23 March 2016

Does China Need More Friends in Asia?

Alliances are a key to Beijing's future success, says Yan Xuetong. 
March 20, 2016 
Yan Xuetong is one of China’s most influential scholars of international relations. The director of Tsinghua University’s Institute of International Studies, he has just published The Transition of World Power: Political Leadership and Strategic Competition. Even if one believes, as many observers in the United States and China do, that his views are more “hawkish” than those of the center of gravity within China’s elite, they merit careful consideration—two, in particular.

First, while most analysts of U.S.-China relations focus on the gaps between the two countries’ economic strength and military capabilities, Yan believes it is the differential between their respective networks of partnerships that will be most decisive in determining the course of their relationship. He has become increasingly critical of its nearly thirty-five-year-old commitment to a nonalliance principle. In a November 2011 article, he maintained that “the core of competition between China and the United States will be to see who has more high-quality friends”; he accordingly urged his country “to develop more high-quality diplomatic and military relationships than Washington.” In a recent interview with the New York Times, he concluded that China’s enduring insistence upon a nonalliance principle “comes from not seeking truth from facts”—specifically, “years of propaganda criticizing alliances as part of a Cold War mentality.” It is natural, Yan believes, for the United States to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, both to affirm its longstanding alliances and to incent potential Chinese allies to join U.S.-led economic, diplomatic and military arrangements.

He warns, however, that the more encircled China feels, the more likely it will be to act in a destabilizing manner. But if, in attempting to preempt such a response, the United States decelerates the rebalance, it could cede critical strategic leverage in the Asia-Pacific. It has already given its allies reasons to question both its ability and willingness to accord singular priority to the region: among them, its preoccupation with the Middle East for much of the first decade of this century, the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing financial crisis, and the multiple occasions on which the United States has come to the precipice of default. There could come a threshold beyond which the intersection of allied doubts and growing Chinese heft could compel China’s neighbors to “choose” China over the United States as their most consequential long-term partner—less out of strategic preference than of perceived imperatives.

Accommodate the Kremlin The West should support Russia's strategic interests in order to collectively bring peace to Syria.

We must recognize that contending parties have legitimate interests. 
By Colin P. Clarke and William CourtneyMarch 17, 2016, 
Russia’s drawdown in Syria comes in the wake of frustrations with the regime of President Bashar Assad, whose forces Russian airpower aided, and with Moscow's interest in being part of a wider political solution. A negotiated deal will need active support from Russia, the West and regional states, and thus must reflect their interests.
The crisis in Syria, a longtime Moscow client, has brought Russia more risk than opportunity. Since the overwhelming majority of the over 10 million Muslims in Russia are Sunni, the Kremlin runs risks siding with the Shiite-aligned Assad regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah Shiite allies in the fight against Sunni insurgents. Moscow saw its intervention as necessary to rescue Assad’s reeling forces and as a way to demonstrate Russian military power.
Then the Kremlin had to rebuke Assad. As the partial ceasefire was getting underway in mid-February, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations was asked about Assad's statement that Syria would continue the fight to defeat all rebels. The ambassador said it did "not chime with the diplomatic efforts that Russia is undertaking."
Russia’s frustrations are not unexpected. Former presidents Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq showed how weak and unpredictable leaders undermine outsiders’ ability to help end conflicts and stabilize societies. Moscow may also see a parallel to Afghanistan in the 1980s, when it struggled to prop up an illegitimate regime resisting a determined insurgency.
In announcing the drawdown, President Vladimir Putin claimed that the task of Russian forces had “on the whole, been fulfilled.” This is less than true. Last September at the United Nations General Assembly, he called the Islamic State group “more than dangerous,” but Russia has done little to counter it. The Islamic State group, which controls a wide swath in Syria, has been a destination for several thousand radical jihadists from Russia. Some will return home battle-hardened and spoiling to avenge what they consider to be mistreatment of Muslims in such areas as the North Caucasus.
As well, the al-Nusra Front – like the Islamic State group, not a party to the ceasefire – controls critical territory in Syria, including in eastern Aleppo. Although Russian strikes damaged several insurgent groups, including some backed by the West, the insurgents retain military capability, and some are supported from neighboring countries. Finally, large-scale civilian casualties caused by unguided bombs have damaged Russia's international prestige.
These problems along with economic weakness at home, isolation from the West and confrontation with Ukraine and Turkey have taken a toll on Russia. It is in strategic decline, and a drawdown in Syria might help abate it.

The EU And Turkey Reach A Tenuous Immigration Agreement

After two days of negotiations, Turkey and the European Union reached a compromise agreement on a plan to reduce the flow of migrants from the Middle East to Europe. At a summit concluding March 18, the heads of government of the 28 EU members and their Turkish counterparts approved the plan, which should take effect March 20.
While the deal could help reduce the number of migrants arriving in Europe, questions remain about the signatories' ability and commitment to fully enforce it.
With the March 18 agreement, Ankara agreed that all migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey will be sent back to Turkey. And for every Syrian migrant sent back to Turkey, a Syrian in Turkey will be given asylum in the European Union. The plan, however, caps the number of Syrians who can be sent to Europe from Turkey at 72,000. If that limit is reached, the European Union and Turkey would have to renegotiate.
The agreement makes partial concessions to Turkey. In exchange for accepting returned migrants, Turkey wanted to open five chapters of its accession negotiation with the European Union. (In EU accession talks, chapters represent aspects of an applicant country's policy that must be evaluated in comparison with EU standards before it can join the bloc.) The Cypriot government countered with demands for a stronger Turkish commitment to reunifying Cyprus, which was divided into distinct Greek and Turkish states after Turkey invaded in 1974. As a result of the talks, EU leaders compromised, agreeing to open only one mostly technical and not particularly controversial chapter.
The European Union also vowed to speed up the disbursement of 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in financial aid that was promised to Turkey last year, and to grant Turkey an additional 3 billion euros in the future. This funding will, of course, come with strings attached, and EU leaders asked their Turkish counterparts to present concrete proposals for the use of the funds within a week. Additionally, the European Union promised to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel to Europe by the end of June, but Ankara must first meet a long list of requirements. This is a controversial issue for several Northern European countries, so this part of the deal could be derailed in the future.

