27 January 2017

*** Washington's Cold War Containment Strategy Is Still Alive and Well

January 24, 2017
The region encompassing Russia and the former Soviet states will be a central focus of U.S. President Donald Trump's foreign policy.
The new administration could adjust Washington's approach to sanctions against Russia, cooperation with Moscow in Syria and support for states in the European borderlands.
Even so, the United States' strategic imperative of containing Russia will likely go unchanged, limiting the chances of the two states striking a grand bargain.

A new U.S. president has been sworn into office, and with the change in leadership will come adjustments to Washington's relationships with other countries — perhaps most of all Russia. U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned on the promise of increasing cooperation with Moscow, particularly on the Syrian battlefield. At the same time, he questioned the value of Washington's commitment to its Eurasian allies, such as Ukraine and the Baltic states. Combined with Trump's criticism of U.S. sanctions against Russia and his hesitation to blame the Kremlin for hacking Democratic National Committee email accounts, these positions could signal a shift in the White House's stance toward Russia to come. Then again, campaign rhetoric doesn't always match action taken once in power, especially when it comes to policies rooted in geopolitical realities. 
The Roots of Containment

One of the United States' greatest geopolitical imperatives is to prevent the rise of regional hegemons with the ability to challenge it. Russia's historical dominance of Eurasia, the Soviet Union's rise as a superpower after World War II and its resulting political, economic and military rivalry with the United States have long made it a target of Washington's actions abroad. But the onset of the Cold War and the expansion of Soviet power — itself an outgrowth of Russia's own strategic imperatives to buffer its heartland from invasion — gave rise to a U.S. strategy known as containment. The policy, championed by U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan and made public in 1947 in a then-anonymous article in Foreign Affairs magazine, essentially boiled down to blocking and countering the Soviet Union and its allies "whenever and wherever they posed a risk of gaining influence." It applied to every corner of the globe and went on to serve as the principal U.S. strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991.

*** The Case For and Against a "Realist" Strategy in Syria

Anthony H. Cordesman

The Trump Administration has inherited Syria as a land of lost options, and as a country where U.S. policy is broadly seen as a failure and a sign of growing American weakness in the Middle East. It is not clear that the United States ever had good options, but if there were chances to act decisively to remove Assad and still create a moderate and effective government, they are long gone. 

U.S. diplomacy has failed to counter or balance Russian influence and has become a side show to efforts to negotiate a cease fire. The U.S. does play a military role in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS, or Daesh) in Syria, but the U.S. has not created effective, unified, or moderate Arab rebel forces. It has avoided committing large ground forces to Syria, or becoming involved in a serious air war with pro-Assad forces. This has come at the cost of far more decisive Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah military intervention, and seeing Turkey intervene as much against America's Syrian Kurdish allies as they have against ISIL. 

The resulting tragedy is that Syria, which is one of the least strategically important countries in the Middle East to the United States, has become a symbol of American indecisiveness and retreat. The fact that the United States has continued to build up its military strength in the Gulf, has become the key player in rebuilding Iraq's military strength and fight against ISIL, has created a powerful deterrent to Iran's threat to Gulf shipping and the Arab Gulf states, and has continued to ship massive arms transfers to its Arab strategic partners is broadly ignored or caught up in debates over issues like burden sharing and Yemen. 

Syria: The Land of No Good Options 

There does not seem to be any option left where credible levels of additional U.S. diplomatic and military effort in Syria can correct this situation. Whatever options may have existed in the past, the more the United States tries to intervene at this point in time, the more it is likely to be seen as continuing to fail. A "realist" approach to U.S. strategy in Syria should now consist of minimizing the U.S. role in trying to resolve Syria's internal differences and focusing on countering the combined effects of Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah, and Turkish intervention. 

Bridging the Gulf

India-UAE ties are an exemplar for the changing Indian approach towards the wider region.

India’s ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are set to get a major boost with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, visiting New Delhi as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.

In recent years, Delhi has often used this ceremony to send out important signals on the foreign policy front by inviting its key partners. The Modi government has invested significant diplomatic capital towards strengthening its ties with the UAE. With the conclusion of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement between India and the UAE this week, this relationship is poised for a dramatic leap.

A contingent of 179 UAE soldiers will lead the Republic Day parade. Several agreements, including one on road and maritime transport, are expected to be signed during the visit. The two sides will underscore their commitment to deal with terrorism. They also hope to work closely in Afghanistan, where five UAE diplomats were killed earlier this month in a terror attack and where regional alignments are in flux.

Trade and investment 

Currently, India and the UAE have a $350 billion bilateral trade, which they plan to increase three times in the near future. After China and the U.S., the UAE is India’s largest trading partner. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, is seeking to identify investment opportunities in the Indian infrastructure sector. The $75 billion UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, to support investment in India’s infrastructure sector over a decade, has not seen much progress and the two sides are hoping to put it on a fast track.

