28 January 2015

Securing a future for ‘Digital India’

Arun Mohan Sukumar
January 28, 2015

New Delhi should not offer open-ended commitments to buy U.S. services without a forensic analysis of what they would mean for domestic constituents

With the India-U.S. Working Group on Information and Communication Technologies (WG-ICT) meeting in Washington D.C. a week ago, the Internet is finally at the front and centre of the National Democratic Alliance government’s foreign policy. The WG-ICT was set up in 2005, following Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to the U.S. If its meetings were hitherto held under the umbrella of Indo-U.S. economic dialogue, the WG-ICT’s future work will be dominated by the requirements of the ‘Digital India’ programme. In the coming months, the group’s deliberations are expected to yield results on some of the key components of the programme — digital infrastructure (to support the National Optic Fibre Network), an ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) regime (essential to building smart cities), and foreign ICT investment (in line with the ‘Make in India’ policy). The WG-ICT agenda is also likely to receive sustained attention from the Prime Minister’s Office, which has invested enormous political capital in the Digital India initiative. This political imperative, however, must be sensitive to global developments as New Delhi prepares to negotiate a host of technology-related agreements with the West.A welcome decision

Ignoring the ‘other Osama’

Suhasini Haidar
January 28, 2015

MASTERMIND OF TERROR: “The evidence against Hafiz Saeed’s involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is far from meagre.” Picture shows the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa addressing his supporters in Karachi.

That Pakistan’s government has ignored evidence to prosecute Hafiz Saeed is shocking, but equally, it is as much evidence of the U.S.’s lack of follow-through as it is of India’s helplessness

Progress was made on several fronts during President Barack Obama’s visit to India, but one area that wasn’t highlighted as much as many had expected was terror. While the Indo-U.S. joint statement listed several groups that they would work to “disrupt,” including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the Haqqani network, and called for Pakistan to bring the “perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice,” it didn’t contain any new language from the statement issued in 2014. It also made no mention of the group that most openly threatens both India and the U.S., despite a number of events that have occurred since then.

In the past few weeks, Pakistan’s news media have carried “reports” that the government was planning a “ban” on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its leader Hafiz Saeed. This began with a story in The Express Tribune, which was then followed by Dawn — both respected newspapers of Pakistan. But nobody questioned how the JuD and Saeed could be banned again, given that they had already been banned in 2008 after the Mumbai 26/11 attacks. Indian newspapers were also quick to pick up the reports, linking the decision to pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who had visited India just before going to Pakistan. Even the U.S. Department of State believed the reports; it issued a statement “welcoming” the ban on JuD and other organisations. However, after days of waffling, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry clarified in an interview to The Hindu on January 23 that there was no new ban and that all the “action” taken against the JuD dated back to 2008.

After the nuclear step, the big leap

Sanjaya Baru
January 28, 2015 

For the new Modi-Obama vision to succeed, India would need a more agile management of its international engagement on the economic and political sides considering the fact that the two leaders have agreed to elevate their strategic dialogue to include strategy and commerce

It is a measure of how important the India-United States civil nuclear agreement was to the bilateral relationship that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that it constitutes the “centrepiece” of the strategic partnership between the two great democracies. However, the U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India this weekend was not about that “centrepiece” but about the entire mantle.

Tying up the loose ends of the Indian nuclear liability law was about completing unfinished business. It was also about regaining U.S. trust. After all, the George Bush administration helped legitimise India’s status as a nuclear weapons power and expected, in exchange, at least some of the business that would then get generated. The liability law that India then enacted was viewed as an act of bad faith. The trust that successive Prime Ministers, from P.V. Narasimha Rao onwards, injected into the relationship was wasted away by this one act of Indian doublespeak.

Political doublespeak

To return the relationship to where it was in 2008, when the U.S. secured the approval of the Nuclear Suppliers Group for India’s nuclear programme, it was necessary to clear the air on the liability law. In short, the nuclear stuff that hogged the headlines all through the weekend was just the ribbon that had to be cut for Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi to then move on. Move on they did. The real outcome of the visit is captured in the statements on their bilateral Strategic Vision and the Declaration of Friendship.

Obama visit, view from Pakistan

Zahir Kazmi
Jan 28 2015 

South Asian nations must overcome mutual hostilities. India and Pakistan must lead by taking direct and indirect action to stabilise South Asia. Restraint and conflict resolution are better options than conflict management

Among other things, the visit of President Obama to India brings into focus the politics of the region. If Pakistan and India reduce their bilateral insecurities, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation could substantively give shape to a stable regional security complex.

Individual security precedes regionalism. It pertains to lack of threats to the values of a state, or the latter's ability to avoid wars and achieve victory when provoked. The insecurities of India and Pakistan undermine Saarc's stability, and regional security remains a pipe dream. New Delhi's pursuit of international prestige and its security calculus dictate Islamabad's hedging. Cooperation is possible if interdependence is built to such an extent that regional "security problems cannot be analysed or resolved apart from one another".