Some EU members pushed for a fast implementation of the deal, fearing that delaying its introduction would encourage migrants to cross from Turkey to Greece before the agreement takes effect. But this could be problematic. Before migrants can be legally returned to Turkey, the Greek Parliament has to recognize Turkey as a "safe third country." The Greek government must also improve its ability to register newly arrived immigrants and speed up its process for reviewing asylum applications. Since the beginning of the crisis, Greece has struggled to provide housing for an ever-growing number of asylum seekers and to reduce the time required to process their applications. And some EU members warned that expelling people without first analyzing their cases would be illegal.

** Western Pundit Scared and Confused After Lavrov Writes Thoughtful Essay Calling for Dialogue

Prominent Western commentator misrepresents essay by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov calling for dialogue to make it look threatening.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently published a lengthy essay on international relations.
As is the Russian way it includes a lengthy historical introduction, discussing Russia’s history, emphasising the uniqueness of its culture, but also drawing attention to Russia’s interconnection to Europe and its role as part of European civilisation
It is the sort of essay which was once commonly written by European statesmen but which only Russian statesmen now seem able to write. The historically challenged leaders of today’s West are no longer capable of writing in this way.
The essay read fairly and objectively is a call for dialogue and cooperation between Russia and the West based on mutual respect and equality. As Lavrov himself puts it:
“We are not seeking confrontation with the United States, or the European Union, or NATO. On the contrary, Russia is open to the widest possible cooperation with its Western partners. We continue to believe that the best way to ensure the interests of the peoples living in Europe is to form a common economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so that the newly formed Eurasian Economic Union could be an integrating link between Europe and Asia Pacific.”

To see who actually stands in the way of such cooperation consider the recent articlediscussing this essay by Natalie Nougayrède, a strong advocate of humanitarian interventionism and someone who can be defined as being broadly on the “left-liberal” end of the Atlanticist spectrum.
Nougayrède is also an influential voice, writing for The Guardian and formerly the executive editor and managing editor of Le Monde - a newspaper that some still consider to be the most influential in Europe.
The sub-title of Nougayrède’s article makes what she is about all too clear.
She claims Lavrov’s essay shows that “Putin” (who else?) wants “a historic realignment in his favour”.
I searched Lavrov’s essay exhaustively to find anything that might suggest such a thing and found nothing. Nowhere in the essay does Lavrov say Russia (or “Putin”) seeks such a realignment. What the article calls for instead is something entirely different - a constructive dialogue between Russia and the West.
Nougayrède then goes on to make this quite extraordinary claim:
“Lavrov spells it out with clarity. What Russia wants is nothing short of fundamental change: a formal, treaty-based say on Europe’s political and security architecture. 
Until Russia gets that, goes the message, there will be no stability on the continent. The key sentence in the article is this: “During the last two centuries, any attempt to unite Europe without Russia and against it has inevitably led to grim tragedies.”
(underlining added)
The apparent meaning here is clear enough. Russia will destabilise Europe unless it is given a "treaty based say on Europe's political and security architecture".
That the words actually are ambiguous - they do not expressly accuse Russia of threatening to destabilise Europe - should be the first thing to warn us that not everything is as it seems.

What Russia Accomplished in Syria

Russian jets started attacking Syria six months ago and changed the course of the war. Now Russia says it is done, but the extent of its pullout remains unclear. 
Russian airstrikes were concentrated in areas
held by rebels who are not affiliated with
the Islamic State and who often clash with it.
Circles show known locations of Russian
airstrikes from September 2015 to March 2016.

Israel Cyber Cadets Train in Harry Potter-Inspired War Zone

March 21, 2016
Exercise aims to teach computer aces combat vigilance 
Cadets set to become the first officers in Cyber Command 
The Israeli military’s elite Cyber Command is honing its skills at Hogwarts.
A small, handpicked group of computer wizards in the command’s officers training course will soon take what they learned in a recent one-week simulation to the virtual battlefield, where they’ll use their technological skills to defend their country.
During the course, cyber cadets from land, air and sea corps were assigned to groups named after houses at the school in the Harry Potter books. One exercise was based on Quidditch, the wizarding sport played on broomsticks. In another drill, an insider based on the series’ Severus Snape character infiltrated networks while Death Eaters attacked on the perimeters. Recruits both parried and carried out attacks on their fantasy enemies.
“The main challenge is taking people not trained in warfare, who have never seen an enemy face-to-face, and getting them used to being on high alert, to understanding that what they see may not just be background noise,” said the commander of the advanced officers’ technology training course, Major Nimrod Focsenianu. “Like a combat soldier who hears a sound in the bushes doesn’t assume it’s a cat.”
Mounting Threat