The vigour in India-UAE ties today owes its origins to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in 2015, the first by an Indian Prime Minister to the Emirates in 34 years. The joint statement issued by Mr. Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan redefined the contours of a relationship that had long lacked political heft. Both sides denounced and opposed terrorism in “all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice.” The target was clearly Pakistan, as they came down strongly on countries sponsoring terrorism against other states. That Mr. Modi could get the UAE, one of the countries closest to Pakistan, to deliver such a message shows how well he had read the changing strategic realities in West Asia. The UAE endorsing India’s concerns on terrorism underscores the challenges facing the Gulf kingdoms at a time when the Islamic State is rising and sectarian divide in the region is widening.

Life In Aerocity: Finding India’s Place in the New Strategic Context

By Roncevert Ganan Almond

A view of the interior of the newly-constructed Lemon Tree Premier hotel, located outside the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi April 2, 2013. The cluster of hotels built here is known as Aerocity.

“India will be a leading author in the next chapter of world politics.” 

Over the past three years, through periodic observations, I have measured the rise of New Delhi Aerocity, the commercial complex adjacent to Indira Gandhi International Airport. Unlike the unruly and burgeoning outskirts of this megacity – the teeming slums, clogged arteries, impromptu shrines and haphazard construction – Aerocity is sterile and organized, and, hopefully, a secure compound of paned-glass modernity. Like its cousins, Gurgaon’s DLF Cyber City and Noida’s Jaypee Sports City, Aerocity is a planned urban-development with a specific commercial design, in this case an international business hub intended to enhance the airport’s economic engine beyond aeronautical activities, a common characteristic of our futuristic global age.

In the shadow of the future, history always awaits in India. At Aerocity, the nearby Delhi Metro connects you to the city center, and within half an hour you can wander through Old Delhi to Kashmiri Gate, locus of the siege of Delhi, a key battle during the Mutiny of 1857. Sometimes known as India’s First War of Independence, an event credited by Karl Marx as a national revolt, the Mutiny ushered in a new age in the history of the subcontinent and the world: the establishment of the British Raj and direct colonial rule, the beginning of an end. The Congress party – of Gokhale, Tilak, Gandhi and Nehru – would be founded a generation later. The seeds of change were planted in the reddened soil of Delhi.

With the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, a revolt of sorts, a new era appears in the making once again. As Arun Kumar Singh, the former Indian ambassador to the U.S., notes, the Trump presidency remains undefined; and it is unclear, in my view, whether President Trump will sustain America’s global leadership. In its report on global trends, prepared every four years for the incoming president, the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) describes an international landscape in flux, as the post-Cold War, unipolar moment has passed and the rules-based international order is being subject to revision. Without a doubt, India will be a leading author in the next chapter of world politics and the Asia-Pacific will be the manuscript upon which it is written.

Pakistan Pledges a Hot Finish for 'Cold Start'

By Ankit Panda

Pakistan reminds India of its pledge to use nuclear weapons in the case ‘Cold Start’ is activated in a crisis. 

Last week, the Financial Times reminded quite a few people of the lingering threat of nuclear war in South Asia. The FT reported on Thursday that on the heels of India’s newfound ease in publicly discussing the long-hyped ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, Pakistan “threatened to use nuclear weapons should India invade.” “If ever our national security is threatened by advancing foreign forces, Pakistan will use all of its weapons — and I mean all of our weapons — to defend our country,” a Pakistani official told the FT.

First of all, for close watchers of the region, a Pakistani reiteration of the country’s first-use nuclear doctrine is roughly a bi-annual occurrence and not a total aberration signaling the imminent prospect of escalation. In fact, one of the more prominent such iteration of the country’s nuclear threat against Delhi came even more recently in September, after tensions between the two sides stood high after the Indian Army suffered its largest-ever casualty attack in more than a decade at the hands of Pakistan-based militants in Uri in Kashmir.

However, the latest Pakistani comments — even if delivered anonymously — do serve an important purpose. As the FT notes in its story, the Pakistani officials specifically discuss the conditions for nuclear use in the context of India’s ‘Cold Start’ military doctrine. I wrote earlier this month on comments made by General Bipin Rawat, India’s new chief of army staff, acknowledging the existence of the doctrine. (A more thorough treatment of Rawat’s comment came out more recently courtesy of Vipin Narang and Walter C. Ladwig at The Hindu.)

US wanted ‘nuclear emissary’ to reduce India-Pakistan tensions, CIA papers reveal

Rezaul H Laskar

Indira Gandhi visits the site of India’s first peaceful nuclear explosion in May 1974.(PIB)

The US was so concerned by the growth of the nuclear programmes of India and Pakistan in the 1980s that it toyed with the proposal of appointing a “nuclear emissary” to the two countries to help tamp down tensions. 

The proposal is analysed in a top secret memorandum dated September 6, 1985, part of about 13 million declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which have been released online. 

