3 January 2014

India’s Pak follies

Published on The Asian Age (http://www.asianage.com)
By editor
Created 2 Jan 2014

We have been committing one folly after another and scoring repeated self-goals in Kashmir. Although we keep parroting that Kashmir is an integral part, we have no roadmap to ensure that.

We have been committing one folly after another and scoring repeated self-goals in Kashmir. Although we keep parroting that Kashmir is an integral part, we have no roadmap to ensure that.

I have been associated with military operations in Kashmir from day one — October 27, 1947. I served for over a decade in different Army ranks and in all regions of Kashmir. I also served as governor of the state from 2003-2008. Based on this long and varied experience, I feel that we have been committing one folly after another and scoring repeated self-goals in Kashmir. Although we keep parroting that Kashmir is an integral part of India, we have no roadmap to ensure that it always remains so. We hope that a solution would emerge through dialogue. We also believe that through generous Central aid to Kashmir for development, we will win over the people. Per capita Central aid to Kashmir has been about 11 times more than to our less developed states. The US has given several billion dollars as aid to Pakistan. Our Central government has given several billion rupees as aid to Kashmir. This massive aid has failed to achieve the desired results. Pakistan continues to regard the US as enemy number one. Similarly, the huge Indian aid for development in Kashmir has had no effect among the separatists. In fact, their number and hostility towards India have been increasing.

All princely states in the subcontinent acceded to India or Pakistan on the basis of the Instrument of Accession drafted during the British regime, except Balochistan and Kashmir. On August 4, 1947, a Special Agreement was signed at Delhi by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Khan of Kalat (ruler of Balochistan). Jinnah had been the attorney of the Khan and was generous to him. This agreement provided for Balochistan reverting to its pre-1876 status. It was incorporated by the British in their Indian Empire in that year. This meant that Balochistan became independent on August 14, 1947, when Pakistan got its freedom. But, in January 1948, during the Khan’s visit to Karachi, the then capital of Pakistan, Jinnah forced the Khan to sign the Instrument of Accession. The people of Balochistan repudiated this. They immediately rose in armed revolt against Pakistan under the leadership of the Khan’s brother, Prince Karim Khan. Insurgency in Balochistan has continued since then to date. Pakistani Army has been brutally using offensive airpower and heavy artillery to suppress the revolt.

Of noble mind and of Nobel stature

December 29, 2013
Swati Datta

Rabindranath Tagore

A hundred years ago, a slender book — the English Gitanjali of Tagore — caught the world unawares. Wearing a deceptively frail look, the book has ever since arched over temporal and spatial distances to enthral hearts and incite critical responses. It was for this English Gitanjali that Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in November 1913.

That was a historic moment. The award at once catapulted Tagore — first Asian to receive it — to international centre stage. Concurrently, it aroused an otherwise complacent West into taking a formal and serious note of the importance and opulence of a culture, philosophy and literature that were ‘different’ from their own. The award undeniably attracted western acclaim; and, the prized work comprised the complexities of Tagore translating in British India his own Bengali compositions into the colonisers’ tongue.

Per Hallstrom, Member-Secretary of the Nobel Committee, acceded that “… no poet in Europe since the death of Goethe in 1882 can rival Tagore in noble humanity, in unaffected greatness, in classical tranquillity.” W.B. Yeats, in his ‘Introduction’ to the English Gitanjali, hailed the collection as the “…work of a supreme culture …” The press too abounded in news about Rabindranath as recipient of the Nobel Award. The Daily Chronicle, November 14, 1913, regarded it as “a remarkable event in the history of the World’s literature. … He [Rabindranath] has built a bridge between East and West …” Pall Mall Gazette, 14 November 1913, lauded the decision thus, “The Nobel Trustees have never fulfilled their trust more thoroughly…”

However, not all quarters were equally liberal and cosmopolitan in their appreciation. The Globe, Toronto, Canada, on June 16, 1914, commented: “It is the first time that the Nobel Prize has gone to any one who is not what we call ‘white’…” Earlier, The New York Times, November 14, 1913, bore a similar remark and even misspelt the poet’s name as ‘Babindranath’; eager to restore its liberal stance, the next day, the paper fumbled further: “Babindranath Tagore, if not exactly one of us, is, as an Aryan, a distant relation of all white folk.”

The eulogies so ebulliently showered upon Tagore and his rising fame also seemed to disturb the composure of the West.

Apprehensive of the overwhelming versatility of his creative personality, of his keen socio-political awareness and intellectual fibre, the West opportunely stressed the strains of piety and devotion in the English Gitanjali in a desperate attempt to stereotype the multifaceted laureate as a ‘mystic’.

The captivating power of Tagore’s English Gitanjali, however, lies in its life-affirming voice and nobility of thought. Not surprisingly, it endeared itself to a World War-ravaged European psyche. Tagore’s son Rathindranath recounts that Clemenceau had sent the Comtesse de Noailles to read out to him poems from Gitanjali on the evening the armistice was declared after the First World War. Tagore also received a letter dated, August 1, 1920, from Wilfred Owen’s mother, after the poet’s death in World War I; it read: “… It is nearly two years ago that my dear eldest son went out to the War for the last time … — when he, my poet son, said those wonderful words of yours — beginning at ‘When I go from hence, let this be my parting word’ — and when his pocket book came back to me — I found these words written in his dear writing — with your name beneath …”

Indo-Pak DGsMO Meeting: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back


January 2, 2014

In the backdrop of repeated ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC), the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGsMO) of both the counties met on the Pakistani side of the Wagah border on December 24, 2013. According to the joint statement issued after this interaction1, the meeting took place in a cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere. While that is heartening, the outcome of the meeting is a grim reminder of the fact that, at times, agreeing to talk can, in itself, sometimes be an achievement of sorts when it comes to the relations between the two countries.