The mounting threat of cyber space as a new front is a global concern. As hackers become increasingly sophisticated, a variety of militaries are training specialized recruits in virtual warfare. Attacks on military systems are classified but in recent months hackers stole $101 mlllion from Bangladesh’s central bank and took down power for thousands of people in Ukraine.
Last month, British Cabinet Minister Matt Hancock announced a decision to deepen cooperation with Israel on tackling cyber attacks on national infrastructure installations and strengthen ties between the countries’ cyber-emergency response teams.
The Israeli military is putting more resources into the virtual battlefield, and in June, military chief Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot ordered the establishment of a cyber command to oversee all operational activity in the virtual domain. The first trainees completed their 12-week course in December.
The “cyber command will ultimately be widely engaged in offensive and defensive operations, in close association with the field units, primarily countering enemy command and control systems and other operational components heavily based on information technologies,” the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv said in a report issued after the command’s formation was announced.
There are no statistics on the number of cyber attacks on Israel’s military networks, but officials report hundreds of thousands of attempts daily on Israel overall. While Israel doesn’t comment on its reported involvement in offensive attacks, American whistleblower Edward Snowden told Der Spiegel that Israel helped the U.S. write the Stuxnet computer virus that disabled nuclear centrifuges in Iran in 2010. Iran blamed the Flame virus, which crippled its energy industry in 2012, on “illegitimate regimes,” a phrase it often uses for Israel.
At the time, Moshe Ya’alon, now Israel’s defense minister, said it would be “reasonable” for anyone threatened by Iran to use cyber weapons.
Fatal Mistakes

For the officer trainees in Israel’s cyber command, a top priority is learning to recognize that something as seemingly insignificant as an error message may be suspect.
“We need to make them understand this is war and nothing gets swept under the rug,” Focsenianu said. In one instance during the exercise, soldiers rushed to wipe out an assailant who had already infiltrated their system and didn’t notice the other attackers knocking down their virtual gate.
In real life, such a mistake may prove fatal. An enemy takeover of the system that alerts Israelis to incoming rocket attacks, for example, could cause it to malfunction in such a way that the public would lose confidence in its credibility and ignore alarms during a real assault, Foscenianu said.

* How the United States Learned to Cyber Sleuth: The Untold Story A secret Moscow meeting, a disappeared general and the start of modern cyber-war. By Fred Kaplan March 20, 2016 Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/russia-cyber-war-fred-kaplan-book-213746#ixzz43YRSE0iO Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

In early 1998, Defense Department computer networks came under attack. The offensive was codenamed Moonlight Maze, and it came—for the first time that anyone knew—from a foreign power.
Moonlight Maze marked the first skirmish in what would soon emerge as a new theater of global conflict: cyberwar. Nearly two decades before cyberattacks became a routine feature of international relations, the story of how the U.S. grappled with the attack and its attackers—never before reported in full—shows how a fledgling national security team in the Pentagon bureaucracy learned to follow a new kind of trail to identify cyber culprits. It also reveals just how big a challenge this new kind of war posed—and, in many ways, still poses—to the American security establishment. 
In early March of 1998, word came through that someone had hacked into the computers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and was pilfering files—unclassified but sensitive—on cockpit design and microchip schematics. Over the next few months, the hacker fanned out to other military facilities. No one knew his location (the hopping from one site to another was prodigious, swift, and global); his searches bore no clear pattern (except that they involved high-profile military R&D projects). 
Nine months earlier, when cyber-war was still a hypothetical matter, the Pentagon had staged a war game called Eligible Receiver, in which 25 members of an NSA Red Team, using commercially available gear, hacked into every Defense Department computer network, shutting down or distorting vital communications. Now, in an operation that an interagency task force dubbed Moonlight Maze, the Pentagon was experiencing the real thing, from a foreign power.

The hacker would log in to the open computers of university research labs to gain access to military sites and networks. He didn’t dart in and out of a site, like some joyride hackers the government had seen; he was persistent; he was looking for specific information, he seemed to know where to find it, and, if his first path was blocked, he stayed inside the network, prowling for other approaches.
He was also remarkably sophisticated, employing techniques that impressed even the NSA teams that were following his moves. He would log on to a site, using a stolen username and password; when he left, he would rewrite the log so that no one would know he’d ever been there. Finding the hacker was touch-and-go: the analysts would have to catch him in the act and track his moves in real time; even then, since he erased the logs when exiting, the on-screen evidence would vanish after the fact. It took a while to convince some higher-ups that there had been an intrusion. 

A year earlier, the analysts probably wouldn’t have detected a hacker at all, unless by pure chance. With few exceptions, the Army, Navy and civilian leaders in the Pentagon would have had no way of knowing whether an intruder was present, much less what he was doing or where he was from.
That all changed with the Eligible Receiver war game, which convinced high-level officials, even those who had never thought about the issue, that America was vulnerable to a cyber-attack and that this condition endangered not only society’s critical infrastructure but also the military’s ability to act in a crisis.

Fighting Blind: Army Intensifies Training Vs. Russian-Style Jamming

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on March 18, 2016 
HUNTSVILLE, AL: After two decades of largely ignoring the danger, the US Army has started seriously training for a scary scenario: What if our GPS, our satellite communications, our wireless networks suddenly go down?
It’s hardly a hypothetical threat. Russian electronic warfare units locate Ukrainian troops by their transmissions and jam their radios so they can’t call for help, setting them up for slaughter. American soldiers are much better trained and equipped than Ukrainian ones, but they’re also much more dependent on wireless devices. Almost 80 percent of an armored brigade’s equipment depends to some degree on space: over 250 systems use satellite communications, over 2,500 use GPS. Even short-range tactical communications relay on radio.
We depend on networks for everything from communications to guiding precision weapons, to not shooting friendly units by accident, “to not getting lost in the woods — not that I’ve ever been lost,” said Gen. David Perkins, head of the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our digital technology has been an “asymmetric advantage” adversaries couldn’t match, but all advantages in war are temporary, Perkins warned reporters at the Association of the US Army conference here. In the modern era, he added, the time a technological advantage lasts is getting “shorter and shorter and shorter.”

