2 February 2017

The Forgotten Story Of The Marichjhapi Massacre By Marxists

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Jaideep Mazumdar 

Nearly 1,700 Bengali Hindu refugees from East Pakistan were massacred by police and communist cadres in the dawn of Jyoti Basu’s rule in Bengal.

Not a single person has ever been held accountable for what was by far the worst massacre of its own people by a state in independent India.

Sinister attempts have been made by communists and their acolytes to downplay, deny and even justify the massacre.

Tuesday will mark the 38th anniversary of one of the worst massacres in independent India that claimed the lives of over a thousand people, many of them women, children and the elderly. It was a cold-blooded, planned and horrendous massacre that few even in Bengal know about or care to remember.

Hardly anyone in India knows about it.

On 31 January 1979, the CPI(M)-led Left Front government, heady with its electoral success in Bengal two years before that, trained its guns on thousands of Bengali Hindu refugees who had fled persecution in East Pakistan (and then Bangladesh) and settled in an uninhabited island in the Sunderbans. Not only were these people desperately poor who had suffered the unimaginable trauma of having had to flee their hearth and homes across the border, they were also all Dalits and OBCs.

The events leading to the Marichjhapi massacre form a sickening narrative on the ugly, hypocritical, diabolic, brutal and inhuman character of communists. Marichjhapi, about 75 kilometres east of Kolkata as the crow flies, also stands as a damning indictment of Bengal’s red helmsman, Jyoti Basu, who presided over his state’s decline while his party gained in strength. It is yet another proof that human lives, even the lives of the poor whose cause they profess to champion, matter little to communists.

Migration From East Pakistan

Lakhs of Bengali Hindus have been fleeing religious, social and economic persecution in East Pakistan, and then Bangladesh, since a little before Partition in 1947. This migration peaked in 1947, and then again in 1970-1971 when the murderous West Pakistani army started a genocidal pogrom against the Bengali-speaking masses in East Pakistan, mainly Hindus. “These migrants were mostly poor, marginal farmers and people engaged in petty vocations in East Pakistan and were mostly Dalits and OBCs. The upper castes, the educated and the wealthy from East Bengal (which became East Pakistan in 1947) had already set up bases and homes in West Bengal before Partition. The poor and the lower castes stayed behind because they did not have the means to migrate,” explained Amiya Majumdar, a historian.

At the time of Partition, millions of lower caste Hindus decided to stay back in East Pakistan primarily because one of their most influential leaders, Jogendra Nath Mandal, gave a call to lower caste Hindus to stay back in East Pakistan instead of migrating to India. He was an ardent advocate of Dalit-Muslim unity, a disastrous experiment that was bound to fail (read about it in this article). Mandal’s plight represents that of the millions of the Dalits and OBCs who heeded his call; Mandal, who was Pakistan’s first labour and law minister, got completely disillusioned by the anti-Hindu policies of the government and its encouragement to Islamists who started forcibly converting Hindus to Islam and other large-scale atrocities on Hindus. He wrote a long resignation letter to then Pakistan premier Liaquat Ali Khan before fleeing to India in 1950.

Resettlement In Dandakaranya

Lakhs of Dalits and OBCs then started crossing over to West Bengal in the footsteps of Mandal after atrocities by Muslim fundamentalists, often encouraged by the authorities, started increasing. Initially, Bengali Hindu refugees were encouraged to settle down in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. But soon, these three states could no longer absorb the burden of such a huge number of settlers and the Union Government decided to settle the refugees in Dandakaranya (which translates into ‘jungle of punishment’), a vast, arid and adivasi-inhabited region comprising parts of present-day Odisha, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Union Government set up a Dandakaranya Development Authority (DDA) to facilitate settlement of refugees there and develop the region.

The Army is not the nation’s conscience keeper

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Danish Ismail

Sometimes soldiers lie, cheat, steal, rape, pillage and run away in the face of danger. They mutiny, kill their comrades, betray their country and commit suicide. And sometimes, they also misuse privileges.

Any Army in the world, including the Indian Army, has such instances amongst its ranks. The key is to appreciate the infinitesimal occurrences in comparison with the rest of society, and the swiftness and severity with which the Army deals with such breaches.

The Indian armed forces, like most armies of the world, has its own laws. Appreciating the circumstances under which soldiers are expected to function, and the limits to which the call of duty stretches them, these special laws are meant for extraordinary circumstances, and have penalties considered draconian in any other profession. All Army officers are taught military law and even the junior most promotions require officers to be acquainted with it. Similarly, the punitive process in the armed forces is lightning quick compared to civilian courts where cases languish for decades. Most court martials deliver and implement their verdicts in months if not weeks.

Notwithstanding all this, there is no doubt that the nature and character of the Indian armed forces is changing. But the reasons stem from social changes in the country, not just in the Army.
Product of society

We do not import our soldiers or officers from other countries. They come from the same stock as India’s politicians, policemen, bureaucrats, businessmen, actors, sportspersons, corporate and government employees. Our soldiers are exposed to the same values that shape the behaviour of the rest of our nation. They grow up as part of a society that elects convicted murderers as political leaders, venerates law-breaking celluloid heroes, holds up as role models bureaucrats who amass massive fortunes, that bribes policemen to be let off a fine, and fetes corporate tycoons who evade taxes as well as arrest.

Our soldiers are part of a society that lionises match-fixers as cricketing idols and proven fraudsters as public icons, that condones the hypocrisy of leaders who mouth frugality while conducting their children’s nuptials lavishly. This is a society that never demands accountability from its leaders, and that worships self-styled godmen who spend their time brokering power and promoting billion dollar businesses.


