5 June 2015

The War We Forget

Heavy metal Indian troops walk past the war dead and tanks abandoned by retreating Pakistani troops

Posterity might have neglected the Indo-Pak war of 1965. But it was significant, and must be understood in the backdrop of 1962.

The war of 1965 against Pakistan occupies a penumbral position in Indian history as well as memory. Sandwiched between the wars with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1971, the 1965 conflict evokes neither the humiliation of defeat nor the frisson of decisive victory. From scholars and historians it has elicited little more than a collective professional yawn. Indeed, there is hardly any new writing on the war that is comparable to what is now available for the other two conflicts that bookended the decade. Yet, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the war, it is important to recall its magnitude for India. In the full-scale conventional war lasting 22 days, India captured some 1,920 sq km of Pakistani territory—at the cost of nearly 11,500 casualties and the loss of almost 550 sq km of its own territory. These are not trivial numbers. The neglect of posterity is not a good measure of the significance of this war.

US, India Look to 'Open up' Defense Relationship

June 04, 2015

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is welcomed to India's Ministry of Defense by India's Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi, India, June 3, 2015.

The U.S. Defense Secretary is visiting India hoping to forge closer strategic ties between New Delhi and Washington. 

Today, while on a two-day visit to India, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that New Delhi and Washington agreed on two small technology co-development projects at a total cost of $1 million, to be split evenly by the two countries over a two year period.

The two projects, led by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and the Pentagon research labs, will focus on the joint development of a next generation solar generator and a new protective chemical-bio suit, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why India Insists On Keeping Gilgit Baltistan Firmly In Kashmir Equation

By Manoj Joshi*

New Delhi’s move to raise objections to Pakistan’s plan of holding an election in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan region may appear to be an afterthought, but it is, in fact, the belated assertion of a simple principle: In a dispute, express your maximal position, rather than the one you will compromise on. For long years, indeed, beginning in 1947 itself, India had tended to play down, if not ignore, its own legal claim over what Pakistan used to term as the Northern Areas and now calls Gilgit Baltistan. As a result, the world assumed the ‘Kashmir problem’ only pertained to the Kashmir Valley which was in India’s possession. Thus, when it came to compromises, it put the onus on New Delhi.

It is this principle that informs Beijing’s tough stand on the Sino-Indian border. In 1960 and 1980 they were agreeable to swapping claims and broached the idea with New Delhi. However, India rejected the proposal, and since it was holding on to Arunachal Pradesh, the area it claimed in the east, it hoped that it could persuade China to part with some 3000 or so sq kms in the Aksai Chin area. However, beginning 1985, China turned tables on the stunned Indian negotiators by insisting that the bigger dispute lay in the east and has since been demanding concessions from India in that sector. It has said it is willing to concede India’s claim to most of Arunachal if India is willing to part with the Tawang tract.

How America Should Wage 'Lawfare' in the South China Sea

June 4, 2015
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"The United States has not employed international law as effectively as it could to stop China’s scramble for mastery over the South China Sea."

In the last several months, China has set an expansionist and escalatory strategy into motion in the South China Sea. The embattled region has long played host to a fierce territorial dispute between six nations—China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam—powered by nationalism, energy, and great power politics. But in the last year, Beijing has inflamed an already tense dispute through an unprecedented policy of land reclamation. This latest tactic comes on the heels of a number of other aggressive moves by Beijing.

This is Japan's Newest Aircraft for Securing the Ryukyus

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces will soon be flying some of the most modern early warning radar aircraft. 
On June 1, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that the U.S. State Department has approved a possible $ 1.7 billion sale of four tactical airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and supporting equipment to Japan. According to the DSCA press release:

The Government of Japan has requested a possible sale of four (4) E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, ten (10) T56-A-427A engines (8 installed and 2 spares), eight (8) Multifunction Information Distribution System Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT), four (4) APY-9 Radars, modifications, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, ferry services, aerial refueling support, U.S. Government and contractor logistics, engineering, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

Unequal Partners: China and Russia in Eurasia

By Anita Inder Singh
June 03, 2015

China and Russia are stepping up their collaboration, even as they compete for regional primacy. 