In the future, while we will hopefully never fight Russia or China with their advanced electronic warfare systems, we almost certainly will fight someone who has bought such systems from Russia, China, or even some of our own allies, said Tom Greco, Gen. Perkins’ chief of intelligence: “It is not a stretch to say that just about any capability that we have has the potential of being disrupted.”
So the Army is now deliberately disrupting its own units during training. For example, when brigades go to the National Training Center, they naturally bring all their usual GPS navigation systems — but now “we routinely take that capability away from them,” said Perkins. “We’re having to teach people at the Basic Course on up on how you operate if that is taken away, in other words introducing people to maps.”
Training Task No. 1

The first step in training is to get soldiers to realize they are being jammed or hacked, said Gen. David Mann, chief of Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC). There’s enough unintentional interference with radio transmissions — including different US signals interfering with each other — that it’s not obvious when an enemy is causing problems on purpose. Likewise, anyone who’s worked with computers know they can glitch with maddening frequency on their own, which makes it hard to realize when malware is at work.

“There’s a… lack of awareness of some of the challenges that our soldiers are going to face in the future in terms of jamming [and] cyber,” Gen. Mann told reporters at AUSA. Hostile action might be obvious if everything went down at once, but that’s unlikely to happen, Mann argued. Our enemies are competent but not omnipotent, so they’re unlikely to shut us down completely. If they did do so, they might end up jamming frequencies their own radios use or collapsing Internet infrastructure they also rely on. So a more realistic scenario involves partial disruption, with considerable ambiguity about what’s enemy action and what’s ordinary glitches.

The threat of cyberterrorism

Uzair M. Younus — Updated Mar 21, 2016 
The writer is a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and works as a consultant in the US. 
Over three billion users access the internet today, compared to a measly 400 million in 2000. As the internet creates new opportunities for countries across the world, it also creates a whole host of challenges in the cyber realm. The anonymity offered by the internet, and its disregard for national boundaries, a revolutionary trait, is now becoming a military challenge. To ensure long-term security of its military and civilian infrastructure, Pakistan must implement a forward-looking strategy to deal with these cyber threats.
When US director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was asked about the threats faced by the United States, he placed cyber at the top. “Cyber threats,” he said, “to US national and economic security are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity of impact; [and] the ranges of cyber threat actors, methods of attack, targeted systems and victims are also expanding.” The United States is not the only country facing this challenge; all leading economies of the world are wary of the real danger they face in cyberspace. 
Starting with the Stuxnet attack on Iran in January 2009, the scale and damage caused by cyberattacks has grown tremendously. Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, the United States and Israel all have robust and indigenous cyber warfare capabilities. Under the Modi government, India has also started work on developing its own cyber capabilities. Pakistan has been lagging behind and has so far failed to develop and implement any robust policy framework directed at emerging cyber challenges.
Cyberterrorism poses an immediate and short-term threat to the country’s national security. This could consist of cyberattacks and the use of the internet by terrorists to plan, recruit, and communicate with other terrorists inside and outside the country. While terrorists probably do not have the sophisticated skills to target critical infrastructure, they have used the dark corners of the internet to communicate, recruit, and plan terrorist attacks. As ongoing counterterrorism operations squeeze the physical space for militants in Pakistan, they will increasingly withdraw deep into the internet to plan and communicate with each other. Unable to carry out large terrorist attacks in public, they could also begin to learn new and more dangerous cyber warfare capabilities.
The government, military and private sector must develop a framework for securing the country’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.


U.S. special operations forces (SOF) are a secretive bunch. The American public is usually exposed to them through the media or Hollywood, and as a result, stories about SOF tend to focus on great successes, failures, or controversy. Occasionally, stories emerge from within their ranks, providing first person accounts of specific events or spans of time. Whether the tales are told by the community’s heroes or by its disaffected, they are almost universally accepted as equal and expert testimony. But this does not make them equal in reality. As with any organization that shuns outsiders, SOF keep the most important details close to the vest and rarely see an upside to pushing back when their story is poorly told. Not surprisingly, misperceptions are common and often left to fester.

In the decade-plus since 9/11, SOF’s operational tempo is without precedent. If asked to describe SOF activities, most would probably depict the green eyes and black rifles that stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound, or the bearded men on horseback descending from the mountains during the early days of the war in Afghanistan. SOF’s prowess at killing and capturing is notable, but what makes these organizations truly distinctive and special is the pace at which they evolve and adapt. Their ability to quickly incorporate lessons learned and morph to face changing battlefields and changing enemies are skills that remain without peer across the U.S. military. These traits ultimately prove beneficial to the broader military community as innovation in tactics, equipment and processes, conceived and tested by SOF, intentionally cascade to the rest of the force as best practices. SOF consistently passes along battlefield advantages through lessons hard learned and heavily paid for.

A recent article — and dozens of other films, books, and statements — suggests that SOF’s secretive nature makes it a convenient policy tool, allowing wars to be hidden from front pages. This is, however, a fanciful notion, as the front pages themselves display. Media exposure for SOF has never been greater. Helmet cam footage taken during a hostage rescue operation in Iraq last October was posted to Internet news sites only shortly after outlets broke the story. When American forces snatched an al Qaeda leader outside his home in Tripoli in 2013, the world was able to view CCTV footage of the event within hours of the capture. The notion that special operations will go unnoticed by the public is a military planner’s dream, but it is far from reality.