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After Zhao Ziyang was made acting general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 1987, key party elder Chen Yun asked Zhao why the Politburo Standing Committee never had any meetings. Zhao was in a bind – while Chen wanted more opportunities to express his opinions, preeminent leader Deng Xiaoping wanted to simply tell Zhao what to do. Zhao told Chen, “I am just a big secretary. As for a meeting, we can have one after you discuss with Comrade Xiaoping.” Chen muttered to himself, “A big secretary…”

Anecdotes like this one challenge the narrative that Deng, who became China’s top leader a few short years after Mao Zedong’s death but never formally assumed the party’s top post, was the father of collective leadership and institutionalization in elite Chinese politics. According to this viewpoint, after Mao’s disastrous Cultural Revolution, a radical political experiment that included the persecution of huge swathes of the Chinese elite, China’s leaders, led by Deng, are said to have introduced rules to deliberately prevent such a catastrophe from ever occurring again.

For example, Alice Miller has written of “a deliberate effort engineered by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s to establish an effective collective leadership system that builds in checks and balances among the leadership oligarchy against attempts by any individual member – and especially by the party general secretary – to assert dominating power over the others.” Carl Minzner has concluded that “The searing experience of the Cultural Revolution convinced [Deng] and other leaders of the need for deep change… Unlike Mao, Deng never exercised one-man rule.” According to Susan Shirk, “Xi is trying to live the antithesis of what Deng Xiaoping recommended.”

We can now see that this is a myth. New research based on previously unavailable documents and memoirs decisively shows that in fact Deng does not deserve credit for introducing real changes that would restrict the power of top leaders. Journalists, analysts, and scholars writing about Chinese leadership struggles should take note.

This might seem like a tiny footnote to the arc of history, but there is more at stake. Deng, who enjoyed an astounding level of authority, was probably the last leader who could have brought real change to Chinese politics. The 1980s in China are often portrayed as a time of introspection and change in elite politics, but that is not the case. The decade was instead defined by “old person” politics and a failure to truly come to terms with the lessons of the Cultural Revolution.

These findings suggest that even if elite Chinese politics later became increasingly shaped by traditions and principles in a relative sense, policymakers have reason to doubt the robustness of those rules a hypothesis supported by recent news from Beijing about current Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Without unambiguously legitimate rules guaranteeing both collective leadership and a stable succession, Xi may feel he has little to lose and much to gain by concentrating personal power in his hands.

The Evidence

Certainly, Deng never concentrated everyday decision-making in his own hands, and he did bring more institutionalization to the promotion of cadres. He never formally led the party or the government, and he even gave up his Politburo Standing Committee membership in 1987 and chairmanship of the Central Military Commission in 1989. But on the key issue of the power of the top leader, evidence for Deng’s own lack of respect for rules is ubiquitous in the historical record.

New evidence shows Mao Zedong’s initial successor, a man named Hua Guofeng, actually did embody a spirit of consensus and collective leadership. Marshal Ye Jianying described Hua as “modest, careful, sincere, he has a democratic style.” He was a figure fundamentally different in personality from Deng. In the words of the great China watcher Michel Oksenberg, while Hua was the “reconciler” Deng was the “asskicker.” Mao called Deng a steel factory, and Marshal Ye described Deng as a man that monopolized power and did not listen to the opinions of other people. According to party elder Li Rui, “Deng Xiaoping was half a Mao Zedong.”

Chinese military official warns that war with US under Trump is becoming a 'practical reality'

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A Chinese military official has warned that war between the US and China is becoming "a practical reality" following the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

On January 20, an official from the People's Liberation Army wrote on its official website that the US's "rebalance" in Asia, its deployments to the region, and its push to arm South Korea with the THAAD missile defense system are provocative "hot spots getting closer to ignition," The South China Morning Post reported Friday.

Before his inauguration, Trump sparked controversy in China when he took a phone call from the President of Taiwan, going against the US's decades-old protocol to respect a "One China" policy. At the time, Chinese officials lodged a complaint with the White House but referredto the call as a "shenanigan by the Taiwan side."

But that hasn't put to rest all of China's concerns. "The Taiwan question" is a core interest to the country, which, two PLA authors wrote in December, could push a more aggressive response as the US supports independence for Taiwan and more exports of weaponry.

"We hope that the US will rein in at the brink of the precipice and avoid going farther and farther down the wrong path," the authors wrote , on the Chinese military's official website.

For now, China seems to be trying to get a read on what a Trump administration might do, especially in the contested South China Sea. But it is continuing to build up military preparedness and reform its ranks, according to SCMP.

"As it's highly unlikely that China will compromise its sovereignty claims in the face of US pressure, we can be sure that the dispute will increasingly become a risky point of contention between Beijing and Washington," Ian Storey, a senior fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told the paper.

Is a War over Taiwan Possible?

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Greg Austin

Donald Trump has signaled his interest in using America’s ‘One China’ policy as a bargaining chip in negotiations with China over economic policy (including currency manipulation). While this ‘instinct’ of his isn’t without merit, it could represent a threat to peace for which Australia must be fully prepared.

In brief, the ‘One China’ policy for Australia and mosat countries, but not the U.S., has meant formal diplomatic acceptance of the view that there’s only one China, that Taiwan is a part of China, and that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is recognized as the government of China. Since the declaration of the PRC government in 1949, after its defeat of the forces of the Republic of China (ROC) in the civil war on the mainland, the PRC and ROC have been locked in a complex military, political and diplomatic confrontation.

When the U.S. conducted its negotiations with the PRC on normalization of diplomatic relations—to switch formal diplomatic recognition from the ROC on Taiwan to the PRC on the mainland—Washington didn’t go as far as almost all other countries. Instead, it took note of China’s position to that effect. It refused to recognize Beijing’s entire formula for the ‘One China’ policy because China refused to formally commit to an exclusively peaceful solution to the stand-off. The U.S. has maintained unofficial representation in Taipei, along with a military alliance, ever since the switch of recognition in 1979.

