13 December 2014

The Central Reserve Police Mess

Published: December 13, 2014 01:57 IST |
Rahul Pandita

The HinduDEEP ROOTS: “In their strongholds, the Maoists have no dearth of human intelligence through their sympathisers.” Picture shows a team of CRPF's CoBRA commandos in Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

The CRPF is so ill-prepared to fight Maoists, it is a miracle its troops are not deserting en masse

For 15 days, since November 15, more than 2,000 troops from six battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been venturing out to conduct SADO — Search and Destroy Operation(s) — in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. The troops, roughly divided into ten groups, would traverse villages that are considered Maoist strongholds: Polampalli, Kankerlanka, Puswada, Jaggawaram, Korapad, Kanrajgubbal, Rangaiguda, Degalmetta, Ramaram, Pidmel, and Chintagufa. Since they had no intelligence inputs, the troops were asked to engage Maoists if they ever came in contact.

There is a very little possibility of such chance encounters unless the Maoists themselves want to engage the CRPF. In their strongholds, the Maoists have no dearth of human intelligence through their sympathisers. In fact, several arrested Maoists have revealed to the security agencies how their squads had passed less than 100 metres away from CRPF troops without being detected. The CRPF has, in the last few months, tried desperately to win over the local population in these areas through civic action programmes. Their men distribute items like transistors, cycles, and saris among the people. But in Maoist strongholds such as in Sukma, many adivasis do not accept them. On Independence Day this year, some of these items were handed over forcibly to adivasis in several villages. But, according to a CRPF officer, many of them threw away these items at the periphery of the village and ran away. “The people here are angry because they see their near and dear ones dying of malaria, or diarrhoea, or complications during pregnancy,” explained the officer. “The government has not diagnosed the problem and is behaving rather like a quack,” he said.Gorillas, not Guerrillas

The operation that ultimately led to the death of 14 CRPF personnel on December 1 was to end a day before, but was at the last hour extended by one day. On the night of November 30, about 800 troops were asked by their commanders to “take harbour” on a hillock named Hill 406, south of Kasalpada village. The villagers knew about the presence of such large number of troops. By the evening, says a soldier who was present there, the gathering had turned into a mela(fair). The troops lit a fire and chatted loudly in groups. “Had the Maoists attacked during the night, there would have been mayhem,” the soldier said.

***Castlereagh: A Geopolitical Hero

December 11, 2014

For centuries statesmen who have had to make difficult choices have been attacked by well-meaning intellectuals who never wielded real-world bureaucratic power and who therefore treat morality as an inflexible absolute. Such intellectuals often confuse eloquence with substance, not comprehending that the true measure of a diplomat is not style but common sense, as well as the efficiency by which he or she pursues the country's national interest. For liberal democracies operate in a world where there is no ultimate arbiter, and thus their geopolitical advantage - in addition to their survival - constitutes the highest morality.

Perhaps no statesman in early modern and modern history has been so necessary for the prosperity and survival of a liberal democracy and yet so despised and humiliated by the literary elite of the day as Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, who was the pivotal figure for Britain's victory in the Napoleonic Wars and the advantageous peace settlement that followed. Castlereagh was to early 19th century Britain what Winston Churchill was to mid-20th century Britain. But unlike Churchill, who was generally lionized, Castlereagh was regularly savaged in poems and essays by contemporary literary greats such as Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Hazlitt. It was such unrelenting psychological punishment that was likely a contributor to his suicide in 1822 at age 53.

At last, in 2012, there was a vast, meticulous and comprehensive biography published that turns the tables on Castlereagh's critics and rescues his name from calumny. Castlereagh: A Life, by John Bew of Cambridge and King's College London, is a fat, heavy book that should sit on the table of every diplomat who has ever had to make difficult choices and has suffered media abuse for it. For diplomats are the true heroes of geopolitics, not strategists or generals. Strategists and generals are supposed to think amorally and are, therefore, less abused for doing so. But diplomats operate in a climate of compromise, politesse and idealism, whereas Castlereagh's brand of realism has always been less well regarded. Bew sets the tone by stating that while "maligned" as a "tyrant" and "reactionary," there was probably no man in England who better understood European politics than Castlereagh - as well as Britain's own interest in restoring the continental balance of power.

In 2015, A Milestone for Indian Literature

December 12, 2014

Many non-Indians and even many Indians are not familiar with the scope, diversity, and breadth of India’s traditional and classical literature. Much of it is obscure due to a lack of accessible translations or because works gather dust in archives and museums without anyone to promote or market them. On the other hand, Western and classical Greco-Roman literature are available in multiple editions in English, and are often compiled into series, such as the Loeb Classical Library.

This fact has not escaped notice. I have personally thought a lot about this problem. Education should serve more than just a utilitarian, job-oriented purpose. Literature, especially classical works, plays an important role in shaping and inspiring educated minds and until recently it was considered essential for the educated to have a grounding in their civilization’s classical literature, whether it was the Iliad, the Shahnameh, the Ramayana, or the Analects. In modern India, however, the spread of modernization is making it ever more difficult for educated Indians to access their own classical heritage. In India and indeed in the rest of the world, the spread of pop culture (not that this is inherently bad) and a utilitarian attitude towards education risks creating a society of philistines.

