1 April 2014

’62 war and India’s China policy


Henderson Brooks' review confined to operational tasking
Gen V. P. Malik (retd)

IN analysing any armed conflict, two aspects have great importance. Why did it happen, or what were the geo-political and strategic circumstances which led to the conflict? And, how was it fought on the ground? The Henderson Brooks' Operational Review (HB Review) of the 1962 India-China war, long overdue for de-classification and academic study, deals with the latter part. It was tasked only to look at training, equipment, system of command, physical fitness of the troops and capacity of the military commanders at all levels to influence the men under their command. For inexplicable reasons, General Chaudhury, who took over as Army Chief on November 19, 1962, advised the authors not to review the functioning of Army Headquarters (AHQ). As a result, the role of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), its relationship with the AHQ and the directions given to it by the former were not examined. The HB Review and its lessons thus deal only with operational tasking, logistics, staff duties and military leadership issues at the operational and tactical levels.

Since the Review was ordered by the Army Chief, follow-up action to correct shortcomings in the Army was prompt. I recall that several exercises e.g. Exercise Ram Ban and Ram Chakor were conducted in 1963 to learn more about mountain warfare and make necessary organisational changes. These resulted in the creation of mountain divisions, modification of infantry battalions and many other units for their role in the mountains. A better prepared Army for mountain warfare performed well in Kargil in the 1965 Indo-Pak war and in the India-China skirmish at Natula in 1967.

It is also important to note that since 1962, due to technological upgrade of military weapons and equipment, our military strategy, doctrines, command and control system and tactics have undergone substantial changes. This Review, therefore, has little relevance today except for military leadership issues, perennial deficiencies and in some cases antiquity of authorised weapons and equipment.

That brings me to the first, more important geo-political and strategic aspect because military preparedness, operational planning and tactics must flow from policy and grand strategy. Have we learnt lessons from that part of this disastrous war?

The armed conflict resulted from a chain of strategic events which started in 1950 when the Chinese PLA, after defeating Khampas in the battle of Chamdo, occupied Tibet. Within a month, on November 7, Sardar Patel wrote a detailed letter to Nehru giving the geo-strategic and security implications of the event and his cautionary advice on this issue. Nehru ignored it. He had a mindset on China. Patel's advice was not discussed in the Cabinet. It was confined to a vault for the next 18 years. Instead, our government assisted the PLA in routing its logistical requirement through Calcutta Port and Kalimpong.

Maxwell released report to expose Nehru’s mistakes that forced war on China

Published: April 1, 2014
Ananth Krishnan

Veteran Australian journalist Neville Maxwell has said he chose to make public the classified 1962 Sino-Indian war report to “rid Indian opinion of the delusion” that the war had been the result of “an unprovoked Chinese aggression” and to expose mistakes made by Jawaharlal Nehru that “forced the war on China.”

In his first comments following his decision to make public last month the still classified Henderson Brooks war report, the release of which was first reported by The Hindu and subsequently triggered wide debate on the legacy of the war, Mr. Maxwell told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that by doing so he had “deprive[d] the Government of India the excuse they’ve used to keep it secret, the false claim that it was to preserve national security”.

He said: “I hope to achieve what I have been trying to do for nearly 50 years! To rid Indian opinion of the induced delusion that in 1962 India was the victim of an unprovoked surprise Chinese aggression, to make people in India see that the truth was that it was mistakes by the Indian government, specifically Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, that forced the war on China.”

Mr. Maxwell said in the interview he had been trying “for years” to make the report public, including by making it available to several newspapers in India in 2012. The newspapers chose not to publish. His website has, however, been inaccessible in India after The Hindu reported that the war report had been made public. He said the website “collapsed under its own weight” and “not because of government censorship” as some Indian media reports suggested.

Mr. Maxwell repeated his long-held view that “all that talk about China’s ‘unprovoked aggression’ is utterly false, the truth is that India was the aggressor in 1962” — views he expressed in his 1970 book India’s China War.

Mr. Maxwell’s conclusions that China was all the while focussed on peaceful settlement and that India was to blame entirely for the war have, however, been questioned by other scholars, including John W. Garver.

Even in China, many scholars today see many factors, beyond Nehru’s mistaken “forward policy,” at play in China’s decision to launch an attack, from domestic turbulence in the wake of the 1958 Great Leap Forward famine to unrest in Tibet.


Colombo Correction

C. Raja Mohan | | April 1, 2014

The problem of reconciling the tension between the national and the regional on foreign policy-making is not going to disappear after the elections.

UPA finally breaks its habit of putting party interest over national interest.

The UPA government’s decision to abstain on a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week was indeed unexpected. In the last two years, India had backed the West-sponsored resolutions on Sri Lanka’s human rights violations during Colombo’s victorious war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which ended in 2009.

If India’s earlier position was about pandering to the Congress party’s allies in Chennai, its reversal this year has come amid the ruling party’s political isolation in Tamil Nadu. With apparently little to gain from further appeasement, the UPA government has chosen to do the right thing.