Recent strategic shifts by China and Russia simultaneously – and paradoxically – mark closer ties, challenges to the U.S., an unequal partnership, and rivalry between them in Eurasia.

The shifts were confirmed last month. On May 8, Chinese President Xi Jinping was the guest of honor at Moscow’s Victory Parade; a few days later, on May 11, China and Russia began their first joint naval drill in the Mediterranean Sea. The ten-day exercise displayed their power and cooperation in the American-dominated Mediterranean, around which neither Russia nor China has any coastline. They were contesting America’s primacy in international waters, which connect Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Beijing signaled that China could flex its naval muscles in distant European waters, indeed in “NATO’s lake,” just as the U.S. does in the Asia-Pacific.

China's Counterterrorism Campaign Goes Global

By Moritz Rudolf, Marc Julienne, & Johannes Buckow
June 03, 2015

How China seeks international cooperation in its fight against terrorism. 

The nature of terrorism in China is changing, as is the Chinese government’s response to the threat. Despite the importance of the issue for China and the world, there is little understanding in the West about the facts concerning terrorism in China. This is the final article in a four-part series dealing with the threat of terrorism in China – its origins and changing nature – as well as the central government’s response. See part one (“The Terrorist Threat in China”), part two (“Beyond Doubt: The Changing Face of Terrorism in China”), and part three (“How the Chinese Government Fights Terrorism”).

Who Will Be Indonesia’s Next Military Chief?

Jakarta will appoint a successor to lead its military in the next few months. 

As Indonesia’s outspoken military (TNI) chief General Moeldoko nears his mandatory retirement age next month, the conversation has moved on to who will be replacing him 

Selecting a candidate is normally a fairly straightforward process. Candidates for the top TNI post should be flag officers who have held the position of chief of staff in one of the TNI’s three forces – the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. The current officers would be Army chief of staff Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, Navy chief of staff Adm. Ade Supandi and Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna.

Furthermore, since the end of the Suharto era, the post has been rotated in an Army-Navy-Army-Air Force pattern which has held until today. For instance, Moeldoko, who had been army chief of staff, took over in 2013 from Adm. Agus Suhartono, who has been chief of staff of the Indonesian navy. Following this pattern, since Moeldoko was from the Army, the next TNI chief should be from the Air Force, which would suggest that Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna should be Indonesia’s next military chief.

US Must Hold Firm in South China Sea Dispute

By Joseph A. Bosco

Backing away now will be seen in Beijing and elsewhere as a further erosion of U.S. credibility. 

No sane Chinese or American official wants a major war between the two countries. Nor would anyone in a responsible position on the U.S. side welcome even a limited military conflict with China, for fear of miscalculation, escalation, and unintended consequences, including the significant endangerment of economic relations. American restraint is demonstrable in the South China Sea (SCS) but it has also characterized the U.S. response to China-initiated situations in the East China Sea and across the Taiwan Strait.

That prudent approach, however, is not sufficiently shared by Chinese government and military leaders. Some seem willing to push the envelope to see just how much aggressive behavior Washington will tolerate in the region. They appear prepared to risk a direct clash at sea or in the air and expect the U.S. to make the necessary efforts to avoid it – for instance, to back away from exercising full navigational and overflight rights.

Chinese Accused OceanLotus Hacking Group of Launching Cyber Attack on Chinese Networks

June 2, 2015

China responds to report on cyber attack 

BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhua) – If overseas hacking organization OceanLotus is proven guilty for stealing government information, it will further evidence that China falls victim to hacker attacks, a Chinese spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying’s comment came after a report released Friday by Chinese Internet company Qihoo 360’s SkyEye Labs accused OceanLotus of launching “elaborately organized” online attacks on China’s marine agencies, scientific research institutions and shipping companies since April 2012.