According to the joint statement both the DGsMO showed commitment to maintain the sanctity of, and ceasefire on, the LoC and agreed to re-energize the existing mechanisms; consensus was developed to make the hotline contact between the two DGsMO more effective and result oriented; it was decided to inform each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crosses the LoC in order to ensure his/her early return; it was agreed that two flag meetings between brigade commanders will be held on the LoC in near future; and, finally, both sides reiterated the resolve and commitment to continue efforts for ensuring ceasefire, peace and tranquillity on the LoC.

Shorn of its rhetoric, the only tangible outcome discernible from the joint statement is the agreement on staging two flag meetings at the LoC. Even this tangible outcome could eventually result in an intangible outcome. Ironically, the same day the DGsMO were meeting at the Wagah border, the Defence Minister of India informed the Rajya Sabha in reply to a question that there had been 196 ceasefire violations in 2013 till December 15, as against 96 in 2012. This information was already outdated as by that time another ceasefire violation had taken place on December 20, 2013 - just four days before the meeting of the DGsMO2. It would be naive to expect that the meeting of the DGsMO will change the circumstances in which the ceasefire violations had been taking place throughout the year. To think otherwise would beg the question why the meeting was not arranged earlier if such a meeting had the potential of restoring the ceasefire.

In fact, there are some questions that need to be asked anyway. Why did the situation worsen to the extent that the DGsMO had to meet to affirm their commitment to maintain the sanctity of, and the ceasefire on, the LOC? If the DGsMO had been talking almost every week over the hotline3, why did the situation deteriorate to the extent that they had to meet face-to-face to evolve a consensus to energize the existing mechanism and to make the hotline contact between the two DGsMO more effective and result oriented? Has it not been a part of the existing understanding to inform each other when some innocent civilian crosses over to the other side? Why did it take three months for the DGsMO to meet after the prime ministers of both the countries agreed for such an interaction in New York in September when the tension on the LoC was at its peak? And, why did it have to wait till this meeting took place for the way to be paved for two flag meetings to be held on the LoC? These questions cannot be lost sight of amidst the bonhomie created by the meeting.

‘Arab Spring’: Implications for India

January 2, 2014

The wave of poplar protests called ‘Arab Spring’ started in Tunisia in December 2010 when the people protested against their ruler Ben Ali who then fled to Saudi Arabia. This raised hopes among millions of other citizens in the neighbouring Arab countries. Thus, within a short span of time the protests spread to other countries like Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and some other Gulf countries. The demands of the protesters varied from country to country but in general it included demands for political freedom, social freedom, press freedom, improved human rights conditions, economic betterment etc. The demands reflect a desire among the masses, particularly the new generation of young and educated, to be liberated from the reins of the old and authoritarian leadership and play a role in the decision making process of the state. Till date, the protests have overthrown four long serving dictators — Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. While the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria is struggling for its survival, other countries have successfully managed to suppress the protests against the regimes either by crackdown by the security forces or by promising economic and political reforms.

This has brought the region a new contour – a wave of protests for democratic reforms in an otherwise authoritarian Arab world. The regime change also carries with it the potentials of change in policies towards the neighbourhood and beyond. Throughout the uprisings, the major regional countries have fought political and diplomatic wars among themselves trying to assert their influence over the region. The Shia-Sunni war of words has come to the fore during the protests. The outside powers have taken the opportunity to strengthen their interests by intervening in the conflicts. On the whole, the regional security scenario in West Asia has worsened with the arrival of the Arab Spring.

But the prospect of democracy in the region has receded. Most regimes have been able to keep at bay, at least for the time being, the calls for change. The expectations from the Arab Spring turned out to be overambitious. The old order has reasserted itself and managed to survive for the time being. Arab spring is now commonly referred to as Arab winter, reflecting the failure of protests movements to bring about change in the region. Democracy may not have come to these countries as expected, yet the region has nevertheless changed dramatically in the last three years. The regimes have survived, but there is no surety how long will they survive. The internal and external environment has changed. What is now clear is that the change will be unpredictable and nonlinear and violence ridden. The old order will have to find new ways of surviving. Repression, inducement and cajolement seem to be the tactic.

Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee: Should the appointment be delayed further?

January 2, 2014

In early December 2013, the Indian media reported that a proposal for the creation of the post of Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) was being sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security for consideration. This came in the wake of the three Services Chief agreeing to the establishment of the post as per the recommendations of the Naresh Chandra Task Force. In this context, the Prime Minister’s address at the Combined Commanders Conference in November 2013 is significant, given his stress upon “the urgent need to establish the right structures for higher defence management and the appropriate civil-military balance in decision making that India’s complex security environment demands”. The media reports also speculated that the Permanent Chairman CoSC will be appointed with effect from 01 January 2014; however, the appointment of permanent Chairman CoSC or Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is yet to materialise. Thus the issue that merits consideration is: when will the ideal time come for the appointment of permanent CoSC; will another crisis like Kargil or Mumbai terrorist attacks lend it an urgency; and should the appointment of the Chairman CoSC be delayed further?

The three main actors involved in the process; the political leadership, the bureaucracy and the armed forces have so far lacked consensus on the appointment of the CDS and this has oft been cited as the reason for non-implementation of the same despite a number of committees comprising members from the political leadership, bureaucracy and the armed forces having recommended the appointment of CDS. Irrespective of the reasons, the real loser is the nation since a very important issue concerning national security remains unaddressed. The Prime Minister’s statement and the agreement among the three service chiefs for a permanent post, which hitherto was a roadblock, is a major breakthrough. At no time in the past have the three services been unanimous in their outlook towards the creation of CDS or the permanent Chairman CoSC, though it was recommended 13 years ago.