Old and New Insurgency Forms

Old and New Insurgency Forms by Dr. Robert Bunker, Strategic Studies Institute monograph

This monograph creates a proposed insurgency typology divided into legacy, contemporary, and emergent and potential insurgency forms, and provides strategic implications for U.S. defense policy as they relate to each of these forms. The typology clusters, insurgency forms identified, and their starting dates are as follows, Legacy: Anarchist (1880s), Separatist—Internal and External(1920s), Maoist Peoples (1930s), and Urban Left (Late-1960s); Contemporary: Radical Islamist(1979), Liberal Democratic (1989), Criminal (Early 2000s), and Plutocratic (2008); andEmergent and Potential: Blood Cultist (Emergent), Chinese Authoritarianism (Potentials; Near to Midterm), and Cyborg and Spiritual Machine (Potentials; Long Term/Science Fiction-like). The most significant strategic implications of these forms for U.S. defense policy are derived from the contemporary Radical Islamist form followed by the contemporary Criminal and emergent Blood Cultist forms. If the potential Chinese Authoritarianism form should come to pass it would also result in significant strategic impacts.

*Vickers: Fastest way to improve strategy is to prepare and pick better generals


Michael Vickers, the former under secretary of Defense for intelligence,spoke some truth to power the other day to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

While I’m admittedly generally skeptical of organizational change as a driver for strategy improvement, something must be done. Accordingly, I think the biggest direct strategic bang for the buck could come from revamping selection and promotion of general and flag officers, and from rigorously selecting and educating a corps of joint operational strategists and transforming the Joint Staff into a real Joint General Staff. Good strategy requires good strategists.”

At the same hearing, New America’s Jeff Eggers, speaking about officers in professional military education programs, commented that, “How they do or what they write as students is generally irrelevant to their career promotion. Military colleges have a 100 percent pass rate, which does not reflect a rigorous process of independent learning. Overall, the operational culture still views broadening as a cost to be minimized vice a long-term investment to be expanded.”

22 March 2016

* India in America's Coils? BHARAT KARNAD

BHARAT KARNAD, Friday, March 11,2016
NEW DELHI: It is a devastating turn of events – the indication that the Bharatiya Janata Party government will soon sign the three so-called “foundational” accords with the United States that Washington has been fiercely pushing in the past decade. 
The Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) is first in line. The other two agreements are the CISMOA (Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement) and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for geospatial information and data). 

LSA, the most significant of these, will permit the military forces of each country to resupply and replenish, and stage operations out of the other’s military air bases, land facilities, and ports. CISMOA will allow integration of the communications networks and systems enabling the two sides, for example, to mount military actions together, assist unit and higher echelon commanders to converse with each other in peacetime and war, using real time communications links, and to share classified data and information. BECA will, in the main, facilitate the exchange of sensitive information picked up by sensors on satellites and other space-based platforms. 
There are some tactical military advantages to accepting some of these accords, such as BECA which will, with digitized maps, cue Indian missiles and combat aircraft to target coordinates. But there are many more negative geopolitical and strategic consequences to becoming America’s military ally in all but name. These aspects have not been publicly discussed and the government is getting a free pass to drastically change India’s geostrategics and foreign policy. But first a bit of recent history to contextualize this development. 

In India ideology has always been conflated with foreign policy and suggests that elected governments in New Delhi are motivated only minimally by concerns of national interest. Thus, left-of-centre Congress party governments, besides “socialist” policy nostrums and statist solutions for socio-economic ills of the country, have invariably aligned foreign and defence policies with what used to be the Soviet Bloc and, post-Cold War, owing to inertia in official thinking, with Russia. 
Likewise, the ideologically right-leaning Bharatiya Janata Party when in power talked individual initiative and free enterprise at home and sported a US (and generally, West)-friendly attitude abroad. Even so, different party and coalition regimes never overstepped the bounds of the “consensus” view of not closing in with any great power. Balance of power has always been preferred in the external realm and, whenever possible, India has also acted as balancer in the global system to maintain equilibrium. It made for an accretion in India’s political, diplomatic, and military leverage and heft, and obtained a stable international “correlation of forces” which, because it was prevented from ever tipping over, did not end permanently favour any particular power and skew the game. 

This policy stance and world view began wavering in the last decade. The Congress Party government under Manmohan Singh in 2004-2014, instead of gently steering the policy back to mid-channel, as it were, followed up on the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government’s NSSP (Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership) initiative, made quite extraordinary concessions to the United States for the civilian nuclear cooperation deal. This deal predicated on New Delhi’s sticking with the so-called “voluntary moratorium” announced by Vajpayee after the 1998 Shakti series of nuclear tests, a decision made with little forethought even less strategic foresight, hobbled not just India’s thermonuclear weapons capability and the indigenous nuclear industry based on reactors run on natural uranium and the abundant locally available thorium to attain energy independence envisaged by the 1955 three-stage Bhabha Plan, but lofted America into the central position in the country’s geopolitics and foreign policy. 

