24 March 2014

Crimean Crisis Plan: Negotiate With Russia, Expand NATO, Give Ukraine Time


By SALLY PAINTER and JOB C. HENNING on March 21, 2014


The Crimean crisis continues to escalate. Ukraine’s interim government in Kiev and every country except Russia refuses to recognize the Crimean referendum. Ukraine’s interim defense minister Igor Tenyukh called on Ukrainian troops based in Crimea — some barricaded on their bases and some now held hostage by Russian forces — to prepare for war just as some in his government called for them to withdraw.

Russia, which continues to deny it has any troops in Crimea, announced a ‘ceasefire’ that ends today, March 21. Meanwhile, Russian forces — an estimated 10,000 ground and air assault troops, with columns of tanks and helicopters — are mobilized along the eastern Ukrainian border in the Russian provinces of Rostov, Belgorad, and Kursk. The US and the European Union (EU) announced sanctions against Russia on Monday and Washington beefed them up on Wednesday, they will have no immediate effect.


Urgent steps need to be taken to avert war.

As difficult as it may be at this juncture, the US and Europe should regard the fait accompli occupation and annexation of Crimea and the ‘cease fire’ not as an ultimatum, but as an offer.

Putin is clearly not interested in ‘saving face’ or taking condescendingly-named ‘diplomatic off-ramps.’ But he has mentioned his consistent interest in returning to the EU-brokered “Maidan Accord” of February 21—-the symbolism of the expiration of the ‘ceasefire’ one month later should be lost on no one– which he maintains was violated by the protesters when former Ukrainian President Yanukovych fled Kiev under threat of harm.

Crimea Is Putin’s Revenge



On March 24, 1999, the U.S. bombed Kosovo. Putin has been planning his payback ever since. 


Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a law making Crimea part of Russia during a ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2014.

Fifteen years ago this week, I broke a promise I'd given to myself: After being captured and threatened with execution by Kosovar guerrillas the year before, I had sworn to give up war reporting. Now I was on my way to Belgrade to report on the effects the NATO bombing campaign was having on Serbia. When friends challenged my decision, I explained that I thought the course of history was changing at that very moment and I had to document it.

I was wrong about the documenting-it part: I stayed in the region for six weeks, writing a number of stories, including 34 separate dispatches for Slate from Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, but it took a lot longer than that for the catastrophic historic change to become evident. It has taken 15 years. Russia's invasion of Ukraine completes that story.

On March 24, 1999, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov was on his way to Washington when he got word that NATO had begun bombing Kosovo. He ordered his plane turned around. A few hours later, he landed in a Moscow that was reeling from the insult of not being consulted. Russians had only a vague idea of what Kosovo was but a very strong concept of Serbia being a land of fellow Eastern Orthodox Slavs and of Yugoslavia being a rightful part of Moscow's sphere of influence. Not being consulted—or even, apparently, warned—sent the very clear message that the U.S. had decided it now presided over a unipolar world. There was no longer even the pretense of recognizing Russia's fading-superpower status: President Bill Clinton had chosen not to wait the few hours it would have taken for Primakov to land in Washington, allowing him to save face by at least pretending to have been in on the conversation.

Would America Go to War with Russia?


March 22, 2014

Vice President Biden was in Warsaw last week to reassure our eastern NATO allies that they have the support of a “steadfast ally.” But if Russia moved against Poland or the Baltic States, would the United States really go to war? Or would we do nothing and effectively destroy the NATO alliance?

President Obama has ruled out a “military excursion” in Ukraine. America is not obligated legally to take action against Russia for annexing Crimea. We would not go to war if Russia mounted a large-scale invasion of Ukraine to restore the ousted, pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych, currently under U.S. sanctions. And we would not even send troops if Ukraine was partitioned, or absorbed by Russia. Americans have no interest in such a conflict, and no stomach for it.

NATO allies are a different matter. The North Atlantic Treaty is a mutual-defense pact, and Article 5 says that an armed attack against one member state “shall be considered an attack against them all.” This is a clear red line. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and most NATO allies sent troops to support the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Could the current crisis expand to touch NATO? The developing situation in Ukraine has been compared to Germany’s absorption of Austria in 1938, or the subsequent partition and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Hillary Clinton compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, which by extension puts President Obama in the role of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who famously failed to achieve “peace in our time” at Munich.

Push the analogy further. The Second World War was sparked by Warsaw’s resistance to Berlin’s demand to annex the Polish Corridor, a small stretch of land—smaller than Crimea—separating the German provinces of Pomerania and East Prussia. Hitler responded by invading Poland and partitioning it with the Soviet Union. Britain and France had pledged to defend Polish independence, and two days after Germany invaded, they declared war. In his war message, Chamberlain explained that Hitler’s actions showed “there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.”

This may or may not describe Mr. Putin, as Mrs. Clinton alleged. But if similar circumstances arise in the near future, will the United States honor security guarantees made to Poland and the Baltic States when the Russian threat was only a theory?