The stakes for the two Saarc heavyweights are high and depend on their simultaneous choices. Without stability, India's aspiration of Security Council membership will remain unfulfilled.

Likewise, Pakistan's prospects of becoming a vital node in the Silk Road would be undermined. As a land bridge between the resource-rich Central Asian region and the Indian Ocean, Pakistan's position remains central despite competing big power interests. Both nuclear rivals accept that a stable, secure and peaceful neighbourhood is in their interest but cannot achieve this. However, the prize for cooperation is bigger than the incentives of competition. If India and Pakistan make some concessions, the subcontinent's teeming population and resources could promise a powerful regional hub. New Delhi may balance its goals to revise the international order. Likewise, Islamabad may create an environment for making this happen.

A Transformative Moment in Indo-US Ties?

January 27, 2015

Just a year back, the world’s largest and oldest democracies seemed on a collision course over theKhobragade affair. Today, thanks to deft diplomacy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team, Washington and Delhi stand on the cusp of a potentially transformative moment in their bilateral ties. When Modi visited the U.S. in September, his domestic critics wanted to discredit him by asking where the substance was. They argued that Modi’s visit was about style; that the optics overpowered the real issues that were bedeviling the relationship. When Modi invited Obama as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi, the critics came back arguing that there was little point to inviting Obama, who had become a lame-duck president with the defeat of the Democrats in November 2014 elections.

But what Modi and Obama have been able to accomplish in the last two days underscores once again how far ahead Modi is of his critics. It also shows the remarkable ability of Modi to understand how modern day politics and diplomacy work. The optics of his visit to the U.S. last September was precisely what convinced Washington about Modi’s ability to deliver. The Obama administration recognized that after years of disappointment from Manmohan Singh, they were now getting an interlocutor in Modi who understood how important it was get the U.S.-India equation right — and he was ready to deliver with his immense cache of political capital. So even though Obama’s foreign policy agenda has been crowded, he has managed to galvanize the American bureaucracy to give one more chance to India before the end of his term. And that bet seems to be paying off.

Afghanistan's Strategic Culture and Threat Perception

27 Jan , 2015

Afghanistan has geographical interface with energy-rich West Asia and Central Asia as also with nuclear capable China and Pakistan. Its direct interface with India is precluded by Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Nonetheless, Afghanistan remains an important factor in India’s security calculus.

The export of terrorists to Jammu and Kashmir from Afghanistan has been the most pressing concern for India. The role played in the hijacking of an Indian aircraft by Islamic fundamentalists demonstrated the level of viciousness that the Taliban regime had acquired. A friendly and stable government in Afghanistan can mitigate much of India’s security concerns.

Afghanistan shares a 76 km boundary with China, 936 km with Iran, 2,430 km with Pakistan, 1,206 km with Tajikistan, 724 km with Turkmenistan and 137 km with Uzbekistan. This 1,240 km long (east to west) and 565 km wide (north to south) mountainous (50 per cent country above 2,000 mtrs) country has seriously impacted on the security sensitivities of all its neighbours.

Hafiz Saeed, Wanted Leader of Pakistani Terrorist Group LeT, Speaks at Public Rally in Karachi

Syed Shoaib Hasan 
January 26, 2015 

KARACHI, Pakistan—The head of an internationally blacklisted organization that U.S. and Indian authorities link to the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai urged a crowd of several thousand here on Sunday “to take action” with sharply worded criticism of Washington and New Delhi.

Led by Hafiz Saeed, who is wanted by U.S. and Indian authorities in connection with the 2008 attacks, the rally coincided with President Barack Obama ’s visit to India. Organizers said the demonstration was held to protest the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Yet Mr. Saeed, who doesn’t often appear in public, chose a time of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan. And despite improved ties with Washington, Islamabad officials remain watchful for anything that might advance India’s cause, such as Mr. Obama’s visit.

Mr. Saeed told the crowd that Washington and New Delhi had formed an “alliance of terrorism” against Pakistan.

“They call us terrorists, but I tell you that the United States, the biggest terrorist in the world, is meeting India, the terrorist’s disciple, today,” Mr. Saeed said. “The plan is to unleash the disciple on the Muslims of the region.”

Pakistani officials have pledged to crack down on militant groups in the wake of the massacre in December of 150 people, most of them children, by Taliban militants in the northwestern city of Peshawar. In a visit to Pakistan earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry praised the government for making “significant progress” against militants, especially in the military’s offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and other groups in the country’s tribal regions.

Peace through strength, Indian-style

January 26, 2015 

In his second visit to India, US President Barack Obama has another opportunity to take the measure of his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Over the past six months, US officials like former Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel have tried to emphasise the ways in which Obama and Modi are similar, noting, for instance, that both are outsider candidates from humble backgrounds. In reality, however, Modi looks more like India’s Ronald Reagan than its Obama, especially when it comes to his dealings with Pakistan. There, Modi appears to be pursuing a strategy of “peace through strength”. Despite Obama’s obvious partisan and ideological differences with Reagan, he should aim to support Modi’s agenda, with one major modification.