The Judge Who Stood Up To Indira Gandhi And Whose Judgment Shook India

Today is the death anniversary of Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha, the former judge of the Allahabad High Court, whose judgment invalidated Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s election in 1975.
A look at some untouched aspects of his life.
The internationally acclaimed American author Maya Angelou’s words that“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently” reminiscences me of the great spirited judge of the Indian judiciary who’s Judgment changed the discourse of the existing Indian Politics.
Yes, I am trying to hark back on the untouched aspects of the life of Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha, the former judge of the High Court of Allahabad, whose judgment of invalidating Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s election in the famous case of ‘State of Uttar Pradesh v. Rajnarain’ brought his courage, honesty and vitality to international recognition. The ‘Times of India’ had compared this judgment as “Firing the Prime Minster for a traffic ticket”. 

The Conclusion of arguments from both the sides 
With the conclusions of the arguments in this case, the long wait for the judgment began.Both sides were equally hopeful of winning the case. Shanti Bhushan, who had argued this case on behalf of Rajnarain believed that he had better chances of winning. 
Indira Gandhi’s counsels, on the other hand, ridiculed the idea of the case being decided against the Prime Minster. The general opinion outside the Allahabad High Court was that the judge would not have enough courage to declare the election void. 
The fact of the Prime Minster being the respondent overawed the people, who made their speculations independent of the merits of the case.

Justice Sinha’s confidential conversation with his Private Secretary 
Justice Sinha had constantly been taking notes of the arguments. Thus, as soon as the Court closed, he was ready to write the judgment. Before beginning to dictate it, he asked his Private Secretary gravely, “I don’t want the judgment to leak out to anyone, not even to your wife. It is a big responsibility. Can you undertake it?” The Secretary had been with the Judge for a long time and was a trusted man. He swore not to disclose the judgment even to his own wife. 
Justice Sinha went into seclusion to write the judgment 

The Judge wanted to write his judgment in peace. But as soon as the Court closed, he started receiving daily visits, from a Congress MP of Allahabad, which annoyed him immensely. He requested the person not to visit him. 
But when he persisted, the judge had to ask his neighbour, justice Parekh, to request the MP to stop bothering him. When even this didn’t succeed, he decided to disappear. He ‘disappeared’ inside his house, not appearing even in his own verandah. 
All visitors calling on him were told that he had gone to Ujjain, where his brother resided. He didn’t receive any phone calls either. So from 28 May till 7 June, no one was able to meet him, not even his closest friends.
Before he went into seclusion, however, the judge had another distinguished visitor. In the course of their conversation the distinguished visitor mentioned that he had been to Delhi recently and that he had heard Justice Sinha’s name being mentioned in high political circles there, for elevation to the Supreme Court. Justice Sinha was shrewd enough to understand the implications. He said that he is too small a man for that big chair. 

The loneliness of Mehbooba Mufti

March 21, 2016 
As the gulf between the Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party widens, and alienation grows in the Valley, a long spell of Governor’s Rule seems likely
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries…” — Shakespeare in ‘Julius Caesar’
On such a sea Mehbooba Mufti was afloat, and needed to take the tide as it served her. But she dilly-dallied after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s passing away — four days, 15 days, 40 days of mourning were respected and granted to her, yet more than several weeks later she is still where she was, far more vulnerable. She did not seem to understand that time was not on her side and Delhi’s patience was wearing thin. Just as Mufti Sahab’s press conference on March 1, 2015 after his swearing-in as Chief Minister, in which he thanked the separatists and Pakistan for the success of the Assembly elections, got him into trouble with Delhi — something some people never forgave him for — so also Ms. Mufti has said or implied too much, widening the gulf between her and Delhi. And she is not Mufti Sahab.

Delhi’s hardened stance
Whatever reservations Delhi may have had about Ms. Mufti — and Delhi always has reservations about Kashmiri leaders — it was willing in the first flush after her father’s demise to accommodate her. She was then the undisputed leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and attracted sympathy. Since then, Delhi’s stance has hardened even as she has appeared more conciliatory at times. But too much time has passed, too much has happened, and distrust has grown between Delhi and the PDP. To dawdle in politics is to court trouble — in Jammu and Kashmir, it is asking for it.
The PDP rumour mill, fanned mostly by its ministers, has been working overtime to suggest that government formation was on the cards. First it was suggested that a new government may be sworn in on March 1, exactly a year from when Mufti Sahab became Chief Minister last year; then somebody said mid-March; and just the other day someone suggested March 27 even as the story was already over.
The argument in the PDP camp has been that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was more desperate for power. Possibly so, but not Ms. Mufti. When the PDP talks of confidence-building measures (CBMs), it has run out of opticians. The one unequivocal CBM that Ms. Mufti has sought but which has not been forthcoming is that Delhi trust her.

Embracing America’s war machines – F16 may roll out of an Indian factory

March 21, 2016 
APThere are currently 3.500-4.000 F-16s in service worldwide and with these planes expected to remain in service at least until 2030 and beyond, there will be a major market for servicing these aircraft.
The elephant in the room is not an economic question, but a strategic concern: if fighting broke out with Pakistan, would the U.S. withhold supplies
India has been up in arms, so to speak, over last month’s announcement that the U.S. proposed to sell eight F-16 combat aircraft to Pakistan.
Yet less than one week from that announcement, New Delhi got a hint that it might have a great opportunity to undercut Pakistan’s F-16 force posture – an offer from F-16 producer Lockheed Martin to add its prized fourth-generation fighter to the list of Make in India products.
Now discussions seem to be steaming forward between one of the U.S.’s top defence producers and the Government of India, with a statement to The Hindu from the office of Lockheed Martin’s India head Phil Shaw noting that they were “in discussions with the U.S. Government, the Government of India, and our Indian industry partners about potential new production F-16 aircraft to address India’s fighter recapitalisation requirements.”
While the company added that details about the aircraft and industrial offer would be determined in conjunction with the two governments in question, Lockheed Martin, and Indian industry, some within policy circles have not ruled out the possibility that the package could include “unprecedented” technology sharing or other favourable terms to woo the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Lockheed Martin’s initial expression of interest in moving its entire production line for the F-16 to India, made by Mr. Shaw at the Singapore Airshow 2016, got surprisingly meagre play in the media. The reason, perhaps, was a lack of clarity on what might in some ways be a quantum jump in bilateral defence cooperation, but in other respects may entail certain strategic-economic risks that would have to be carefully understood.