A year before the memorandum was drafted by the CIA’s Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis, then US President Ronald Reagan had warned Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Haq that India could take “military action to pre-empt your nuclear programme”, according to state department documents declassified in 2015. 

Though Gandhi “probably will avoid anything approaching agreement to serious US involvement in the problem”, the Pakistanis will “welcome an emissary but will want assurances that the US can deliver India on any specific measures”, the heavily redacted memo states in its summary. 

The memo states Gandhi’s “personal style and priorities” have provided impetus for warmer ties with the US but adds: “We are not sanguine that even a meeting with Gandhi will produce positive results.” The CIA also stated that, in its judgement, Gandhi doubted the US’ desire to “deal evenhandedly” with India and Pakistan. 

Pakistan Tests New Ballistic Missile Capable of Carrying Multiple Nuclear Warheads

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Pakistan has completed the first flight test of the Ababeel surface-to-surface ballistic missile. 

The Pakistan military has reportedly conducted the first successful flight test of a new medium range ballistic missile (MRBM), according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

The test involved the successful launch of the surface-to-surface MRBM Ababeel, reportedly capable of carrying multiple warheads using Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle technology (MIRV). The new missile purportedly has a maximum range of 2,200 kilometers (1,367 miles).

The January 24 test of the Ababeel MRBM follows the first-ever test of a nuclear-capable Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) from a submerged platform off the Pakistani coast in early January.

“The test flight was aimed at validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system,” the ISPS statement reads. “Ababeel is capable of carrying nuclear warheads and has the capability to engage multiple targets with high precision, defeating the enemy’s hostile radars.”

Furthermore, the statement stresses that the new missile reinforces strategic deterrence vis-à-vis India and its growing ballistic missile defense capabilities. “Development of Ababeel Weapon System is aimed at ensuring survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles in the growing regional Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) environment. This will further reinforce deterrence.”

Toward an Afghan End State

By Gary Anderson

As President Trump inherits the war in Afghanistan, the best piece of advice anyone can give him is that this is about as good as it is going to get. The government controls the major population areas and the Taliban controls some largely Pashtun dominated swaths of territory along the Pakistani border. Warlords of various ethnic origins control large areas in the north and the west. None of this is an immediate threat to the vital security interests of the United States. The Taliban will not overrun the major cities, nor will the government be able to exert true control over the more remote areas of the country due to its lack of usable roads and communications.

We got into the war in Afghanistan because we wanted transnational radical Islamists out. Al Qaeda is largely gone, and although ISIS would like in, there are no indications they are welcomed by any of the major Afghan players. This does not mean that we should leave Afghanistan entirely, but it does mean that the nation building phase of that war is over.

Our continuing military presence in the nation is about right-sized for a continuing counterterrorism campaign to ensure that radical transnational terror groups cannot use it as a base for another 9-11 type attack on the American homeland. We would make a mistake if we totally left Afghanistan at this point as we would lose any control over countering some kind of ISIS-like revival in the country. The Taliban themselves may be repugnant to many Americans, but they are not a transnational threat.

Small-town India is waking up to China, but there's still little understanding of its ways

A professor at the Chhatrapati Shivaji night college in Maharashtra’s Solapur city, where hundreds of part-time workers and farmers study from 5 pm to 10 pm, has a new PhD candidate – a high school teacher who juggles a second job teaching in the night college. They are preparing to tackle a rather unfamiliar topic: China.

Chinese investors and officials are panning across India’s interiors in search of smart-city and infrastructure investments, from Pune and Indore to small town Chakan in Pune, where officials and entrepreneurs may have no first-hand experience in dealing with China until recently and no local experts to advise them. India’s academic expertise on China, its largest trading partner, is limited to an inner circle of small think-tanks in Delhi and certain universities in West Bengal and South India.

“A major investment in China studies is no longer a luxury but a necessity,’’ said Alka Acharya, director of the Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies. “We need to train more people beyond the metros who will directly face Chinese presence in job and economic opportunities and social engagement. China is still a black hole as far as our understanding of Chinese society, culture and politics goes.” At its annual China conference in Mumbai last month, the institute, for the first time, included a Marathi session to encourage professors in Maharashtra to look east. Responses came from unexpected places: Amravati, Parbhani, Solapur.
Going beyond distrust

Reported DF-41 Deployment: China ‘Responding To U.S. MissileDefense In Asia’

Beijing is reported to have deployed several of its brand new Dongfeng-41 (DF-41) nuclear solid-fueled road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in three locations across China in what appears to be a response to the US missile defense system in the Asia-Pacific region, political analyst Alexander Perendzhiev told RIA Novosti.

“China has deployed new intercontinental ballistic missiles in response to Washington stationing components of its missile defense system in Japan and South Korea,” the lecturer at the Plekhanov Russia University of Economics said. “The United States has said that its missile defense system in the Asia-Pacific region is solely aimed against North Korea, but it is in fact designed to counter Russia and China’s nuclear missile potential.”

