeeded in expanding its influence in several regions of the world by tying up its vast energy market with energy-exporting countries.

But is India now looking at energy through the strategic prism? Its recent signing of the TAPI deal is certainly indicative of that. Why else would New Delhi support a project that, despite the hype surrounding the recent activity regarding the deal, has as little chance of implementation as the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) project? Further, given that TAPI does not make much commercial sense, why is there so much optimism surrounding it?

The first, and perhaps the most crucial, aspect of the TAPI project is that it has the blessings of the US. Washington is keen to provide South Asian countries with alternatives to Iranian gas in order to starve Tehran of revenues from the IPI and nudge it towards a more pliant position on its nuclear programme, as well as to break Russia’s monopoly over Central Asia’s energy sector.

Secondly, it gives India the opportunity to gain a foothold in the Central Asian energy sector, which it has been seeking for a while. It is notable that during his recent visit to Ashkabad, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan talked about expanding energy cooperation beyond TAPI into other projects in the energy sector – upstream, mid-stream as well as downstream. More importantly, with China raising its profile in the region by tying up energy deals with the Central Asian states, India too wants to mark its presence, and TAPI could be the vehicle for its geostrategic goals in the region.

But the question remains: will TAPI actually translate into a viable project?

Is Small Beautiful? Not for Driving Job Growth…

Dec 03, 2014 

It is widely believed that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are engines of job creation and help spur economic growth. Such thinking has led to lots of incentives for small enterprises and also — in countries such as India — the reservation of entire categories of products being “reserved” for production by small firms. But how true are these beliefs? That is the question that Wharton management professor Ann Harrison and her co-authors, Shanthi Nataraj of the RAND Corporation and Leslie A. Martin of the University of Melbourne, set out to answer in their research. Their conclusion: Large and young firms generate far more jobs than small ones do.

In a paper titled,“In with the Big, Out with the Small: Removing Small-Scale Reservations in India,” Harrison and her co-authors also examine India’s policy of reservation of some items for SMEs and the impact of de-reservation ushered in as part of economic reforms enacted in recent years.The researchers found that districts more exposed to de-reservation experienced higher employment and wage growth. The results suggest that promoting employment growth in the Indian case was not achieved through small-scale sector reservation policies. This can be extrapolated to other parts of the world. In this interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Harrison explains that young firms are the key innovators in India. The fact that they are also small is incidental.

An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.

On what inspired the research:

I’ve always been interested in the role of government policies in promoting well-being. India, in particular, is an interesting case because there have been extensive regulatory changes and policies to try to make people better off. The regulations that India has directed towards SMEs are typical of the policies that many countries have for their small and medium firms. So, it is a more general and important question.

“Young firms are really the key innovators in India, and probably in other countries as well.”

The key findings from this research, which is co-authored with Shanthi Nataraj and Leslie A. Martin, is that the promotion of SMEs by reserving certain products only for them didn’t have the expected result. The idea behind the Indian government’s policies, which were known as “small-scale reservation,” was to take a large number of products, maybe 1,000, and allow only SMEs to make them. It was expected that by removing these policies, firms would suffer and wouldn’t grow as quickly. The result is quite surprising. What it shows is that employment and wages actually grew faster once these restrictions were removed.


On the key findings:

What our research finds is that employment generation is really focused on young firms, new firms or large enterprises. Why is employment being generated in India by these younger firms or these larger firms when conventional wisdom suggests that SMEs would be the source of growth? We think that the reason we have these unexpected findings is because young firms are really the key innovators in India, and probably in other countries as well. Twitter It is youth that is really important. Also, larger firms have the connections needed to enter the market. They have the connections needed to be able to access capital, knowledge and well-educated workers. So, when you think about it, it actually seems almost obvious in the end that it’s the young, larger firms that are more likely to generate employment growth.

On whether the findings are relevant outside India:

We think that our research really has much broader applications; it is relevant to many other countries, including the U.S. and France. Our research is borne out by other recent findings by, for example, John Haltiwanger, professor of economics at the University of Maryland-College Park. His research shows that in the U.S., it’s the younger, larger firms that are generating more employment. The advantage of our research is that we actually have what’s called a “natural experiment” — the elimination of a regulatory framework — which allows us to look at before and after, which other researchers have not been able to exploit to understand this problem.

On the policy implications of the research:

The policy implications are that if you want to promote employment growth, then restricting the production of certain goods for certain size firms is not the way to go. The correct policy would be to encourage entry by younger firms or larger enterprises. That is more likely to yield the kind of outcomes that governments are looking for.