Mr. Biden stood with Estonian president Toomas Ilves Tuesday to “reconfirm and reaffirm our shared commitment to collective self-defense, to Article 5.” He wanted to make it “absolutely clear what it means to the Estonian people” and that “President Obama and I view Article 5 of the NATO Treaty as an absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor—we will honor.” Shortly thereafter, Moscow “expressed concern” about the treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia. Mr. Putin justified his actions in Crimea as “restoring unity” to Russian people. Estonia’s population is 25 percent ethnic Russian, compared to 17 percent in Ukraine, mostly in the north and east part of the country. Suppose anti-Russian riots “spontaneously” broke out in Estonia. What would the United States do if Moscow invoked a “responsibility to protect” these people and bring them “back” to the Motherland? Would President Obama take military action against Russia over a small, secluded piece of a tiny, distant country? Would it be like the Polish Corridor in 1939? This is highly doubtful—highly doubtful.

Aren’t we obligated by treaty to intervene? Mr. Biden mentioned the “absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor.” It was so important he said it twice. However, Article 5 says that NATO members pledge to come to the assistance of the attacked state using “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.” It doesn’t take a White House lawyer to see the gaping loophole—President Obama can simply deem that the use of U.S. force isn’t necessary. He can walk back the red line, as he did with Syria. Stern talk and minimal sanctions would follow, but Estonia would lose some, if not all of its territory. And in practical terms it would mean the end of NATO, which is one of Moscow’s longstanding strategic objectives. Mr. Putin’s chess game does not end in Crimea.

James S. Robbins is Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC.

Would America Go to War with Russia?

Would America Go to War with Russia?
March 22, 2014

Vice President Biden was in Warsaw last week to reassure our eastern NATO allies that they have the support of a “steadfast ally.” But if Russia moved against Poland or the Baltic States, would the United States really go to war? Or would we do nothing and effectively destroy the NATO alliance?

President Obama has ruled out a “military excursion” in Ukraine. America is not obligated legally to take action against Russia for annexing Crimea. We would not go to war if Russia mounted a large-scale invasion of Ukraine to restore the ousted, pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych, currently under U.S. sanctions. And we would not even send troops if Ukraine was partitioned, or absorbed by Russia. Americans have no interest in such a conflict, and no stomach for it.

NATO allies are a different matter. The North Atlantic Treaty is a mutual-defense pact, and Article 5 says that an armed attack against one member state “shall be considered an attack against them all.” This is a clear red line. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and most NATO allies sent troops to support the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Could the current crisis expand to touch NATO? The developing situation in Ukraine has been compared to Germany’s absorption of Austria in 1938, or the subsequent partition and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Hillary Clinton compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, which by extension puts President Obama in the role of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who famously failed to achieve “peace in our time” at Munich.

Push the analogy further. The Second World War was sparked by Warsaw’s resistance to Berlin’s demand to annex the Polish Corridor, a small stretch of land—smaller than Crimea—separating the German provinces of Pomerania and East Prussia. Hitler responded by invading Poland and partitioning it with the Soviet Union. Britain and France had pledged to defend Polish independence, and two days after Germany invaded, they declared war. In his war message, Chamberlain explained that Hitler’s actions showed “there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.”

This may or may not describe Mr. Putin, as Mrs. Clinton alleged. But if similar circumstances arise in the near future, will the United States honor security guarantees made to Poland and the Baltic States when the Russian threat was only a theory?

Open Letter to President Obama


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fifty former U.S. government officials and foreign policy experts have signed a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama, urging a decisive response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The group recommends responsible steps “to strengthen Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic transition, to impose real costs on the government of President Vladimir Putin, and to enhance the deterrence posture of NATO.”

The full text of the letter follows. The letter was organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a non-profit and non-partisan 501(c)3 organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the world.


March 21, 2014
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As Russia moves ahead with its illegal annexation of Crimea, we share your determination to “isolate Russia for its actions and to reassure our allies and partners.” America’s next steps should be designed to strengthen Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic transition, to impose real costs on the government of President Vladimir Putin, and to enhance the deterrence posture of NATO.

Russia’s invasion of Crimea threatens the democracy that the Ukrainian people have sacrificed so much to achieve. A critical test of Ukraine’s newfound freedom will be its presidential elections on May 25, which Russia may seek to disrupt. As you have noted, Russia must recognize “the rights of all Ukrainians to determine their future as free individuals, and as a sovereign nation.” In order to help Ukraine secure its democratic transition, the United States should: 

India and Space Defense

Concerned about global trends, India is making progress in building its space defense capabilities.
By Amit R. Saksena
March 22, 2014

Fortunately, the final frontier has yet to become a battlefield. On present trends, however, the next two decades will witness a global arms race in space, culminating in a sophisticated weapons system being placed in orbit. The United States and Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) have been active in this sphere since the early 1960s, when the Soviets first tested the “hunter killer” low orbit satellite system. The U.S. responded with a series of advanced strategic missile projects and some more promising ground launched initiatives. Since then, however, both the U.S. and Russia have constrained their space military programs, seeking to discourage weaponization. Still, both countries have made it clear they will start again, should a line be crossed.

In 2007, China sparked global concern when it successfully tested its first ASAT (anti-satellite) missile, destroying one of its obsolete weather satellites at an altitude of 865 km. In 2006, the U.S. government released a report claiming that China had tagged some U.S. observation satellites with a high-power laser system. Although no major damage was done to the satellites, it later emerged that the laser was not directed at the optical lenses, which could have rendered the satellites useless. In 2008, when the Shenzhou-07 was in orbit, the taikonauts on the mission released a BX-1 micro satellite. The BX-1 flew within the 1000-mile secure radius of the International Space Station (the ISS is programmed to change trajectory and orbit should this happen). Although no harm was done, this demonstrated China’s ability to deploy micro satellites with ASAT capabilities.

