3 February 2015

The invisible face of terror

February 3, 2015 
Nissim Mannathukkaren

There is a need to account for material and economic factors which are completely missing in the discourse surrounding fanatic Islam

In the European imaginary, Christianity is the parent of Reason, and Islam is the embodiment of Unreason. — Talal Asad

Brussels. Ottawa. Sydney. Paris. “Terrorist” attacks in these western cities in the last one year have claimed 29 lives. Add to this the beheadings of western citizens by the Islamic State. The horror evoked by these has led to an outcry against Islam and fierce debates about the necessity of reform in Islam. In France, 3.7 million people marched in solidarity — in the largest public rally since the Second World War — with the victims of Charlie Hebdo to show that western civilisation cannot be defeated by Islamic fanatics.

We are back to the days of 9/11 and other terror events in the West, and the debate assumes familiar directions: freedom of speech versus violent threats to it and the enlightened West versus barbaric Islam. We are presented this black and white world even by non-Muslim and non-western nations who have joined the project of moderating and domesticating Islam. Of course, there have been nuanced positions which have affirmed the right to free speech while at the same time calling out Charlie Hebdo for its racist portrayals of Islam. But the issue is larger than this.

“The tragedy of modernity is that state-sponsored violence sanctioned under the guise of democracy is not classified as terror”

The architects of West Asia’s chaos

February 3, 2015 
Vijay Prashad

Neither U.S. President Barack Obama nor King Salman of Saudi Arabia can be comforted with the mess that their countries have made in West Asia. Tragically, the only pathway they seem to favour is the one that would create more distress

Pandemonium is the main current from Libya to Iraq. U.S. President Barack Obama dashed off from New Delhi to greet King Salman, the new ruler of Saudi Arabia. Both had a great deal to discuss. Neither can be comforted with the mess that their countries have made in West Asia. Tragically, the only pathway they seem to favour is the one that would create more distress in the years to come. Plainly, their example is Egypt, where both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia backed the coup by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and now back his government despite repression against protests.

The murder of a young socialist, Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, as she went to lay a wreath of flowers in Tahrir Square on the fourth anniversary of the Revolution against Mubarak, is a sign of the rot. It did not stop an “Islamic State” (IS) detachment from an attack in the Sinai Peninsula, killing over 30 security personnel and civilians. In Libya, the Saudis and the U.S. favour the strongman (Khalifa Haftar), as they did in Yemen (Abdullah Saleh). In Iraq and Syria, both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia disliked the dispensation and sought to undo it. The Saudis are driven by sectarianism — against the rule of the Shia (and the influence of Iran). It is what turns them against the governments in Damascus and Baghdad, as well as the rebels in Yemen. Mr. Obama and King Salman cannot solve the problems in the region. They have run out of ideas. Others will have to show the way.

An ICBM becomes more versatile

February 3, 2015 

India’s intercontinental ballistic missile, Agni V, has been turned into an even more potent weapon of war. On Saturday, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) demonstrated that this missile, capable of sending a nuclear warhead to targets over 5,000 km away — thereby bringing much of China within its reach — could be launched from a truck-mounted canister. The ability to move ballistic missiles around makes it difficult for an enemy to locate and destroy them. Placed in canisters, the missiles can be easily transported and launched with great rapidity in all sorts of weather conditions. The canisters have another advantage as well — they make decoys possible. While these large truck-borne missile containers can be detected by spy satellites passing overhead and may well be noticed by observers on the ground, it will be impossible to tell those that actually carry missiles from ones that are empty. Thus, any attempt at a first strike to take out India’s nuclear-armed missiles becomes far more uncertain and therefore a risky undertaking for any adversary.

However, launching a missile from a canister is more difficult, especially when it involves a large missile like the Agni V. The missile must be ejected from the container, using a gas generator, before its first stage can be ignited. Although the DRDO had previously carried out canister launches with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and the 700-km-range Shourya missile, launching the Agni V in a similar fashion was still a considerable technological challenge. Hurling this 17-metre-long, 50-tonne missile clear of its container requires far greater force, which must be provided by large amounts of gas produced very rapidly. In doing so, neither the missile nor its launch system should be damaged. Saturday’s flawless launch shows that the country’s defence scientists have indeed mastered this complex technology. Three successive Agni V flight tests have gone without a hitch over the last three years and DRDO officials say the missile will be ready for induction into service after just one more trial, which will be carried out later this year. However, India’s strategic planners will need to bear in mind the fact that Pakistan and China have deployed nuclear weapons on their missiles in a way that goes beyond conventional nuclear deterrence. Rather, their strategy appears to create ambiguities over the escalation of a conventional conflict into a nuclear one. Consequently, enhancement of this country’s long-range ballistic missile capabilities must go hand-in-hand with proper planning to deal with situations that might lead to such apocalyptic weapons of mass destruction being launched.