“The policy implications are that if you want to promote employment growth, then restricting the production of certain goods for certain size firms is not the way to go.”

On whether small firms should get incentives:

There’s a perception among economists — among policymakers — that small is beautiful. What our research suggests is that that is clearly not the case if you’re trying to maximize employment growth. If you want to do that you have to focus on younger firms. But that’s not to say we shouldn’t be promoting SMEs. The best way to promote them is by not discriminating against them. Don’t make it harder for SMEs to enter because we want new enterprises. But explicit policies to encourage being small are not a good idea. Tax holidays that are only focused on SMEs, for example, are not the best option.

On future research projects:

I’m very excited about an ongoing research project also on India where we are looking at the effects of hundreds of regulations to try to improve the environment in India. There have been many different regulatory changes, some of them mandated by the Supreme Court, while others are done at the state and local level. We are particularly interested in trying to identify what kinds of changes — either through regulations or price changes — can make firms behave in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly way. So, that’s our ongoing project on India. I’m also doing a number of other research projects on China, looking in particular at the success of their industrial policies, which is an area that I find particularly important.

Backgrounder on Pakistan’s Growing Nuclear and Missile Arsenals

December 4, 2014

On November 13th Pakistan successfully tested another long-range (1,500 kilometers) Hatf VI ballistic missile, of the type used to deliver nuclear weapons against India. The Hatf VI IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) entered service in 2008 although it was declared “ready for service” in 2004. Also known as Shaheen 2, it is moved using a transporter erector launcher (TEL), which is a 15.6 meter (fifty foot) long, six axle vehicle.

Hatf VI is believed to be an upgraded Pakistani version of the Chinese M-18, which was originally shown at the 1987 Beijing air show as a two-stage missile with a 1,000 km range and carrying a 400-500 kg (900-1100 pound) payload. This M-18 missile has the longest range of any of the current M/DF-series missiles. The mobile, two-stage missile is said to be able to carry a one ton payload (one 35 kiloton nuclear warhead.) There have been over ten successful test launches of Hatf VI in the last four years. The missiles 2,000 kilometer maximum range puts Bombay, New Delhi, Lucknow, and Jaipur, as well as all military targets in northern India, within reach.

The eight missiles of the Hatf series were all developed since the 1980s. The smallest of these is the 1.5 ton Hatf I, which appeared in 1989, has a range of 80 kilometers and a half ton warhead. Also showing up in 1989, the 2.5 ton Hatf II has a range of 180 kilometers, and also carried a half ton warhead. The four ton Hatf III has a range of some 300 kilometers and also carries a half ton warhead. The Hatf IV, weighing 9.5 tons, and carrying a one ton warhead, has a range of 700 kilometers. The sixteen ton Hatf V is the only remaining liquid fuel missile in service. First tested in 1998, it has a range of some 2,000 kilometers and carries a .7 ton warhead. However, this missile will probably be quickly replaced by the 25 ton Hatf VI (for which more than a dozen TELs have been spotted). This missile was first publicly displayed in 2000, but has required many years of further development. Finally, the 1.5 ton Haft VII is a cruise missile, with a range of 700 kilometers. It was first tested in 2005 and entered service in 2011. Haft VII uses a three missile transporter/erector/launcher (TEL) designed for “shoot and scoot.” That means that the launcher can quickly launch a missile, return the missile canister to the horizontal position and move out of the area. This is because radars and other sensors can quickly spot where a missile is launched vertically, and attack the missile transporter. With a range of 700 kilometers, Hatf VII is based on the American Tomahawk cruise missile. Pakistan collected a lot of information on Tomahawk after several of them crashed in Pakistan in 1998 during a mass cruise missile attack on al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Hatf VII has been adapted for use from aircraft and ships.

Pakistan has imported a lot of Chinese and North Korean missile technology, and has bought missile components from both countries. Pakistani nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles that can get past any Indian defenses, are seen as the ultimate guarantee that Pakistan will not be conquered by India. While many Pakistanis have long feared Indian invasion and conquest, few Indians want to absorb Pakistan and all its economic, ethnic and political problems.


As of 2014, China is the second-largest trading partner of the Arab world. In 2013, China surpassed the US as the Persian Gulf’s main oil client. From 2003 to 2013, China’s crude imports from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) grew by 12 percent annually, and China-Arab trade by 25 percent. China’s energy needs have guided much of its Middle East strategy. Although in recent years China’s relations with the Middle East have developed broader commercial bonds, China’s larger strategic intentions in the region, and in particular the prospects of a stronger political and security engagement, remain uncertain.