This problem was noted by Rohan Murthy, a Junior Fellow at Harvard University, and the son of Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys, one of India’s largest companies. Rohan Murthy noted the lack of access to India’s classical literature, saying:

“I wondered why we weren’t reading our own classics? I bet my generation has never heard of great Indian texts nor ever read them — like the Nyaya tradition, whose construction of logic almost 1,500 years ago was spectacular, and still a challenge to modern logic. Even early calculus was phenomenal. We should read Pythagoras and Euclid, but why not also Aryabhata or the Akbarnama? I was looking for an India narrative, not always a Greek and Latin one.”

As a result of Murthy’s insight, his family donated $5.2 million to Harvard University in order to found a new publication series that would focus on systematically making classical Indian literature (in multiple languages and not just Sanskrit, the classical language of ancient India) accessible in English to a global, reading public. The new series, the Murthy Classical Library of India (MCLI) will feature classical works of Indian literature in their native languages and scripts with English translations on adjacent pages. The first five books in the series will be released by Harvard University Press in January 2015. The five volumes, whose diversity and scope are a glimpse of what is to come, include Punjabi Sufi poetry by Bulleh Shah, a Persian history of the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, a Pali anthology featuring the first Buddhist literature by women, and works by writers of Telugu and Old Hindi, Allasani Peddana, and Surdas.

Let India Make Cheap Drugs

DEC. 11, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Last month, the United States andIndia announced an important breakthrough concerning India’s “right-to-food” program. The Indian government subsidizes food for its poorest citizens through a system of price supports and public stockpiling. The program is critical to India’s future: According to Unicef, one in three of the world’s malnourished children lives in India.

But as India’s policy has expanded, it has come into conflict with World Trade Organization rules on agriculture. The conflict heated up last summer when India demanded an explicit assurance at the W.T.O. that it could maintain its right-to-food program. The United States resisted, and the standoff derailed the first new global trade agreement at the W.T.O. since the 1990s.

The impasse now seems to be resolved; with American support, India has secured a “peace clause” at the W.T.O. that protects its food program from legal challenges. As India insisted, the deal applies indefinitely, until a permanent solution to the conflict is found, which could happen as early as the end of next year.

This is good news for poor people in India, including the children and nursing mothers that the program particularly helps. It is good news for the poor in other countries that may have programs like India’s. It is good news for India and the United States, the world’s two largest democracies, which must be able to cooperate with one another on a range of global issues. And it is good news for the W.T.O., which can move forward with the delayed agreement on trade facilitation.

This positive development on food, however, is in stark contrast to the United States’ approach to India’s policies on affordable medicines.

On Nov. 24, while the food deal was being finalized in Geneva, Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative, was in India to demand reform of its patent laws. Those laws are friendly to generic medicines and public health, and the United States wants them restructured to favor American pharmaceutical corporations, often called Big Pharma.

While he was in New Delhi, Mr. Froman cited the food deal and its impact on the larger trade agreement as an example of the United States and India “working side by side.” But when it came to intellectual property disputes that affect medicines, he was pushing for more Indian concessions.

In fact, the United States has been showing no inclination to compromise as it ratchets up the pressure. It recently initiated a special review of India’s intellectual property laws, signaling possible trade sanctions. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States, the two countries announced a new high-level working group on intellectual property issues, which may foreshadow changes to India’s laws.

India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet

Chintamani MahapatraProfessor at the Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, JNU 

In less than four months, the new Prime Minister of India and US President Barack Obama will meet for their second summit in New Delhi. The first summit was the outcome of Obama’s initiative when he called the newly elected Prime Minister of India and invited him to visit the US. Modi, who was denied a visa for about a decade by the US State Department, promptly and positively responded to Obama’s invitation. The result was the first summit between the two leaders in late September 2014.

The planned second summit between Modi and Obama is the result of an innovative initiative by Prime Minister Modi who invited the US President to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebration in India on 26 January 2015. This time it was Obama’s turn to swiftly accept Modi’s invitation.

The first Modi-Obama summit was indeed an event that broke the frozen ice in the diplomatic ties between the two countries. No bilateral relationship in international relations is without political and economic frictions. But the diplomatic discord that resulted from the Devyani Khobragade episode had threatened to stall the fast moving strategic partnership between India and the US and a summit between the leadership of the two countries was essential to restore the momentum.

It is admitted on all hands that the first Modi-Obama Summit turned out to be highly successful step in renewing the cordial ties between New Delhi and Washington. Firstly, Very rarely countries issue joint vision statements before the summit and in this case the issuance of a joint Indo-US vision statement raised expectations that the final outcome of the summit would be a positive one. Secondly, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi co-authored an article that was published in the influential Washington Post that hinted at better days to come in the diplomatic ties between the two countries. After the summit, a joint statement issued by the two leaders, moreover, contained language that indicated India’s boldness in taking clear positions and the determination of the two leaders to address certain crucial issues in the current global scenario. The first one was related to the need to tackle the menace created by the ISIS the West Asian region and the second one was about political turbulence in the South China Sea raising uncertainties over freedom of navigation.

Modi’s announcement of his government’s plan to provide visas on arrival to American citizens was a master diplomatic stroke in the backdrop of the history of US visa denial to him. Significantly, Modi’s first meeting with President Obama took place after his summit meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping - the two most powerful Asian powers. Modi had also met Russian President Vladirmir Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil.


By Dr. Binodkumar Singh
DECEMBER 12, 2014

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has witnessed continuous decline in terrorism-related fatalities since the peak of 4,507 in 2001. But, the recent multiple attacks in J&K, concentrated in areas going to polls, are seen as an attempt by militant outfits to instill a sense of fear among the voters.