China has long lobbied against the weaponization of outer space. The sudden change in its space policy can be viewed as an attempt at deterrence, as well as a hedging of its bets. According to Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, a private group in Washington that tracks military programs, “For several years, the Russians and Chinese have been trying to push a treaty to ban space weapons. The concept of exhibiting a hard-power capability to bring somebody to the negotiating table is a classic cold war technique.” In 2006, the Bush Administration authorized a policy, noting that the United States would “preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space” and “dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so.” It declared the United States would “deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests.”

Hypersonic Weapons Face Major Milestone In August Test

By COLIN CLARK on March 18, 2014

CAPITOL HILL: Prompt Global Strike is a program to build a weapon that can destroy targets anywhere on earth within an hour of getting targeting data and permission to launch. Sandia Lab and the Army may have found the answer: the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.

So far, some aspects of PGS have attracted controversy. When the Pentagon wanted to explore putting a conventional warhead on a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile, many Democrats and some allies expressed concerns about how the Russians and other nuclear powers might react to a ballistic missile arcing towards a cave in northern Pakistan. While highly technical arguments bubbled behind the scenes about just what trajectory such a missile would take and whether it could be easily misinterpreted, the military kept pressing ahead with other technologies.


The other programs are the Air Force’s Conventional Strike Missile (CSM) and the DARPA/Air Force HTV-2 program (pictured above). The Air Force and DARPA, who pursued other technologies, weren’t nearly as successful as the Army’s system.

This is what the Sandia in-house magazine said last year about the first completely successful test of a hypersonic weapon:

It was the first time a Sandia-developed booster had flown a low-altitude, long-range horizontal flight path at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere; the first time eight grid fins (designed by Sandia and Huntsville, Ala.-based Dynetics Corp.) were used to stabilize a US missile system; and the first time a glide vehicle flew at hypersonic speeds at such altitude and range.

At last Wednesday’s space hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Lt. Gen. David Mann, who leads the Army Space And Missile Defense Command, said he was “on track to test in August.” If successful, that will lead to the Office of Secretary of Defense trying to figure out the way ahead for PGS. Mann said OSD is already talking to the Navy “on possible utilization of this capability.”

SEMINAR MARCH 2014

Posed by Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation; International Cyber Fellow, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Delhi 

A NEW PARADIGM FOR CYBER SECURITY
R. Swaminathan, Senior Fellow, Observer Researcher Foundation; Fellow, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI); and Contributing Editor, 'Governance Now', Mumbai 

SECRECY, TRANSPARENCY AND LEGITIMACY
Peter Grabosky, Professor Emeritus, Regulatory Institutions Network, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Canberra 


ENSURING PRIVACY IN A REGIME OF SURVEILLANCE
Mahima Kaul, Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi 


A SUPERPOWER FOR AN INFORMATION SOCIETY?
Sandro Gaycken, Senior Researcher, Institute of Computer Science, Freie Universität Berlin 

INDO-US CYBER SECURITY COOPERATION
Jennifer McArdle, Programme Associate, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Centre for Science, Technology, and Security Policy; and Michael Cheetham, Director, International Science and Technology Partnerships at AAAS, Washington, DC 


March 2014

DIGITAL DEBATES
a symposium on creating an architecture
for regulating cyberspace
cover design by www.designosis.com

Next month: At the Hustings 














THE CIVILIAN SECTOR
Gabi Siboni, Director, Military and Strategic Affairs Programme, Cyber Warfare Programme, The Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), Tel Aviv University 


LESSONS FROM RUSSIA
Oleg Demidov, Programme Director, International Information Security and Global Internet Governance, PIR Centre, Moscow 


GLOBAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY IMPERATIVES
Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Senor Fellow in Security Studies, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi 


NEGOTIATING CYBER RULES
C. Raja Mohan, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation; Contributing Editor, 'The Indian Express', Delhi 


A select and relevant bibliography compiled by Darshana Baruah, Junior Fellow, ORF, Delhi 

The new battlefield




U.S. Marines run toward a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter in Gurjat, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 28, 2013. 

Gabriela Garcia/U.S. Marine Corps 
By Barrie Barber 
Dayton Daily News, Ohio 
Published: March 22, 2014

Staff Sgt. Christopher Whitman, 28, of Clearwater, Fla., points out the location of the Taliban position and yells for his men to start firing. March 11, 2010. 

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — By year's end, the United States will bring home most if not all its troops from Afghanistan, ending 13 years of war, but future threats will keep the nation's geopolitical and homeland defense radar on alert for decades, experts say.

Just in recent months, Russian troops have invaded the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, China has engaged in a territorial standoff with Japan and other neighbors, and U.S. institutions and government agencies have faced a constant barrage of cyber attacks.

But it's the unexpected occurrence that is the most certain outcome in the arena of future threats, said Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

The United States did not predict tensions with Russia over its invasion and annexation of Crimea or China declaring an air defense identification zone in a territorial dispute over the Senkakau/Diaoyu islands also claimed by Japan, the national security expert noted.