Last May, Modi began his term with a bold and friendly diplomatic gesture. He invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to his swearing-in ceremony. Since then, however, Modi has limited diplomatic engagement and shifted to a harder line with Pakistan, rattling nerves in Islamabad and raising eyebrows in Washington.

Of course, it is probably too soon to characterise Modi’s dealings with Pakistan as more than a series of tactical manoeuvres informed by a nationalistic ideology and framed by a history of India-Pakistan animosity and distrust. That said, Modi is by all accounts a startlingly ambitious character. He brings new energy and urgency to New Delhi and is also believed to be playing a long game, consolidating his political position so that

he can serve at least two five-year terms. In this context, his harder line towards Pakistan has the potential to grow into a comprehensive strategy, one aimed at finally resolving the India-Pakistan dispute through a firm display of India’s strength.

Iran Is Doing Better Than Its Rivals

JAN. 25, 2015

Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/ReutersHouthi fighters in Sana'a, Yemen. American and Saudi officials believe that the rebel militia is backed by Iran.

Officials in Tehran are not shy about their aim of spreading influence abroad, nor of their apparent success.

Even as the efforts of the West and its Sunni Arab allies look distinctly half-hearted, notably in their fight against Islamic State (IS), Tehran can claim, with only a pinch of hubris, to run three Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.

This week it may have added a fourth: Sana'a, Yemen's capital, where on January 20th Shia Houthi rebels took over the presidential palace.

American and Saudi officials believe the rebel militia is backed by the Iranians, although they deny it in public (and boast of it in private).

The takeover in Yemen came soon after an Israeli drone strike exposed Iranian meddling in another part of the Middle East.

The cross-border attack on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights killed six fighters from Hizbullah, the Iran-backed Shia party-cum-militia in Lebanon, days after the group denied that it was in the area.

More surprisingly it also killed Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, an Iranian general. His presence suggests that Iran was trying to establish a presence in an area that has fallen out of Syrian government control and into the hands of rebels with whom Israel appears to be on friendly-enough terms.

Why 2016 Could Be a Nightmare for China

January 27, 2015

In the late 1990s, former President Jiang Zemin liked to talk of China entering a two-decade era of “strategic opportunity” — a period when China could become a middle income country while continuing the Deng-ist strategy of building up its capacity and strengthening its economy during the era of American hegemony. During this period, China would be low profile, largely free of global leadership responsibilities, and able to plead its status as a poor, developing power focused on solving its own problems as a reason to sidestep heavy diplomatic duties beyond its borders.

Three-quarters of the way into this era of “strategic opportunity,” and we might argue that this period has already come to an end. Economically and geopolitically, the China of Xi Jinping increasingly talks and acts like an emerging super power. Xi, with his grand narratives of a “new model of great power relations” for the U.S. and China, and a “New Silk Road” for most of the rest of the planet, seems to have the look, and tone, of someone willing to stand more on the global stage and get attention.

It seems like the “era of strategic opportunity,” where the onus was on internal issues and keeping a low profile, has been replaced by a China where, as Xi puts it in a recently collected edition of speeches (The Governance of China), its inward and outward context are intimately linked. For China, the pressure is now on finding “holistic” solutions where it often proactively takes the lead on the global stage and wants to be listened to.

China: The Eclipse of the Politburo

By Timothy Heath
January 26, 2015

It is commonly believed that an incoming General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can enact whatever policies he chooses, so long as the top seven or nine leaders of the PBSC agree. If they do not agree, conventional wisdom presumes, then it is unlikely that the leaders will get much done. Such, at any rate, was the prevailing view at the start of Xi Jinping’s tenure. Analyses published at the time of Xi’s ascension confidently predicted that he would prove weak and achieve little, due to the challenge of gaining consensus among PBSC members of such varying backgrounds. Outcomes starkly at odds with such forecasts have done little to deter experts from making additional assertions following the same logic. It is not hard to find analyses today that claim Xi’s anti-corruption drive is fundamentally a power grab that is alienating fellow PBSC members and thus setting Xi up for long-term failure once his peers turn against him.

Xi may well fail in his reform agenda for a variety of reasons, but lack of consensus in the PBSC will not be the primary driver. The importance of consensus for enacting policy between the top seven leaders who comprise the PBSC is overstated. Consensus remains necessary, at least on the surface, for the most important policy initiatives such as the pursuit of structural and systemic reforms under which the current anti-corruption drive is nestled. In reality, though, PBSC members are increasingly constrained in their ability to undermine or drastically change the general direction of policy. For the overwhelming majority of the country’s policy directives, what really counts is the degree of consensus within the central party bureaucracy, or staff organizations (i.e., the key staff bodies and organizations primarily in the Central Committee, such as the General Office, Central Policy Research Office, Central Party School, Organization Department, etc.) andbetween the same central party staff organizations and the General Secretary. Individuals who seek to anticipate the future trajectory of PRC policy-making would be well served to master the publicly available documents produced by these bureaucracies in support of the General Secretary.