Chinese Spy Planes and Intelligence Ship Monitored Taiwan Missile Test Last Month

June 2, 2015

Chinese spying activities during missile test monitored: MND

Taipei, June 2 (CNA) Taiwan’s military kept tabs on the movements of a Chinese vessel and reconnaissance plane that were apparently spying on a missile test last month, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Tuesday.

The MND said in a press release that the military conducted missile tests in waters and in the air southeast of Taiwan last month as part of a routine annual training operation.

The military detected a suspected Chinese vessel and aircraft that entered the sea and air near Taiwan to collect information, and adopted stringent countermeasures to ensure security, the MND said.

The ministry was responding to a report by the Liberty Times, a local newspaper, that said the presence of the Chinese ship and plane disrupted Patriot PAC-2 missile tests near Jioupeng Military Base in Pingtung County on May 28 and 29.


May/June 2015

Cartophilia: this map claims that a Chinese Muslim beat Columbus to it. But is it real? Rosie Blau investigates
In 1405 a Chinese Muslim eunuch, Zheng He, launched the first of seven voyages west from China across the Indian Ocean. Over the next 30 years, in command of the world’s largest fleet and funded by the Ming emperor, he sailed to the east coast of Africa and deep into the Persian Gulf. That much, we know, is true.

But some people believe he went much farther—and this map is one reason. Entitled “General chart of the integrated world”, it is apparently an 18th-century copy of a 1418 map which claims to show the world that Zheng He discovered. If it is real, it rewrites history, for it shows that he circumnavigated the globe and—most provocatively—that he discovered America more than 70 years before Columbus.

Much Ado About Iran's Low-Enriched Uranium

June 04, 2015

A cascade of gas centrifuges at a U.S. enrichment plant.

Relax, Iran’s complying with the terms of the November 2013 interim deal—at least for a few more weeks. 

As the diplomatic heat turns up ahead of a June 30 deadline for a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of powers, news emerged, courtesy of the New York Times‘ David Sanger, that Iran’s “stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations.” The article goes on to outline this development as a major setback for the Obama administration, which staked its credibility on its ability to regulate Iran’s nuclear fuel stockpile. Sanger notes that the 20 percent increase in nuclear fuel—specifically, low-enriched uranium (LEU)—undercuts “the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been ‘frozen’ during that period.” Sanger crescendos to the claim that this development ”poses a major political and diplomatic challenge” for the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement.

What Does Rule of Law Look Like in Central Asia?

Heavy focus on order and security, perhaps more aptly called rule by law. 

In the 2015 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, the three Central Asian states included all landed in the bottom half of the rankings. Kazakhstan led, in 65th, with Kyrgyzstan not far behind, at 74th.Uzbekistan was ranked at 81st.

The annual perception-based ranking is based on data from a survey of 1,000 people from the three largest cities in each of the 102 countries included plus input from local experts. WJP’s survey breaks rule of law into eight factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice. The organization says that “these factors are intended to reflect how people experience rule of law in everyday life.”

Syrian Rebels Beg for U.S. Airstrikes as ISIS Forces Approach the Syrian City of Aleppo

Anne Barnard
June 2, 2015

New Battles Rage Near Aleppo Between Syrian Insurgents and ISIS

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Syrian insurgents rushed reinforcements into combat on Tuesday against rival Islamic State militants who have seized crucial territory near the northern city of Aleppo in recent days, building on the momentum the group has achieved in other battlefield successes in Syria and Iraq.

Amid increased fears that Aleppo could be the next big prize to fall to the Islamic State in the latest twist to the four-year-old Syrian civil war, Syrian opposition leaders accused the government of essentially collaborating with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by bombing other rival insurgent groups, even though the government and Islamic State say they are enemies.