In a terrible irony, the more Delhi bowed to the Tamil parties in Chennai, the less clout it had in promoting the rights of the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka. The about turn in Geneva on Sri Lanka, then, is a belated but welcome corrective to one of the UPA’s worst foreign policy legacies — of putting the Congress party’s narrow political considerations above the national interest.

In its first term, the UPA, under pressure from the CPM, made heavy weather of the historic civil nuclear initiative with the United States unveiled in 2005. Instead of vigorously defending the deal — which sought to end India’s prolonged global nuclear isolation — Congress president Sonia Gandhi pulled the plug in 2007. It was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s apparent threat to resign in mid-2008 that allowed the clinching of the deal, with great political difficulty.

The reluctance to pursue what was in plain national interest became even more telling in the second term of the UPA. In 2010, Manmohan Singh boldly decided to transform the bilateral relationship with Bangladesh by resolving all outstanding issues, including cross-border terrorism, market access, transit, river water sharing and the cleaning up of a messy boundary inherited from the partition of the subcontinent.

When the big moment for signing the agreements came in September 2011, during Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka, the prime minister held back on the Teesta waters agreement as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threw a tantrum. Although the prime minister went ahead and signed the land boundary agreement with Dhaka, UPA 2 found it difficult to mobilise political support at home for its ratification in Parliament.


Tuesday, 01 April 2014 | A Surya Prakash |

Responsibility for the series of naval mishaps in recent years cannot stop with the Navy chief. It has to go up to the bureaucracy at the Ministry of Defence and the political executive at the top

The tragic loss of lives in submarine accidents and the sudden exit of the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral DK Joshi, owning “moral responsibility” for the series of disastrous accidents in submarines and warships had turned the spotlight on the crisis within the Indian Navy in regard to a whole range of issues, from non-availability of equipment, obsolescence, poor maintenance and the tragic consequences of extending the Indian trait of jugaad to military matters. But, strangely neither the top bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence nor the politicians who are primarily responsible for the current state of affairs have displayed the gumption to take their share of the blame.

The last six months have been the most troubling months for the Indian Navy because of the series of mishaps. While there could be maintenance and discipline related issues, most analysts feel that accountability should not stop with the Navy chief. It must go up to the bureaucracy in the Ministry of Defence, headed by the Defence Secretary, the Minister of Defence and the political executive because often, the problems faced by the Armed Forces relate to lethargy and inordinate delays in decision-making, specially in regard to procurement of equipment and spares.

This is the reason why defence Services have to cannibalise equipment and ‘somehow’ keep the show going. This approach however can place our soldiers, sailors and airmen in peril even in peace time and this is the point that has been emphasised by the brother of one of the naval officers who died in a recent accident. The officer had told his family that the submarine he was assigned to was not in a fit condition.

Generally, the Union Government takes anywhere from 10 to 15 years to eventually sign a deal, specially when it involves big ticket purchases like fighter jets, submarines and war ships. If one were to add the ‘Antony Effect’ to this, the entire procurement process becomes excruciatingly slow. This can have a deleterious effect on our defence preparedness.


Tuesday, 01 April 2014 | Abhijit Iyer-Mitra |

The crisis in Crimea has shown how Russia is gradually being pushed out of the ‘West' (of which it never really became a part) into the arms of China. India can just about manage to keep up with China as of now, but it simply cannot take on a China plus Russia combination

‘International news’ in India can generically be divided into three categories — nasty stories about Pakistan, reports about what the US thinks of us (in other words, which third rate Indian-origin novelist The New York Times has decided to give op-ed space to) and lastly, assorted disaster news if a few hundred die or some jolly good war breaks out.

Naturally most Indian coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, given our lack of background knowledge and absence of reporters on the ground, has either revolved around regurgitating a Non-Aligned Movement position that is either anti-West or simply a paraphrase of reports from the Western English media outlets (because, ‘Hey! If The New York Times says its true, it must be true’)

But for a second, let’s forget the NAM version (it’s a diabolical American plot set in motion by that evil Victoria Nuland lady) and the Western version (It’s Hitler invading Czechoslovakia all over again), and think about what it means for India in the larger geopolitical context — not just events in Ukraine, but similar events in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The US and India have always shared one same primary fear, and either consciously or subconsciously followed similar geo-strategic goals, albeit using vastly different paths. That goal has been to prevent any single block or country from dominating the Eurasian landmass, physically, politically or economically. Yet because of geography and relative strength, the US and Indian have adopted different solutions to the problem, which has either put them on a collision course at worst or kept any friendship at sub-optimal levels.