Unlike the United States (US) or the European Union (EU), China does not have a specific Middle East policy as such. Its policy towards the region sits within broader foreign policy parameters; respect for sovereignty of others and non-interference in their domestic affairs, and support for a more multi-polar world order as an alternative to Western hegemony. The Chinese State Council, China’s highest executive body, has issued White Papers on many foreign policy subjects, but not on China’s relationship with the Middle East. Moreover, Middle Eastern affairs are split between two separate departments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing rather than being gifted with its own one – the Department of West Asian and North African Affairs, and the Department of European and Central Asian Affairs.

The complexity of the Middle East region is mapped in the modes of engagement between China and its partners there. A China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was founded in 2004. China’s relations with the League of Arab States and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are currently low profile and not geared up for more ambitious engagement. A strategic dialogue with the GCC to structure the relationship was only established in 2010, long after similar dialogues were launched with the EU and the US. Until then, China had not talked of a ‘strategic partnership’ with any country or grouping of countries in the Middle East, although Beijing has recently started to show a desire to potentially develop these types of higher- profile relationships. Its dominant discourse so far has been almost wholly in terms of economic cooperation, especially on energy. And while China has increasingly expended time and effort on some of the major MENA countries (as will be shown later in this policy brief), it has not, as Russia did over Syria at the United Nations (UN) in 2012, stuck its neck out and taken policy positions on regional issues that might lead to tensions with others, including Western countries.

Intel Sources: China Has Conducted Third Test Flight of a New Hypersonic Missile

Washington Free Beacon
December 4, 2014

China conducted the third flight test of a new hypersonic missile this week as part of its strategic nuclear program and efforts to develop delivery vehicles capable of defeating U.S. countermeasures, defense officials said.

The flight test of the developmental Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle was monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies Tuesday during a flight test in western China.

The latest flight test followed earlier tests of the Wu-14 on Jan. 9 and Aug. 7. The three tests indicate that China’s development of a strike vehicle capable of traveling up to eight times the speed of sound is a high-priority element in China’s large-scale military buildup.

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the test but declined to provide details.

“We are aware of reports regarding this test and we routinely monitor foreign defense activities,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeff Pool told the Washington Free Beacon.

“However, we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapon systems,” Pool added, noting that the Pentagon has encouraged China to adopt greater openness with regard to its defense investments and military objectives “to avoid miscalculation.”

Last month in Beijing, the United States and China agreed to a new military accord that called for notifying each country of major military activities. It could not be learned if the Chinese notified the Pentagon in advance of the Wu-14 test.

The Wu-14 was launched atop a Chinese ballistic missile and released along the edge of space.

Past tests of the glide vehicle were clocked as reaching an estimated speed of Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound—around 7,680 miles per hour.

Such speeds create difficult aeronautics and physics challenges for guidance systems and place extreme stress on materials used in construction of the vehicle.

How to Deal with Chinese Assertiveness: It's Time to Impose Costs

December 4, 2014 

While avoiding the extreme positions of escalating conflict or doing nothing, the United States and its allies need to think through the full panoply of countermeasures to help fashion a strategy for countering coercion. 

China’s reemergence as a wealthy and powerful nation is a fact. In recent decades its rise has been unprecedented, moving from the tenth-largest economy in 1990, to the sixth-largest economy in 2001, to the second-largest economy in 2010. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China now surpasses the United States in terms of purchasing power parity. By the same measure, China’s economy was only half the size of America’s a decade earlier, and it is this trajectory that is molding assumptions about the future regional power balance and order across the Indo-Pacific. Recent declines in growth and rising questions about future stability have yet to alter most perceptions about tomorrow’s China.

China’s deepening integration with the regional and global economy underscore the difficulty of pushing back when China transgresses rules and norms. Take the issue of infrastructure. Infrastructure will gradually redraw the strategic economic and security connectivity of the twenty-first century, and China’s infrastructure prowess has been on prominent display of late. President Xi initiated the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum with a speech touting the linear projection that China will invest some $1.25 trillion over the next decade overseas, and wants to invest $40 billion in re-establishing the old Silk Road while also building a new Maritime Silk Road. These sums are in addition to China’s proposal for a new $50 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. Like the New Development Bank (previously called The BRICS Development Bank), these schemes chip away at the existing Bretton Woods international economic architecture with bodies of uncertain governance. As Indian Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman put it at a recent conference, “If Bretton Woods institutions will not provide infrastructure financing for emerging economies, then we will have to find alternatives.”