Putin’s next step

Ashutosh Varshney
February 3, 2015

US President Barack Obama has come and gone. To ensure that a deepening US-India friendship is not viewed as too ominous by China, India’s external affairs minister went to Beijing soon after Obama left, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s China visit in May has already been announced. Which other nations might require attention next?

Let me suggest that Russia calls for creative thinking. The key question is: can India be simultaneously close to Washington, a new friend, and Moscow, an old friend and still a source of arms and, potentially, a lot of energy, a great Indian necessity? How exactly India should approach Moscow requires an understanding of what is happening in Russia of late, where it might be headed next, and how the West would react.

Two weeks back, I returned from a visit to Moscow. I was there for the Gaidar Forum, an annual event that brings together political leaders, bureaucrats, academics, journalists and businessmen, and provides a good sense of the political and economic pulse of the country. This year’s theme was “Russia and the world”. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev spoke on Russia’s economic troubles. Several other ministers represented their portfolios. For three intense days, a whole variety of topics was discussed.

An economic crisis is rapidly unfolding in Russia. Western sanctions against the country — for its annexation of Crimea and role in Ukraine — are beginning to hurt, more so than anyone had anticipated. The sanctions were aimed at denying some Russian companies and banks access to international capital markets. They were designed to hurt the elite, especially, if not only, those allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Economic impact of Obama visit

Jayshree Sengupta
Feb 3 2015 

US trade missions to focus on infrastructure development in India

The visit of President Obama to India was laden with ‘symbolism’ which can be decoded as the ‘US is now ready to acknowledge India’s rising economic power’. India is after all the third biggest economy in the world and is poised to grow at 7 to 8 per cent, according to the IMF. 

His coming to India has given the American business community a signal that India is going to be important for business. Other reasons for Obama’s visit could be that he is keen to tap India’s economic potential, specially when China's growth is slowing down and the EU is facing a deflationary spiral that could turn into a full-fledged recession. India as an important member of BRICS is also close to both Russia and China, two countries that the Western powers are wary of. India with its huge population of 1.2 billion of mostly young people is a future powerhouse of the world, ready to supply labour to countries needing it. It will not only be software engineers who would be going to the West but with ageing Europeans and Americans, a lot of care givers from India would also be needed in their health sector in future. 

Secondly, Obama went for generalities, saying he would like to take India-US economic relations to new heights. Trade with the US was at $63.7 billion in 2013, though now it is nearly $100 billion. India and the US want to see this bilateral trade rise to $500 billion. India had a trade surplus with the US at $20.9 million in 2013. India and China already have bilateral trade of $65 billion. India accounts for only 2 per cent of US imports and 1 per cent of its exports.

Col MN Rai at the Last Post…

ByAshutosh Bhatia
02 Feb , 2015

“Listen to me…. Are you listening…. I am saying something to you…”

As the mortal remains of Late Col Munindra Nath Rai were finally being lifted for performing last rites at the capital’s Brar Square cemetery, these were the last words of Priyanka Rai, the ill-fated wife of the colonel. She wanted to touch her tricolor-clad husband for the last time. “I want to touch him… allow me,” pleaded a bewildered Priyanka, realising last stages of preparations. The otherwise crumbling Priyanka swiftly gathered courage to elevate her body and rolled her wavering fingers on the face of her husband. “Listen to me…. Are you listening…. I am saying something to you,” she cried hoping against the hope to hear a response.

It was the treacherous betrayal of trust which cost the 39 year old colonel his life, 24 hours after he was honoured for his bravery with a Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) on Republic Day.

For a second, Priyanka revisited each moment lived with her brave husband. A short while earlier, relatives helped her stand with (a handful of) wreaths/ flowers in her hands but she collapsed before laying them. Bereaved family members and close relatives struggled to console Priyanka all this while at Brar Square where the wreath laying ceremony was performed.

It was the treacherous betrayal of trust which cost the 39 year old colonel his life, 24 hours after he was honoured for his bravery with a Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) on Republic Day. The officer made the supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists in Kashmir. The Army received an input about two terrorists hiding in Hardoona village of Tral in Pulwama district. The valiant and high-spirited commanding officer decided to lead the operation and his troops surrounded the village. The Army reached the home of the militants. Col MN Rai was told by the family that the military need not kill the ‘boys’ as they would instead, surrender. It is part of Army’s widely known tradition in Kashmir that it tries its best to provide an opportunity to surrender, barring notorious and hardcore terrorists.


By C. Raja Mohan
FEBRUARY 1, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to expand the engagement with the United States on regional security in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean has set off much hand-wringing in New Delhi’s foreign community about the potential Chinese reaction. This is not surprising, given the deep concerns in the UPA government that drawing close to America might provoke China. Although it was then-PM Manmohan Singh who took the initial steps in the first term of the UPA to expand the strategic partnership with the US and its Asian allies, there was a definite attempt at distancing Delhi from Washington in the second term.