In the very year that U.S. recognised Beijing, China began its first serious peace overture to Taiwan, though the move didn’t bear fruit until the two warring parties met in 1992 and agreed themselves that there’s only one China—the mainland and Taiwan. But they didn’t address the question of which government was in charge. At that time, the ROC maintained the formal diplomatic fiction that it ruled all of China, including the entire Spratly Island group in the South China Sea.

Much has changed since then. Taiwan has become a democracy and China has become the island’s main investor and main trade partner. Economic integration has continued apace and China’s policy has been to bind Taiwan to China “with economic ropes.” The significance and subtlety of many of the political and military maneuvering has changed over time.

A Forgotten Fact: In 1969, Russia and China Almost Went to War (And It Could Have Gone Nuclear)

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Robert Farley

Would China have used nukes? Much would have depended on how the Chinese reacted to defeats on the battlefield. If the Chinese leadership decided that they needed to “use or lose” their nuclear forces in anticipation of decisive Soviet victory, they could easily have incurred a preemptive Soviet attack. Given that Moscow viewed Beijing as abjectly insane, Moscow could very well have decided to eliminate the Chinese nuclear force before it became a problem.

Americans tend to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis as the most dangerous moment in Cold War brinksmanship. Despite some tense moments, Washington and Moscow resolved that crisis with only the death of U.S. Air Force pilot Maj. Rudolph Anderson Jr.

Seven years later, in March 1969, a contingent of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers raided a Soviet border outpost on Zhenbao Island, killing dozens and injuring scores. The incident brought Russia and China to the brink of war, a conflict that might have led to the use of nuclear weapons. But after two weeks of clashes, the conflict trailed off.

What if the brief 1969 conflict between China and the Soviet Union had escalated?


The incident on Zhenbao Island, where the initial ambush and the bulk of the fighting occurred, represented the nadir of Soviet-Chinese relations. Just ten years earlier, Beijing and Moscow had stood hand in hand as bulwarks of the Communist world. Struggles over ideology, leadership and resources, however, resulted in a sharp split between the allies that had global repercussions. The split exacerbated territorial disputes that had existed since Tsarist and Imperial times. The long, poorly demarcated border left numerous gray zones in which China and the USSR both claimed sovereignty.

After a few minor incidents, the Zhenbao Island incident drove tensions through the roof. A Soviet counterattack incurred serious casualties, as did a similar incident in Xinjiang in August. A consensus has emerged on both sides that the Chinese leadership prepared for and orchestrated the clash. Why would the Chinese provoke their much more powerful neighbor? And what if the Soviets had responded more aggressively to the Chinese provocation?


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As Gen. (ret.) Jim Mattis transformed into Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, many across Washington, the country, and the world were relieved. Here is a man with almost unmatched experience in military affairs who can, we are told, provide some stability to the erratic hand steering the ship of state — that of President Donald Trump. I have always been an admirer of Mattis, if not a member of the cult, and believed that in a normal world, he would be an excellent choice for secretary of defense.

But we are not in a normal world.

From the time Mattis was mooted, I have been worried that Trump and his inner circle would exploit Mattis’ pristine brand to get away with things they might not otherwise have the political cover to get away with. If you agree this is a fair concern, then Trump’s stop at the Pentagon yesterday should have, at the very least, fazed you.

Trump crossed the Potomac and visited the Pentagon to watch Vice President Mike Pence swear in Mattis as secretary of defense and to sign two executive orders. The second of the two actions ends immigration from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya — including re-entry of existing green card-holders — and indefinitely suspends the admission of refugees from Syria, the vast majority of whom have been women and children.

Standing over Trump’s left shoulder as he signed this order was Jim Mattis. This all unfolded in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. As Trump signed these orders, he sat in front of the hall’s large mockups of our nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor. This medal is awarded for valor in combat. All of its recipients put themselves at mortal risk so that others might live and accomplish the mission at hand. Many gave what Abraham Lincoln described as “the last full measure of devotion.” The medal honors sacrifice and the elevation of the mission and the people to your left and right above all.

After Trump signed the immigration order, he handed the folder to Mattis and shook his hand. Mattis held it. They both smiled.

Already, one day after it was signed, the order is keeping translators, who served at great personal risk alongside American forces, out of the country and tearing families apart. It is likely a matter of time until this affects a translator who worked with a unit that Mattis commanded. And even if that does not happen, it seems difficult to see how this decision squares with the values represented by the Medal of Honor. From the CIA’s Memorial Wall to the Hall of Heroes, Trump seems intent on tarnishing the sacrifices of our heroes.



Who am I? Why am I here?” Vice Admiral (ret.) James Stockdale, asked those questions at the beginning of his opening statement in the 1992 vice presidential debate. It was said, in part, in self-deprecating jest, yet was misunderstood by the media and especially Saturday Night Live which used it to paint an unflattering caricature of an American hero who had a first-rate mind. Those questions have historically been the starting point for philosophers and even characters such as Jean Valjean in the musical version of Les Miserables.

“Who are we? What does it mean?” Those are the questions Robert Kaplan posed as he set out on his latest venture to discover America in his new book, Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America’s Role in the World.

Kaplan’s last book, In Europe’s Shadow, gave readers a glimpse of his first assignments as a writer, but it is in his latest work that his readers can find an uncharacteristically personal history about a father who inspired his son’s wanderlust. As he has before, Kaplan heads west, this time exploring the work of early 20th century historian, of the West, Bernard DeVoto, best known for his continental trilogy about the emergence of a distinctly American nation.