Though the general elections are due after a couple of months and the present government has limited time available to take major policy decisions, the need of the hour is to build a political consensus on the issue without further delay. It will be to the credit of the government if it is able to generate political consensus before the next general elections take place in 2014 and appoint a Permanent Chairman CoSC or CDS. It will be a major breakthrough in the defence reforms in the country. The bureaucracy may continue to scuttle the proposal due to insecurity in their minds of losing their turf, yet it needs to be forced upon all the stake holders to accept the decision in the national interest. The strategic community can play a proactive role for there is no valid reason for India to be depriving itself of such an essential reform. The three Service Chiefs have underlined the necessity of a Permanent Chairman CoSC by sending their unanimous recommendation to the government. Even in the US, the political leadership had to push the unwilling armed forces to accept the Goldwater Nicholas Act, 1986. This act essentially strengthened the existing Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff system. The UK is also introducing a series of reforms in its higher defence management and the Levene Report has emphasised the role and responsibilities of the politicians, bureaucracy and the military at the policy, strategic and operational levels. The experience of these two democracies emphasises the need for political direction in India as well. Any delay in appointing a CDS or Permanent Chairman CoSC could cost the nation dearly and will be at its own peril.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.

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Slow Pace of Army Modernization

IssueNet Edition| Date : 02 Jan , 2014

Arjun Tank

Strange as it may seem, Indian genius can successfully launch multiple satellites or a spacecraft to Mars but seems hopelessly ill-equipped to develop a basic armament such as a rifle, carbine or pistol. Obviously, there appears to be a huge disconnect between technical prowess and the organisational capabilities on ground.

…despite poor governance, the Indian Army with practically no modernisation of its artillery, air defence, Special Forces and an excellent 335 worth of Infantry battalions, manages to hold the external threat at bay as well as subdue the rising internal threats.

At the same time, while an energy dependent country like India, needs to modernise and create a powerful Navy with an equally lethal Air Force, New Delhi’s neglect of modernisation of its Army creates a dangerous situation placing the land borders and those who protect them under tremendous pressure. Two countries, i.e. China and Pakistan lay false claims on Indian territory. With continuous Chinese incursions nibbling away bits of Indian territories and supporting internal insurgencies and Pakistan’s export of terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy, the Indian Army has constantly been on its toes since Independence.

The bewildering variety of antiquated artillery guns – 120mm mortars, 105mm Field gun, 130mm Medium gun, 155mm Gun, 122mm Howitzer, 122mm Multi-barreled Rocket Launcher and now Pinaka and Smerch Long Range Systems are a logistician’s nightmare. Ground based air defence is practically non-existent and devoid of Control and Reporting (C&R) System. Further, air defence is in shambles as the L-60 and L-70 guns are of WW II vintage. On the other hand, the Schilka self-propelled guns, SAM and OSA-AK missiles are of early 1970s vintage. Not a single gun and missile has been acquired since then.

Tanks and ICVs are night blind without night sights. New Delhi is unable to decide between import of Thermal Imager Fire Control System (TIFCS) and Thermal Imager Stand Alone System (TISAS). Imagine Pakistan forces equipped with night vision devices sitting right behind blind Indian mechanised forces since modern wars will be fought largely at night.

The Infantry soldier fights with a WW II carbine while the terrorist is equipped with an AK-47. The DRDO has been kept in business by funneling taxpayer’s resources but the INSAS rifles and LMG have not proven successful. The Future Infantry Soldier As A System (FINSAS) project is yet to take off. The DRDO continues to copy ideas from the brochures of the western firms, guzzling huge defence budgets yet is unable to produce a simple CQB weapon such as a carbine! Communications systems remain antiquated. Fifty per cent of the infantry is yet to be equipped with Individual Combat Kit (ICK).

Big Brother is watching you

January 3, 2014
Chinmayi Arun

India has no requirements of transparency whether in the form of disclosing the quantum of interception or in the form of notification to people whose communication was intercepted

The Gujarat telephone tapping controversy is just one of many kinds of abuse that surveillance systems enable. If a relatively primitive surveillance system can be misused so flagrantly despite safeguards that the government claims are adequate, imagine what is to come with the Central Monitoring System (CMS) and Netra in place.

News reports indicate Netra — a “NEtwork TRaffic Analysis system” — will intercept and examine communication over the Internet for keywords like “attack,” “bomb,” “blast” or “kill.” While phone tapping and the CMS monitor specific targets, Netra is vast and indiscriminate. It appears to be the Indian government’s first attempt at mass surveillance rather than surveillance of predetermined targets. It will scan tweets, status updates, emails, chat transcripts and even voice traffic over the Internet (including from platforms like Skype and Google Talk) in addition to scanning blogs and more public parts of the Internet. Whistle-blower Edward Snowden said of mass-surveillance dragnets that “they were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”

So far, our jurisprudence has dealt with only targeted surveillance; and even that in a woefully inadequate manner. This article discusses the slow evolution of the right to privacy in India, highlighting the context and manner in which it is protected. It then discusses international jurisprudence to demonstrate how the right to privacy might be protected more effectively.Privacy and the Constitution

A proposal to include the right to privacy in the Constitution was rejected by the Constituent Assembly with very little debate. Separately, a proposal to give citizens an explicit fundamental right against unreasonable governmental search and seizure was also put before the Constituent Assembly. This proposal was supported by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. If accepted, it would have included within our Constitution the principles from which the United States derives its protection against state surveillance. However, the proposed amendment was rejected by the Constituent Assembly.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court has gradually been reading the right to privacy into the fundamental rights explicitly listed in the Constitution. After its initial reluctance to affirm the right to privacy in the 1954 case of M.P. Sharma vs. Satish Chandra, the court came around to the view that other rights and liberties guaranteed in the Constitution would be seriously affected if the right to privacy was not protected. In Kharak Singh vs. The State of U.P., the court recognised “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” and declared that their right against unreasonable searches and seizures was not to be violated. The right to privacy here was conceived around the home, and unauthorised intrusions into homes were seen as interference with the right to personal liberty.