Unlocking the Puzzle of China’s Neutron Bomb

January 27, 2015
Source Link

Why does China develop weapons systems that it opposes? China criticizes U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems, but conducted three BMD tests of its own from 2010 to 2014. China regularly supports a treaty to ban space weapons, but has repeatedly tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) system. It is also unclear how China’s nascent hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), reportedly designated the WU-14, might fit into its military doctrine. In general, China’s rapid military modernization and opaque defense budget only exacerbate concerns over the compatibility between China’s stated views and actual practice in developing strategic weapons.

One way to answer this puzzle is to look at history, specifically the history of China’s neutron bomb program. From 1977 to 1988 China developed a neutron bomb, more formally known as an enhanced radiation weapon. Neutron bombs are specialized tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) with reduced blast effects and enhanced radiation. Similar to the BMD and ASAT puzzles, this weapon appears incompatible with China’s stated nuclear doctrine. China’s no first use doctrine emphasizes strategic forces and responding only to a nuclear attack, whereas a neutron bomb is tactical and ideal for first use against conventional forces.

Satellite Imagery Shows China Building a Military Base Near Disputed Islands

James Hardy and Sean O’Connor 
January 26, 2015 

Airbus Defence and Space imagery shows a military heliport under construction in the Nanji Islands. Concrete helipads are in place along with associated taxiways. An access road is present to replace a road overtaken by the facility’s construction. No supporting infrastructure is present, but trenching suggests future pipe- or cable-laying activity. (CNES 2014, Distribution Airbus DS / IHS) 

Satellite imagery analysis by IHS Jane’s has confirmed that China is building a military base on islands 300 km away from the dispute Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. 

The imagery, captured on 13 October 2014 by Airbus Defence and Space’s Pleaides satellite, shows a heliport with 10 landing pads in the centre of Nanji Island, one of a group of islands that are part of Zhejiang province. 

The construction at Nanji was reported on 22 December 2014 by Japan’s Kyodo News, citing unidentified Chinese sources. 

A comparison with DigitalGlobe imagery captured in October 2013 shows that the helipads are new additions to the island, along with wind turbines that sit along a ridge on the island’s southeast peninsula. In contrast to the media reports, there are no signs of an airstrip under construction, although existing radar and communications sites are clear from the imagery. 

A ‘PLA-N’ for Chinese maritime bases in the Indian Ocean

By Abhijit Singh
JAN 26, 2015

After a PLA-Navy submarine docked twice in Colombo, Sri Lanka last year, there is anxiety among Indian analysts of a renewed thrust by China for a permanent military presence in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi’s policy and strategic circles are abuzz with rumours of a likely Chinese naval base in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Following reports of increased Chinese naval activity off India’s Southern maritime frontiers, New Delhi has even revived the proposal for an Indian Ocean Zone of Peace, in the hope that it would discourage Beijing from adopting a proactive maritime policy in the Indian Ocean.

Chinese maritime forays in the IOR aren’t a new phenomenon. For some time Beijing has been trying to expand its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean. The increasing frequency of Chinese anti-piracy deployments and naval exercises, as well as growing investments in maritime infrastructure projects have burnished China’s image as a maritime player in the region. Yet, thus far, it seemed unlikely China had plans for establishing naval bases.

The recent spurt in Chinese naval exercises in the Indian Ocean, however, has led to whispers of a more pre-emptive PLA-N strategy. A string of naval deployments – including one with the 20,000-ton amphibious ship, the Chengbaishan, and another involving a nuclear submarine – has provided evidence that Beijing has its sights set on dominating the Indian Ocean. As a consequence, Chinese maritime basing in the Indian Ocean is no longer a strategic contingency to be taken lightly.

The first, in a set of revealing events, is the recent dockingof a Chinese submarine at Colombo. While there was much discussion of the geopolitical implications of the visit, key operational details escaped critical analysis. It is noteworthy, for instance, that the Chinese submarine did not dock at the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) berths in Colombo – mandated to accommodate military vessels – but at the Colombo South Container Terminal (CSCT), a deep-water facility built, controlled and run by a Chinese company, the China Merchants Holdings (International). The CSCT may be well-suited for submarine dockings, but it is also a “Chinese enclave” within a Sri Lankan administered harbor. The presence of the Chinese submarine at the CSCT constituted a violation of protocol, but Sri Lankan authorities were reluctant to describe it as such. The SLPA chairman’s explanation that the submarine needed the extra-depth at the CSCT seemed implausible, considering that the Ming-class diesel-electric’s limited draft rendered it apt for berthing at any of the available SLPA facilities. Moreover, as commentators pointed out, the submarine visit was preceded by the docking of two other Chinese naval vessels at CSCT that Colombo tried hard to keep out of the media glare. This strengthens Indian suspicions that PLA-N assets are being allowed privileged access to Sri Lankan ports funded by Chinese investments.