Elections for 87 seats in J&K assembly are being held in five phases – on Nov 25, Dec 2, Dec 9, Dec 14 and Dec 20 respectively. Remarkably, surpassing the record of 2008 assembly elections and April-May 2014 Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) polls, a brisk 71.28 percent turnout was recorded in the first phase of polling for 15 assembly constituencies, with people defying various odds including election boycott call given by the separatists and adverse weather conditions with a cold wave sweeping many parts of the region. Again, in the second phase, 18 assembly constituencies witnessed heavy turnout of 72.1 percent on Dec 2.

Desperate after the record turnout in the first two phases of polling, after a long time, 21 people, including 11 Security Force (SF) personnel, two civilians and eight militants were killed as a series of four terror attacks rocked Kashmir Valley on Dec 5. In fact, the last time an attack of such magnitude happened was on May 23, 2004, in which 30 people, including 19 Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, six women and five children, were killed in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion at Lower Munda, near Qazigund, on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

On Nov 14, intelligence agencies had already warned that Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants may disrupt the assembly election by attacking security convoys and political workers in Kashmir. Similarly, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Kishore Prasad on Nov 16 said that the militants may try to disrupt the polling in Kashmir. As expected, JeM on Nov 18, warned the voters in Kashmir to stay away from the assembly elections. JeM spokesperson Mohammad Hassan Shah, in a statement said: “The people of J&K should hold in high esteem the sacrifices and blood offered by the martyrs for the ongoing movement. We appeal people not to take any part in the election process and keep the sacrifices of the martyrs in mind.”

Condemning the attacks, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Dec 5 held Pakistan and some internal forces responsible for the multiple attacks that rocked Kashmir Valley. Meanwhile, the army on Dec 6 said food packets found on six slain militants, involved in the daring attack on the Uri camp in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district, bore marks of the Pakistani establishment. The army was also taken aback at the “high-end equipment” being found on the infiltrators killed on the Line of Control (LoC) or during terrorist attacks in the hinterland. The six terrorists killed in Nowgam sector of Kupwara district on Dec 2, for instance, were all wearing Koflach mountaineering boots costing $200-300 apiece.

India's Big African Opportunity

By Tim Steinecke
December 11, 2014

The postponed India-Africa Forum Summit remains an important opportunity for both players. 

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs recently announced that it would be postponing the third India-Africa Forum Summit, which had been scheduled to take place in New Delhi in December 2014. The main reason behind the decision appears to be the ongoing Ebola epidemic in Western Africa. Besides the more obvious risk of spreading the disease through intercontinental travel, it would have appeared indelicate for African heads of state to feast at banquets in New Delhi while the outbreak raged back in West Africa. Subsequently, the Indian government pushed the summit to an unspecified date in early 2015, leaving many observers to curiously await Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Africa policy, which he had been expected to reveal at the summit.

The India-Africa Forum Summit is only one of four major international initiatives that court African leaders. This year had already seen two of the others: the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels in April 2014 and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. in August 2014. While April’s EU-Africa Summit had been held three times previously (at irregular intervals), the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit was inaugurated this year. It was widely seen as a belated attempt by Washington to counter growing Chinese influence across Africa. China arguably still leads the pack when it comes to courting African leaders, with its Forum on China-Africa Corporation (FOCAC). The fifth of these ministerial meetings – it takes place every three years – is scheduled for South Africa in 2015. With India postponing its India Africa Forum Summit, African leaders will now be able to attend summits with both India and China in 2015, which might make for some interesting comparisons.

India’s Africa summit has arguably had the weakest reach of all four meetings. The Indian government therefore made one significant change to this year’s edition: Unlike in previous years, the Indian government invited all 54 African heads of state to New Delhi. At the previous two meetings – in New Delhi in 2008 and Addis Ababa in 2011 – the number of African participants was limited to a maximum of 15 heads of state, chosen by the African Union to represent the entire African continent. Why the Indian government chose to expand the scope of the summit ultimately remains unclear. Possible explanations include the success of FOCAC and the apparently ever-increasing number of Chinese actors on the African continent; the revamped efforts by the United States and European Union to strengthen relations with African leaders at their respective Africa summits earlier this year; or attempts to increase cooperation between African states and India as part of India’s wider foreign and foreign economic policy goals.

The India-Africa Forum Summit will not only be interesting to observers because of the expanded invitation list (and the hard reality check of which heads of state will actually choose to show up). After nearly six months in office, the Modi administration has yet to reveal its vision for India’s cooperation with African states. It remains to be seen whether or not the prime minister will now wait until the new date for the meeting is set or unveil his plans first.

It’s Possible Afghanistan Can’t Protect Its Own Bases

It’s Possible Afghanistan Can’t Protect Its Own Bases

Kabul wants a new force to guard former NATO sites

Starting in January, Afghan authorities will be in charge of defending their own country, including many bases previously run by NATO troops. But it’s not entirely clear Afghanistan is ready for this responsibility.

On Sept. 13, Afghan national security adviser Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta signed a deal with U.S. Army general John Campbell, head of the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force, calling for a new force to protect old ISAF facilities that are now Afghan government property.

Until recently, the Afghan Public Protection Force—a.k.a., the APPF—had been looking after five major sites across the country. Pres. Hamid Karzai established the APPF four years ago to replace foreign contractors he accused of undermining the central government.