According to unconfirmed reports in the Chinese media, the DF-41 ICBMs were deployed to the city of Daqinq located in the Heilongjiang province which borders Russia. In addition, the cutting-edge missiles were spotted in the city of Xinyang in the central Chinese province of Henan, as well as in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.The alleged DF-41 deployment was unveiled days after the United States, Japan and South Korea kicked off three-day naval missile defense war-games ostensibly aimed at countering the missile threat from North Korea.

Navigating a Trumpian world

The past is no longer a guide to the future. In the coming years, Indian foreign policy will need less red lines and greater agility and pragmatism as the country seeks to find its place in this Age of Uncertainty.

Last week, as Donald Trump took the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States, millions around the world watched, gripped by the thought that the surreal had become real. Clearly, this is not just a regular political transition that takes place every eight years (or sometimes, four years). This is a transition pregnant with implications, not just for the U.S. but also for its role in the world at a moment when tides of change are already under way. Mr. Trump’s elevation adds to the unpredictability, marking 2017 as the beginning of a new age of uncertainty.

If there were any expectations that President Trump was going to be different from candidate Trump, these were quickly dispelled by his inaugural speech. There was neither a healing touch nor a sense of humility. The polarising election campaign rhetoric was in full-throated evidence during the short address. He remained the outsider, representing the ordinary Americans even as he railed against the “establishment”, represented by Washington.

America first but alone 

“America first” may be a slogan used effectively by Mr. Trump but it hardly makes for an innovative strategy. Previous U.S. Presidents have vowed to make America strong and prosperous again but the fundamental difference this time is that Mr. Trump seeks to make America great on the plank of nationalism and not by bolstering the global order which the U.S. has shaped and led since the end of World War II.

Fighting with America: Facing Up to the Unpredictable

By James Curran

If anything has emerged in the time since Donald Trump’s election it is the near total absence of any kind of pattern to his decisions or acts as president-elect. In the words of analyst Mira Rapp-Hooper, Trump seems to have a ‘nearly doctrinal devotion to unpredictability’. To gaze into the crystal ball of his presidency is to glimpse a veritable whirlpool of populism, nativism, nationalism, conservatism and realism. That’s quite a brew.

Because this state of play is likely to continue as the new administration settles into the process of governing, there is all the more reason for Australia to approach its relationship with the US with a good deal of caution and prudence. Over the next four years, politicians and policymakers in Canberra may also have to step up to the plate and challenge US policies that run counter to the Australian national interest.

Since the publication of my Lowy paper, Fighting with America, Trump’s decision to accept a telephone call from the Taiwanese president has only confirmed the need for Australia to remain watchful. We don’t know if this represents a seismic shift in US China policy, a classic Trump transactional play, or simply a reflection of his naivety about the outside world. What it does confirm is his propensity for the reckless and the impulsive.

The responses to my paper agree that the relationship with Washington will be harder to manage in the near term, and further that Trump represents what Nick Bryant calls a unique ‘stress test’ for the Australia-US alliance.

Geography Made America Great. Has Globalization Undone Its Influence?

Just over half of America, having voted for Hillary Clinton, awoke the next morning to a country that seems not only unfamiliar but upside-down. Populists embrace a celebrity billionaire, evangelicals welcome a foul-mouthed Lothario, conservatives accept an opportunist whose only ideological commitment is to himself. The Republican establishment proves helpless against the hijacking of the party, the mainstream media prove ineffectual against the tide of fake news and the political system proves vulnerable to the machinations of a sinister foreign government. Longstanding global alliances are questioned, longstanding political norms are trashed — and then the candidate with the three-million-vote plurality loses. In what alternative universe does this make any sense? As Karl Marx said, in a very different context: All that is solid melts into air.

Or maybe not. Maybe the political air is turbulent but the country’s tectonic fundamentals remain solid. Maybe American politics and geopolitics rest on a foundation as immovable as the rivers and plains of the country itself. For those who feel disoriented, and also (perhaps especially) for those who feel triumphant, Robert D. Kaplan’s small but magisterial new book, “Earning the Rockies,” is a tonic, because it brings fundamentals back into view.

With only 180 uncrowded pages of text, this is a book that can be read on a coast-to-coast flight, but fully digesting it will take much longer. Every page brings a fresh insight, a telling aperçu, a bracing reality check. If you do read the book at 30,000 feet, it will make you yearn to be down below. To understand the country, Kaplan posits, one must still “earn the Rockies,” reaching them on terra firma as our ancestors did. “To fly to California and set your clock back three hours is not to know the ground you have covered, because you haven’t seen all the different mornings and evenings along the way.”