Why the US Should Encourage Closer Sino-Indian Ties

January 27, 2015

My colleague, Ankit Panda, did an excellent summaryof the nine major takeaways from U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to India. He concludes that “this visit is a strong indicator that U.S.-India ties will follow a positive trajectory over the course of this year.” He also notes that both countries are strategically converging, although the pace of that convergence has been sluggish due to the low priority assigned to India on the foreign policy agenda of the Obama White House and New Delhi’s innate skepticism of U.S. intentions in the region.

Part of this innate skepticism stems from the fact that India suspects it will be used as the United States’ shield to check Chinese ambitions and counterbalance Beijing’s influence in the region. India is trying to counter China’s influence in Asia by fostering closer ties with the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), especially in the field of naval cooperation, which adversely affects China’s position in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

Beijing’s immediate response to President Obama’s visit to the subcontinent was Xi Jinping’s announcement that China will seek to lift the Sino-Indian strategic partnership to a higher level this year and that the Indian government should avoid a “zero-sum trap” set by the United States and its allies pitting New Delhi against Beijing.

The Big, Fragile Win Over ISIS


Kurdish fighters now control 90 percent of Kobani—and winning the besieged Syrian city back from the terror group exposed the vulnerability of the U.S. and coalition effort.

Kurdish forces’ apparent near victory of the northern Syrian city of Kobani marked the first major defeat for ISIS at the hands of local ground troops and the U.S. air war.

But the four-month campaign to reclaim the city also exposed the fragility of the U.S. and coalition effort, as well as ISIS’s ability to hold onto territory, observers, analysts and military officials concluded. In what has been an opaque war, the battle of Kobani is the most illustrative of the tactics of both sides.

For the U.S. and coalition forces, the lesson of Kobani is that without a strong, aggressive local force on the ground willing to fight for months, airstrikes alone cannot win back territory from ISIS. Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as YPG, backed by Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga launched a sustained campaign against ISIS. During that effort, the U.S. and coalition became the air force for those fighters.

The U.S. paid particular attention to Kobani, striking it more than any other city in Iraq and Syria. Of the 1,800-plus airstrikes the coalition has conducted since August 8, 35 percent targeted Kobani, according to U.S. Central Command press releases. Between Sunday and Monday, the U.S. and coalition conducted 17 airstrikes in Kobani, the Pentagon announced Monday.

ISIS’s fight for Kobani suggested that the terror group could take territory quickly and hold onto it through an ongoing campaign of terror and intimidation. But it couldn’t win a war of attrition. In this case, ISIS was outmatched by thousands more Kurdish forces and an almost daily airstrike campaign.

Why ISIS Keeps Expanding

January 21, 2015 

More than four months after the start of an international airstrikes campaign against the Islamic State, the organization continues to expand—going beyond the geographical areas of Syria and Iraq. 

Perhaps no self-designation by an armed group has been more apt in the current context of the Syrian conflict than the Islamic State’s slogan, “lasting and expanding”. More than four months after the start of an international airstrikes campaign against the organization, ISIS continues to greatly enlarge the area under its control. It is reported that since September 2014, when the international coalition airstrikes against ISIS began, its Syrian territories have doubled in size. There are several reasons for this enlargement, which is going beyond the geographical areas of Syria and Iraq to become a global expansion. 

A basic reason is that, in limiting itself to airstrikes, the anti-ISIS international coalition is not implementing a military strategy with diversified components such as ground engagement. The importance of the latter has become clear following the losses incurred by the Islamic State in areas in which its fighters have faced resistance from the peshmerga. The Kobani battles show that ISIS struggles when confronted with boots on the ground. Those boots need not be Western; they can be Middle Eastern. However, the West has been slow in providing adequate military support to the Syrian opposition, which would have allowed it to stand up to the ISIS expansion more effectively. Only recently has the United States announced that it is deploying 400 troops to train the Free Syrian Army. This is a positive step but comes a little too late in the game. 

The coalition’s strikes have also indirectly helped the ISIS expansion through focusing on Iraq rather than Syria. When ISIS feels stretched following an attempt to expand into a given territory, it always resorts to retreating from this territory in order to re-group in core areas, re-strategize, and expand again in directions other than the land originally targeted. An example of this took place last year, when ISIS attempted to take over Idlib in the west but failed largely because of the governorate’s separation from Raqqa—the Islamic State’s headquarters—by Aleppo. After retreating to Raqqa, ISIS turned eastwards and has since been attempting to take over the governorate of Deir ez-Zor. As the coalition’s campaign is centered on ISIS in Iraq, the organization has withdrawn from some Iraqi areas to focus its energies on Syria, where it faces fewer challenges.

The Making of Future American Grand Strategy

January 27, 2015

A note from TNI’s Executive Editor Harry J. Kazianis: The following is the final chapter of Professor William Martel’s new book Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The Need For an Effective American Foreign Policy (please see reprint permission at the end of the chapter). Martel passed away on January 12th after a long battle against leukemia.