These fears were more about the lack of self-assurance in the Congress leadership and the security establishment rather than a credible assessment of China’s foreign policy record, or its current geopolitical calculus, or the nature of Asia’s international relations today. Consider, for example, the fact that China had been closer over extended periods of time to Washington than India has ever been to America in the last seven decades. Even today, China’s economic and commercial relationship is much thicker than Delhi’s ties with either Washington or Beijing.

If India’s trade with the US and China stands at around $100 billion and $70 billion respectively, China-US trade now stands at $560 billion. Even America’s Asian allies, including Japan, South Korea and Australia, have dense relations with China. Instead of viewing its relations with Washington and Beijing in binary terms, Delhi must recognise that its relations with both America and China have potential and must be developed with greater purpose and vigour.

Why not allow Modi to negotiate optimally

By M K Bhadrakumar
February 1, 2015

The US President Barack Obama’s visit has produced strange bedfellows – Indian communists on the one hand, here, and the rightwing ‘pro-American’ lobby in India, here, on the other. Of course, the Left is agonizing, while the fatcats on the Right are simply ecstatic. But they have a common thesis, its two core elements being: 

The government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is aligning India to the US’ rebalance strategy in Asia. 

In essence, India is discarding its ‘antediluvian’ non-aligned policies. 

There is no empirical evidence to substantiate the above two-point thesis – except the two broad assumptions bordering on wild specualtion, which have been conjured up from thin air by both communists and the fatcats, namely: a) during Obama’s visit, a “breakthrough” was achieved on the 2008 nuclear deal that is going to open vast vistas of nuclear commerce; and, b) the Joint Strategic Vision Statement on the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean signifies that India’s ‘Act East’ policies are now dovetailed (some say, ‘fused’ some others say, ‘amalgamated’) with the US’ containment strategy against China.

Of course, Obama’s visit produced no substantial results and was largely ‘symbolic’. It completely ignored Modi’s ‘Make in India’ project; the only economic content was Obama’s announcement of a $4 billion US export credit to promote the sales of US-made products in the field of ‘clean energy’ in the Indian market. Clearly, if Modi has jettisoned India’s core foreign-policy doctrine of ‘strategic autonomy’ for such meager returns, then he must be a very naïve politician – but there is no empirical evidence to show that, either.

Presumably, Modi knows what the US stated department spokesperson has since clarified (once Obama returned home): 

The famous “breakthrough” on the nuclear deal is in actuality “an understanding on an administrative arrangement for implementing the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement”, where, “there are a range of requirements in these type of deals, and certainly, we factor in a range of factors as we make them.” 

Need of the hour is for ‘Make-in-India’ nuclear plants

Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan
Feb 01, 2015

Prior to 2004 the Indian nuclear power policy was guided by the Bhabha Plan, aimed at the ultimate utilization of the abundant thorium resources in the country. But, Manmohan Singh Government deliberately scuttled this plan from 2005, to indirectly hand over technology reins of this sector to foreign governments and their reactor vendors.

I am one of the few senior scientists who had the good fortune to work under charismatic and ethical leaders like Bhabha, Nehru, Sarabhai, Ramanna and Indira Gandhi. Their aim was to shape a nuclear power programme, which matched the human and physical resources of India, to make it an indigenous asset built on a solid and sustainable foundation.

But, by 2014, when the UPA-2 government stepped down, the nuclear power programme had come down substantially in stature and performance, under a relatively lacklustre, corrupt and unethical leadership compared to stalwarts who ran the programme in earlier years.

I have been a close observer and analyst of UPA’s Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Therefore, I have a reasonably accurate picture of all that was done in nuclear policy restructure during the UPA-1&2 regimes.

The Indo-US nuclear deal of 2007 was a concept jointly planned and engineered primarily by the then Indian Prime Minister& his advisors, in close cooperation with the US government. Both sides co-opted carefully handpicked persons to give the critical push needed for executing this objective.

Ever since sanctions were imposed on all Indian nuclear efforts by the US and the West after our 1974 Pokhran-1 nuclear test, the US has been closely observing the progress of our nuclear programme. Under the able leadership of Indira Gandhi and nuclear scientists like Sethna, Ramanna, P K Iyengar and others, India steadily established the technology and the manufacturing base to indigenously produce up to 500-700 MWe capacity pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWRs) by 2000.

Press Freedom in China ‘Deplorable’: IFJ

By Robert Sullivan
February 01, 2015

An annual report on press freedom in China published this week by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has slammed the deteriorating situation for journalists working in China, and highlighted the increasingly active role mainland authorities are taking to exert influence on the press in Hong Kong and Macau.