In the spring of 2015, Kaplan began his journey from his home in Massachusetts. It is on the New Jersey Turnpike his journey and the narrative picks up steam. Kaplan paints a picture of each road and stop in a way no YouTube video or mapping app can convey. His powers of observation are again on display as he makes his way through cities and towns to gain an understanding of America and its geography. In William Shakespeare’s Henry V, the young king borrows a cloak the night before the Battle of Agincourt to disguise himself and wander around the encampment. Thus he is able to hear the unadulterated thoughts of his soldiers. The same is true of writers whose faces are not familiar and therefore hear the pulse of the people in a way actors and politicians cannot. That is the value someone like Kaplan brings as he listens to Americans along the way.

America Is Still the Future A love letter to my new country.

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By Andrew Sullivan

On Friday, January 13, 95 Americans were naturalized in New York City — some of the last to be welcomed by a video message from President Barack Obama. From left to right, starting at top left above: Taraneh, Iran; Ricardo Hayles, Jamaica; Gretel Murray, Jamaica; Marzhten Gho, China; Ana Julia Almonte, Dominican Republic; José Mariano Almonte Vargas, Dominican Republic; Mishelle Brooks-Graham, Jamaica; Davor Turk, Croatia; Niamh Linehan, Ireland. 

By the time the court opened, there were around two dozen of us in line, nervously fiddling with our official papers. I was recovering from a brief but brutal stomach flu, which meant I hadn’t eaten in two days and had split open my lip in a mad, half-asleep rush to the bathroom two nights before. Ashen-white, I looked like I’d just been punched in the face.

They gave us all a number, handed us a packet, and instructed us not to take photographs after the judge walked in. A man in a shiny suit proceeded to entertain us intermittently for half an hour with some almost-funny jokes. And then, at long last, the judge walked in, we all stood up, and it began. Judge Mehta told us this was his favorite part of the job, and that he had immigrated to the U.S. from India as a child. A few weeks before, my naturalization interview had been with a man with an Arabic last name — and a Redskins helmet on his cabinet. Standing around me now, my fellow newbie Americans came from all over the world: Iran, Honduras, Ethiopia, and Canada, among other countries. Only two of us, as I recall, were white.

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I had waited 32 years for this moment. My own immigration journey had been long and gradual and winding — and this day, I hoped, would be a day to savor, an emotional upswelling, a final untying of so many knots of feelings that had crowded my psyche since I’d first arrived here.

But it was also December 1, 2016. A few weeks before, an election had taken place that had capped more than a year of gnawing, deepening anxiety in my gut. To become a citizen now was, for me, a final act of faith; but it was also like stepping into an elevator expecting to go up and then suddenly sinking. There was joy here, shot through with nausea.

My number was called, and I found myself walking shakily up to the bench to receive my Certificate of Naturalization. It came with a little flag, which I waved at my husband and friends as I walked back to my seat. Then came the oath. Suddenly, this modern, multicultural scene reverted right back to the nation’s founding. “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen …” And then the other peculiar oath, which I’d always heard but never uttered, let alone memorized. I placed my right hand on my left lapel and recited from a card: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

There was a reception — with a promise of tequila! — but I had to get home to bed. After a little soup, I curled up under the covers and passed out.

 Clockwise from top left: Victoria Mack, Ghana; Akayi Htun, Myanmar; Francia Dominguez, Dominican Republic; Rafaelina De La Cruz Adames, Dominican Republic. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

I remember the strange moment when my infatuation with America began.

Having just turned 21 years old, I was grappling with the first weeks of graduate school in a new country, and on the subway in Boston. Simply a chaotic afternoon ride, crammed into a tram car, hurtling through a labyrinth of confusing stations. Around me was a world far away from the spires of Oxford University, from which I’d graduated a few months before. A sea of different-colored faces surrounded me amid what seemed near-tropical heat and humidity: a squalling baby, giggling schoolgirls, and a seated construction worker with concrete-dusted boots, his red, grizzled Irish face staring out the window into the brick blackness. I was on my way to buy a rug for my new dorm room and getting more than a little lost. But the lostness, it came to me, now had something of a thrill to it. No one here knew me or anything about me. Nothing had followed me from my small-town home or my provincial English high school or my grooming for the British elite at Oxford. Thrown into a crowd of old and young, black and Asian and Latin and Irish and Italian, I found myself in a new world entirely, an ocean of polyglot anonymity, with a chance to leave everything behind. My heart swelled. More, please. Take me away.

America Needs a Corporate Foreign Policy

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Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is an unorthodox choice for secretary of state, but as his Senate confirmation hearing revealed, he is a pragmatist about engaging with the world as it is, rather than waiting for it to magically evolve into what grandstanding idealists from either the left or the right want it to be. Now that he is confirmed, he has an opportunity to re-anchor America into a stable world role after nearly two decades of foreign policy flailing. Already Tillerson has the backing of Henry Kissinger, who has also been informally counseling Trump. As Tillerson gets underway, can he shape Trump’s global strategy the way Kissinger did Richard Nixon’s?

Make no mistake: American foreign policy has indeed failed. It failed to prevent the rise of a peer competitor such as China, failed to entrench democracy in Arab and Latin American transition societies, and failed to integrate regional powers such as Russia and Iran into a liberal order. Barack Obama came into office seeking to change course from George W. Bush, but reluctantly remained a wartime president. Now it is Trump who pledges to break from nearly two decades of foreign policy failures, including the mishandling of Russia since the expansion of NATO in 1999 and the mismanagement of global trade since China’s entry into the WTO in 2001. Trump has professed admiration for Nixon and George H.W. Bush, two conservative but constructive realists who capitalized on fateful opportunities to engineer strategic shifts. As he enters the White House, there is no shortage of chances for him to follow in their footsteps.