Pervez Musharraf Rushed To Hospital On His Way To Court

Pervez Musharraf delayed his appearance in court once again – this time for medical reasons.
January 03, 2014

Former President and Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf was rushed to a military hospital in Rawalpindi on his way to court to stand trial for treason. According to his lawyers, Musharraf, now 70, was in intensive care for chest pains and, according to one of his aides, is in “bad shape.” According to the AP, the incident raised further doubts and skepticism among Pakistanis that Musharraf was “avoiding the embarrassment of appearing in a civilian courtroom — a reflection of the public perception that the military, a powerful force in Pakistan’s politics, is above the law.”

Nawaz Sharif’s government announced in late November that it would initiate a treason prosecution against Musharraf, a highly risky move that stood to polarize national politics in Pakistan. The incumbent civilian government alleged that Musharraf was instrumental in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and subverted the constitution of Pakistan during his term as president, when he practiced emergency rule.

So far, the trial hasn’t gone smoothly, with numerous setbacks continually delaying Musharraf’s day in court. The trial was initially supposed to commence in late December and was delayed after Pakistani security officials discovered explosives and small arms near Musharraf’s residence. His lawyer, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, said that Musharraf was initially unable to appear in court “because of security hazards.”

Musharraf’s lawyers have cited security concerns and successfully delayed the trial. His lawyers have additionally claimed that Musharraf cannot receive a fair trial in Pakistan due to a “bias” on the part of Sharif’s government. The claim might not be entirely untrue given that Sharif was removed from power in a bloodless coup at the hands of Musharraf and sent into exile. Musharraf’s trial represents the first instance in Pakistani history where a military ruler has been brought to trial by a civilian government. Pakistan’s military has generally governed the country for around half of its 66 year history.

Musharraf spoke to foreign journalists in late December when he denounced the treason charges against him as the result of a “vendetta.” He additionally claimed that he had the support of Pakistan’s army – a claim that, if true, could have terribly destabilizing effects on Pakistan’s nascent civilian government should Musharraf be convicted and sentenced to death. Musharraf alleged that the “whole army” disapproved of the treason charge.

Pervez Musharraf has made one thing clear to Nawaz Sharif and his government: he won’t be taken down easily. Pakistan began moving away from its days under Pervez Musharraf in 2013 with a series of changes, including its first successful transfer of power between civilian governments. Additionally, the army is no longer headed by Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. 2014 will test Pakistan’s resolve and Musharraf’s trial will remain highly polarizing for Pakistan.

Maldives: President Yameen: Problems being faced in settling down

Paper No. 5627 Dated 1-Jan-2014
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

In settling down, it was expected that President Yameen would face many challenges. For him the first and foremost would be to get along with other coalition partners, particularly with the Jumhooree party but for whose support he would not be in the Presidential chair. 

The second would be the dire economic situation where the country is spending more than what it should and where cost cutting measures have become an urgent necessity. Third, would be the course correction needed in the relations with India that has been considerably damaged during Waheed’s regime.

The Judiciary needs a “clean up”:

With all these, one that is hardly mentioned but one that needs immediate attention will be the reform and reorganisation of the judiciary which in my view is the weakest link in Maldives in its march towards democracy.

In an earlier paper 5509 of 14th June 2013, I had mentioned that the judiciary needs a thorough “clean up.” Since then in the presidential elections, the Supreme Court over reached itself and started interfering with the constitutional powers given to other constitutional appointees like the Election Commission. The Supreme Court suo motu issued instructions on how the elections are to be conducted in its minutest detail! We saw the full bench of the Supreme Court meeting in the night to issue executive directions to the Police and others to prevent the elections from taking place!

The latest spat between the Supreme Court and the Executive came to the fore when the Judicial council transferred ten of the judges from their present positions to other posts and this involved no loss of pay or rank. This included the transfer of the famous [sic] Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed as chief judge of Drugs court, from his present position. It may be recalled that judge Abdulla was briefly detained by the military on the orders of the former President Nasheed for unduly favouring the accused in many cases.

When the transfers were made, the Chief Justice wrote to the President on the illegality of transfer by the Judicial council in the absence of formal consultations with the Supreme Court. Since it was just an opinion, the government went along with the transfers. Stung by the action of the government in ignoring the letter, the Supreme Court has issued a “mandamus order” unilaterally halting the judicial oversight body’s decision to shuffle the Superior court judges. As it is a judicial order the government will have to obey. One of the members Hamza of the JSC termed the order as one “undermining the powers vested in the JSC according to the constitution.” Another member termed the order as “irrational”. If they say anything more on the order, I am sure the Supreme Court will issue contempt proceedings!

China denounces US for sending Uygur 'terrorists' to Slovakia

Beijing has berated Washington for releasing the last three Uygur detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Slovakia, saying they pose a threat wherever they are.
Reuters in Beijing

The US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Photo: Reuters

China’s Foreign Ministry criticised the United States on Thursday for sending the last three Uygur Chinese inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre to Slovakia, saying they were “terrorists” who posed a real security danger.

Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik, and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper are the last of 22 Muslim minority Chinese nationals to be moved from the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, according to the Pentagon.