But in February, Karzai disbanded the APPF, too—because he “was not happy with its existence,” according to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a U.S. watchdog agency.
“It was not clear why Pres. Karzai was dissatisfied with a program he created,” SIGAR stated
Above—U.S. Navy sailors and Afghan National Auxiliary Police. Navy photo. At top—Afghan Public Protection Force members. Army photo

Now, the 5,000-strong Facilities Protection Force will guard the same bases, according to the recent pact, which was released as part of a contract announcement.

These locations include the former British hub Camp Bastion and the U.S. Marine Corps’ old Camp Leatherneck, both in the southern part of the country. Militants pose an imminent threat to these sites and others.
In November, the Taliban attacked Bastion—now called Forward Operating Base Shurab—sparking a battle that lasted for days. Insurgents killed at least five Afghan soldiers.

China Sets Economic Reform Targets for 2015

December 12, 2014

The Central Economic Work Conference gave an overview of China’s economic goals for 2015. Topping the agenda: reform. 

China concluded its Central Economic Work Conference on Thursday, putting in place a roadmap for furthering the economic reforms first called for at last year’s Third Plenum. The conference featured remarks from top leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang and reaffirmed China’s commitment to a “new normal” of slower but more sustainable economic growth
According to Xinhua’s definition, the “new normal” means “a shift from high speed growth to a medium-to-high one, a shift from focusing on quantity and speed to quality and efficiency in growth model, a shift from stressing production expansion to improving current production, and a shift from growth being driven be conventional engines to increasingly driven by new ones.” Most importantly, the “new normal” means an end to the years of double-digit GDP growth driven largely by government investment and exports. That development model has largely run its course and is not sustainable in the long term. Accordingly, China is seeking a new growth model more dependent on domestic consumption and services.

In addition to purely economic concerns, though, the move toward a “new normal” is also being driven by social factors, the conference statement said. Chief among them: “an aging society and decreasing rural work force” as well as “more rigid energy and environmental constraints.” Demographic realities mean China can no longer rely on having a massive, relatively cheap labor force – the current backbone of China’s export-driven economic model. Plus, rising environmental concerns among Chinese citizens are forcing the government to place more emphasis on “green” growth, which too requires an adjustment to China’s current economic underpinnings.

While transitioning to the “new normal,” however, Beijing remains committed to sustaining a certain level of growth. This year’s growth target was set at 7.5 percent; officials have repeatedly clarified however that this is a “soft” target, meaning growth that dips slightly below the magic number is acceptable. Even while expressing its concerns about slowing growth and structural challenges for China’s economy, the work conference was generally upbeat. The statement said China was expected to meet its growth target for 2014 despite worries of a pending slowdown.

South Africa and the Allure of Chinese Investment

By Narayani Basu

Despite worries about his country’s dependence on Chinese largesse, Jacob Zuma signs some major deals on a recent visit. 

Late last week, South African President Jacob Zuma was in China on his second state visit to the country since 2010. Welcoming Zuma on his arrival, Chinese President Xi Jinping called him “the Chinese people’s old friend and good friend.” The meeting came months after the South African government declined a visa to the Dalai Lama, who was scheduled to attend the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town from October 13 to 15.

This was not the first time Pretoria has taken such a step – thrice previously, it has found excuses to decline visas to the Dalai Lama. The rejection this time prompted a significant backlash, with dozens of Nobel laureates boycotting the summit in protest, and fellow laureate Desmond Tutu criticizing the government for its actions.

The payoff for South Africa, though, has come in a number of immensely significant agreements, among them three nuclear pacts. South Africa is planning to install 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy by 2030. China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp., Russia’s Rostaom Corp, and France’s Areva SA, are among the companies that are vying for contracts to bid for the rights to build atomic plants in South Africa. On November 7, Pretoria and Beijing inked a nuclear cooperation agreement, which was a precursor of sorts to those signed on December 4. These include a nuclear project financing framework between China’s Nuclear Power Technology Corp., Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Standard Bank Group Ltd. Two Chinese universities have also agreed to provide South African manpower with the requisite nuclear training. Agreements have also been signed in sectors spanning manufacturing, aviation and finance. In talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Zuma, the premier said that China would make South Africa a priority destination for overseas investment. China will also continue to work closely with African countries to fight the ongoing Ebola epidemic.

The agreements are significant, but not all that surprising, given the historical context. The two countries have a long economic and political history. China is South Africa’s single largest trading partner, while South Africa is China’s largest trading partner on the continent. In 2011, South Africa joined the BRICS bloc of developing economies with Brazil, Russia, India and China. Its foreign policy has, likewise, maintained a strongly pro-China orientation for many years.

However, relations have encountered some rough weather of late. China’s influence in Africa has been a topic that has split public opinion down the middle right across the continent. In South Africa, a 2014 survey by thePew Research Center found that while 45 percent have a favorable image of China, 40 percent do not. South Africans are equally tightly divided over the question of whether Chinese economic growth is good for the country, with 41 percent in favor of Beijing’s influence.

Opportunity for Beijing and Washington in Venezuela’s Oil Crisis

By Matt Ferchen
December 11, 2014

China and the U.S. could join forces for a more sustainable oil policy in Venezuela. 

Dropping oil prices over the last few months have triggered a wave of reports about which countries stand to win and which to lose. While Russia, Iran and others are suffering, Venezuela emerges as the biggest loser of all. With oil accounting for over 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings and nearly 50 percent of overall government revenues, the drop in global oil prices from over $110 a barrel during the summer to under $70 today has led to much speculation about a potential Venezuelan sovereign default or even government collapse.