There has been a widespread criticism of Tillerson’s oil industry background, a reflex that reveals an increasingly common historical illiteracy. In fact, modern American diplomacy has its roots in commercial expansion worldwide just over a century ago. By the late 19th century, Standard Oil of New Jersey already dominated the oil refinery markets of Latin America and Asia and had 60,000 employees. Meanwhile, the State Department had a grand total of 1,000 employees, mostly in Washington. Standard Oil and its successors (including Exxon) were thus strong supporters of an enhanced American presence abroad, which in any case became essential after World War I. Until that time, however, America’s oil companies were more influential than its diplomats. Indeed, as American businesses expanded worldwide, the Foreign Service itself was only created in 1925.

A century later, and with every passing year since the end of the Cold War, America’s global companies across energy, finance, technology, entertainment, retail, professional services and other sectors are once again a far greater factor in the lives of billions of people than any policy framed in the State Department. They have a legitimate interest in engaging, making deals and shaping relations with countries around the world. They are not an accoutrement or nuisance to American diplomacy. Properly understood, they are the better part of what American diplomacy is. A quarter of all the world’s foreign investment originates in America, Google dominates global web searches, Coke is the world’s most popular soft drink and the U.S. is the top trading partner for more than 50 countries. The State Department didn’t create this reality; American capitalism, innovation and globalization did.

The big white men of Brexit are a throwback to Britain’s imperial pas

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Ian Jack

The foreign secretary flew to Bengal and was feted. This is life as those who yearn for a new global order imagine it 

Illustration by Matt Kenyon.

Saturday 28 January 2017 08.00 GMTLast modified on Saturday 28 January 2017 09.13 

Fresh from Theresa May’s new “global Britain” – “a country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike” – Boris Johnson turned up last week in Kolkata. People seemed drawn to his size. His host, West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, spoke of him as a “big man” in the British government. A Kolkata daily, the Telegraph, carried pictures of him playing cricket with the children of the Bournvita Cricket Academy and answering a question from students at Presidency University: “Boris big with bat & words” was the headline.

The reports were affectionate. Johnson may be many things – a fraud, a ruthless careerist, a mountebank – but the fact is that foreigners smile when they say his name – “Boris!” – even, or perhaps especially, the people of Bengal, or at least that fairly large section of them who grew up with PG Wodehouse, whose novels have delighted the Kolkata elite, the bhadralok, over several generations. (And here I don’t simply repeat a ready-made generalisation. I know it from experience. Some years ago we were having a household dispute about how long it would take to reach Shropshire by train. “About two hours 30 minutes from Paddington,” said a young Bengali visitor who had never been to England before. We asked how on earth he would know, to have the calm reply: “That’s how long it took to reach Blandings.”)

Boris, in other words, meets local expectations of a certain kind of Englishman: a large, untidy, sometimes florid personage with a gift for comic speech and the self-ironising trick, yet to be discovered by Indian politicians, of seeming not to take himself too seriously. Newspapers mentioned the staging posts in his career – Eton, Balliol, the Oxford Union – and noticed that as a “proud Oxonian” he referred to his alma mater more than once. But these things, too, made him attractive because Kolkata knows and appreciates these old names, which have been popping up in certain kinds of conversations for centuries in a city that reveres academic distinction, especially when won abroad. And in any case, which member of Wodehouse’s Drones Club could possibly have a degree from Birmingham?

FDR started the Long Peace. Under Trump, it may be coming to an end.

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By Fareed Zakaria 

President Trump walks across the tarmac with Col. Christopher M. Thompson before boarding Air Force One. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

In his first days in office, President Trump has begun to reverse the domestic policies of the previous eight years. But with regard to the United States’ relations with the world, Trump seems far more radical. In word and deed, he appears to be walking away from the idea of America at the center of an open, rule-based international order. This would be a reversal of more than 70 years of U.S. foreign policy. 

In an essay in the New York Review of Books, Jessica T. Mathews points out that since 1945, Americans of both political parties have accepted three principles. First, that America’s security is enhanced by its broad and deep alliances around the world. Second, that an open global economy is not a zero-sum game but rather allows the United States to prosper and others to grow. And finally, though there was debate about whether dictatorships were to be “tolerated, managed, or confronted,” in the end there was a faith in democracy and its advantages. Mathews notes that for 30 years, Trump has attacked these views as costly naivete that has allowed the world to rip off America. 

Given the magnitude of the policy shift, it is worth recalling why the United States adopted this outward-looking approach in the first place. It started with Franklin D. Roosevelt, as Nigel Hamilton explains in his superb book “Commander in Chief.” By 1943, while victory was still a distant prospect, Roosevelt began to imagine a postwar international system. Hamilton brilliantly sets out Roosevelt’s foresight, determination and skill in establishing a new world order. 

Neither of FDR’s key wartime allies was much interested in his approach. Joseph Stalin, a communist autocrat, would resist many of his ideas, and Winston Churchill was stubbornly committed to continuing Britain’s rule over its vast empire. Roosevelt wanted something different: to establish an enduring peace in which freedom could flourish. That meant the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan, to wipe the slate clean of fascism and militarism. And it meant that Britain and France would have to decolonize Asia and Africa. Roosevelt despised the system of colonial exploitation and believed that it created the conditions that led to revolution and war. He also wanted open trade, rather than the ruinous protectionism of the 1930s. To secure all this, FDR understood that the United States would need to be permanently engaged with the world in a way it had never been before. 

The Big Lie and Foreign Policy

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Paul R. Pillar

We are less than a week into the Trump presidency, and it is apparent that one of the more disturbing practices of Mr. Trump’s campaign he intends to continue while in office. The practice involves the president’s disdain for truth, but it is not just a matter of the volume of lies and how he has built his political career on falsehood, as disturbing as that is. Rather it is the more specific technique of unrelentingly repeating a lie so often and with such apparent conviction, while ignoring all contrary evidence and refutations, that through sheer repetition many people are led to believe it to be true. The technique has been demonstrated by authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Many results of modern opinion polling suggest that now, in the post-truth era, there is even greater potential for making the technique work than for dictatorships of the past. Even a fact-checking free press cannot stop it; the fact-checking gets shoved aside amid the repetition.