“The state of press freedom and freedom of expression in China in 2014 was deplorable,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said in its report, CHINA’s MEDIA WAR: Censorship, Corruption & Control.

Among the significant developments highlighted by the IFJ:
China’s regulator for state-owned media – the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) – issued a directive in June specifying that journalists must not write “critical” stories without prior approval from their employers, and that journalists should not work “outside their assigned area of coverage.”
The SAPPRFT issued directives banning journalists from reporting on “state secrets, commercial secrets, unpublished information, and so on,” and that journalists could not “reproduce, copy or store” such information, or “talk or write to others in private” about it.
Beginning in 2014, journalists working in China will be required to pass an exam in order to qualify for press accreditation. The training materials for the exam are said to emphasize government-friendly ideology, and encourage journalists to take on the role of guiding public opinion.

Chinese authorities have also tightened their grip on the internet, with the establishment of the Central Internet Security and Informatization Leading Group in February 2014.

China is placing key generals on India border near Ladakh

31st Jan 2015

Nine officers with operational responsibility for the Sino-Indian border in the Lanzhou Military Region have been promoted from senior colonels to major generals in January.
Ladakhi girls hold their voter card as they wait to cast their vote during the 8th Phase of Lok Sabha elections,at Leh in Ladakh on 7 May 2014. PTI

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to visit Beijing to build bilateral relations and explore additional economic opportunities, it is the right time to analyse China's ambitions and intentions. The unceasing intrusions by Chinese troops especially in the Ladakh sector are one area that merit attention.

Pertinent are the intrusions by Chinese troops especially in the Depsang plains just days prior to the visit of Premier Li Keqiang in April 2013, and in the Chumar area of Ladakh last September. The latter, very unusually, broke with pattern and continued throughout Chinese President Xi Jinping's stay in India and for many days thereafter. Some observers at the time sought to suggest that either these were solitary actions by a local commander, or that Xi Jinping's control over the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is lax. While credible reports clearly indicated that the actions were planned and deliberate in both cases, additional confirmation is available from the latest round of promotions in the PLA.

The recently announced promotions in the PLA not only further consolidate Xi Jinping's grip over the PLA as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, but are also of relevance to India. Nine officers in the Lanzhou Military Region, which along with the Chengdu Military Region has operational responsibility for the Sino-Indian border, made the significant jump from senior colonel to the rank of major general on 12 January 2015.

How Iran Is Making It Impossible for the US to Beat ISIS

Michael WeissMichael Pregent

Washington needs to quit pretending it can work with Iran to defeat the Islamic State. Tehran’s real objective is to defeat Washington.

It was August 2007, and General David Petraeus, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, was angry. In his weekly report to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Petraeus wrote: “I am considering telling the President that I believe Iran is, in fact, waging war on the U.S. in Iraq, with all of the U.S. public and governmental responses that could come from that revelation. … I do believe that Iran has gone beyond merely striving for influence in Iraq and could be creating proxies to actively fight us, thinking that they can keep us distracted while they try to build WMD and set up [the Mahdi Army] to act like Lebanese Hezbollah in Iraq.”

There was no question there and then on the ground in Iraq that Iran was a very dangerous enemy. There should not be any question about that now, either. And the failure of the Obama administration to come to grips with that reality is making the task of defeating the so-called Islamic State more difficult—indeed, more likely to be impossible—every day.

There are lessons to be learned from the experience of the last decade, and of the last fortnight, but what is far from clear is whether Washington, or the American public, is likely to accept them because they imply much greater American re-engagement in the theater of battle. As a result, what we’ve seen is behavior like the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the desert sand, pretending this disaster just isn’t happening. But at a minimum we should be clear about the basic facts. In Iraq and Syria, as we square off against ISIS, the enemy of our enemy is not our friend, he is our enemy, too.

Syrian Refugees: A Blessing in Disguise?

Dalia Dassa Kaye
February 2, 2015

Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population at over three million. The growing numbers have created a worrying backlash in neighboring countries, such as new visa restrictions in Lebanon and border tightening in Jordan. These attempts to contain refugee flows are perhaps an inevitable response in countries that have hosted the largest numbers of Syrian refugees since the onset of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

To avoid further resentment and restrictions on Syrians desperate to escape their war-torn country, as well as the instability such attitudes generate, the international community must work with host governments to increase and highlight the benefits refugee populations can bring to neighboring states.

Of course, highlighting these benefits doesn’t mean ignoring the sobering state of affairs and the daunting challenges it poses.

Governments must recognize this is not just a humanitarian crisis—it’s also a long-term development challenge. As much as everyone involved would like to see the refugees return home, they’re unlikely to do so soon. Studies show the average return time in protracted conflicts is 17 years. In other words, this refugee crisis has the potential to impact not only generations of Syrians but also the capacity and development of host countries.