"I think it's a warning to the whole idea that you sit there and prioritize," Cordesman said. "The inability to predict the future was about the only thing consistent with predicting the future."

The biggest terrorist attack in the nation's history, the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on America, was not widely anticipated, noted defense analyst John E. Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org.

Infantry: Too Heavy To Use, Too Good To Shed


March 21, 2014: The U.S. Army is satisfied with the latest changes to its IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) body armor designs. The army recently ordered the supplier to complete upgrading existing vests and this will be completed by 2015. The most recent changes were based on feedback from the users. The IOTV was first introduced in 2008. IOTV weighs from 13.6 kg (30 pounds) to 15.9 kg (35 pounds) depending on the size and gender of the user. The latest tweaks include using a different mesh on the inside of the vest, as the old material tended to cause chafing. The quick release cable was moved to make it easier to use. Since coming out the IOTV has had several minor changes, including additional ways to hang additional gear on the outside of the vest. In the past there have been similar modifications, plus the addition of a version designed to better fit female troops. 

But one major complaint has not been addressed. What the army has not tweaked is the weight and, to a lesser extent, the restrictive nature of the vest. While the troops appreciate changes that make it easier to move about while encumbered by the vest, what is bothering troops most, especially the infantry who have to run around on foot wearing IOTV while fighting, is the weight. 

Despite the weight and mobility problems this lifesaving bit of equipment has saved thousands of lives in the last two decades, But because of political grandstanding and media distortions IOTV has become too heavy and restrictive. The troops want lighter body armor, even if it does increase vulnerability to bullets. Marine and army experts point out that the drive (created mainly by politicians and the media) for "better" body armor resulted in heavier and more restrictive (to battlefield mobility) models. This has more than doubled the minimum weight you could carry into combat. 

Until the 1980s, you could strip down (for actual fighting) to your helmet, weapon (assault rifle and knife), ammo (hanging from webbing on your chest, along with grenades), canteen and first aid kit on your belt, and your combat uniform. Total load was 13-14 kg (about 30 pounds), which is as much as the IOTV alone weighs. You could move freely and quickly while carrying only 14 kg and you quickly found that speed and agility was a lifesaver in combat. But now the minimum load carried is at least twice as much (27 kg) and, worse yet, more restrictive. 

While troops complained about the new protective vests, they valued then in combat. The current generation of vests will stop rifle bullets, a first in the history of warfare. And this was after nearly a century of trying to develop protective vests that were worth the hassle of wearing. It wasn't until the 1980s that it was possible to make truly bullet proof vests using metallic inserts. But the inserts were heavy and so were the vests (about 11.3 kg/25 pounds). Great for SWAT teams but not much use for the infantry. But in the 1990s, additional research produced lighter bullet proof ceramic materials. By 1999, the U.S. Army began distributing a 7.3 kg (16 pound) "Interceptor" vest that provided fragment and bullet protection. This, plus the 1.5 kg (3.3 pound) Kevlar helmet (available since the 1980s), gave the infantry the best combination of protection and mobility. And just in time. 

Artillery: Israel Changes Everything


March 21, 2014: Over the past few years the Israeli army has been changing its approach to artillery. This began in 2011 when Israel decided to replace most of its 155mm artillery with GPS guided rockets. Now it is training some of these rocket battalions to fire GPS rockets into inhabited areas. For the present this means Gaza, where Israel has heretofore used F-16s firing smart bombs or helicopters using guided missiles to attack terrorist targets there. Now, the GPS guided rockets will take over some of these missions. This will be a lot cheaper and, with more shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles showing up in Gaza, a lot safer for Israeli aircraft. 

These changes began after Israel noted the success the Americans were having with GPS guided rockets in Afghanistan. The weapon used was the 309 kg (680 pound) GMLRS (guided multiple launch rocket system), a 227mm GPS guided rocket that was first used in 2004. It has a range of 70 kilometers and the ability to land within meters of its intended target at any range. This is because of using GPS, plus a less accurate back up inertial guidance system, to find its target. Israel accepted that the American use of GPS guidance in rockets, while more expensive, was more effective than the cheaper (but less accurate) Israeli developed rocket guidance system and even cheaper unguided artillery shells. 

Israel has gone ahead and developed its own GPS guided rockets, like the Romach, a 175mm rocket similar to the American GMLRS but smaller and with a range of 35 kilometers. Israel has also developed a GPS guided 155mm artillery shell and 120mm mortar shell. Each tank battalion has some of these 120mm mortars and using GPS guided shells does not require using a lot of ammo to get the job done. In effect, Israel has all but eliminated the use of the traditional artillery barrage, reducing ammo use by over 90 percent. This meant many artillery units were disbanded. 

This radical shift in artillery weapons has been coming since the 2006 war with Hezbollah, when the Israelis found that they did little damage to Hezbollah bunkers, even though over 120,000 unguided 155mm shells were fired at them. Meanwhile, they noted that the U.S. 227mm MLRS rockets with GPS guidance was excellent at taking out similar targets in Iraq and Afghanistan. So Israel equipped its 160mm Accular rockets with GPS. These 110 kg (242 pound) rockets have a range of 40 kilometers and enable one bunker to be destroyed with one rocket. The larger and more accurate (lands within 5 meters of the target versus 10 meters) Romach came out of that project. 