Kaplan is one of America’s most distinguished writers on foreign affairs, with 16 prior books to his name. (He and I are both contributing editors of The Atlantic, though we don’t know each other.) Many will recall his 1994 Atlantic article (then book) “The Coming Anarchy,” which looks eerily prescient today. In his teens as a hitchhiker and again in middle age as a journalist, Kaplan trekked across the continental United States. Today, perplexed by America’s pivot against the successful global order that Americans built, he repeats the journey, “for the answers to our dilemmas overseas lie within the continent itself.”

The State of Brexit Ahead of the Trump-May Meeting

We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed. If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea .—Winston Churchill, 1953 

On January 17, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain gave a much-awaited and demanded speech laying out her government’s strategy to exit the European Union. The “plan to leave the EU” was promised to members of Parliament in December to allow Her Majesty’s Government to proceed with the trigger of Article 50 by the end of March. The speech confirmed previous statements that the United Kingdom would not allow unfettered freedom of movement or continue to be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which led to her unequivocal statement that the United Kingdom will leave the single market and that Parliament will get a final vote on the exit deal. 

Prime Minister May was less equivocal on the United Kingdom remaining in the customs union, however, suggesting that the government may seek partial or “associate” membership. But this outcome would contradict the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Other notable sound bites from her speech included that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal,” which affirmed that the government is not only willing to embrace a total economic break from Europe, despite the potential economic hardships, but, if this were to be the case, would equally embrace an economically competitive model to the European Union such as dramatically reducing UK corporate tax rates. Although toughness was messaged throughout, negotiating flexibility was also on offer with a desire for a “flexible” transitional deal in which different aspects of the agreement would last for specific, different periods of time. May also made clear that a strong European Union is in the United Kingdom’s interest and that she would work to avoid further unraveling after her country leaves the Union. The desire for an early deal to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and Britons in the European Union was suggested as well, but it is clear that it will remain an element of the overall negotiation and hence a bargaining chip. 

The pound reacted very positively to the clarity of the speech, making its biggest one-day gain against the dollar since 1998. Britain’s evolving economic position—as well as the European Union’s—will be a participant in the UK-EU divorce proceedings as well. At this moment, the economy is stronger than was feared pre-referendum, with growth reaching 0.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016 and forecast at 2.1 percent for all of 2016. Unemployment is at 4.8 percent, with real wages slowly recovering from the financial crisis, and inflation is hovering around 1.6 percent. Should the United Kingdom be able economically to weather the early stages of the divorce, London will be more emboldened to pursue a tougher negotiating line with the Brussels. Should unemployment and inflation increase, however, London will need to become more flexible in its approach, which in turn will harden the EU negotiating positions. Beyond economic conditions, should Europe continue to be impacted by migration and migration-related terrorist attacks, British officials will receive a political boost for their hard-line approach on freedom of movement. 


 By RC Porter · 

Mystery Deepens Over World’s Biggest Explosion — 185 Times As Powerful As The Atomic Bomb Dropped On Hiroshima — Some 110 Years Ago, And Some Six Miles Above Lake Cheko, In Russia’s Siberian Forest

Will Stewart had an interesting article on the Daily Mail Online’s website, January 23, 2017, about a new push to find out what caused largest explosion ever recorded on/six miles above the Earth’s surface, in the Lake Checko region of Russia’s Siberian forest, on June 20, 1908. The blast, which is estimated to be 185 times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima — flattened 80 million trees and left dead/charred carcasses of reindeer and other animals scattered across a vast expanse of Siberian territory. There were no known human fatalities, due to the remote area in Siberia where the event occurred. Thank goodness, otherwise we would have had a tremendous loss of life.

Shock waves from the blast were felt as far away as the U.K. and the United States. “There was a bang in the sky, and a mighty crash. The crash was followed by a noise, like stones falling from the sky, or of guns firing. The Earth trembled,” according to interviews conducted in the days,weeks, and months after the event. “It appeared to be Armageddon. I became so hot, I couldn’t bear it, as if my shirt was on fire,” said another witness living at the time, some 40 miles from the epicenter of the event. “I wanted to tear my shirt off, and throw it down; and then, the sky slammed shut. A strong thump sounded and I was thrown a few yards,” read another account. But, what really caused the explosion has been the subject of intense speculation and debate for the past 110 years.

The most generally accepted explanation for the explosion was attributed to a large meteorite which exploded six miles above the Earth’s surface. As Mr. Stewart notes, “Italian scientists spent 21 years researching the so-called Tunguska event [the Stony Tunguska River was/is the epicenter of the blast]

Promising Proposals for Winning India’s Wars with Indian Solutions at Amrita University Seminar

The Indian Army’s engagement with the Academia received further impetus on January 23rd when the faculty of Amrita University Coimbatore made a series of presentations to a Team led by Lt Gen Subrata Saha, DCOAS (P & S) on solutions to some of the problems faced by troops in the field. This was a follow up to the Field Visit undertaken by a group of Professors, Ph D Scholars and Industrialists to the Sikkim Sector in November last year. Earlier in June 2016 similar field trip had been sent to Kashmir, which yielded some good solutions and ideas. The next Field visit is planned for the Desert and Rann of Kutch Sector in February, followed by other border areas.