All of Syria’s neighbors are hosting large numbers of refugees: over one million in Lebanon and Turkey, more than 600,000 in Jordan, nearly a quarter-million in Iraqi Kurdistan, and over 100,000 in Egypt. Because of their small sizes, Lebanon and Jordan have the highest and second-highest concentrations of refugees in the world, respectively. These unprecedented numbers are creating economic, political, and demographic pressures across the region.

The Sources of North Korean Conduct

By Andy Morimoto
February 01, 2015

North Korea’s political behavior often seems as inscrutable as it is hostile. From its incessant threats and its December hack into Sony Entertainment, to its recent offer to stop nuclear tests, North Korea’s actions always manage to create confusion and consternation amongst U.S. analysts and policymakers. Pyongyang’s latest round of hostility has sparked a predictable debate over how to best respond, with some calling for more sanctions, others calling for more diplomatic engagement, and still others making the case for full-on regime change. But a preoccupation with the question of how to punish or manage North Korea has led us to neglect a more fundamental question: What causes North Korea to be so erratic, hostile and bizarre, so frequently?

Let’s first consider a point that is frequently – and unfortunately – ignored: North Korea’s actions are not irrational. Notwithstanding a popular perception to the contrary, behind all the strangeness and bellicosity of the regime, there is a logic that underpins its behavior. And the first step in understanding this logic is appreciating North Korea’s strategic interests.

The principal interest of North Korea is simply survival. In practical terms, this means the prevention of an attack, invasion or conquest by its enemies – namely, the United States and South Korea. Importantly, North Korea views invasion by foreigners as a palpable threat. In December, in response to planned U.S. military drills with South Korea, the Korean Central News Agency announced that “such behavior of the U.S. imperialists is a revelation of their evermore undisguised attempt to invade the DPRK.” It continued, claiming the U.S. has a “sinister intention to egg the South Korean puppet forces on to military confrontation and war.” These kinds of accusations are thrown around in every direction in North Korea. But not out of mere paranoia.

Central Asia as a Source of ISIS Militants

By Casey Michel
February 02, 2015

Last week, the Washington Post published an articleon the latest numbers of foreign fighters streaming toward Iraq and Syria. Based on research from the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR), the write-up claimed a massive upsurge in Central Asians absconding to fight with ISIS over the past three months. And while the article and attendant graphic represent a clear step up from the prior offering last October – which suggested that only 30 Central Asians, all from Kyrgyzstan, had uprooted to fight with ISIS – a look at their Central Asian analysis tosses the entire ICSR report into doubt.

There have been no signs since October of the colossal increase in Central Asian fighters ICSR claims. While this may be, partly, an attempt to correct the fact that the prior report failed to note anyone outside of Kyrgyzstan joining ISIS, it’s simultaneously disingenuous to claim that the regional numbers have grown from 30 to 1,400 in a matter of three months. Moreover, while ICSR notes that tabulating the fighters isn’t an “exact science,” some of the numbers proffered for regional fighters are in fact oddly exact. Between the 190 fighters from Tajikistan and the 360 from Turkmenistan, ICSR’s estimates carry implications of accuracy that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist. While they remain somewhat close to governmental estimates – Kazakhstan at 300, Tajikistan at 200 – they attempted to offer an estimate that was too fine by half.

U.S. Considers Supplying Arms to Ukraine Forces, Officials Say

FEB. 1, 2015

WASHINGTON — With Russian-backed separatists pressing their attacks inUkraine, NATO’s military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev’s beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, American officials said Sunday.

President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance. But after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is leaving his post soon, backs sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian forces.

Fearing that the provision of defensive weapons might tempt PresidentVladimir V. Putin of Russia to raise the stakes, the White House has limited American aid to “non-lethal” items, including body armor, night-vision goggles, first aid kits and engineering equipment.

But the failure of economic sanctions to dissuade Russia from sending heavy weapons and military personnel to eastern Ukraine is pushing the issue of defensive weapons back into discussion.

“Although our focus remains on pursuing a solution through diplomatic means, we are always evaluating other options that will help create space for a negotiated solution to the crisis,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

Arm Ukraine to Avoid Another Bosnia

January 30, 2015

Failing to arm Ukraine in its struggle against the Russian-backed separatists will lead to a bloodier conflict in the long run.

Ukraine needs effective weapons to defend itself against a separatist war engineered by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The resistance of the Obama administration against arming a country determined to protect its independence and territorial integrity will prove ultimately counterproductive, as the tragic case of Bosnia-Herzegovina demonstrated over twenty years ago.

When Serbia’s dictator Slobodan Milosevic embarked on carving out a Greater Serbia from a collapsing Yugoslavia in 1991 by supporting proxy separatists, the West imposed an arms embargo on all the Yugoslav republics, arguing that fewer weapons would mean less fighting. But the impact proved the exact opposite. While Belgrade and Serbian separatists already possessed every variety of heavy weaponry inherited from the Yugoslav army, the newly emerging states of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were denied an effective means to defend themselves.