A different league from Pakistan
Rewind a few decades back to the 1980s and it is evident that U.S.-Pakistan defence cooperation in the F-16 sphere had resulted in about 76 aircraft being transferred from Washington to Islamabad. Yet for several reasons, the latest notification of sale to the U.S. Congress by the Obama administration ought not to cause Pakistan-focused panic in South Block. First, it is unclear if and how Pakistan will finance the sale. In past instances the U.S. tax payer has effectively footed the bill under the rubric of the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) facility.
On this occasion, however, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, whose committee has jurisdiction over foreign arms sales, said less than a fortnight ago that he intended to maintain a hold on the FMF subsidy for the jets over Pakistan’s “duplicity” in the U.S.-supported war against the Afghan Taliban.
Secondly, the U.S. has for the most part sold Pakistan the Block 50/52 of F-16s, whereas Block 60 is said to be on offer to India. Indeed the F-16IN Super Viper that was earlier proffered to India under the now-withdrawn Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender was said to be more advanced than the F-16 Block 60 delivered to the UAE around the same time.

Wahhabis are taking over Indian mosques, spending crores to grow: IB

August 01, 2014 
Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com
The Intelligence Bureau has sounded alarm bells in a secret report about the growth of radical Wahhabi ideology in India. Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com reports.
First up, two aspects you should know about the Wahhabis, the strictly orthodox Sunni Muslim sect, in India.

1. The current number of Wahhabi followers in India today stands at 18 lakh (1.8 million).
2. The sect has generated approximately Rs 1,700 crore (Rs 17 billion) in the past three years through funds pumped in from Saudi Arabia.
According to the Wahhabi rule book, many thousands of which are in circulation in India, its followers have to strictly adhere to the following: 
Men have to compulsorily grow beards. 
Shrines shall be forbidden. 
Every Muslim woman should wear purdah or be subject to severe punishment. 
All men should wear trousers which are above their ankles. 
Women should not be allowed to work. Exception can be made only if the family is in need. 
Men and women should not mingle together in public. 
No laughing loudly or listening to music; no dancing or watching television. 
No weeping loudly at funerals. 
Abide by the Shariat law; every offence committed shall be punishable under this law. 

The Intelligence Bureau, India's domestic intelligence agency which has been tracking the rise of Wahhabism in the country, presents a grim picture in its report.
The huge inflow of funds from Saudi Arabia is being utilised to nurture the Wahabbi sect.
According to the Intelligence Bureau report, Rs 800 crore (Rs 8 billion) is being spent to set up four Wahhabi universities; 40 mosques are being constructed at a cost of Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion); Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) is being spent to take over the administration of existing mosques, and Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) to set up madrassas across the country.
An IB source told this correspondent, "We keep alerting the police and other agencies about it(the easy flow of funds); more needs to be done. We had issued a warning ahead of Eid, as this is the period when the donations peak," the IB agent added.
The radical Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, which first set up base in Kashmir, is spearheading Wahabbi operations across India. Having persuaded around 400 mosques in Kashmir to follow its ideology, the Wahabbis have now targetted Maharashtra and Kerala.

Although the Maharashtra government is in denial about the rise of Wahhabism in the state, Wahhabis control over 40 mosques in Maharashtra.
Wahabbis have taken over at least 75 mosques in Kerala, the IB report says.
Signs of a Wahhabi presence have also been reported from Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka.

Towards a Himalayan Consensus

Nirupama Rao, Mar 21, 2016, 
Let the shared history be a rough guide to the future
CONSENSUS eludes much of our political discourse, today. It would seem that polarisation is often the name of the game. The closed mind confines us.
Despite this, the concept of a Himalayan Consensus is compelling. The Himalayas are an abode of light, of sacred meaning, a mandala of integrated spaces and composite cultures from the Hindu Kush in the west where the Pamirs can be touched, to the trailing ranges of the borderlands of North-East India and Myanmar. This great fringe that marks the frontiers between South Asia and Central Asia, including Tibet, holds the secrets of our future — in terms of climate, water, sustainability, preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, transport and communications, disaster management and prevention and human security. Can we elude sovereignties and cartographic lines to protect and advance the interests of the people-in-between, the millions who inhabit the geography of the Hindu Kush Himalaya? 
How do countries like India and China forge a new idea of peaceful coexistence for this inner Asian heartland that accesses peace, tranquility and happiness — the essential meaning of the Sanskrit term ‘Shambhala’? The definition of an uninterrupted Asia should aspire to uniting Shambhala and Mahasagara — the Himalayan and ocean space that make our weather, have defined the movement of our peoples across history, have created empires of the mind, and of commerce, meeting at the crossroads of cultural values and material progress. 
In 1983, Sunderlal Bahuguna, summarising his 5,000-km 300-day walk through the Himalaya wrote the following in his report to the Unicef: “The Himalayan crisis is not an isolated event. It has roots in the materialistic civilisation, in the spiral of demands, ever-increasing but never satisfied. Even the renewable resources become non-renewable due to over exploitation. The air and water pollution, acid rains and barren stretches, familiar today in many countries, are the gifts of this civilisation.
“... the viable answer to the ecological imbalance is to adopt a new development strategy in which man and nature coexist in harmony. This in turn is possible only if small communities are allowed to meet their own basic needs. The perils of centralised production systems were anticipated at the beginning of this century. As we move towards its end, the challenge is to implement a programme of survival…to summon the blessings of science in the service of the people.”
Much remains to be done to fulfil this people-centred goal of sustainable development. Regional connectivity must advance local livelihoods. We aim for interconnected electricity grids and ambitious power generation projects that harness mountain rivers, but where are the peoples of the Himalaya, of the Hindu Kush? They inhabit divided homelands. Ambitiously conceived economic corridors to the sea, aim to bridge mountains and river valleys across ancient habitats, defying nature and traditional custom. Little attention is paid to the aspirations of local communities. 
Recently, the ICIMOD, which is headquartered in Kathmandu, brought out the Himalayan Climate and Water Atlas tracing the impact of climate change on water resources in five of Asia’s major river basins: Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganga, Salween and Mekong. It showed that the region’s climate, which has been changing rapidly, will continue to do so in the future, with severe consequences for populations locally and downstream. 