Slovakia’s Interior Ministry confirmed that it would take in the three. Uygurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim people from China’s far western region of Xinjiang.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the three were members of the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which Beijing labels a terror group.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. Photo: Xinhua

“They are genuine terrorists. They not only threaten China’s security, they will threaten the security of the country that receives them,” he told a daily news briefing.

Senkaku Weirdness to Start Off the Year

The East China Sea has already seen a number of surprises in 2014.
January 03, 2014

No sooner had we bid farewell to a year of rising tensions in the East China Sea than 2014 was bringing us more action over the islets at the center of the dispute — only this time, things got a little strange.

We begin with news that the controversial Air-Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) extension declared by Beijing on Nov. 23—which people who worry about such things worried would increase the likelihood of war with Japan—was actually declared … in 2010.

According to a Mainichi Shimbun report on Jan. 2, senior officers from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) informed their Japanese counterparts — in secret, mind you — during a conference in May 2010 that China had already set up an ADIZ that incorporated the islands, but had yet to make the announcement public.

The Mainichi, which got a hold of the secret minutes taken at a meeting of Japanese government officials and PLA staff at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies in Beijing, writes that the zone was almost identical to that described in the November 2013 bombshell.

Perhaps the Hu Jintao regime at the time didn’t feel confident enough it could declare the ADIZ and get away with it, or felt that it lacked the means to enforce it once it was announced. But that was then, and this is now. A much more self-confident Xi Jinping is now in office, and China is a lot less reluctant to flex its muscles than it was back then. Or perhaps the PLA has a stronger voice today and prevailed upon the civilian leadership, as there indeed are signs that perhaps not everybody in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was on the same page on the issue.

So if the report is true, Japan had known for more than three years of China’s overlapping ADIZ, but chose to keep the matter secret, at least until Beijing made the matter public. Perhaps Tokyo, whose policy on the islets is to deny the very existence of contending claims, feared that making China’s ADIZ public knowledge would, well, contradict that very policy, and thereby inform the world that a dispute indeed exists. Interestingly, Japan extended its own ADIZ to include the islets (and parts of Taiwan’s airspace to boot) in June 2010 and did so in a manner that, to be fair, also lackedconsultations with affected neighbors, such as Taiwan. Until we get secret minutes from the Japanese side, we can speculate that Japan’s extension in 2010 was in fact in response to China’s unofficial ADIZ.

Does that mean much, now that we’re in 2014 and the two ADIZs are facts on the ground (and in the air)? Not really, except that it makes it much more difficult for Tokyo to deny that there is a territorial dispute over the islets and whatever natural resources might lie in their vicinity. Political scientists and historians can debate all they want over the validity of old maps and documents, and this won’t change the fact that China’s ADIZ is an attempt to “legalize” its claims to the area.

Why China Can’t Rise Quietly

China wants to achieve its goals short of war while reaping the propaganda harvest it would get from war.
January 02, 2014

There’s a hidden dialogue between Clausewitz and Sun Tzu that may help clarify the lordly attitude China takes in quarrels with Asian neighbors that defy its will. It’s all about the narrative spun for target audiences, the Chinese populace most of all. Think about it. Negotiating with ‘furriners’ entails more tedium than glory. Diplomacy is dull and drawn-out and produces gradual, amorphous results. It fires few passions among those who matter. Combat is brief and exciting and, when done right, yields immediate, concrete results. It’s a focal point for national pride. China thus appears conflicted. It wants to achieve its goals short of war while reaping the propaganda harvest it would get from war.

It’s not enough, then, for Beijing to get its way quietly in international controversies. It wants to be seen compelling others to do its bidding. For dramatic value, that’s the best substitute for victory.

It’s also a slipshod way to get to yes. Going out of your way to embarrass others is bass-ackwards from normal diplomatic practice, where the Golden Rule is never to humiliate your opposite number. Corollaries include keeping things private and non-confrontational. Following these rules, though, demands a modicum of empathy. CCP leaders either don’t grasp, or don’t care, that putting foreign officials on the spot before their constituents is a tactic sure to backfire. Unfortunately, Professor Zod seems to have been teaching Negotiations 101 when Xi Jinping & Co. took the class. Neither empathy nor tact are hallmarks of Chinese foreign relations.

The classics suggest why officialdom deliberately makes things tough on itself in dealings with China’s neighbors. Sun Tzu, for instance, opines that the sovereign or commander who prevails through non-violent means rather than feats of arms has reached the zenith of skill. To be sure, not everyone buys this logic. History vomits forth the occasional Hitler who longs to fight. In effect the Nazi supremo was a bizarro Immanuel Kant. The 18th-century German philosopher wrote a treatise aimed at perpetual peace. The 20th-century German tyrant saw perpetual war as a source of cultural nourishment and renewal. Winning-without-fighting wasn’t in Hitler’s lexicon.

Sane leaders, however, prefer to accomplish their goals without armed strife. Who’s to gainsay Master Sun? Not CCP grand poobahs, and not Clausewitz. While he’s more skeptical about the prospects for non-violent victory, Clausewitz agrees with Sun Tzu that even aggressors — even a Napoleon — love peace. Any self-respecting despot hopes his opponents will submit without resisting, saving him the effort, resources, and dangers of defeating them. So it’s true, but trivial, to observe — as China-watchers ritually do — that Beijing has no desire for war. (It’s equally true that aggressors, perhaps including China, prefer war to eschewing their dreams of fame, fortune, and conquest. The domineering have their priorities.)

Great books from the past year

FP’s Favorite Reads of 2013 As selected by the FP staff.