The consequences were dire, as Milosevic’s proxies murdered and expelled tens of thousands of civilians in a policy camouflaged as “ethnic cleansing.” The Bosniak Muslims suffered the full force of this brutal assault on their territories and people. In effect, the arms embargo on Yugoslavia escalated and prolonged the armed conflict, precipitated attempted genocide, and eventually pulled NATO into the crisis through air strikes and a subsequent peacekeeping operation.

The anti-civilian war and Alliance intervention culminated in the November 1995 Dayton accords, which established a divided Bosnian state that remains dysfunctional and unreformable to this day. All these negative developments were a direct consequence of state vulnerability, military weakness, and Western miscalculation at the outset of the Yugoslav conflicts.


Dmitry Gorenburg
February 2, 2015

Is the Russian Navy about to collapse? In a recent article onWar is Boring, David Axe made this argument largely based on data from my recent articles on the Russian shipbuilding program and the Russian Navy’s priorities. While the information I provided is sound, Axe’s overall interpretation is not.

The Russian Navy is investing in a time-phased recapitalization of its navy over the next 20 years. Submarines are the first phase, already well under way, followed by smaller surface combatants, then increased amphibious capabilities. The navy is letting recapitalization of cruisers and destroyers slip into the next decade. As such, the availability of large combat ships will decrease in the near term but begin to increase in the medium to long term.

The Russian Navy has historically had four main missions: 1) strategic deterrence, 2) coastal defense, 3) protection of sea lanes of communication, and 4) out-of-area deployment. Under Admiral Gorshkov’s leadership in the late Soviet period, it consistently built up the deployment mission while retaining the primacy of the others. During the immediate post-Soviet period, the Russian Navy largely collapsed. The vast majority of its combat ships were rendered inoperable and a large number were scrapped. In addition, lack of financing meant that the remaining operable ships and submarines rarely deployed in the period from 1994 to 2005.

When the Russian government resumed significant financing of naval procurement in recent years, naval planners understood that they could not rebuild the entire capacity of the Navy at the same time. The strategic deterrence mission remained primary, and the development and construction of new types of nuclear submarines (both ballistic missile and attack submarines) and submarine launched ballistic missiles proceeded with great speed once funding was increased (though the introduction of new Borei class ballistic missile submarines was delayed by problems with the Bulava missile).


By Jax Jacobsen

The World Bank, earlier this month in its Global Economic Outlook for 2015, warned of ‘disappointing’ global trade growth in the international economy. This may spell trouble for ongoing negotiations to secure one of the biggest trade deals in history – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States.

How much has global trade growth slowed down?

The World Bank credited weak international demand for the stagnation of global trade, pointing out that import demand is 19 percent below its predicted level for 2015, largely due to gross domestic product (GDP) falling 4.5 percent below what economists would expect it to be had the 2009 slowdown never happened.

Though global trade had grown at 7 percent per year for the 30-year period preceding the 2009 financial crisis, growth has fallen to approximately half that pace in 2013 and 2014. Global trade growth for the medium term is expected to increase to 5 percent – an increase of less than 1 percent from current levels.

What is slowed growth’s impact on future trade levels?

On a more specific level, the import demand of both the United States and the European Union was down from trend by 20 percent. In a global trading system in which high-income countries account for 65 percent of total global imports, a decrease in import demand in both these regions will have serious negative implications for the rebounding of international trade.

However, the World Bank acknowledges that import demand is a short-term factor which does not fully explain the stagnation of global trade. A more long-term factor which has a much greater impact is the extent by which trade is dependent on income growth. Global GDP is expected to grow by 3 percent (down from an earlier projection of 3.4 percent), but that no longer guarantees an equivalent growth in international trade.

4 U.S. Intelligence Assumptions That Need to Go

Peter Mattis
February 2, 2015

Last fall, the Washington Post reported that CIA was considering a massive reform of the National Clandestine Service and the Directorate of Intelligence. CIA Director John Brennan was considering combining much of the two directorates—responsible for clandestine human intelligence and analysis, respectively—into centers, like the existing Counterterrorism Center (CTC).Most observers have lauded the move as an innovative approach to intelligence reform that would exploit the synergy of analysts and operators working closely together. The uncritical reception shows that nearly fourteen years since the “national failure” of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the words intelligence reform seem to retain some magical character about the self-evident correctness of the cause. One can hardly avoid thinking of George Orwell’s bleating choir: “intelligence reform good, CIA bad.” The assumptions that underpin such optimistic reception of nearly any intelligence reform proposal, however, are problematic for the long-term health of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

The flaws in this intelligence-reform mentality are four-fold—and each plays a role in how proposals like Brennan’s reported reforms are generated and discussed, as well as past reforms such as creating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. First, many intelligence-reform proponents conflate the very different disciplines of what we normally think of as intelligence and security intelligence, which includes activities like counterterrorism. Second, the problems with the CIA and the U.S. Intelligence Community are organizational. Third, security stovepipes no longer reflect modern intelligence concerns. Finally, they assume U.S. intelligence agencies are basically the same, making centralization and reducing duplication effective means of improving intelligence performance.