Seven teams lead by Heads of faculties from the Amrita University presented a range of solutions from light weight, high strength construction material too high density batteries specifically designed for very low temperatures.

Drawing from the observations and interactions with soldiers in the field, of their senior faculty member Dr Shantanu Bhowmick, and from the Compendium of Problem Statements released by the Army Design Bureau; the solutions proposed were simple, practical and unique.

Various industry representatives from Coimbatore who attended the event, found the deliberations very useful and were able to identify projects for realisation.

Leading a corporate transformation

The CEO and president of the management board at Hrvatski Telekom (HT), Croatia’s biggest telco (and a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom), first came to wider attention in 2004, when he took the top job at the struggling Balkan retail and distribution group Tisak. After helping the company to stave off bankruptcy and helping turn it into the biggest national player in its sector, Tomašković was, in 2006, appointed CEO of TDR, a successful regional Croatian tobacco manufacturer that nevertheless faced a challenging economic and regulatory environment in the wake of the global financial crisis. 

At HT, by contrast, where he became president and CEO in January 2014, Tomašković inherited a company that had been losing market share for at least five years but is now once again expanding after a radical cost-cutting and reorganization plan. In this interview (at HT’s Zagreb headquarters) with McKinsey senior partner Jurica Novak and McKinsey Publishing’s Tim Dickson, Tomašković reflects on common lessons from the three transformations, including the importance of quick results, the value of data-driven decision making, and the particular environment of emerging markets in the Balkan region. 

The Quarterly: How different were the three transformation experiences you have been through? 

Davor Tomašković: The first company, Tisak—now Croatia’s largest distributor of cigarettes, prepaid vouchers, and newspapers—was on the brink of a new bankruptcy and facing major cash-flow problems when I became CEO, in 2004. To give you an idea of what it was like, it was not certain, during my first week, that the wages of the 3,000 persons then employed by the company could be met. It was a company in dire straits. 

TDR, which had some of the same shareholders as Tisak, was much bigger and highly profitable when I arrived, in 2006. However, it also faced an uncertain future owing to the fact that negotiations to sell the business to Philip Morris International—one of five global companies that, between them, control 84 percent of the worldwide market—had just collapsed. As a consequence, PMI had withdrawn its license agreement for us to manufacture Marlboro cigarettes. 

Hrvatski Telekom posed, yet again, a different scenario. The challenge here was to turn around a company that had, in effect, failed to meet most of the targets set by its parent, Deutsche Telekom, between 2009 and 2014. What was needed was a program to arrest HT’s obvious decline and a new growth strategy. 

The Quarterly: Speed seems to be an important part of your management approach. Why is it important to act quickly when you want to change an organization? 

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

By Cody L. Zilhaver

Since World War I, powerful nations victorious on the field of battle struggled to achieve political objectives because their post war settlements set conditions that facilitated future conflicts instead of ensuring lasting peace. Beginning at Versailles in 1919, victorious emissaries planted the seeds of World War II by creating a punitive treaty so harsh on Germany that Adolf Hitler channeled German discontent into a fierce nationalism that led to World War II. Likewise, at the conclusion of World War II, Allied emissaries embraced a short sighted and haphazard post war settlement approach by largely ignoring percolating tensions in Korea and Indochina that eventually led to new wars for France and the United States. Military strategist B. H. Liddell Hart emphasized the point of shaping a lasting peace after war when he said, “The object in war is a better state of peace—even if only from your own point of view. Hence, it is essential to conduct war with constant regard to the peace you desire.”[1] Consequently, the victorious strategist must not only ensure their pre-war political objectives are codified in the post war settlement, but the emissaries must also take great care and vigilance to end the war with strategic foresight that translates the military victory into lasting peace. 

Strategic foresight was not in the minds of American, British and French emissaries in the outskirts of Paris, France when the Allies in 1919 crafted a vengeful post war settlement with Germans who interestingly, were not even allowed to attend the deliberations to negotiate.[2] Determined to punish Germany for its role in World War I, the Allied nations dictated harsh terms to Germany that included war reparations so contentious that the Americans, French, and British could not decide the final amount at Versailles, but agreed to postpone the decision until 1921 leaving Germany in the lurch.[3] Instead of concluding the post-war agreement at the end of the war, the argumentative reparation topic created an enduring political battleground between the former belligerents several years later. Once the reparation amount was settled, France and Belgium exacerbated the problem by occupying the industrial German Ruhr Valley in 1923 to enforce German compliance with paying reparations. The occupation was counterproductive. The Germans reacted negatively to the occupation through passive resistance which had the effect of stagnating economic production.[4]

A view of the interior of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, with the heads of state sitting and standing before a long table.