India's New Strategy For Pak Terror Attacks by Taboola Sponsored Links Sponsored

A general alert has been sounded across cities in India for a possible terror strike by a group of terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan.
That warning originates in an unprecedented move from Pakistan- National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was told about the terrorists entering india by his counterpart, Nasser Khan Janjua.
However, across the border, the Sindh government has warned that "India will try to avenge the Pathankot (the airbase attack) incident" and that the likely target will be a military base.
Pakistan's move is seen as little more than a transparent and cliched attempt to press upon the international community that India is responsible for its share of cross-border attacks.
So are these twin developments pulling the India - Pakistan relationship in different directions at a time of vulnerability?

General Janjua's call to Ajit Doval does not mean that Pakistan has turned a new leaf and wants to be seen as "law-abiding, good boys" according to a government source.
This possibility can be ruled out is the general consensus.
Not withstanding its many denials, it is no secret that Pakistan uses the Lashkar-e- Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed as instruments of state.
Therefore, General Janjua's call to New Delhi is being read as a "mitigating" factor, most likely an effort to gain some acceptance in the international community at a time when Pakistan is negotiating the sale of F-16s from the USA.

It, however, opens a window of opportunity for India. It will be difficult for Pakistan to arm and train terrorist groups, while keeping India informed about when some of them infiltrate Kashmir or other border states. That would mean the Pakistani establishment risks being badly cornered within the country, in particular with the powerful military and ISI.
That leaves us with the alert issued in Pakistan. Is India, in a break from the past, leveraging all its advantages and international support to consider striking back in unconventional ways?
At one level, India has launched a massive diplomatic effort to isolate Pakistan from it old friends and allies especially in the Gulf - something that hasn't been done in the past.

** Osama bin Laden’s Files: The Pakistani government wanted to negotiate

BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | March 9, 2015 |
Recently released files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that parts of the Pakistani government made attempts to negotiate with al Qaeda in 2010. The letters were released as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted on terrorism charges by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month.
One of the files is a letter written by Atiyah Abd al Rahman (“Mahmud”), who was then the general manager of al Qaeda, to Osama bin Laden (identified as Sheikh Abu Abdallah) in July 2010. The letter reveals a complicated game involving al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, and Pakistan’s intelligence service.
“Regarding the negotiations, dear Sheikh, I will give you an overview, may God support me in this,” Rahman wrote. “The Pakistani enemy has been corresponding with us and with Tahreek-i-Taliban (Hakeemullah) for a very short time, since the days of Hafiz, may God have mercy on him.” Hakeemullah Mehsud was the head of the Pakistani Taliban at the time. The “Hafiz” mentioned is Mustafa Abu Yazid (Sheikh Saeed al Masri), who served as al Qaeda’s general manager prior to his death in May 2010. Rahman succeeded Yazid in that role.
“We discussed the matter internally, then we talked with Abu-Muhammad later once we were able to resume correspondence with him,” Rahman explained. “Abu-Muhammad” is the nom de guerre of Ayman al Zawahiri. As a result of these discussions, al Qaeda was willing to broker a deal in which the jihadists’ would ease off the Pakistanis so long as the military and intelligence services stopped fighting al Qaeda and its allies.
“Our decision was this: We are prepared to leave you be. Our battle is primarily against the Americans. You became part of the battle when you sided with the Americans,” Rahman wrote, explaining al Qaeda’s position towards the Pakistani government. “If you were to leave us and our affairs alone, we would leave you alone. If not, we are men, and you will be surprised by what you see; God is with us.”

Al Qaeda’s negotiating tactic was simple. Either the Pakistanis leave them alone, or they would suffer more terrorist attacks. Rahman’s letter reveals how bin Laden’s men sought to convey their message. They relied on Siraj Haqqani, the senior leader of the Haqqani Network, which has long been supported by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.
Rahman summarized al Qaeda’s plan thusly: “We let slip (through Siraj Haqqani, with the help of the brothers in Mas’ud and others; through their communications) information indicating that al Qaeda and Tahreek-i-Taliban [the Pakistani Taliban] have big, earth shaking operations in Pakistan, but that their leaders had halted those operations in an attempt to calm things down and relieve the American pressure.”
“But if Pakistan does any harm to the Mujahidin in Waziristan, the operations will go forward, including enormous operations ready in the heart of the country,” Rahman explained. This is the message al Qaeda “leaked out through several outlets.”