On the other side of the dropping oil price equation sit the United States and China, the world’s two largest oil importers and Venezuela’s most important oil trade and investment partners. Although the U.S. has become decreasingly dependent on Venezuelan oil and China increasingly tied to the Venezuelan petrostate through trade and finance, Venezuela’s deepening crisis presents leaders in both Washington and Beijing, both newly committed to tackling climate change together, with a chance to engage on a cooperative and positive agenda. They are in a position to do so in a way that addresses the climate impacts of Venezuela’s extra-heavy oil as well as helping Caracas toward a more stable economic and environmental path.

China’s New JIN-class Ballistic Missile Subs Are About to Conduct First Operational Patrols in the Pacific

David Tweed
December 9, 2014
China Takes Nuclear Weapons Underwater Where Prying Eyes Can’t See

In this Aug. 28, 2014 photo, fishermen look at a Chinese nuclear submarine sails past… Read More

China is preparing to arm its stealthiest submarines with nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S., cloaking its arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike.

Fifty years after China carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the almost impossible-to-detect JIN class submarines armed with nuclear JL–2 ballistic missiles will give President Xi Jinping greater agility to respond to an attack.

The nuclear-powered subs will probably conduct initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to an annual report to Congress submitted in November by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Deploying the vessels will burnish China’s prestige as Xi seeks to end what he calls the “cold war” mentality that resulted in U.S. dominance of Asia-Pacific security. Since coming to power, Xi has increased military spending with a focus on longer-range capacity, including plans to add to the country’s tally of a singleaircraft carrier.

“For the first time in history, China’s nuclear arsenal will be invulnerable to a first strike,” said independent strategist Nicolas Giacometti, who has written analysis for The Diplomat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s the last leap toward China’s assured nuclear-retaliation capability.”

Source: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images

Xiaopingdao Naval Base, also referred to as the 62nd Submarine Training Base, is… Read More

Showcasing of PLAAF Technological Developments

December 11, 2014

China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition hosted its 10th air show in the southern port city of Zhuhai, Guangdong province between November 11 and 16, 2014. This is the only air show endorsed by the Chinese government. The air show has been held biennially since 1996 in Zhuhai for nine sessions and coincides with the founding day of the PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force). It features the display of real-size products, trade talks, technological exchange and flying display.

This year’s exhibition showcased the “latest” weaponry and systems in the PLAAF and offered an insight into the future military products the Chinese military and industry are in the process of designing or likely to deliver in the coming years. Many other systems which are in service were also displayed with an emphasis on showcasing existing capability in surveillance, missiles and command and control systems. The exhibition also showcased 985 pieces of military equipment from China's air force including more than 130 aircraft. 300 deals worth a record $23.4 billion were signed according to the organizer of the exhibition.

The achievements and the way forward for the PLAAF should be compared with the defence white papers published by the government over the years to assess the congruence or alignment of the establishment’s strategic thinkers, the military and defence industry. The 2010 white paper projected that “the modernization and transformation of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) follows a carefully-structured plan” and “the PLAAF is working to ensure the development of a combat force structure that focuses on air strikes, air and missile defence, and strategic projection.” The 2012 white paper stated that “the PLAAF is strengthening the development of a combat force structure that focuses on reconnaissance and early warning, air strike, air and missile defense, and strategic projection.” Further, PLAAF “is developing such advanced weaponry and equipment as new-generation fighters and new-type ground-to-air missiles and radar systems, improving its early warning, command and communications networks, and raising its strategic early warning, strategic deterrence and long-distance air strike capabilities.” Seen in the light of these statements and those contained in previous white papers, progress can be mapped to some extent.


December 11, 2014

Rumors are everywhere about some sort of a buffer zone inside Syria along its border with Turkey. The notion of a buffer zone has a deep history rooted in Turkey’s shifting foreign policy towards Syria – from close partner to intractable enemy. In order for policymakers and observers to weigh the likelihood of a buffer zone or “air exclusion zone” to succeed, this history must be understood from Turkey’s perspective.

After being elected in 2002, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) prioritized Ankara’s relationship with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. The AKP’s approach to Syria has been defined by the work of Ahmet Davutoğlu – Turkey’s former foreign minister and current prime minister. The former academician was eager to use Turkey’s unique geography to expand Turkish influence in the Middle East. Syria, Davutoğlu argued in his book Strategic Depth, was historically connected to Anatolia, with Aleppo being a part of Ankara’s “natural hinterland” because of its historic links to the Anatolian towns of Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, and Urfa. These areas once made up the Ottoman Empire’s Aleppo vilayet.

Turkey, Davutoğlu has argued, should act as a “center state,” adopting geopolitical theories first posited by Nicholas J. Spykman, Sir Halford John Mackinder, Alfred Mahan, and Karl Haushofer to more closely cooperate with its neighbors. These scholars divided the world into zones, known as the “heartland,” comprising much of Central Asia, and the “rimland,” which extended from Western Europe through the Arabian Peninsula to Asia. During the Cold War, Davutoğlu observed, these areas were under the influence of either the United States or the Soviet Union, thereby preventing the expansion of Turkish influence in its near abroad.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was thus perceived by Davutoğlu as an important opportunity for Turkey to extend its sphere of influence into these vitally important areas. To this end, Ankara incorporated elements of these theories into a policy of “Strategic Depth,” which argued that Turkey should act as a “center state” and re-connect with areas in its former hinterland via the blurring of the region’s borders that were artificially drawn after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I.