The early subjects of post-inaugural use of the big lie have been ones closest to the bruises the new president’s ego suffered from the nature of last year’s election and Mr. Trump’s status as the least popular incoming president since such polls began to be taken. These subjects have included the size of inaugural crowds and audiences and the president’s baseless accusation that widespread voter fraud accounted for much of the popular vote that went against him. As the administration is forced to make real public policy, there is good reason to expect that the same techniques being applied now to ego-driven questions will also be applied to substantive policy matters to bolster public support for them.

There is no limit to the range of policy questions on which such efforts may be made, but consider the chief implications for foreign relations of the United States.

The first consequence is a loss of trust among foreign governments and populations, who see how frequent and shameless is the lying and thereby become less inclined to believe the U.S. Government even when it is telling the truth. Gideon Rachman addresses this effect in the Financial Times, asking, “When an international confrontation looms, the US has traditionally looked to its allies for support — at the UN or even on the battlefield. But how will America be able to rally support, in the Trump era, if its allies no longer believe what the US president and his aides have to say?”

A lesser ability to muster international support in pursuit of shared interests is one of the specific harms that flow from a loss of foreign trust. Another more general harm is the loss of one of the biggest advantages that the free world, and the United States as leader of the free world, have had over unfree countries—a loss that comes from stooping to use one of the favorite techniques of regimes that rule the unfree. As Rachman observes, “If the Trump administration now destroys American credibility, it will have handed the Russian and Chinese governments a victory of historic proportions. The cold war was a battle not just about economics or military strength, but also about the truth. The Soviet Union collapsed, in the end, partly because it was too obvious that it was a regime based on lies.”
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In Race Against Fake News, Google and Facebook Stroll to the Starting Line

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Google said on Wednesday it had recently banned nearly 200 publishers from its advertising network for deceptive content. CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO — Google and Facebook have been taking steps to curb the number of false news articles propagated across their sites. On Wednesday, the Silicon Valley companies showed that they were still in the early stages of their battle to limit misinformation online.

In a blog post, Google said it had permanently banned nearly 200 publishers from its AdSense advertising network near the end of last year, after putting into effect a policy in November to choke off websites that try to deceive users from its online ad service.

On the same day, Facebook introduced changes to its Trending Topics feature — a part of the social network that some have blamed for spreading false information — to better promote reliable news articles.

Yet taken together, the efforts showed how the fight against fake news remains a work in progress. Google’s bans were a drop in the bucket compared with the almost two million publishers that use AdSense. Facebook’s new measures were part of a continuing series of small experiments by the company to find out what worked best in displaying news to its users.

“We genuinely asked Google and Facebook for ‘moonshots,’” said Jason Kint, the chief executive of Digital Content Next, an online publishing industry group. “We appreciate the work, but based on the numbers, that’s hardly even running in place.”

Google and Facebook have been in something of a no-win situation in recent months when it comes to fake news. Both companies have been grappling with a widespread backlash over how their sites may have spread rumors on a vast scale, and how little responsibility they take for any of the content that appears on their platforms. The issue came to a head after the American presidential election, when commentators accused Facebook in particular of swaying voters to President Trump through misleading and untrue news articles.

In response, both companies have tried various measures to limit fake news. Google in November said it would ban sites that spread misinformation from AdSense as a way to impair how such sites make money. That same month, Facebook updated some of its policy language, which already said it would not display ads on sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites. Facebook has since introduced other changes, including consulting third-party news organizations like The Associated Press and ABC News about the accuracy of articles that users report as being false.

Google’s blog post on Wednesday was the first time the company explained the results of its moves against publishers that spread misinformation. The search giant said it reviewed 550 sites “suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations” in November and December. It took action against 340 of those sites and kicked nearly 200 publishers off its network permanently.

Google was careful not to say that these were fake news sites, only sites that deceive users by misrepresenting themselves or their content. This month, Media Matters noted that Google changed the language of its advertising policy, removing the words “fake news.” Google said the language change noted by Media Matters involved examples that help explain its policy but were not changes to the actual policy. Google declined to identify the sites or publishers it banned.

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Before taking steps to thwart fake news publishers, Google had an existing policy that outlawed publishers of “misrepresentative content,” such as websites peddling weight-loss schemes or counterfeit goods. It expanded this policy to include sites impersonating news organizations.

Google was pulled into the fake news debate when Mediaite reported that, in the days after the election, the top result on a Google search for “final election vote count 2016” was a link to an article that incorrectly stated that Mr. Trump, who won the Electoral College, was ahead of his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, in the popular vote.

Google said that its search algorithms fell short but that the company would continue to work to improve its results.

The AdSense system is a major revenue driver for independent web publishers who rely on the network to deliver display advertising on their sites. The publishers are paid when a reader views or clicks on those ads, with a portion of the proceeds going to Google. AdSense is one of the largest advertising networks on the web with nearly two million publishers using the system.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the number of sites it has banned since November.

Trending Topics is a feature on the social network that tells people what popular topics are being discussed on the site. Apart from more transparency around headlines, the changes to the feature on Wednesday included identifying popular topics through the number of publishers posting articles on Facebook about a piece of news, rather than engagement around a single article.

“Today’s update may also help prevent hoaxes and fake news from appearing in Trending because the updated system identifies groups of articles shared on Facebook instead of relying solely on mentions of a topic,” the company said in a blog post.

Still, industry watchers remain skeptical about the efficacy of these moves.