Martel was an Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. He also served as a Senior Foreign Policy adviser to Governor Mitt Romney during the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Martel was a friend and colleague to many of TNI’s editors and staff. On behalf of TNI, we send our personal condolences to his family and the Fletcher School community. He will be greatly missed.

The purpose of this book is to provide a framework that helps guide scholars and policymakers as they articulate and implement a grand strategy. A coherent grand strategy, which plays a fundamental role in guiding the state’s foreign and domestic policies, is key in times of both peace and war because only it provides the broad sense of direction, clarity, and vision that policymakers, operating at the highest levels of government, need as they make difficult and consequential decisions. Fundamentally, grand strategy describes a broad consensus on the state’s goals and the means by which to put them into practice.

Putin Is Winning the Ukraine War on Three Fronts

Michael Weiss, James Miller

Russian-backed rebels are making gains near Donetsk, Lugansk, and Mariupol. Just how long can Kiev hold off their advances?

It’s been a lousy week for Kiev.

Between January 24 and 26, Ukraine’s military spokesman Colonel Andriy Lysenko has claimed, 14 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and another 92 have been wounded in fighting across the country, with many of those casualties incurred near Donetsk, Lugansk, and Mariupol. These three cities now represent three fronts on which Ukraine is currently losing against forces armed, trained and backed by Vladimir Putin.

Near Lugansk, the separatists are pushing north and west in an apparent attempt to secure more border crossings with Russia and a key highway that runs between the city and Donetsk. This front is important for several reasons, not the least of which is that border crossings can more easily allow the transfer of Russian soldiers and military hardware into Ukraine. (The more border crossings the separatists control, the easier it its for them hide these movements from international observers and reporters.) Ukraine’s forces have largely held their ground here, though they have lost territory on the Bakhmutka Highway. If the separatists can secure this highway, the time it’d take them to resupply the front in Donetsk would be greatly reduced.

The battle for Donetsk has seen the heaviest fighting in the last few weeks. Last week Russian-backed fighters overran Ukrainian positions at Donetsk International Airport, which for months had served as an effective (even legendary) chokepoint keeping the enemy from pushing deeper into Ukraine.

Ukraine Has Lost Half Its Warplanes


A year of fighting has cost Ukraine a full half of its fighter jets, cargo planes and military helicopters. That’s the most startling finding of the 2015 edition of Flight’s annual report on the world’s air forces.

In early 2014, before Russian forces invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and subsequently came to the aid of pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine, Kiev possessed 400 military aircraft, according to Flight.

A year later, that number has plummeted to just 222.

The Russians captured some aircraft. Others crashed. Rebels and Russians shot down many others. Potentially dozens of warplanes had lain around unused for years prior to the conflict and simply proved too decrepit to return to flight, finally compelling Kiev to remove them from its inventory.

Whatever the exact reasons, no other military—not even Syria’s or Iraq’s—has suffered such a precipitous decline in current conflicts.

Indeed, the 178 planes and copters that Ukraine has lost account for a third of the decrease in total world air power holdings over the past 12 months. Today the world’s governments boast a combined 51,685 military aircraft, down 459 from 2014.

For the record, 13,902 of those 51,685 airplanes and rotorcraft, or 27 percent, belong to the U.S. military. Russia has the second-largest aerial force with 3,429 military aircraft—seven percent of the world total.

The Ukraine Crisis' Scary New Twist: The Drive for Mariupol

January 27, 2015

One of the most important tasks of the staffs of both the National Security Council and of the White House speechwriting apparatus is to think through the second- and third-order effects of presidential rhetoric, and to process the immediate, gut reactions of the Chief Executive to avoid creating policy problems for the United States. The system does not always work—the fateful "red line" statement on Syria was, according to some sources, an on-the-spot ad lib of President Barack Obama, rather than a thought-through and vetted policy pronouncement—but one always hopes that for important and major addresses such as the State of the Union, the staff is prepared to speak the proverbial truth to power.

It is an unfortunate pattern for this president that his statements and comments on Russian president Vladimir Putin always seem to generate a visceral negative reaction from the Kremlin, particularly when Obama suggests that Putin is weak, isolated or facing defeat. Without fail, Putin tends to initiate a response—whether signing major new trade deals with the Chinese after his isolation has been proclaimed or seizing an Estonian officer on the border in the immediate aftermath of a presidential visit that was meant to demonstrate confidence in Western security guarantees. Given what Obama said about Putin before both houses of Congress—and given that the president, who viewed the address primarily as a domestic political event, wanted to take a shot at his political opposition who in the past year unfavorably compared Obama's decision-making style with Putin's—the national-security establishment should have been prepared for an intensification of the Ukraine crisis. One can only imagine Putin watching the speech or reading a transcript, then bellowing to his aides, "I have not been defeated!"