To implement this vision, Turkey relied heavily on its relationship with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, despite his embrace of Ba’athism (which Davutoğlu viewed as a faux political ideology), incongruent with the region’s history of governance because of its reliance on secular nationalism for political legitimacy. Davutoğlu, in 1999, wrote that political legitimacy in the Middle East has historically stemmed from the concept ofDar al Islam­ – the idea of shared religious identity inside both Muslim majority and non-Muslim majority states. Thus, in his book Strategic Depth,he argued that Ba’athism was destined to fail and would eventually be replaced with a form of government more consistent with the “Muslim masses.”

Nuked: Destroying the Myth of Minimum Deterrence

December 12, 2014

Those few Democratic and Republicans presidents who have entered office with some expressed interest in minimum-deterrence policies have been sobered by reality and backed away from them. 

For over five decades, every Republican and Democratic administration has rejected minimum nuclear-deterrence policies and corresponding calls for the reduction of the U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons down to a range of “several” weapons to hundreds. This decades-long rejection of minimum-deterrence nuclear policies reflects a rare enduring bipartisan consensus.

Those few Democratic and Republican presidents who have entered office with some expressed interest in minimum-deterrence policies have been sobered by reality and backed away from them. Most famously, President-elect Jimmy Carter began his discussions with the Joint Chiefs of Staff by inquiring if U.S. nuclear-deterrence responsibilities could be met by an extremely small number of forces. Before the end of his term, however, President Carter endorsed robust U.S. nuclear policies, including Presidential Directive-59, which emphasized the U.S. need for multiple nuclear options and flexibility and established the basic direction for the subsequent Reagan administration’s nuclear policies and programs—a far cry from minimum deterrence.

More recently, President Obama’s enthusiasm for nuclear reductions and “nuclear zero” led to renewed advocacyof minimum deterrence by various groups and individuals, such as Robert Gard and Greg Terryn. The president’s appointment of Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense following Hagel’s endorsement of a report advocating minimum deterrence and nuclear zero also heightened expectation among minimum-deterrence proponents.

However, the Department of Defense’s 2013 unclassified Report on Nuclear Employment Strategy of the United States notes specifically it has rejected a “minimum deterrence strategy.” Instead, President Obama and Defense Secretary Hagel committed to a comprehensive modernization program for U.S. nuclear forces. These developments have led advocates of minimum deterrence to ask, “What went wrong?”

In fact, the consistent official rejection of minimum-deterrence arguments is a reassuring sign that Washington can, on an enduring and bipartisan basis, get it right. How so? For decades, minimum-deterrence proponents have made roughly the same canonical claims and assertions in favor of their preferred policies with little reference to evidence. This may be because when actual evidence is brought to bear vis-a-vis minimum-deterrence claims and assertions, it becomes readily apparent that they are demonstrably false or contrary to abundant available evidence. Minimum-deterrence proponents continue to make the same set of arguments, but the cat is now out of the bag with regard to the demonstrable lack of veracity underlying minimum deterrence—regardless of the rank or credentials of the persons advocating therefor.

Hypocracy Watch: Bush Administration Condemned Foreign Governments for Using Same Torture Techniques That Were Being Used By the CIA

December 11, 2014

Details of how U.S. rebuked foreign regimes while using same torture methods

So the CIA doesn’t consider “waterboarding” — mock execution by near drowning — to be torture, but the U.S. State Department does.

State Department reports from 2003 to 2007 concluded that Sri Lanka’s use of “near-drowning” of detainees was among “methods of torture.” Its reports on Tunisia from 1996 to 2004 classified “submersion of the head in water” as “torture.” In fact, the U.S. military has prosecuted variants of waterboarding for more than 100 years — going back to the U.S. occupation of the Philippines in the early 1900s.

If you want to know whether the U.S. government considers the “enhanced interrogation techniques” described in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report summary on the CIA’s interrogation program to be torture, you could read President Barack Obama’s 2009 statement rejecting the use of waterboarding — or you could click on the State Department’s annual Country Reports on human rights conditions. It turns out that all those methods carried out by the CIA would be torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if committed by other governments.

The grotesque and previously unreported “anal feeding” and “anal rehydration” discussed in the Senate report may not have been used elsewhere, but the State Department has reported on analogous sexual assault of prisoners as a form of torture. Its 2012 report on Syria described as custodial torture the “forcing of objects into the rectum.”

At Least 300 Pro-Moscow Chechen Troops Fighting With Ukrainian Rebels, Report

Chechens loyal to Russia fight alongside east Ukraine rebels

December 10, 2014

1 of 8. One of the pro-Russian separatist leaders from the Chechen ‘Death’ battalion, identified as his nickname ‘Stinger’, speaks during a training exercise in the territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, December 8, 2014.