Has the nation state had its day?

By Gillian Tett

‘You only need to look at a map to see how inappropriate – if not crazy – it is to apply this concept to some parts of the world’ 

Last weekend, as sunshine blazed over Europe’s ski slopes, I went on holiday in Switzerland to visit some of my family who live in Val Müstair in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. It is a corner of Europe that could make your head spin if you were a cartographer or a linguist – or if you naively cherish the idea of nation states.

My cousins’ native language is Romansh but my uncle and aunt converse in French and everyone is fluent in German and Italian (which is used interchangeably with Romansh in the region). And while my cousins technically live in Switzerland, the borders of Austria and Italy twist around their region in lines that defy logic. Just down the road, for example, is a district called Livigno, which is part of Italy – but, amazingly enough, is actually cut off from Italy for part of the year and only accessible via a tunnel from, er, Switzerland. 

Unsurprisingly, this complex ethnic patchwork has provoked plenty of wars. But these days it works well. That is partly because Switzerland is wealthy, small and a commercial crossroads. But there is another crucial factor too: nobody in the region thinks that a “state” needs to match ethnic identity or linguistic heritage. “Switzerland is not a nation state but a corporation of interests,” my Uncle Marco quipped over dinner. “That’s probably a good thing!”

It is a concept that politicians throughout the world could learn from, even (or especially) in Ukraine. It is taken for granted in most countries that the obvious way to exist is as a nation state. So much so that the main unit of global organisation today is called the “United Nations”, not the “United Peoples”. 

But in reality, this nation state idea is a recent arrival on the world stage, and a historical aberration. In centuries past, regions such as Europe have sometimes been united in large political units. Last weekend, for example, a valley near my cousins’ house staged a powerful dance performance by the Origen Foundation to celebrate the 1,200th anniversary of the death of Charlemagne, one of the first pan-European rulers, who once controlled the Alps. 

But Charlemagne never aspired to create a single nation; nor did other rulers in Eurasia before the 18th century. Instead, people were organised into multi-ethnic empires or city states (such as Constantinople or Bukhara), tiny local kingdoms, or run along tribal lines (in places such as Central Asia). And while ethnic loyalties and inter-ethnic fights were intense, this did not always match political boundaries. 

However, in the 19th century, the idea spread that “states” should be based around separate “nations”. This was often presented as a “natural” development, since it was assumed that “nations” needed their own state. But as Ernest Gellner, the social scientist, observed in his seminal book Nations and Nationalism: “Nations, like states, are a contingency, and not a universal necessity . . .[and] nations and states are not the same contingency.” That is the case, even in France, which is considered a classic nation state. The late historian Eric Hobsbawm argued that the French state gave birth to the idea of the nation – not the other way round. 

23 March 2014

Henderson Brooks Report on 1962 War: ‘Secrecy’ an Ostrich Act

Guest Column by Professor B. R. Deepak
 21-Mar-2014

There is nothing new about the Henderson Brooks- P S Bhagat Report, the only fact that is established by Neville Maxwell by uploading it on his website is that he indeed possessed a copy as was widely believed, for he has vastly quoted from the Report in his book India’s China War published eight years after the 1962 blunder.

The Chinese government is also believed to own a copy as is clear from the books written in Chinese on 1962. Therefore, to keep the Report a ‘top secret’ as is the case with other archival documents pertaining to British India and Tibet is indeed an ostrich act. Declassifying the Report will demonstrate the willingness of the government to learn from our past mistakes, that it is ready to overhaul country’s defence strategies and preparedness as well as incoherent policy decisions between various ministries and departments. Therefore, the government must declassify it in supreme national interest.

Maxwell has held the prematurely conceived ‘forward policy’ of India as a culprit for the war, where as he has maintained a silence on the changing border lines in the Western Sector, especially the 1960 claim line by China. He had no answer for the same when he visited my department in late 80s. Therefore, in order to understand the matrix of ‘forward policy’ it is imperative to understand the overall border situation prevalent at that point in time. The situation on the borders had deteriorated drastically in the wake of Sino-Indian agreement of 1954 and had culminated in the Konka and Longju bloody incidents on Western and Eastern Sectors. The Tibetan revolt and the flight of the Dalai Lama in 1959 added fuel to the fire. The opportunity of reaching out a settlement when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited India in 1960 was lost as India was not willing to negotiate the undemarcated and undefined border.

In the face of such a hostile coexistence, China built up its defenses and enhanced communication links in the border areas. Apart from building Aksai Chin Road, Shi (1992: 163) tells us that “By May 1960 a road connecting western Tibet with the Indian border was completed. A network of roads connecting Lhasa to Thagla Ridge was also completed and huge quantities of military supplies found their way to the border.”

In the Western Sector, beside Aksai Chin Highway, Lanak La was connected to Kongka by roads. After the failure of official level talks, the Chinese opened new posts at Nyagzu and Dambuguru. In 1961 these posts were connected to Khurnak Fort and Kongka La by constructing a road. Another road connected Rudok with Spanggur was also completed. The Chinese also started construction work on three new roads in Ladakh. One from Samzungling along the Galwan river; another from Khurnak Fort to the vicinity of the Sirijap; and the third from Spanggur to Shinzang along the southern bank of Spanggur lake (Manekar 1968: 38, 41). Nyagzu and Dambuguru were converted into military bases in 1961.