“Nothing drives clicks better than when the headline is exactly what people want to hear or believe,” Ian Schafer, the chief executive and founder of Deep Focus, a digital advertising agency, referring specifically to Google. Mr. Schafer said that without significant changes to the economics and technology of online ads, banning individual sites would not produce change in the long run.

Correction: January 27, 2017 

An article on Thursday about steps by Google and Facebook to curb the number of false news articles on their sites misspelled the surname of the chief executive and founder of the digital advertising agency Deep Focus. He is Ian Schafer, not Schaefer.

What the next India-China war might look like

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Sushil Aaron

India’s military might on display during the 68th Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath in New Delhi, on January 26, 2017. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

India’s military might was on view during its Republic Day parade on January 26. Much of the focus of its armed forces is on China even though they are more regularly engaged in dealing with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. China looms large in the minds of India’s planners – owing to its large military budget, its modernisation plans and the aggressive posturing in the South China Sea – but there is not enough public discussion as to what a future India-China war might look like. 

This gap has been impressively addressed in a paper by Iskander Rehman for the Naval War College Review titled ‘A Himalayan Challenge: India’s Conventional Deterrent and the Role of Special Operations Forces along the Sino-Indian Border’. Rehman, senior fellow at Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, draws on extensive source material and interviews with figures in Indian intelligence, military and special forces to capture how Indian and Chinese strategists think about a border war, the way they are organising their resources and the constraints they face. The paper essentially tries to assess if “India’s operational concepts are sufficiently tailored to…the evolving Chinese challenge”. 

To begin with, Rehman outlines four factors that will shape India-China conflict. First, the territorial defence postures of both countries. India maintains its large body of troops relatively close to the border while China stations a limited number in its interior in Tibet. Second is the climate and the difficult terrain. “Areas along the Indian side are not amenable to mechanised warfare, except certain parts of Ladakh and Sikkim.” The high elevation of Tibet gives China some “commanding advantages” for surveillance, artillery operations and acclimatisation of troops to high altitudes. High altitude and extreme cold affect “almost every element of military equipment”; they complicate air campaigns and battle plans. Third, is the infrastructure disparity between the two sides. The People’s Liberation Army has rapid access to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) thanks to the terrain and highways and high-speed railway networks it has built whereas Indian troops “often have to trek several hours, if not days, to attain certain areas.” Fourth, there are very different command structures on both sides – India has several regional army and air force commands, China has one unified western theatre command. 

Planners on both sides believe that the next India-China conflict will be “limited in scope and short in duration, rather than a protracted, large-scale, force-on-force campaign”, because of the nuclear overhang and the prospect of a third party intervention if it prolongs. This has a bearing on the kind of war they prepare for. Chinese writings since the 1990s have emphasised “transtheater mobility”, rapid massing of strength, “gaining initiative from striking first” and “fighting a quick battle to force a quick solution”. 

In the event of a conflict with India, conventional forces will be rushed in from the interior and these will be accompanied by air, electronic and cyber operations. The PLA’s air force (PLAAF) and artillery will conduct “standoff strikes” to disrupt and delay the arrival of Indian forces coming from the lowlands.” PLA’s Special Operations Forces (SOFs) will be deployed to attack vital targets “to create favourable conditions for main force units.” Rehman writes that India has been following “with a certain degree of trepidation”, the rapid development of China’s airborne assault capabilities via the PLAAF’s 15th Airborne Corps, numbering over 35,000 troops and headquartered at Xiaogan, from where it is expected “to reach any part of China within ten hours.” 

The olive green blood group

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Priya Ramani

From serving in the British Indian Army, fighting in world wars, the India-Pakistan wars, and many others, meet the families who have sent generations to the Armed Forces, and whose history is the history of the Indian Army. What sustains their olive green (OG) fixation
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Colonel Sandeep Ahlawat, in front of photos of his ancestors. Photo: Pardeep Gaur/Mint

I am not being sentimental. I’m a very practical person.” Group Captain Shahid Ali Khan Durrani, 81, issues these riders seriously before he adds: “I’ll put on my uniform for the last time before I kick the bucket when Bruno graduates from the military academy as commissioned officer Lieutenant Shahnawaz Ali Khan Durrani.” He enunciates the rank and name with a compere’s boom. When that happens, a third generation will be added to the simple red nameplate outside the house in Lucknow, under the older occupants who opted for the uniform.
Shahnawaz’s grandfather has always called him Bruno after heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno and a European gun by that name. Our homegrown Bruno is a good shot and not worried about completing the Services Selection Board (SSB), including the obstacle course (never hesitate before you fling yourself from the platform to grab the rope hanging 5ft away in the Tiger Leap challenge, is standard advice). His main worry is that he is overweight.

(standing, from left) Savit Khanna, Ajay Shah, Bobby Rizvi and Shehzada Kohli with their fathers—all of them served or are serving with 14 Guards.

He’s down from 98kg to 73kg when we meet a few weeks before the qualifier exam for the Indian Military Academy (IMA), courtesy a strict 3-hour cardio, weights and functional training regime. He has been on a diet for so long he can’t remember the last time he ate pizza. There is one thing he’s allowed to consume in unlimited quantities: green tea.

Bruno will do whatever it takes to join the army. Ever since he was asked what he wanted to become when he grew up, his response has been unwavering: “I want to be like my father.” He even tried to persuade his best buddy to sign up with him, but Kamran has his own set of clear goals: Get married and go abroad for a master’s in business administration.