China Is Capable of Launching Cyber Strikes Against US Power Grids

December 3, 2014 

Two weeks ago, Admiral Mike Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, told a congressional panel that China and “one or two” other countries would be capable of mounting a cyberattack that could shut down the power grid or other critical infrastructure. In addition, over the last two years, there have been a number of public reports that China-based hackers broke into industrial control systems (ICS). UglyGorilla, one of the five People’s Liberation Army hackers indicted by the Department of Justice,reportedly hacked into the computers of a public utility in the northeastern United States, perhaps to map the system in preparation for a future attack.

As with previous U.S. claims, the Chinese have fiercely denied that they hack at all, much less into industrial systems. But in one of the denials, there is an interesting insight into Chinese concerns about U.S. capabilities. This article in Chinese points out that these claims have been made before and are part of the “China threat theory,” efforts by Congress, the Defense Department, and others to paint China as a threat to the international order. The novelty and importance of the claim, the article argues, is that Rogers is its source. The article asserts, in a roundabout way, that this is evidence that the United States is capable of hacking into China’s power grid. No one knows what cyber capabilities China possesses, and so if Rogers is worried about someone hacking into U.S. critical infrastructure it is because he knows that Cyber Command can do it to others.



The number of Muslim converts in the West involved in violent extremism is an emerging issue. Increased community intervention and supportive counselling for converts may be helpful in countering radicalism.

By Damien D. Cheong

In recent times, Muslim converts in the West professing extremist beliefs have come under the spotlight for terrorist-related activities in and outside their home countries. For instance, a British and French national were identified in the latest ISIS video showing the mass beheadings of Syrian soldiers. The beheading of two Americans – a journalist and an aid worker – in Iraq two months ago was carried out by a Muslim convert with a British accent.

Last month, the attack on the Canadian parliament was perpetrated by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a recent Muslim convert while in New York, Zale Thompson, another convert, attacked NYPD officers with an axe. Earlier, in May 2013, two British Muslim converts, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, were convicted of the brutal slaying of Lee Rigby, an off-duty soldier in southeast London.
Motivations, conversion process and related issues

The motivations behind these acts were personal, and differed from individual to individual. However, what is common is the embrace of a world view that legitimizes acts of extreme violence to achieve objectives that are premised on religious grounds. Was this the result of the convert’s misinterpretation/misunderstanding of religious texts? Or was the convert influenced by radical individuals close to him/her (radical influencers)? Or did violent extremist groups simply appeal to the psyche of the convert?

According to psychologists, religious conversions usually happen when an individual is forced to develop a “new meaning system” to replace the existing one as the latter has failed to adequately explain or validate the “discrepancies” of life (e.g. the sudden death of a loved one). As conversion involves significant changes to a person’s meaning system, it will naturally result in observable changes to his/her “self-perception, identity, life purpose, attitudes, values, goals, sensitivities, ultimate concerns and behavior”.

The Emirates Center and Gulf Think Tanks: The Next Twenty Five years

DEC 4, 2014 

Presentation to the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), December 10, 2014, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Let me begin by congratulating the Emirates Center for so many accomplishments over the last 25 years. It has been a privilege to watch its growth, its sustained quality, and its steadily increasing influence.

I believe that the Emirates Center is a key demonstration of the fact that think tanks that seek to provide objective, fact-based analysis are a critical aspect of both modern governance and civil society.

Such think tanks provide an effective route to evolutionary change, provide effective outside policy initiatives for – and critiques of – governments. They provide the intellectual depth that far too much of modern media – and its focus on instant communication and analysis – lacks. They act as a common bridge of rational analysis that crosses regions, cultures, and faiths at time when far too many divisions are shaped by conspiracy theories, fear, prejudice, and anger.

What I would like to focus on today, however, is not what the Emirates Center and other regional think tanks have accomplished. It is rather the new and evolving challenges that the Center and other regional think tanks must meet in the future and on the increased support they will need from Gulf governments.

Let me stress that I am speaking for myself and not for CSIS, and that I have not worked for the US government for some 20 years. Having made that disclaimer, let me make it clear that while there is much to celebrate, that there is still much to be done

First, there is a need for objective, regional net assessments of the relative capabilities of Iran, GCC forces, and those of outside powers like the US, Britain, and France.

The goal should be to set priorities based on realistic assessments of the overall threat, current capabilities, and mission priorities. They should be based on hard numbers and facts. They should not rely on exaggerated estimates of either the threat or friendly capabilities, or fears of what Iran does not have and cannot execute, and conspiracy theories about neighboring states and outside allies.