By mid 1960, China established three regimental headquarters, one at Qizil Jilga, another near Lanak La and a third at Rudok. According to Mullik (1971: 313), the then Director of Indian Intelligence, by October 1961 China had established 61 new posts – seven in Ladakh, fourteen opposite the Central Sector, twelve facing Sikkim in the Chumbi Valley, three opposite Bhutan and twenty-five across NEFA border. According to Mullik, seven new roads constructed in the Indian territory were close to the Central Sector border and eight to the border in the Eastern Sector. China was seriously preparing for war; on the other hand India was clueless as regards how to calibrate its border policy, the response came in the form of ill fated ‘forward policy’.

RFI for the Basic Trainer Aircraft: New Ray of Hope for the Indian industry

March 19, 2014

With the Avro replacement programme of the Indian Air Force tragically consigned to the back burner, a new ray of hope has appeared for the Indian aerospace industry in the form of a Request for Information (RFI) for procurement of 106 PC-7 MK II Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) and associated equipment.

This is a ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ programme, which makes only the Indian companies eligible to respond to the RFI and subsequently compete for the contract, though it is not quite clear how multiple Indian companies will successfully woo the same OEM and seal separate arrangements to be able to participate in the tender.

Nevertheless, this pogramme is a clear indication of the MoD/IAF shedding reservations about the ability of the Indian companies to be the prime contractors in such programmes. It was because of this reservation that the Avro replacement programme was categorized as ‘Buy and Make’ and not as ‘Buy and Make (India)’, leaving it to the foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to select an Indian company as the production partner.

There is an on-going contract, signed in May 2012, with the OEM, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd of Switzerland, for the supply of 75 PC-7 Mk II BT aircraft. The Indian companies will have to supply the aircraft and the associated equipment in the same configuration/ specification. This programme seems to be free from the complexity of life-cycle costing, as was the case with the original BTA contract.

This should be exciting for the Indian companies, especially because the RFI does not contain many of the stringent conditions that were imposed in the Avro replacement programme for selection of the Indian Production Partner (IPP) by the OEM. According to those conditions only public limited engineering companies with an established track record in manufacturing , CRISIL/ICRA “A” credit rating and registered in India for at least ten years can be selected as IPP, provided they do not have foreign direct investment (FDI) exceeding 26 per cent. They are also required to have capital assets of not less than INR 100 crore, a turnover of not less than INR 1,000 crore for the last three years and a profitable financial record showing profit in at least during 3 of the previous 5 years with no accumulated losses.

The companies from whom response has been sought for the BTA programme have been spared these stringent conditions. The RFI simply says the proposal is sought from Indian vendors, including an Indian company forming a Joint Venture or establishing production arrangement with the OEM. Therefore, the only condition the vendors will have to comply with is the sectoral cap of 26 per cent on FDI. The current FDI policy also requires such companies to be ‘owned and controlled’ by resident Indian citizens and the Indian companies, which, in turn, are owned and controlled by the resident Indian citizens. This is a refreshing change in thinking, though one cannot help wonder why the aforesaid stringent conditions were stipulated in the Avro replacement programme.

Khobragade Episode Was Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back

MARCH 20, 2014

SUMMARY

The Khobragade episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it was not the precipitant that unraveled the U.S.-India relationship.

The bitterness in India-U.S. ties is a result of dampening enthusiasm about India following the slowdown in Asia’s third largest economy, said Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in international security, defence and Asian strategic issues. Tellis, who was born in Mumbai and studied at St. Xavier’s College in the city before moving to Chicago for his PhD, worked for the U.S. Foreign Service, and as a senior adviser to the undersecretary of state for political affairs. He has worked closely with the Indian government in negotiating the civilian nuclear agreement between India and the U.S. Tellis, who is coediting a book detailing the agenda for the next government in India, Getting India Back on Track: An Action Agenda for Reform, spoke in an interview about US-India ties and Manmohan Singh’s legacy, on a visit to Mumbai. Edited excerpts: 

THE PROSECUTION OF INDIAN DIPLOMAT DEVYANI KHOBRAGADE SEEMS TO HAVE GIVEN A BIG JOLT TO INDIA-U.S. TIES. DO YOU THINK THIS EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS DEEPER PROBLEMS IN INDIA-U.S. RELATIONS? 

SENIOR ASSOCIATE
SOUTH ASIA PROGRAM


 This episode showed that despite the transformation of relations between the two countries, that transformation is still fragile—it does not have deep roots as yet. One reason for the fragility is that the transformation was driven primarily by far-sighted leaders on both sides in a top-down manner. There was no transformation at the popular level—at least not yet. The second reason is that the burdens of history have not yet been erased. There are many people in India who still remember the United States as being unsympathetic and unhelpful for many decades.

In my own view, the Khobragade episode was needless. The events leading up to the crisis should have provided reasons for both sides to act cooperatively, not to let relations sour. If everyone had done their jobs, both on the Indian and the U.S. side, this problem could have been handled with a great deal of discretion. The fact that it came to a point where prosecution became inevitable meant that we had dropped the ball. Both sides dropped the ball—including the US state department, which is usually a model of tact and efficiency. 