(Imperial War Museum London/Wikimedia)

The harsh reparation payments imposed on Germany also significantly devalued German currency on the international market. Runaway hyperinflation in the post war German economy was 700% during 1921-1922. To handle Germany’s need for large sums of cash in 1923, 2,000 presses at 300 paper mills and 150 printing companies printed currency around the clock to keep up with demand for cash.[5] In response, the Allied powers created the 1924 Dawes Plan and 1929 Young Plan to restructure and reduce war reparations to stabilize the untenable German economy.[6] These plans suggest the victorious Allies realized the effects of their demand for excessive reparations at Versailles and their obligation to make amends. More concerning, Germany was weak and vulnerable. 

Vietnam ’67: At Quang Nam, a Raid and a Reckoning

By Marsh Carter

… At the outset of 1967, it seemed to me that the war was entering a dangerous new phase. We had begun encountering hardened North Vietnamese Army soldiers who had come down the Ho Chi Minh Trail starting in mid-1965, after President Lyndon B. Johnson said he had no plans to physically invade North Vietnam. So now our challenge was multiplied: We faced local Vietcong guerrillas, who posed a substantial threat to Vietnamese civilians, while remaining ready to engage in conventional infantry combat with North Vietnamese regular units. Ho Chi Minh’s objective had always been to reunify his country, and he needed his regular army in South Vietnam to counter the aggressive tactics of the United States and South Vietnamese forces.

The escalation of the war became clear in mid-January, when my company was assigned a mission outside our normal operating area — a raid on an enemy village and safe area that was to host a meeting of more than 100 Vietcong leaders. A few days before, an enemy courier had been killed in an ambush; his documents revealed that the meeting was set for noon on Jan. 14 in the village of Ban Lanh in Quang Nam Province. Rapid intelligence exploitation and the ability to insert units into the enemy’s base area were two of the tenets of counterguerrilla operations. In order to kill or capture the maximum number of guerrillas, this one would do both…

Developing Senior Leaders for the Reserve Components

By Michael J. Mazarr

Research Questions 
In what ways can the development of reserve component (RC) senior leaders be improved? 
In what ways can RC leader development policies serve the goal of an effective and integrated Total Force? 

Leader development is one of the most important priorities for the U.S. military. Most of the services and agencies conceive of development in broadly similar ways — a combination of experiences, education, and mentoring. RAND researchers explored in what ways development of senior leaders in the reserve component can be improved, and in what ways reserve component leader development policies can serve the goal of an effective and integrated Total Force. This research is part of a larger research effort focused on general and flag officer requirements in the reserve components. This perspective reviews current practices in reserve component general officer development and surveys some of the innovative approaches the services are taking. It also explains some limitations to these approaches and offers recommendations for building a more formal system of deliberative development and making maximum use of general and flag officer assignments to achieve both developmental and Total Force objectives.

Key Findings

There is a Distinction Between Individual and Institutional Leader Development, Though They May Overlap 

Most assignments are not made strictly for "grooming" leaders, as that is a critical but ancillary activity. 

Nevertheless, job assignments are the most powerful and effective tool for developing leaders. 

"Broadening" — pushing leaders beyond their usual frame of reference to deal with unfamiliar issues by working across organizational boundaries to lead change or deal with a crisis — is integrally related to leader development. 

Leader Development is More Situation-Specific and Contingent Than Universal 

The relationship between experiences and development will depend on the leader; the key is not the job itself but the job as experienced by an individual. 

Experience of a position alone does not always produce the desired developmental results; including reflection, mentoring, and peer discussions contributes to development. 

There is little evidence connecting specific leader development practices with particular outcomes. 

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says 

An cattle ranch in Mato Grosso, Brazil. The UN says agriculture is on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth. Photograph: Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”

The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.

Why Does India Refuse to Participate in Global Education Rankings?

By K.S. Venkatachalam

India’s troubling record on education won’t go away by boycotting PISA. 

For the third time, students from East Asian countries have outperformed their peers in the rest of the world in science, math, and reading in the 2015 Global Education International Triennial Survey. Popularly known as PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), the survey is conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to test education systems by comparing the test performance of 15-year-old pupils.

The two-hour test not only evaluates the cognitive skills of students in science, math, and reading, but also assesses their ability to solve problems in new and unfamiliar conditions. The approach of PISA, according to the OECD’s director of education, “reflects the fact that modern economies reward individuals not for what they know, but for what they can do with what they know.”

The latest results show that students from Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and China (Hong Kong, Macao, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, and Jiangsu province) were among the top performers. Over 540,000 students, from 70 countries, participated in the tests.

How did India rank? We’ll never know. For some reason, India refused to participate in the global survey.

India’s refusal to participate in PISA is hard to understand and also defies logic. In the 2009 survey, students from two Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, participated; India placed 72nd among the 74 participating countries. Since then the Human Resource Development Ministry in India has chosen not to participate in PISA, as they perceived that there was a socio-cultural disconnect between the questions and Indian students, because of India’s peculiar “socio-cultural milieu.” Although India’s concerns have been backed by educational experts, that doesn’t change the fact that the PISA results can help in assessing standards of education in India, especially at the primary level.