Pro-Moscow Rebels Launch Offensive to Capture Ukrainian Port City of Mariupol

January 24, 2015 

(Reuters) - Pro-Russian rebels launched an offensive against the strategic port of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, prompting the European Union’s foreign policy chief to warn of a further “grave deterioration” in EU-Russian relations. 

Mariupol’s city administration said the rebels had killed at least 30 people and injured 83 others in the offensive by firing rockets from long-range GRAD missile systems. 

The city of 500,000 on the Sea of Azov is vital for eastern Ukraine’s steel and grain exports and also straddles the coastal route from the Russian border to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula in southern Ukraine seized by Russia last March. 

President Petro Poroshenko, pledging to protect Ukrainian territory, said he would convene an emergency meeting of his country’s security council on Sunday. 

"Today an offensive was launched on Mariupol. This will be the best possible monument to all our dead," Russia’s RIA news agency quoted rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko as saying at a memorial ceremony in the separatist-held city of Donetsk. 

He said the separatists also planned to encircle Debaltseve, a town north-east of Donetsk, in the next few days, Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. 

Eastern Ukraine has seen an escalation of fighting in recent days that Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed on Kiev. The rebels have ruled out more peace talks. 

SIGINT And the Battle of Mariupol in the Ukraine

January 26, 2015 

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president said Sunday that intercepted radio and telephone conversations prove that Russia-backed separatists were responsible for firing the rockets that pounded the southeastern city of Mariupol and killed at least 30 people.

The attack on Mariupol, a strategically situated port city that had been relatively quiet for months, alarmed the West and looked likely further to aggravate relations with Russia.

Putting the blame squarely on Moscow, President Barack Obama said the U.S. would work with its European partners to “ratchet up the pressure on Russia.”

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini later announced that EU foreign ministers would hold an “extraordinary” meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss Ukraine. Diplomats said the U.N. Security Council would meet Monday afternoon on Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking separately with Mogherini and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, told them the Ukrainian government bore responsibility for the latest military escalation, according to statements released by his ministry. Lavrov did not, however, directly address who had carried out the attack on Mariupol and said that it should be investigated.

Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko initially announced that his forces had begun an offensive on the government-controlled city of Mariupol. But after the extent of civilian casualties became known, he backtracked and blamed Ukrainian forces for Saturday’s carnage.

The rocket attack came a day after the rebels rejected a peace deal and announced they were going on a multi-pronged offensive against the Kiev government in Kiev in a bid to seize more territory. The rebel stance has upended European attempts to mediate an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine that has cost at least 5,100 lives since April, according to United Nations estimates.

The New Drivers of Europe's Geopolitics

JANUARY 27, 2015

For the past two weeks, I have focused on the growing fragmentation of Europe. Two weeks ago, the murders in Paris prompted me to write about the fault line between Europe and the Islamic world. Last week, I wrote about the nationalism that is rising in individual European countries after the European Central Bank was forced to allow national banks to participate in quantitative easing so European nations wouldn't be forced to bear the debt of other nations. I am focusing on fragmentation partly because it is happening before our eyes, partly because Stratfor has been forecasting this for a long time and partly because my new book on the fragmentation of Europe — Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe — is being released today.

This is the week to speak of the political and social fragmentation within European nations and its impact on Europe as a whole. The coalition of the Radical Left party, known as Syriza, has scored a major victory in Greece. Now the party is forming a ruling coalition and overwhelming the traditional mainstream parties. It is drawing along other left-wing and right-wing parties that are united only in their resistance to the EU's insistence that austerity is the solution to the ongoing economic crisis that began in 2008.
Two Versions of the Same Tale

The story is well known. The financial crisis of 2008, which began as a mortgage default issue in the United States, created a sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Some European countries were unable to make payment on bonds, and this threatened the European banking system. There had to be some sort of state intervention, but there was a fundamental disagreement about what problem had to be solved. Broadly speaking, there were two narratives.

Is America's Dominance Below the Seas Coming to an End?

January 27, 2015
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U.S. defense strategy depends in large part on America’s advantage in undersea warfare. Multiple Quadrennial Defense Reviews, National Military Strategies, and Congressional hearing statements highlight how quiet submarines, in particular, are one of the American military’s most viable means of gathering intelligence and projecting power in the face of mounting anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) threats being fielded by a growing number of countries.

America’s superiority in undersea warfare results from decades of research and development (R&D), operations, and training. It is, however, far from assured. U.S. submarines are the world’s quietest, but new detection techniques are emerging that don’t rely on the noise a submarine makes, and may make traditional manned submarine operations far more risky in the future. America’s competitors are likely pursuing these technologies even while expanding their own undersea forces. To affordably sustain its undersea advantage well into this century, the U.S. Navy must accelerate innovation in undersea warfare by reconsidering the role of manned submarines and exploiting emerging technologies to field a new “family of undersea systems.”

Evolution of the Undersea Competition

Mining and mine-clearing have been around for centuries, but undersea warfare first emerged as a significant area of military operations in World War I, when several countries used submarines on a large scale to attack civilian shipping and, occasionally, enemy warships. This created the need for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and began a competition between submarines and ASW forces. During the ensuing century this competition evolved through several distinct phases, each characterized by the predominant ASW detection method.