Status of India’s Border Trade: Strategic and Economic Significance

Status of India’s Border Trade: Strategic and Economic Significance

Border trade is trade in local products of limited value by the people residing within a few kilometres on either side of the international border. Although the contribution of border trade in India's economy is negligible, it has substantial impact on its relations with its neighbours as well as on the people living on the border. At the bilateral level, it is a major confidence building measure as it reduces trust deficits, encourages constructive engagements, stabilises the borders by reducing friction and gives a legal basis to the disputed international borders. At the local level, border trade brings economic prosperity to the people residing in the far-flung border areas and has a positive impact on their emotional well-being. It also aids in better border management as attention gets focussed on better regulation of the traffic of goods and people across the international border. For the border trade to flourish, the government has opened more areas for border trade, improved transportation and communication links and developed industries in the border regions. At the same time, it is also important that the Indian government strikes a balance between security concerns and economic requirements of the local people.
About the Author

Dr. Pushpita Das is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Her areas of interest include border studies, border management, coastal security, drug trafficking, migration, and India's Northeast. At IDSA she has been studying India's approach towards the management of its international borders. She has also been co-opted as an expert by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) on a project on Coastal Security. Dr. Das has written extensively on her areas of research and has delivered lectures at a number of training institutes including the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration in Mussoorrie, the Sadar Patel Institute for Public Administration, Ahmedabad and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad. She holds a Doctorate degree from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

An Analysis of the US Sale of the Patriot Missile Defence System to Saudi Arabia

Debalina Ghoshal
December 10, 2014

In October 2014 it was reported that the United States is planning to sell Patriot missile batteries worth $1.74 billion to Saudi Arabia. In order to acquire advanced air and missile defence capabilities and “help replenish” its obsolete Patriot systems (PAC-2), the Saudi government had requested for the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3). However, apart from providing the Saudis with an upgraded missile defence system, this deal is likely to be conducive for both the United States and Saudi Arabia in other ways as well.

The United States stands to benefit from the deal in a number of ways. Off late, Saudi Arabia has not been satisfied with US policy towards Syria and Iran. It was also disappointed with the United States for not responding in a manner the Saudis desired towards the movements against the rulers of Egypt and Tunisia. Hence, firstly, this deal could improve the frayed relationship between Washington and Riyadh. As stated by the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, it “will contribute to foreign policy and national security of the United States.” Such a strengthening of the alliance would also prove conducive for the United States in the present scenario when it is busy fighting the Islamic State (IS) and is tacitly cooperating with Iran in this regard. In this context, the sale of PAC-3 to Saudi Arabia could foster a “new equilibrium between Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

Secondly, this deal would enable the US to enhance the interoperability of the Saudi missile defence system with other missile defence systems in the region. In May 2014, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel had encouraged all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to “connect their missile defence assets” in order to build a regional ballistic missile defence shield. At present, Kuwait and the UAE are the other Gulf States possessing the PAC-3 system. With Saudis slated to acquire the same, interoperability between these national systems in the region can be bolstered. It has also been reported that the PAC-3 could work together with the Terminal High Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) system already possessed by UAE. Other Gulf states may also acquire the THAAD in the coming years.

Thirdly, there is little doubt that Washington is keen on strengthening its position not just in Euro-Atlantic and Asia Pacific regions but also in the Middle East. This deal could enable the United States to establish a firm ground in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is already believed to be under the nuclear umbrella of the United States, although reports that it was looking to acquire nuclear weapons capability from Pakistan created a flutter in the year 2013. As noted by DB Des Roches, an associate professor at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, the Patriot and THAAD systems would advance broader US security interests in the region by reassuring Saudi Arabia of its informal security commitment.

For its part, Riyadh too stands to benefit from the deal. Firstly, it provides Saudis the scope for using a missile defence system which has already been battle-proven during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s own expertise in handling the older version of the Patriot system, the PAC-2, would make it easy for Riyadh to operate the new system. Thirdly, interoperability of missile defence systems among the GCC countries is not only desired by the United States but also by the GCC countries themselves including Saudi Arabia. Such interoperability would not only enhance Saudi chances of gathering intelligence through surveillance and reconnaissance but, since the systems would be integrated, there would be lesser burden on command and control of the missile defence system.

Russia, a pipeline against the Islamist threat

On 11 December 2014

Russia should be more closely associated with the West for an important reason. The Islamist threat to the world is more important than the issue of Ukraine, and Russia understands the Islamist threat better than we do
Is it possible that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a closet Zionist? We know in the past he has taken a strong stand against antisemitism. In his Presidential address in the Hall of the Kremlin on December 4, 2014 Putin called the Crimean Peninsula, where the Russian Orthodox Church was established, and where Grand Prince Vladimir was baptized, sacred to Russia.

In his own words, he referred to Christianity as a powerful spiritual unifying force, the basis of a united Russian nation. Therefore, Crimea and Sevastopol have invaluable sacral importance for Russia as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has for Jews.

Of course, Putin has other non-spiritual reasons for annexing, or engaging in the “historical reunification” of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia after the referendum in Crimea in March 2014 expressed a desire to join Russia. In his Presidential address, Putin reminded his listeners of the crucial role that Russia, the former Soviet Union, had played in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II or what the Russians call the Great Patriotic War. 

He also criticized any policy of containment and the imposition of sanctions by the US and the West that he believed was restraining Russia. For Putin, the annexation of Crimea was only an excuse for Western sanctions in order to curb Russian progress.

The Islamic future of Britain

Britain is in denial. If population trends continue, by the year 2050, Britain will be a majority Muslim nation

Britain is in denial. There is no real public debate on a historic event that is transforming the country. Mention of it occasionally surfaces in the media, but the mainstream political class never openly discuss it.

What is that historic event? By the year 2050, in a mere 37 years, Britain will be a majority Muslim nation.

This projection is based on reasonably good data. Between 2004 and 2008, the Muslim population of the UK grew at an annual rate of 6.7 percent, making Muslims 4 percent of the population in 2008. Extrapolating from those figures would mean that the Muslim population in 2020 would be 8 percent, 15 percent in 2030, 28 percent in 2040 and finally, in 2050, the Muslim population of the UK would exceed 50 percent of the total population.