World Order 2.0


Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department (2001-2003), and was President George W. Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland and Coordinator for the Future of Afghanistan. He is the author of 

NEW YORK – For nearly four centuries, since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ended the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, the concept of sovereignty – the right of countries to an independent existence and autonomy – has formed the core of the international order. And for good reason: as we have seen in century after century, including the current one, a world in which borders are forcibly violated is a world of instability and conflict.

But, in a globalized world, a global operating system premised solely on respect for sovereignty – call it World Order 1.0 – has become increasingly inadequate. Little stays local anymore. Just about anyone and anything, from tourists, terrorists, and refugees to e-mails, diseases, dollars, and greenhouse gases, can reach almost anywhere. The result is that what goes on inside a country can no longer be the concern of that country alone. Today’s realities call for an updated operating system—World Order 2.0 – based on “sovereign obligation,” the notion that sovereign states have not just rights but also obligations to others.

A new international order will also require an expanded set of norms and arrangements, beginning with an agreed-upon basis for statehood. Existing governments would agree to consider bids for statehood only in cases where there was a historical justification, a compelling rationale, and popular support, and where the proposed new entity is viable.

World Order 2.0 must also include prohibitions on carrying out or in any way supporting terrorism. More controversially, it must include strengthened norms proscribing the spread or use of weapons of mass destruction. As it stands, while the world tends to agree on constraining proliferation by limiting countries’ access to the relevant technology and material, the consensus often breaks down once proliferation has occurred. This should become a topic of discussion at bilateral and multilateral meetings, not because it would lead to a formal agreement, but because it would focus attention on applying stringent sanctions or undertaking military action, which could then reduce the odds of proliferation.

CTC Sentinel: January 2017 Issue Now Online

By Combating Terrorism Center at West Point


The deadly attack at Fort Lauderdale airport earlier this month by an individual claiming to have been influenced by voices he heard and to have acted on behalf of the Islamic State has renewed attention on the nexus between terrorism and mental health. In our cover article, Emily Corner and Paul Gill explore what they argue are complex and often misunderstood links. Their preliminary findings show that the proportion of attackers in the West possibly influenced by the Islamic State with a history of psychological instability is about the same as the rate of such instability in the general population, though the rate is higher than in the general population if Islamic State-directed attacks are excluded. This is in line with their previous findings that group-based terrorists are much less likely to have mental disorders than lone-actor terrorists. They also question the degree to which lone-actor terrorists with mental disorders are symptomatic at the time of attacks. Lone-actor terrorists with mental disorders, they have found, are just as likely to engage in rational planning prior to attacks as those without. Their research has also found a significantly higher rate of schizophrenia among lone-actor terrorists than in the general population. There is a long-running debate about whether this condition could make individuals of all ideological persuasions less inhibited in moving from radical thought to radical action.

In a joint interview, Peter Edge, Acting Deputy Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Wil van Gemert, Deputy Director of Europol, focus on the challenges of identifying, tracking, and interdicting foreign terrorist fighters and steps being taken to deepen transatlantic cooperation. Michael Horton argues that AQAP’s deepening ties to anti-Houthi forces in Yemen’s civil war is making the terrorist group even more resilient and difficult to combat. Don Rassler examines the contest between the United States and jihadis on drones and drone countermeasures. Jason Warner looks at the three newly self-declared affiliates of the Islamic State in sub-Saharan Africa.

Paul Cruickshank, Editor in Chief

What Is the Adversary Likely to Do with the Clearance Records for 20 Million Americans

By Sina Beaghley, Joshua Mendelsohn, David Stebbins

Almost three years after the hacking of the Office of Personnel Management, 20 million Americans — 7 percent of the U.S. population — who were the victims of the hack should remain vigilant.

Lowering your digital guard could still be dangerous, since the adversary may still know you well and could act against you at any time. In September, a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said the massive data breach of security clearance records will likely jeopardize U.S. national security for more than a generation.

To defend against future attempts to use stolen data against the United States and its people, the United States should continually assess the priorities of the adversary who likely perpetrated the attack to evaluate how the compromised data is most likely to be used. And it should be developing robust countermeasures now, as similar but more sophisticated attacks are surely coming.

The OPM breach is very concerning for both national security and individual privacy. Former National Security Agency senior counsel Joel Brenner said the material contained in the breach is a “gold mine for a foreign intelligence service.”

The hackers who broke into the OPM security clearance database likely have in their possession highly detailed, comprehensive personal information about the majority of Americans who are serving as the custodians of America's secrets. According to the OPM website, OPM conducts more than 90 percent of the government's background investigations for more than 100 federal agencies. The stolen material, now in the hands of the hackers, likely has a high degree of accuracy and veracity because it is illegal to knowingly falsify or conceal material in the submission of these forms.