Why America Keeps Making The Same Mistakes Over and Over Again in the Middle East

January 26, 2015
Stephen M. Walt

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The U.S. government decides that some ill-governed authoritarian country in the Arab and/or Islamic world is a potential source of serious trouble. It sends some troops and/or sophisticated weaponry to eliminate the problem, and backs some local leaders in the hope of establishing a better government. But instead of eliminating the bad guys Washington was worried about and producing a new and improved regime, the U.S. intervention merely fuels anti-American hostility and reinforces a simmering internal conflict. The people we back turn out to be corrupt, ineffective, or both, and are either incapable of gaining power or unable to hold on to it. After spending tens of millions of dollars and blowing a bunch of stuff up, we’re back where we started (or worse).

Sound familiar? If reading that first paragraph gave you a profound sense of déjà vu, it’s hardly surprising. With certain variations, this sad story has been playing itself out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and now Yemen. In each case, the United States has used military force and covert action to combat terrorists and reorganize the politics of some distant country. In each case, U.S. intervention has made a bad situation no better, and often made it worse. Yet despite this long string of failures, there doesn’t seem to be any official recognition that we might be dealing with these problems in the wrong way.

The Yemen debacle is especially instructive in this regard. Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and one with a long history of political division and outside interference. There was a bitter civil war there in the 1960s, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt eventually sent some 50,000 troops to the country in a costly and futile attempt to support sympathetic “revolutionary” forces. The country was divided into rival northern and southern halves in 1967, and the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen was a nominal Soviet client state for the next 20 years or so. The two countries agreed to unify in 1990, but deep divisions remained and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh faced several challenges to his own heavy-handed and corrupt rule. Yemen remains a tribal society to this day, and it is also home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a terrorist group that has organized several attempted attacks on the United States or other Western countries.

Toward a Better Understanding of Oil Markets

The rapid drop in oil prices over the past six months has spawned a wide range of (at times, conflicting) conspiracy theories on how and why oil prices are falling. While these theories are creative and intriguing, we contend that market watchers would be far better served by analyzing the fundamentals of supply, demand, economic performance, and cost competitiveness to understand the basics behind this dramatic decline. Of course, market “psychology” always plays a role, including the tendency to overshoot and then correct, and a bit of history can be instructive as well.

For starters, though persistent supply growth has been heralded by many as “the story” of 2014, we continue to believe that last year’s real surprise was the demand that failed to materialize—some 600,000 barrels per day short of expectations by some forecasts. After three years of consistently robust supply growth, mostly from North America, at prices of $100/barrel, expectations for continued success were high—and did not disappoint. By mid-year however, the signs of ebbing global demand growth were already becoming evident. Once the fundamentals of supply and demand reasserted themselves, the overhanging surplus in the face of anemic growth (even with considerable geopolitical uncertainty) caused the onset of a marked price decline (some $65 since last summer) that has characterized the past six months.

Last September, we published a “troubles ahead” commentary forecasting the consequences of continued oversupply/insufficient demand and explained how, given the overhang, even modest new demand growth was unlikely to rescue producers from a lower price future at least in the near term. We contend that the points raised in that analysis remain true today and that such market-oriented explanations trump conspiracy theories (e.g., Saudi Arabia and the United States are colluding to hold prices down to punish Russia and Iran, or Saudi Arabia has declared open war on U.S. tight oil development) and explain the OPEC/Saudi response to current and emerging competition in a low demand growth environment.

JFQ 76 | A Theater-Level Perspective on Cyber

By J. Marcus Hicks

Gentlemen, the officer who doesn’t know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless.
—General George S. Patton

Most U.S. military cyber professionals will tell you that “defense is the main effort” and that providing secure and reliable communication is job one. In practice, however, most cyber discussions focus on sophisticated computer hackers conducting exploitation (espionage) or attack (sabotage) operations. The reasons for this seeming contradiction include cyber espionage intrusions, industrial-scale intellectual property theft, and denial-of-service attacks that cost millions of dollars and naturally capture headlines and the imagination. Likewise, the potential for cyber attacks to disrupt infrastructure with kineticlike consequences provides fodder for books and articles that bridge reality and science fiction, empowering armchair theorists to contemplate a new and different type of war and warrior.

Still, the military’s main effort must be to provide, operate, and defend the ability to command and control (C2) forces. If we fail at this task, the commander’s mission will likewise fail. Effective command, control, communications, and computer systems define the modern American way of war. This requires highly technical systems, consuming large amounts of bandwidth to support the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission requirements that feed the C2 system. Our high-tech advantage enables and arguably defines much of the conventional overmatch currently enjoyed by the U.S. military and its allies. Our operational concepts assume levels of situational awareness and the ability to control forces with a level of precision unimagined a generation ago. To maintain that advantage, I too agree that defense is the main effort and that we must keep it the main effort.