Not all forms of intelligence—even if performed by the same agency, like the CIA—are the same, and they may entail completely different relationships than develop between traditional intelligence officers and policy makers. The traditional intelligence targeting of foreign governments to support policy makers, known as foreign intelligence, simply is not comparable to the four security-intelligence disciplines—counterterrorism, counterintelligence, counterproliferation and counternarcotics—for which the CIA maintains centers.

The Case for Security Cooperation Abroad

Melissa G. Dalton
February 2, 2015

When legions of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants poured across eastern Syria into western Iraq last summer, the Iraqi army evaporated, despite over $20 billion in U.S. training and equipment spent to build it over eleven years. Doubts have been raised about whether the U.S.-trained Afghan National Security Forces will effectively provide stability following the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan. With such a questionable track record, why should the United States continue to invest in security cooperation with foreign militaries?

The United States pursues security cooperation in 148 countries around the world to develop partner nations’ capabilities, build relationships and interoperability and secure peacetime and contingency access to critical air, land and sea nodes to protect U.S. national-security interests. Security cooperation can take the form of delivering training and equipment, conducting joint exercises and exchanges and advising ministries of defense. In terms of scale, it can range from building a military from scratch to providing niche capabilities to advising partners engaged in a war fight.

Even on the low end of the spectrum, security cooperation can be difficult and imperfect; the complexity only grows with the greater scale of engagement—the U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan were the largest security cooperation undertakings of the last seventy years. Frank dialogue between the United States and its security partners helps balance asymmetries of information and expectations, but gaps will remain and should be acknowledged. Some partners express frustrations with the pace of U.S. equipment deliveries. Some political leadersfear the risk of empowering their militaries beyond elite units that they can personally control. Moreover, institutional corruption and lack of prioritization of training and sustainment within partner nations can slow their development of capable forces through security-cooperation programs.

How Russia outfoxes its enemies

By Lucy Ash

Russia's annexation of Crimea last year caught almost everyone off guard. The Russian military disguised its actions, and denied them - but those "little green men" who popped up in the Black Sea peninsula were a textbook case of the Russian practice of military deception - or maskirovka.

At a cadet school in the southern suburbs of Moscow, Maj Gen Alexander Vladimirov heaves two enormous red volumes off his bookcase and slams them down on the table. "My Theory and Science of Warfare," he says, beaming. "It's three times longer than Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace!"

Vladimirov, vice-president of Russia's Collegium of Military Experts, is an authority on maskirovka - the hallmark of Russian warfare and a word which translates as "something masked".

"As soon as man was born, he began to fight," he says. "When he began hunting, he had to paint himself different colours to avoid being eaten by a tiger. From that point on maskirovka was a part of his life. All human history can be portrayed as the history of deception."

Vladimirov quotes liberally from the Roman general Frontinus and the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu who described war as an eternal path of cunning.

How the CIA Took Down Hezbollah's Top Terrorist, Imad Mugniyah


Before there was Osama Bin Laden, there was Imad Mugniyah, Hezbollah’s terrorist mastermind.

He was called the "father of smoke," because he disappeared like a wisp after engineering his spectacular terrorist attacks, including two that took the lives of hundreds of Americans in Lebanon in 1983 alone.

By most accounts, Imad Mugniyah killed more Americans than Al-Qaeda before most people had even heard of Bin Laden. By the mid-1980s, he topped the FBI’s Most Wanted list. But to the CIA, especially, he was public enemy No. 1 — Mugniyah engineered the 1983 obliteration of the American Embassy in Beirut, which killed legendary CIA Middle East hand Robert Ames — and directed the kidnapping and murder of Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley. Mugniyah was also credited with quarterbacking the bombing of the Marine and French paratrooper barracks at the Beirut airport in 1983, the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847 — which resulted in the death of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem — and a score of other kidnappings and assassinations. He was also suspected of orchestrating two bombings in Buenos Aires, the first on the Israeli embassy in 1992, and the second at a Jewish community center two and a half years later.

But in February 2008, the CIA caught up with the terrorist kingpin in Damascus. A powerful car bomb liquidated him in the same way he had killed so many others. 