I first heard of Shahnawaz’s father, (Retd) Lieutenant Colonel Salim Durrani, in a TEDxGateway talk by former army officer Captain Raghu Raman titled “Our Stereotypes Will Kill Us”. “For over three years, Salim lived in hiding in the Kashmir Valley. He seldom stayed in the same place for more than a couple of nights. He disguised himself to live undetected among the local population and even worked on his dialect to pass off as a local. He is a devout Muslim who prays five times and like a true warrior he is never ever away from his AK-47…”

Three generations of 6 Sikh, (Retd) Colonel Aklesh Kumar Singh, Captain Akshay Kumar Singh, and (Retd) Lieutenant Colonel Avadesh Kumar Singh.

Raman was making the point that when we hear a Muslim name, an AK-47 and Kashmir in the same sentence, we jump to a wrong conclusion.

“Salim Durrani is my coursemate…his family has three generations of more than eight officers who have served in the forces, amassing six gallantry medals amongst them. Salim’s son is joining the Indian Military Academy this year to continue the family tradition,” he added.
By William Pitch

“War has changed” has become a common refrain in modern pop culture. Defence analysts and armchair generals alike tell us that the character of modern war is unlike that of any previous era. Where once the primary form of warfare was counterforce, with armies fighting armies, the primary form of modern war is that of armies fighting insurgencies, or so the theory goes. The idea that modern war is significantly different from any type of historical war can be found in places as diverse as scholarly articles and popular films. Two prominent advocates of this idea have been the strategic theorist William S. Lind, and the Israeli strategist Martin van Creveld. Both are exponents of 4th Generation War theory, namely the idea that war has been evolving through the centuries in successive “generations.” Lind describes these generations of warfare.[1] 

1st Generation: Relies on the line and column as the primary formation and the smoothbore musket and bayonet as its primary weapon. 

2nd Generation: Still relies on linear fire, but with the genesis of maneuver emerging and the single-shot bolt-action rifle as the primary weapon. 

3rd Generation: Uses basic infiltration techniques to bypass enemy defences as well as defence in-depth, with magazine-fed bolt-action rifles and machine-guns as the primary weapons. 

4th Generation: Modern insurgency and counterinsurgency, which features states facing off against evolved, technologically sophisticated insurgents who use terrorist attacks to strike directly at the vulnerable points of modern nations. 

An examination of the 4GW theory shows that its authors and exponents do not seem to believe war as a concept existed prior to the invention of gunpowder, despite the generations of complex warfare carried out by ancients.[2] In Fourth Generation War and Other Myths, Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria II argues 4GW theory is overly technologist, based on a simplistic view of blitzkrieg theory, and overly focused on predicting the future.[3] Lind, himself an apostle of the “German technological/strategic superiority” viewpoint, certainly based his theories in large part on those of the Wehrmacht Heer during the Second World War.[4]

The validity of the Wehrmacht’s primacy is now in doubt, meaning that the main aspects of 4GW are at the very least problematized.[5] However, what this paper takes issue with is the idea that warfare has evolved in general. Profound continuities have existed in warfare from the time humans first picked up heavy sticks, and any attempt to separate it into neatly delineated iterations or generations risks oversimplification. By attempting to sort military history, or any history, into neat generations, we risk overlooking points of continuity that might enhance our impressions of what “the past” must have been like.

Drone, Counter Drone: Observations on the Contest Between the United States and Jihadis

By Don Rassler

For years now, violent extremists have looked for ways to disrupt and limit the effectiveness of the US’ armed drones, and to deploy their own platforms in offensive ways. Since this action-reaction cycle isn’t going to end anytime soon, Don Rassler thinks America and its allies need to red team their next-step measures, and thereby anticipate and preempt what jihadists might do.

This article was originally published in Volume 10, Issue 1 of the CTC Sentinel by the Combating Terrorism Center in January 2017.


Armed military-grade drones have been a central tool for the United States to counter the threat posed by al-Qa`ida and the Islamic State. It is therefore not surprising that the West’s use of drones has been a subject of intense interest for these groups and their supporters online. Indeed, the jihadi community for years has sought ways to disrupt and limit the effectiveness of armed drones and to deploy its own drones in offensive ways. As the United States and other countries begin to deploy counter drone solutions to mitigate the jihadis’ offensive drone threat, it would be wise to game out creative and inexpensive ways to defeat countermeasures being deployed by the West so the jihadis’ response to those methods can be anticipated and pre-empted.

In early October 2016, the Islamic State used an explosive-laden drone to kill two Kurdish fighters and injure two French Special Forces soldiers. The group was able to achieve the feat not by some sophisticated technical breakthrough, but rather through a combination of deception (hiding the explosives inside the device) and creativity (detonating the device after it had been downed by Kurdish forces and was taken back to their base for inspection).1 This event, and other similar incidents involving terrorist use of explosive-carrying drones over the past year, has led to a push by the United States and other nations to more rapidly field a plethora of drone countermeasures.a These solutions range from drone-disabling guns and small, armed attack drones to eagles and electronic and cyber countermeasures.b

As these various approaches are pursued, it is worth considering how groups like the Islamic State are going to respond to the deployment of these systems and how they are going to try and defeat them.2

The way the jihadi community has sought previously to counter the West’s use of armed drones provides a useful window in this regard, as the topic has been a thread of online discussion among jihadi organizations and their supporters for years. This article provides a general overview of those discussions on Arabic language jihadi forums, drawing on postings between July 2005 and December 2013 collected by the Combating Terrorism Center, as well as other open source material.3This article specifically outlines the creative and resourceful ways that jihadis have sought to counter armed military drones since 9/11,c and it does so with the aim of providing insight into how the jihadi community might defeat U.S. countermeasures against jihadi drones.

The Jihadis’ Approach 

The mujahidin in Somalia should be careful of the air bombardments and should benefit from the art of gathering and dispersion experience, as well as movement, night and day transportation, camouflage, and other techniques related to war tricks.

—Letter from al-Qa`ida operative Atiyyah Abd al-Rahman to Mujahidin in Somalia (al-Shabaab)4