WHAT ARE THE KEY STEPS THAT INDIA AND THE U.S. COULD TAKE TO IMPROVE BILATERAL RELATIONS? 

There are three key things we need to do. First, we need to settle this silly spat over the Khobragade issue, not because it has strategic significance, but because it affects the key players responsible for taking the relationship forward: the ministry of external affairs in India and the state department in the US. If these entities are not enthused about the relationship, there is nothing you can do to move forward. 

America's Hip-Hop Foreign Policy

How rap became a battleground in the war on terror

MAR 20 2014

A rapper performs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2012. (U.S. Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

For several years now, American and German officials have struggled with how best to respond to Deso Dogg. The Ghanaian-German artist, whose legal name is Denis Cuspert, gained popularity during the mid-2000s as a pioneer in Germany’s gangsta-rap scene, performing with DMX and recording tracks like “Gangxtaboggy,” “Daz Iz Ein Drive By,” and “Meine Ambition Als Ridah.” In 2010, following a car crash, he embraced Islam and began documenting his Malcolm X-like transformation—from a life of women and bling to the “straight path”—in lyrics and music videos. Soon enough, he left hip-hop altogether and became a Salafi named Abu Maleek, embracing an ultra-conservative strain of Sunni Islam that frowns upon music and the use of instruments. He began describing his hometown of Berlin as a kuffar metropole (infidel metropolis). Instead of rap, he started composing and performing a cappella nasheeds, or devotional chants.

The hip-hopper-turned-Salafi evangelist or a cappella preacher is not an unusual figure in Muslim youth culture today: Napoleon of Tupac’s Outlawz, Loon of Bad Boy Records, and Sean Cross of Ruff Ryders Entertainment have all recently found God, quit rap, and toured European and Muslim-majority states speaking out against hip-hop culture. Their sermons and poems tend to be apolitical, focusing on atonement and self-improvement. How should U.S. officials deal with jihadi rap? The answer appears to be broadcasting “good Muslim hip-hop.”

Deso Dogg, however, went in a different direction. In his nasheeds, he excoriated U.S. foreign policy and expressed support for insurgents in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. German officials even sought to arrest him for a song that allegedly inspired a 21-year-old Kosovar to fire at a busload of American servicemen in Frankfurt in March 2011. And then Deso took his own advice and went off to Syria to fight the “apostate” regime. For much of 2013, the ex-rapper released a cappella songs against the Assad government, and postedphotos online of him splashing around in creeks and playing with a rocket launcher. But last November, a video posted to a German Islamist website appeared to show Deso Dogg unconscious on a stretcher, his shirt caked in blood and his lifeless, bearded face framed by a white cloth (an image strikingly reminiscent of the photograph taken of Malcolm X before his burial in February 1965). A man in the video pumps Deso’s heart desperately, in an effort to revive him.

AFGHANISTAN’S COMING DARKNESS

March 21, 2014 

The ongoing presence of ISAF troops is now of little consequence to the people of southern Afghanistan. Their fate was decided in 2011, writes Christopher Johnston.

The withdrawal of coalition soldiers from southern Afghanistan has been marked by silence, spreading almost imperceptibly below the Hindu Kush. Most International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops have alreadyleft or withdrawn “behind the wire.” making it difficult to measure the unfolding violence, let alone stop it. While the 2009 surge shifted tactical momentum against the insurgency, forecasting its ultimate conclusion meant the strategic contest was lost. Once the pre-ordained drawdown commenced in 2011 the Taliban shifted their primary focus away from coalition forces to erode the remnants of Afghan central government.

This ferocious campaign continues. Attacks against coalition forces have diminished, and will continue to decrease as operational risk is reduced. But the governors of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, and other provinceshave been repeatedly targeted for assassination, along with less prominent, more vulnerable government functionaries. A small legion of suicide bombers and Taliban fighters have executed increasingly complex attacks, mostly repelled by Afghan and coalition forces. This was notably demonstrated in July 2011, when suicide bombers and armed insurgents launched an unprecedented assault on the governor’s compound and other government installations in Tarin Kot.

This attack was successfully repelled by Afghan and coalition troops. But even if a status of forces agreement is concluded, the ISAF rump left in Kandahar will not be equipped to stop such violence. Once indigenous security eventually falters most district and provincial governors will becoerced or killed, as in Logar last October, and Jalalabad last week. Others will simply vanish, or join an exodus of “collaborators.”

No coalition officer is likely to venture too far from Kandahar to determine the fate of provincial or district governance. ISAF might never even hear about it. Communication between agencies in Kabul and the southern provinces is as tenuous as the link between coalition and Afghan troops: usually reliant on cellphones.

Chinese Grip on Tibet, Buddhists

By Jayadeva Ranade
20th March 2014

After a hiatus of many months, there are indications to suggest that Beijing could be contemplating some initiative on the Tibet issue. These could comprise overtures to the Dalai Lama’s establishment in Dharamsala in conjunction with the ongoing efforts to acquire and consolidate influence among Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal and the Indo-Himalayan border belt, and efforts to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) grip on the troubled Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas in adjoining provinces.