Iran is not a regional superpower. Most of its conventional forces are obsolete or do not compare to the forces of the GCC states, much less the combined forces of the GCC, the US, Britain, and France. The Gulf has a decisive superiority in air power, land-based air defenses, and modern land and naval weapons.

• Even if one ignores the forces the US can deploy to the region, Iran falls far short of matching critical aspects of GCC military forces.

• Iran has not acquired any new aircraft or surface-to air missiles from the West since 1980, and much of its air force consists of systems delivered in the 1960s and 1970s. Even its most modern Russian aircraft are older export versions of the MiG-29 and Su-24. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE each have far more modern combat aircraft than Iran.

• Most of its surface-to-air missile force dates back to the 1970s, although Iran has tried to upgrade it. Its only modern systems consist of a small number of a short range TOR-M medium range surface to air missiles.

The Obama Administration: From Ending Two Wars to Engagement in Five – with the Risk of a Sixth

DEC 3, 2014 

Presidents propose action, and then reality intervenes. This cycle holds special irony in the case of President Obama. A year ago, it looked like he might end two of the longest wars in U.S. history by the time he left office. As of today, President Obama has involved the United States in five evolving conflicts, and there is little prospect any of them will be over by the time the next president is inaugurated, unless the United States chooses to disengage and lose.

War 1: Afghanistan

First is the Afghan war. The coming “Transition” at the end of 2014 will not end the U.S. role in the conflict or allow the United States to claim any form of success. The administration has ceased to provide any meaningful unclassified data on either the progress of the fighting or of Afghan forces. Rather, the administration and U.S. agencies can only be accused of lying by omission. The latest semiannual report on the Afghan war has no meaningful metrics on the trends in the fighting, dropped all detailed metrics on the readiness of Afghan units, and totally understates and ignores the negative trends in media reporting, UN casualty data, and Afghan public opinion data from recent surveys like those from the Asia Foundation. It sharply understates political risk and does not address the major economic problems and risks raised by the World Bank.

The president has already had to admit that his previous plan to cap the U.S. training and assistance mission at 9,800 will not work, that at least 12,000 to 15,000 more troops must be deployed, and U.S. combat airpower may be needed in the future. In practice, he may well have to go much further.

The United States does not need to reintroduce major combat units, but it also makes no real world sense for the United States to size support of Afghan forces to a fixed number of personnel, or commit to cut them in half by the end of 2015, or reduce them to nearly zero by the end of 2016, without any regard to the actual course of the fighting. Neither does it make sense for the most recent semiannual report on the Afghan war to lack clear plans for either military or civil aid. The president has made promises that he simply should not have made, and probably cannot keep without losing America’s longest war.

War 2: Islamic State or ISIS

The Middle East faces a faceless threat, bigger and more challenging than ISIL

December 2, 2014 

Syrian refugees walk between tents at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi. The Syrian refugee crisis will reshape the Middle East, argues Faisal Al Yafai 

Who or what has had the most influence on the Middle East this year? As 2014 draws to a close, this is the reflective question many analysts and journalists are drawn to answering.

That question, in fact, was the premise of a television show that gathered together opinion-formers from across the Middle East (including this columnist) in Dubai last week.

In a year that made a household name of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, saw the re-election of Bashar Al Assad and the end (for now) of Nouri Al Maliki’s prime ministership, it is natural that a review of the year should focus on a single face.

Yet with so much happening in the Middle East and so many personalities contributing to those events, it strikes me that just as the problems of the Middle East are too big to have been caused by any one person, so the problems are too big to be solved by any one person.

The Middle East’s most influential figure is faceless, a challenge for the region bigger than the threat of ISIL or the rise of Iran. It is the refugee crisis in Syria, a nameless, faceless threat that, nonetheless, is creating new challenges daily.

The scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is almost unfathomable. The UN says three million Syrians have fled the country, with at least another six million displaced within the country. That is more than the population of New York.

Homeless, and fleeing war, at least half of those refugees are children, most of whom have had their education severely disrupted. Many have lost family members, too many are orphans – with all the vulnerability that brings – and all are severely traumatised.

Numbers on that scale are more than a crisis, more than a catastrophe. Syria’s refugee crisis is a cataclysm.