Contrast those Muslim birth rates with the non-replacement birth rates of native Europeans, the so called deathbed demography of Europe. For a society to remain the same size, the average female has to have 2.1 children (total fertility rate). For some time now, all European countries, including Britain, have been well below that rate. The exception is Muslim Albania. For native Europeans, it seems, the consumer culture has replaced having children as life’s main goal.

These startling demographic facts have been available for some time (see ‘Muslim Population “Rising 10 Times Faster than Rest of Society”’, The Times, 30 January 2009. Also the work of the Oxford demographer David Coleman). But on this historic transformation of the country there is silence from the political establishment.

Not everyone agrees with these demographic figures. Population projection, some say, is not an exact science. Perhaps the Muslim birth rate will drop to European levels.

But this seems to be wishful thinking. For years it was believed that Muslims would enter what is known as “demographic transition”, with European Muslim birth rates falling to native European levels. But that demographic transition has not happened. In Britain, for example, the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities continue to have significantly higher birth rates than the national average, even after more than 50 years in the country.


December 11, 2014 

The Oil-Drenched Black Swan Event: Oil Prices To Stay At Depressed Levels For Another 5yrs?

Patti Domm, writing on the December 11, 2014 website, CNBC Market Insider, quotes legendary Wall Street investor, Laszlo Birinyi as saying “the oil price drop is what the markets have been waiting for;” and, the magnitude and swiftness of the drop — constitute “a Black Swan event. “What we’ve seen is something people have been talking about for two, three, five years; and, no one is talking about it now,” said Mr. Birinyi, Founder of Birinyi Associates. “It’s just a Black Swan. A totally unpredictable event. It comes clearly out of the blue. Four standard deviations from anything else. In a case like that, there are no perimeters. How can you say it will go to $65, or anything else? My attitude is, it’s a Black Swan [event], the Hurricane Sandy of the market; where you do not know where it’s going — but if you want to guess — go ahead. But, appreciate you are guessing,” Mr. Birinyi said.

“It’s not a flock of Black Swans that Birinyi foresees, as he expects stocks to digest the oil decline, and move higher. He has a 2,100 target on the S and P 500 index, by year’s end.

“Oil is down 43 percent off its June 2014 high, while the S and P 500 is down just 3.2 percent in the same [time] frame,” Ms. Domm wrote. West Texas Intermediate Crude January 2015 Futures plunged 4.5 percent on Wednesday, to $60.94 per barrel.” “Since oil began falling,” Ms. Domm adds, “the S and P Energy Sector has lost 24.3 percent, while the next worst market sector, telecom, — was down just 6.2 percent.

A Note Of Concern On The Smaller Producers; U.S. Shale Output

On October 29, 2014, Russell Gold and Erin Ailworth, writing in The Wall Street Journal, wrote that “oil prices would have to drop another $20 a barrel to choke off the U.S. energy boom, industry experts say, though some smaller American producers would face serious problems from a more modest decline.” When this article was written, oil was selling for $82.20 per barrel. West Texas crude is but $61.11 as I write this article; while Brent Sweet Crude — the most desirable, is selling at $64.76 — both at or near the total the Wall Street Journal said the price would need to be to “choke off the U.S. energy boom.”

Mr. Gold and Ms Ailworth wrote at the time that — “small and midsize companies — not global giants — are behind the surge in U.S. oil output, which hit 8.97M barrels per day,” this past October, according to federal statistics. More worrisome, the authors note, “some of these drillers have taken on a lot of debt, which was easier to justify when oil was going for as much as $107 per barrel,” earlier this spring.


By Jonatan A Lassa and Maxim Shrestha
DECEMBER 12, 2014

The recent WTO agreement, finally concluded after the resolution of an impasse on food stockholding, has been hailed as a landmark for international trade. The deal however also holds great significance for global food security. However, some important concerns remain.

After a year of uncertainty, the WTO trade deal emanating from the Bali Ministerial Meeting in December 2013 has finally come through. The deadlock was broken after the United States and India last month agreed on public stockholding for food security purposes. The agreement is seen as a victory for everyone as much as it is for the WTO in successfully concluding its first-ever pact in its 19-year history.

For the US and other WTO member states who originally blamed India for blocking the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) as a result of the stockpiling dispute, this can be seen as the second best outcome. For India this is the best possible result. The agreement now allows them to take control of their food security concerns – as regulated by their Food Security Act 2013 to ensure food access to at least 400 million poor citizens – as well as enjoy the potential benefits of the TFA.
Stockpiling as acceptable practice

Some have questioned, however, whether the WTO Agreement and its Bali Packages may collapse again as the 160 member states seek a permanent solution for the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes. But the WTO decision reached on 27 November 2014 means public stockholding of food for security purposes is now an acceptable practice.

The original concern behind the stockpiling policy was grounded on the fear that national stockpiles allocated for food security could leak to both domestic and international markets; this could then lead to serious trade distortions especially if member states were to dump excess stocks and cause prices to collapse, unintentionally or otherwise.

In theory, public stockholding for food security is still a necessary policy instrument for developing countries where food production systems and supply chains are often volatile. However, there are serious potential perils (both politically and economically at the domestic level) should it be seen to have failed in fulfilling its duties. Countries with large populations and net food importing nations such as India, China, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia have a tendency to stockpile.