Reports indicate channels have been activated between Beijing and the Tibetan establishment in Dharamsala. At least three were active in the past few months. One was direct, one was via Taiwan and the third, which was finally aborted, was through a South East Asian capital.

The CCP leadership under Xi Jinping also continues to accord priority to the Tibet issue. Interesting was the 7,500-word article written by Xi Jinping’s mother Qi Xin on the occasion of the birth centennial of Xi Jinping’s father and former Chinese Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun. Publicised by Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth Daily) and the official People’s Daily on November 6, 2013, just prior to the Third Party Plenum, Qi Xin’s article was laced with subtle references suggesting Buddhism’s influence on Xi Jinping’s family. The Third Party Plenum, incidentally, saw the further accretion of authority by Xi Jinping, who will head the newly created apex security organisation—the National Security Committee (NSC). There is speculation in Beijing that the NSC could usurp the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)’s jurisdiction over the Tibet issue.

Internal intellectual debate on the issue is also discernible. Wang Lixiong, the Han Chinese husband of well-known Beijing-based Tibetan blogger Woeser, commented on an article by Liu Junning published in the Chinese edition of the Wall Street Journal on March 4, 2014. In his article entitled Rethinking the Policy of Regional Nationality Autonomy in Light of the Kunming Incident, Liu Junning, a researcher at the Institute of Chinese Culture, a subsidiary of China’s ministry of culture, blamed China’s worsening nationality problem on the disparate treatment of the minorities. He said regional nationality autonomy and demarcations between nationalities had resulted in their estrangement. Earlier, Ma Rong, a Chinese scholar of the department of sociology, Peking University, had urged the elimination of regional nationality autonomy and distinctions between nationalities. Describing these as “root causes” for the “escalation in nationality enmity and conflict”, Wang Lixiong argued that special safeguards for minority nationalities cannot be disregarded. Citing differences in their characters, he said “the character of the Han is to pursue profits first, while Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols are more inclined to pursue religious beliefs and happiness. This doesn’t allow them to mix well in the big market economy pot with over a billion Han; it’s like forcing monks to fight with soldiers”. Recommending immigration controls, safeguarding the environment, continuing cultural traditions and safeguarding religious beliefs, Wang Lixiong asserted that without the protection of regional nationality autonomy “any one of China’s nationalities would be hard pressed to avoid being wiped away without a trace by the Han who outnumber them by a hundred thousand to one”.

CHINA: Confused Approach to Minority Issues

21-Mar-2014
By Bhaskar Roy

The recent (March 01) attack by eight Uighurs including two women at the Kunming railway station killing thirty people and injuring many more may suggest that the tactics of the Uighur separatists in the western region of Xinjiang may be changing.

The Chinese police killed four of the attackers immediately, and has one in custody. Following the attack, leader of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) Abdullah Mansuar, declared that this was a war against the Chinese by all Muslims and the fight will continue. Mansuar lives in the mountains of Pakistan bordering China. The Uighurs demand independence for Xinjiang which they call Eastern Turkestan.

On the other hand, more than 127 Tibetan monks, nuns and lay persons have committed suicide in Tibetan areas in China since 2011, demanding independence from China and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. The suicides have been singularly self-immolation making the act striking, catching international attention and putting pressure on the Chinese government.

China has 55 ethnic groups, the largest being Uighurs (10 million) and second largest being Tibetans (six million). The third largest are the Mongolians in Inner Mongolia in the north of the country bordering the independent state of Mongolia. The rest of the minorities have very small populations or are vanishing tribes. The huge Han Chinese population accounts for about 94% in this country of 1.3 billion.

China claims that both Xinjiang and Tibet were historically Chinese territory, but these claims are highly questionable. At the same time the international community have agreed that whether historical or not, Beijing exercises sovereignty over these areas; it is a fait accompli. 

What the international community especially the west demands is a certain amount of autonomy for the Uighurs and Tibetans within Chinese rule. The autonomy is to allow freedom to practise their religion, use their language, and uphold their culture and traditions. The constitution of China promises autonomy to major minorities, but in practice they have less freedom than the Han Chinese. A privilege allowed to minorities is the freedom to have more than one child.

China claims to have “liberated” Xinjiang in 1949 and Tibet in 1951. To the ethnic people of these two regions the word “liberated” has a different meaning. Certainly, the Chinese brought economic development to the minority regions, but research by Chinese NGOs have revealed the benefits go mainly to the Han population who are being increasingly brought into these regions for demographic assault and domination. Simultaneously, the entire identity of the minorities are being erased save for those required to be showcased. The process is gradual but definite.

Trust deficit between the two major minorities and the Chinese authorities have increased. The Chinese failed to honour their promises and commitment. The 18 point agreement with the Dalai Lama was dishonoured leading to the Tibetan uprising and flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959. The Chinese policy continued to marginalize the minorities, leading to greater alienation between the two sides.

In India, which is a multilingual and multi-ethnic country with common interests and aspirations where ethnic alienation and independence are not only alien ideas, but unthinkable, separatist movements in Nagaland, Assam and some others states were promoted by foreign countries. These movements have almost died down because of non-response from their brethren. In China, the situation is quite different. There is a huge Han majority and minorities are seen at best as irritations that have to be tolerated.