Leaders in Glass Countries Shouldn’t Throw Stones

DECEMBER 4, 2014

Many people probably think the explosive events in Ferguson, Missouri, are a purely domestic issue and have nothing to do with American foreign policy or the U.S. position in the world. That position is understandable, insofar as these events are first and foremost about race relations inside the United States itself, which are largely a product of America’s particular history. At a minimum, what has been happening in Ferguson (and the protests that broke out in New York and elsewhere following yesterday’s news that a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner) reminds us that race remains a deeply problematic issue here — especially in the context of law enforcement and criminal justice. Not surprisingly, most commentators have focused on what this problem says about America and what the United States needs to do to address it.

Yet what has been happening in Ferguson — and in race relations in the United States more generally — does have some noteworthy foreign-policy dimensions. That is also unsurprising, because America’s internal condition inevitably affects its image in the world and the influence it can wield. When the U.S. economy is in trouble, it limits what the United States can do on the world stage. If the federal government is gridlocked or hamstrung by pointless political grandstanding (see under: Benghazi) the United States will act with less energy and wisdom abroad. And if minorities in the U.S. population are still marginalized, discriminated against, and treated as less-than-equal, then America’s full potential will be unrealized and its moral authority will be compromised in the eyes of many foreign observers.

With that insight in mind, consider the following connections between Ferguson and foreign policy.

For starters, let’s acknowledge that there is a trade-off between ambitious U.S. efforts to transform other parts of the world and the ability of government institutions to improve the lives of Americans here at home. I don’t think more social spending would eliminate racism or solve all the problems in places like Ferguson, but Americans would almost certainly be far better off if we hadn’t wasted $3 trillion+ in our misguided Iraqi and Afghan adventures. For example, spending some of that money on much-needed infrastructure here at home would have created a lot of jobs — including in places like Ferguson — and boosted the overall productivity of the U.S. economy.

A Recommended Agenda for the Next Secretary of Defense

President Obama is expected to announce in the coming days his nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense. Whoever the next Secretary is, the expectation is that the individual will have a wealth of experience within the Defense Department to draw from. Recruiting an experienced hand at this critical moment will reassure many who worry about the state of the American military. For some critics, however, the more pressing concern will be understanding the nominee’s stance on the major security matters facing the United States today and his or her willingness to challenge administration policy on those issues.

Crises around the world will no doubt continue to dominate the headlines, and to drive meetings of the National Security Council. Against this backdrop, the next Secretary will be significantly challenged to ensure a sustained focus on issues that are important to the U.S. military and national security, but less urgent than items in the daily inbox. CSIS’s International Security Program asked seven of its scholars to recommend which of those important issues should be at the top of the agenda for the next Secretary of Defense. Each scholar also offers recommendations for priority action by the next secretary on these issues.

Andrew Hunter, Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Senior Fellow, International Security Program

For the Secretary of Defense, no news is good news when it comes to defense acquisition. Much like the offensive line on a football team, when things are going smoothly, it goes unnoticed. When the Secretary of Defense gets asked about the acquisition system, it usually means something has gone wrong. For this reason, and because acquisition is a highly technical discipline, it can be tempting for the Secretary of Defense to focus attention elsewhere, particularly in his or her early days. Just as the offensive line’s performance is critical to the success of a football team, however, solid performance from the acquisition system is a linchpin to a Secretary’s hopes for a successful tenure.

Defense acquisition is a massive undertaking involving the expenditure of roughly $150 billion annually for research and development and procurement of technology and total contract spending of more than $300 billion annually. Even a small improvement in performance of the acquisition system can make a difference of billions in the cost of equipping the military. Despite widespread pessimism on the prospects for improving defense acquisition, the opportunity to make progress is real. The latest issue of the Department of Defense’s annual report on the Performance of the Defense Acquisition System shows modest improvement in trends relating to cost growth. While this recent progress is encouraging, the squeeze of sequestration and the budget uncertainties generated by continuing resolutions and potential government shutdowns threaten to reverse this trend. The result would be a snowballing path of destruction through already tight defense budgets.

The recent announcement of the Defense Innovation Initiative also demonstrates the strategic importance of acquisition to the Department of Defense. As the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review make clear, innovation is key to the military’s future. Ultimately, the acquisition system bears the largest share of responsibility for delivering innovation. Last but not least, acquisition will be critical in the Secretary’s relationship with Congress. Senator John McCain will take over as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the new Congress, and his interest in, and concern about, the defense acquisition system is well known. On the other side of the Capitol, the House Armed Services Committee has already been examining improvements to defense acquisition for over a year under the leadership of Representative Mac Thornberry, the designated next House Committee Chairman, and his ranking member, Representative Adam Smith.