DECEMBER 31, 2013
Emile Simpson, FP Columnist

Carter Malkasian served for two years as the Pashto-speaking U.S. State Department political officer in the Garmser District of southern Afghanistan. He takes his inspiration from Jeffery Race, a U.S. political officer in Vietnam, who in 1972 wrote War Comes to Long An. Malkasian's account is not just one more book about Afghanistan, but a moving human story that stands alone as a classic of its genre as much as it explains in microcosm the political and cultural story of the conflict since 1978.

What is striking about the book is Malkasian's role as its narrator. On the one hand, he places the reader in and amongst the lively cast of Afghans whom he gets to know so well. We see the conflict through them: their rational and sometimes cynical calculations, their cultural and emotional obligations, the time a tribal leader is kidnapped and gets away after a fight in a car that is sinking into a canal. We understand in their words how the community is divided, united, and reformed by the pressures of war. On the other hand, Malkasian is dispassionate and almost invisible in describing his own role. He lets the reader judge the broader purpose and value of the mission. If there is a polemical subtext, it is the need for strategy to be historically attuned, and place its goals in dialogue with the hopes and fears of the actual people on the ground whom it seeks to persuade.

Hands down, my book of 2013.
Kalev Leetaru, FP Columnist
In a year dominated by headlines shining a spotlight on the dark world of secret intelligence -- one in which personal privacy seems on the verge of extinction -- I found solace in my colleague Anthony Olcott's book tracing the history and application of open sources (publicly accessible information like the news media or public social media) in intelligence. Former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence William Studeman noted in 1992 that 80 percent of useful intelligence on the collapse of the Soviet Union came from such open sources, while Former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Samuel Wilson noted in 1998 that 90 percent of intelligence in general came from open sources. The James Bond world of globe-trotting secret agents, tapped phone lines, and elite hackers might capture imaginations and grab headlines, but Open Source Intelligence in a Networked World reveals how reading those headlines a little more carefully can give us a richly detailed and actionable picture of global society without invading privacy. A former open source officer himself, Olcott's extensive involvement and background in the field leaps off the page in the rich treasure trove of examples, statistics, stories, and mindsets he chronicles and the masterful way he blends these with the broader history of the open source enterprise.

Olcott manages to transform what is often viewed as the mundane stepchild of intelligence into an exciting and gripping global thriller, where, to paraphrase Samuel Wilson, Sherlock Holmes outwits James Bond by spending a little more time thinking instead of doing. He takes the reader on a thoroughly enlightening journey that at the end leaves one not only imparted with tremendous wisdom, but all the happier and entertained for taking the ride. While he himself does not suggest this, Olcott's book in many ways presents a compelling argument that with more sophisticated and intelligent analysis of open sources, we could achieve a great many more of our intelligence needs. All it would take is for those spies in the dark to spend a little more time reading the news and a little less time making it.


Michael Weiss, FP Columnist

Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 is surely the best accounting of postwar Soviet history I've read this year, but my all my rubles still go to Andrea Pitzer's extraordinary The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov, which is in fact largely about the same subject. Nabokov's own story and how it was interwoven with his enigmatic fiction has been investigated before, but never with such keen attention to 20th century atrocities as shaping influences. Pitzer, a foreign policy hand by training, goes novel by novel to show how concentration camps, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, the Gulag, and the bomb were invisible canvases for most of Nabokov's art -- admittedly no light task given that her subject thought the pedantic Poirot approach to literature and literary biography absurd. Yet Pitzer pulls it off with such aplomb that your first instinct after reading her is to re-read all of Nabokov. She further complicates an already complicated book by arguing that Humbert Humbert is a reconstitution of the Wandering Jew, wandering around casually anti-Semitic 1950s America. The rosetta stone of The Secret History, however, is Pitzer's chapter on Pale Fire, Nabokov's other masterpiece. (I examined this section, itself a standalone book, in The Daily Beast earlier in the year.) That novel's narrator, Charles Kinbote, has been puzzled over for decades as the self-declared exiled king of a fantasy land called Zembla, one torn apart by a Bolshevik-style revolution. But might he in fact be a lunatic escapee from an arctic Soviet labor camp? Pitzer's case is persuasive.

Whatever Happened to the Forum for the Future

DECEMBER 27, 2013

But it was not only the venue that made this Forum for the Future -- never a dazzling success over its nine years of existence -- into a sad parody of what it was intended to be. Its original goals were: for officials from G8 countries to encourage Middle Eastern governments to undertake political and economic reforms; to enable indigenous civil society activists and private sector leaders to raise issues of concern and thus be seen as a legitimate part of the reform debate; and for their governments to be compelled to listen and respond.

From the outset the forum was hobbled by the organizers' tendency to water down the agenda and to engage a fairly narrow slice of Arab civil society -- mostly "partners" rather than critics of regional governments. Some of the authors of the forum, initiated in 2004 by the United States as part of President George W. Bush's "Freedom Agenda," noted as early as 2008 that it suffered from inattention during the latter years of the Bush administration and had failed to deliver on its modest potential. Still, in some years, a number of respected Arab activists and reformers did attend and used the forum to challenge their governments' hollow reform narratives as well as to offer alternative visions of change.

The quality of discussion and tangible output was uneven over the years, but the final communiqué from the 2012 Forum in Tunis (co-hosted by the United States) stands out as an especially strong endorsement of political rights and freedoms. Even though Arab governments largely ignored such declarations, the idea was that activists and G8 governments could use them as a standard to which those governments had ostensibly agreed.

And the forum served on and off as a place for major policy statements, such as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks at the January 2011 forum in Qatar, in which she highlighted the demands of Arab youth and warned presciently before an audience of uncomfortable Arab officials that "the region's foundations are sinking into the sand." Her speech came just one day before mass protests in Tunisia forced former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.