Media reports fingered Israel's legendary Mossad for the hit. But according to former U.S. intelligence officials interviewed by Newsweek, the Mugniyah hit was a CIA operation, authorized personally by President George W. Bush and carried out by the CIA under the direct supervision of then-director Michael Hayden and a very, very small group of top CIA officials.


By Tamara Nair
FEBRUARY 1, 2015

Despite numerous international and regional conversations on food security of late, the problem of hunger and malnourishment still persists in Asia. There is a need to relook existing strategies to secure food for affected groups in the region if the vision of a food secure Asia is to be realised by 2025.

In retrospect, of the many grand-scale food security conversations that have taken place in 2014, few have been all-inclusive. While there are successes in terms of food security in Asia in general, these do not address the needs of the large numbers of hungry and undernourished in the region.

There are growing challenges posed by hunger and undernourishment in Asia as reflected in the inability to meet the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) target of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015. Perhaps the time has come to broaden the thinking as to who we should be having conversations with and what else we should do to establish secure and equal access to food for everyone.
Beyond availability and access to food

The persistent existence of great numbers of hungry, undernourished people in Asia should prompt a relook at existing approaches of access to and availability of food. Food security is often intertwined with other human insecurities such as lack of economic growth, unemployment, and even unfair economic competition and gender bias. For example women and girls often suffer food insecurities given cultural bias in resource distribution in parts of Asia.

Why Low Oil Prices Won’t Doom Clean Energy

By: Robert E. Litan

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the steep decline in world oil prices will dramatically slow investment in and use of various forms of “clean energy”–wind, solar, and biomass in particular.

It is true that declining oil prices have led to lower prices of natural gas, which is a much cleaner fossil fuel than oil or coal, and that some gas exploration projects, like those for oil, are likely to be put on hold until oil and gas prices (which are closely linked) rise back up somewhat and stay there.

But true renewable sources of energy–wind, solar, and biomass–may be much less adversely affected by the plunge in oil prices than is widely believed. A recent blogpost on the Brookings Institution Web site by Devashree Saha and Mark Muro singled out two reasons for this seemingly counterintuitive conclusion:

First, oil is used primarily for transportation and not to produce electricity, whereas renewables play an increasing role in producing electricity. In other words, oil and renewables are not direct competitors.

Second, over the longer run, because of continuing technological improvements, the prices of renewables, especially solar power, are likely to drop much faster than is the case for commodity-based fuels such as oil. The prices of commodity-based fuels, which are traded in deep, liquid markets, also tend to be more volatile than those of renewables, for which there tend to be no separate markets (especially for fuels that are just inputs into generation of electricity).

Bottom line: The oil price plunge is good for consumers now and may not significantly halt the gradual increase in the share of energy generated from cleaner, renewable sources.

Army Support of Military Cyberspace Operations: Joint Contexts and Global Escalation Implications

Military cyberspace operations have evolved significantly over the past 2 decades and are now emerging into the realm of military operations in the traditional domains of land, sea, and air. The goal of this monograph is to provide senior policymakers, decisionmakers, military leaders, and their respective staffs with a better understanding of Army cyberspace operations within the context of overall U.S. military cyberspace operations. It examines the development of such operations in three major sections. First, it looks at the evolution of Department of Defense cyberspace operations over the past decade to include the founding of U.S. Cyber Command from its roots in various military units focused on defensive and offensive cyberspace operations. Second, it examines the evolution of the Army implementation of cyberspace operations toward the initial establishment of Army Cyber Command as well as recent efforts to establish Fort Gordon, Georgia as the center of gravity for Army cyberspace activities. Third, it explores the role of cyberspace operations in the escalation of international conflict, focusing on the sufficiency of the current cyberspace force structure to address an international environment of multiple actors interacting with varying degrees of tension.
109 Pages
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Cybersecurity: Global, Regional and Domestic Dynamics
Cherian Samuel
Monograph No. 42

Governments find themselves struggling to deal with the issue of cybersecurity. Given the current state of play in cybersecurity, it is not surprising that any discussion sooner or later ends up as a confusing mix of viewpoints on fundamental rights, privacy, law enforcement, human rights, globalisation and national security, thus leading to a gridlock. With the passage of time, differing perspectives and approaches are getting more and more entrenched, thus making the job of arriving at a consensus on contentious issues even more difficult. The resultant disarray has emboldened a variety of malicious actors (state, non-state and criminal) to take advantage of the situation, both at the national and international levels.

This monograph attempts to provide an overview of the the global, regional and domestic dynamics that impact cybersecurity today.

Dr Cherian Samuel is Assiciate Fellow at IDSA. He has written on various cyber security issues, including critical infrastructure protection, cyber resilience, cybercrime, and internet governance. He has also presented papers on these topics at seminars and round tables around the world as well as different fora in India. He was co-ordinator of the IDSA Task Force on Cyber Security which published a report on "India's Cyber Security Challenges" in March 2012.