Investigation Launched Into Who Ordered Iraqi Army to Flee Ramadi Despite Vastly Outnumbering ISIS Forces

June 2, 2015

A prominent Sunni politician and member of parliament is leading the effort to find out exactly who ordered the army to pull out of Ramadi on May 17 th and allow a much smaller force of ISIL fighters to enter and, after receiving reinforcements, take control of most of the city. Right after Ramadi fell the commander of the 25,000 troops guarding the city said he had been ordered to withdraw. Most of the troops in Ramadi belonged to the 7 th Infantry Division, which is based there. That unit had been reinforced by several thousand police and army commandos and special operations troops by early May. There were also a few thousand pro-government Sunni tribal militia. All these troops are still in Anbar, most of them just west of Ramadi. 

Since May 17th the government has reinforced the army units outside Ramadi with Shia militia. Together these forces have retaken many military posts (fortified checkpoints and police stations) abandoned during the departure of the security forces from Ramadi in May. The unannounced withdrawal of army forces caused a panic among the thousands of police and militia fighters in the city and these forces tended to panic and depart quickly when they found out about the army retreat. 


June 3, 2015

The seizure of Ramadi on May 17 by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was a tactical defeat for the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi government, and — by extension — the U.S.-led coalition. ISIL had a good day; Iraq and its allies had a bad day. Losing Ramadi makes the task ahead more difficult. There is no sugarcoating this fact, and therefore the latest round of self-examination is appropriate, if often misinformed.

There are three policy goals that the United States has — or should have — in Iraq. First, it needs to help facilitate the defeat, if not destruction, of ISIL in Iraq (as a first step to its wider defeat in the region). Second, it needs to keep Iraq unified so that the gains of ISIL’s destruction can be held. Finally, it needs to ensure that this unified Iraq is as Western-oriented as possible. While the first of these goals is the most immediate, it is the last two that are most important, and to which too little attention is being paid.

Defeating ISIL

How to defeat the Islamic State, according to Republican presidential candidates

Former Florida Governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to supporters during a fundraising event at the Jorge Mas Canosa Youth Center on March 18, 2015 in Sweetwater, Florida.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Rest easy, world. The Republicans have a plan to defeat the Islamic State. And yes, it involves more bombs.

As the 2016 presidential election draws closer, a growing number of potential candidates have begun to distill their time-tested criticism of the Democratic Party’s foreign policy into something resembling a platform.

While there are slight differences among the potential Republican presidential candidates, it is fair to say that the majority believe that the US needs to take a more active role in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, Syria.

Ground war: What is it good for?

Pentagon and Intelligence Community Want to Buy More Russian Rockets

Steven Lee Myers
June 4, 2015

Pentagon Seeks Easing of Ban on Russian Rockets for U.S. Space Missions

WASHINGTON — After Russia annexed Crimea last year, Congress passed legislation that forced the Pentagon to stop buying Russian rocket engines that have been used since 2000 to help launch American military and intelligence satellites into space.

Now, that simple act of punishment is proving difficult to keep in place.

Only five months after the ban became law, the Pentagon is pressing Congress to ease it.

The Pentagon says that additional Russian engines will be needed for at least a few more years to ensure access to space for the country’s most delicate defense and intelligence technology.

Ukrainian Rebels Try to Capture Town in the Eastern Ukraine

June 3, 2015 

Ukraine Forces, Separatists Fight First Serious Battles in Months 

KIEV — Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists on Wednesday fought their first serious battles in months and Ukraine’s defence minister said an attempt by rebels to take the eastern town of Maryinka had been thwarted. 

The Ukrainian military said the Russian-backed rebels had tried to advance using tanks and up to 1,000 fighters west of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk, in the most significant escalation of the conflict in about three months and in defiance of a ceasefire deal. 

Estimates of casualties varied. 

The separatists, who denied their forces had launched an assault, said 15 people had been killed when government troops fired artillery into rebel-held territory near the city.