Northeast Asia: Top 5 Security Stories of 2013

A look back at the stories most likely to have implications going forward in 2014.
By Robert E. Kelly
January 02, 2014

It’s that time of year when analysts everywhere throw out predictions of the year to come and retrospectives of the past year. It’s practically impossible to build a fair metric for these things, but it is fun to try. Here I define consequentiality as those events likely to shape future events on large geopolitical questions in northeast Asia, specifically commerce and conflict. Here is one such list from the Financial Timeson Asia. And here is mine:

1. The expansion of the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)

This strikes me as the most important regional geopolitical event of the year, because it effectively ratifies what many analysts have suspected of coming for a long time – a Sino-Japanese competition over Asia, with the U.S. hovering in the background, tilting toward Japan. This will be the defining competition of Asia for the next several decades, and the trend-lines broadly favor China – Japan and the U.S. are in decline relative to China.

It is true that China has been playing tough in Southeast Asia for awhile. But Japan is a significantly more important opponent for China than any player in Southeast Asia. Japan is the world’s third largest GDP, right behind China itself. It is far more capable of fighting and defeating China than anyone else in Asia. China and Japan have tangled on-off since the nineteenth century over regional primacy, so there is plenty of bad blood. The U.S. is a close ally with Japan, so any Chinese pressure on Japan inevitably chain-gangs in the U.S. Where the U.S. might duck Chinese pressure on the Philippines, it cannot on Japan. And northeast Asia is far more compact than the South China Sea. As the overlapping ADIZs suggest, there is a lot of “lateral pressure” in this crowded neighborhood.

2. The Spring War Crisis with North Korea

At the time, this was a huge story, an Asian version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Last spring North Korea threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States, warned all foreigners to leave South Korea, and threatened a count-down to war. The media took this extraordinarily seriously at the time. CNN and cable news services ran regular (poorly informed) panels on what a war with North Korea would look like. Everyone seemed to agree that it was the most serious war crisis since the war itself. (It also gave us the greatest Kim Jong Un humor to date.)

Russia and China Headed for an Inevitable Geopolitical Clash

Paper No. 5628 Dated 02-Jan-2013
By Dr Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

Russia’s “Great Power Aspirations” and China’s “Chinese Dream” (euphemism for China’s bid for global power status on par with United States) inherently carry the seed of an inevitable geopolitical clash of interests.

The so-called Russia-China strategic nexus amounts to nothing more than strategic expediency which could dissolve anytime with China’s propensity for strategic swings.

Russia and China have seemingly stood glued loosely together only because United States foreign policy formulations towards both Russia and China have been strategically naïve.

Russia’s strategic pivot to Asia Pacific has set the cat amongst the pigeons in so far as China and the United States are concerned.

United States and China have seemingly been forced into a reactive foreign policy mode in face of the pro-active foreign policy initiatives of Russia’s strategic pivot to Asia Pacific.

Reverting to the main theme of the inevitability of a Russia-China geopolitical clash is the singular fact that in Chinese strategic calculations as it proceeds with its “Chinese Dream”, it envisages a new bipolar global power structure comprising United States and China. China has ruled out Russia from emerging as a “Great Power”

This in itself and by itself adds to the inevitability of a geopolitical clash of interests between Russia and China,

Russia and China Clash of Geopolitical Interests in North East Asia

Both during the Cold War and more in focus now is the strategic reality that North East Asia was a region of intense geopolitical rivalry. It is in this region that the strategic interests of the United States, Russia and China intersect significantly.

In recent times North East Asia has been witness to a number of significant strategic developments. China has sharpened its adversarial postures against Japan bordering on military brinkmanship. Both United States and Russia have strategically pivoted to Asia Pacific in which Japan emerges as the lynch-pin of both their strategic initiatives. Japan prodded by China’s intransigence and military brinkmanship has embarked on enhancement of its military profile.

Russia’s strategic opening to Japan in 2013 and holding of the Russia-Japan 2+2 Talks promises to be a strategic game changer for North East Asia.

Russia’s political and strategic reach-out to Japan is significant in that Russian initiative comes at a time when China is engaged in adversarial games of coercion against Japan. Surely, this significance would not have been lost on China.

The Crisis of the Middle Class and American Power

Geopolitical Weekly
DECEMBER 31, 2013

Editor's Note: The following Geopolitical Weekly originally ran in January 2013.

By George Friedman

When I wrote about the crisis of unemployment in Europe, I received a great deal of feedback. Europeans agreed that this is the core problem while Americans argued that the United States has the same problem, asserting that U.S. unemployment is twice as high as the government's official unemployment rate. My counterargument is that unemployment in the United States is not a problem in the same sense that it is in Europe because it does not pose a geopolitical threat. The United States does not face political disintegration from unemployment, whatever the number is. Europe might.

At the same time, I would agree that the United States faces a potentially significant but longer-term geopolitical problem deriving from economic trends. The threat to the United States is the persistent decline in the middle class' standard of living, a problem that is reshaping the social order that has been in place since World War II and that, if it continues, poses a threat to American power.

The Crisis of the American Middle Class

The median household income of Americans in 2011 was $49,103. Adjusted for inflation, the median income is just below what it was in 1989 and is $4,000 less than it was in 2000. Take-home income is a bit less than $40,000 when Social Security and state and federal taxes are included. That means a monthly income, per household, of about $3,300. It is urgent to bear in mind that half of all American households earn less than this. It is also vital to consider not the difference between 1990 and 2011, but the difference between the 1950s and 1960s and the 21st century. This is where the difference in the meaning of middle class becomes most apparent.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the median income allowed you to live with a single earner -- normally the husband, with the wife typically working as homemaker -- and roughly three children. It permitted the purchase of modest tract housing, one late model car and an older one. It allowed a driving vacation somewhere and, with care, some savings as well. I know this because my family was lower-middle class, and this is how we lived, and I know many others in my generation who had the same background. It was not an easy life and many luxuries were denied us, but it wasn't a bad life at all.

Europe’s Ukrainian Blunder

Joschka Fischer was German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2005, a term marked by Germany's strong support for NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999, followed by its opposition to the war in Iraq. Fischer entered electoral politics after participating in the anti-establishment… read more

DEC 31, 2013 3

BERLIN – The European Union has probably never experienced anything like it before: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government pretended to negotiate an association agreement, only to back out at the last minute. EU leaders felt duped; in Moscow, however, the mood was celebratory.

As we now know, Yanukovych’s real motivation for the negotiations was to raise the price that Russia would have to pay to keep Ukraine in its strategic orbit. Only a few days later, Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a Russian loan worth $15 billion, a cut in natural-gas prices, and various trade agreements.

From Yanukovych’s point of view, this agreement made sense in the short run: the gas deal would help Ukraine survive the winter, the loan would help keep it from defaulting on its debt, and the Russian market, on which the economy depends, would remain open. In the medium term, however, by rejecting the EU and embracing Russia, Ukraine faces the risk of losing its independence – on which the post-Soviet order in Europe depends.

In terms of its strategic orientation, Ukraine is a divided country. Its eastern and southern regions (especially Crimea) want to return to Russia, whereas its western and northern regions insist on moving toward Europe. For the foreseeable future, this domestic conflict can be resolved, if at all, only with a lot of violence involved, as the ongoing mass protests in Kyiv suggest. But no sensible person can seriously desire such an outcome. Ukraine needs a peaceful, democratic solution, and this will be found only within the status quo.

The Geopolitics of the Gregorian Calendar

AnalysisJANUARY 1, 2014 |


When England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, some 170 years after it was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on Sept. 2, and not have to get up until Sept. 14." Indeed, nearly two weeks evaporated into thin air in England when it transitioned from the Julian calendar, which had left the country 11 days behind much of Europe. Such calendrical acrobatics are not unusual. The year 46 B.C., a year before Julius Caesar implemented his namesake system, lasted 445 days and later became known as the "final year of confusion."

In other words, the systems used by mankind to track, organize and manipulate time have often been arbitrary, uneven and disruptive, especially when designed poorly or foisted upon an unwilling society. The history of calendrical reform has been shaped by the egos of emperors, disputes among churches, the insights of astronomers and mathematicians, and immutable geopolitical realities. Attempts at improvements have sparked political turmoil and commercial chaos, and seemingly rational changes have consistently failed to take root.

Today, as we enter the 432nd year guided by the Gregorian calendar, reform advocates argue that the calendar's peculiarities and inaccuracies continue to do widespread damage each year. They say the current system unnecessarily subjects businesses to numerous calendar-generated financial complications, confusion and reporting inconsistencies. In years where Christmas and New Year's Day each fall on a weekday, for example, economic productivity is essentially paralyzed for the better part of two weeks, and one British study found that moving a handful of national holidays to the weekend would boost the United Kingdom's gross domestic product by around 1 percent.

The Gregorian calendar's shortcomings are magnified by the fact that multiple improvements have been formulated, proposed to the public and then largely ignored over the years -- most recently in 2012, with the unveiling of a highly rational streamlined calendar that addresses many of the Gregorian calendar's problems. According to the calendar's creators, it would generate more than $100 billion each year worldwide and "break the grip of the world-wide consensus that embraces a second-rate calendar imposed by a Pope over 400 years ago." This attempt, like many of the others, has received some media attention but has thus far failed to gain any meaningful traction with policymakers or the wider public.

A Deadly Mix in Benghazi

December 28, 2013
Benghazi, Libya

ABOYISH-LOOKING AMERICAN DIPLOMAT was meeting for the first time with the Islamist leaders of eastern Libya’s most formidable militias.

It was Sept. 9, 2012. Gathered on folding chairs in a banquet hall by the Mediterranean, the Libyans warned of rising threats against Americans from extremists in Benghazi. One militia leader, with a long beard and mismatched military fatigues, mentioned time in exile in Afghanistan. An American guard discreetly touched his gun.

“Since Benghazi isn’t safe, it is better for you to leave now,” Mohamed al-Gharabi, the leader of the Rafallah al-Sehati Brigade, later recalled telling the Americans. “I specifically told the Americans myself that we hoped that they would leave Benghazi as soon as possible.”

Yet as the militiamen snacked on Twinkie-style cakes with their American guests, they also gushed about their gratitude for President Obama’s support in their uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. They emphasized that they wanted to build a partnership with the United States, especially in the form of more investment. They specifically asked for Benghazi outlets of McDonald’s and KFC.

The diplomat, David McFarland, a former congressional aide who had never before met with a Libyan militia leader, left feeling agitated, according to colleagues. But the meeting did not shake his faith in the prospects for deeper involvement in Libya. Two days later, he summarized the meeting in a cable to Washington, describing a mixed message from the militia leaders.

Despite “growing problems with security,” he wrote, the fighters wanted the United States to become more engaged “by ‘pressuring’ American businesses to invest in Benghazi.”

The cable, dated Sept. 11, 2012, was sent over the name of Mr. McFarland’s boss, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Later that day, Mr. Stevens was dead, killed with three other Americans in Benghazi in the most significant attack on United States property in 11 years, since Sept. 11, 2001.