The events in Ukraine are producing an effect similar to what happened in the Cold War and will, in all probability, lay the seeds to future irritants in India-US ties, possibly even to the extent that New Delhi and Washington, DC retreat into an estrangement phase

PAKISTANI ICONOCLAST - An unconventional take on the Partition

Writing on the wall - Ashok V. Desai 

He is the world’s most prolific novelist. As of last count, he had written between 163 and 177 novels. The difference arises from the fact that he has created three detectives. Most of his novels have only one detective; but he has written some with two, and some with three. Whether these should be treated as one, two or three novels is a question I have not been able to resolve, because I cannot read Urdu. But it is likely that Bollywood, the inimitable imitator, stole the name of Big Boss from one of his novels. He wears an eight-inch beard. Have you got his name? Ishtiaq Ahmed.

But there is another Ishtiaq Ahmed. He was born Indian, in Lahore in February 1947. He is a graduate of Forman Christian College, Lahore, but early in life, he settled down in Sweden where he went to do a PhD in political science. Now that he has retired, he commutes between Singapore and Lahore. He is currently writing a series in The Friday Times, Pakistan’s most interesting weekly. He has some very unconventional views; some self-appointed patriots may choose to call them unPakistani.

He begins by saying that Partition was unnecessary: a democratic structure could have been worked out to avoid it. This should be anathema to most Pakistanis, for whom the creation of Pakistan is liberation from the yoke of the Hindu majority and attainment of self-rule. He points to the cost of Partition: one or two million people butchered by Hindus and Muslims in frenzy, 14-18 million forced to flee their homes and go and make a home in areas where they had never been before. While some 3 per cent of the Muslims had to leave, all the Hindus and Sikhs in West Pakistan were killed or forced to leave, except for stray Hindus in the villages of Sindh. That was just the beginning; after that India and Pakistan fought three declared and two undeclared wars, and continue to squabble over Kashmir.

His next assertion was news to me: he says that Lord Linlithgow was the originator of Pakistan. In 1940, he called Zafrullah Khan and suggested that the Muslim League should ask for separate Muslim provinces — not quite Pakistan, which came into political discourse only after the end of the war, but the first step towards it.

Then he says that the dire prophecy that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad made was fulfilled. In an interview to Covert magazine in April 1946 — 16 months before Partition — Maulana Azad predicted that the incompetent political leadership of Pakistan would be replaced by a military dictatorship, that it would become heavily indebted and victim of foreign powers’ conspiracies, that it would have conflicts and wars with neighbours, that it would face internal unrest and regional conflicts, that its rich would loot the country and pave the way for a class war, and that its youth would become disenchanted and alienated from religion. He also said that Indian Muslims faced three options: a small minority would migrate to Pakistan, some would be victims of riots, and a good many would give up Islam after facing poverty, political wilderness and regional depredation. He was not right on all points, but many of his prophecies came to pass.

Shooting the messenger to kill the message

Published: April 1, 2014
Meena Menon

APGUNS AGAINST THE PEN: According to the Commitee to Protect Journalists, Pakistan is the most dangeous country for journalists. Picture shows supporters of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf lighting candles next to portraits of slain journalist Syed Saleen Shahzad during a vigil in Islamabad.

While the Pakistan government is planning to set up a media commission and repeatedly talks of the safety of journalists, mere assurances cannot set things right

After the vicious gun attack on his car in Lahore on March 28, columnist and anchor Raza Rumi tweeted that he was “dreading this day.” Mr. Rumi narrowly escaped with a minor injury but his driver Mustafa died in the attack. A little over three weeks before this incident, journalist Ibrar Tanoli, who was also travelling in his car, was shot at in Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He later died in hospital. The incident sparked the usual outrage and protests as was seen after the attack on Mr. Rumi, along with the usual platitudes from the government.

Mr. Rumi’s well-publicised TV show “Khabar se Aage” discussed and criticised in no uncertain measure the Taliban and obscurantism. Express News has been under fire from the so-called unidentified gunmen, almost a euphemism for terrorists, since last year. Bombs have exploded outside its office in Karachi and terrorists have fired at it twice. In a brazen attack in January this year, three of its staffers were shot dead by gunmen using silencers, an attack claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The menacing tone of these attacks and the fatalities prompted the group’s paper to go easy on criticism against the terrorist groups, much to the chagrin of its outspoken columnists. The Express Tribune’s partnership with The International New York Times could be another reason for the constant threats. Recently an article by Carlotta Gall on Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan was blanked out in the Times’ Pakistan edition.Assurance of safety

A week before the attack on Mr. Rumi, which seemed rather well planned with the gunmen waiting for him on his route, Kati Marton, trustee of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and was appreciative of his willingness to listen to the problems of journalists working in Pakistan. The CPJ team asked him to review the expulsion of The New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh and also expedite visas for foreign journalists. Mr. Sharif was willing and also committed to making the country a safe place for journalists. Ms Marton also thanked him for tracking down the killers of journalist Wali Khan Babar. While that is a milestone of sorts, the killers of other journalists are yet to be traced. Even the mysterious men who attacked the Express News officehave faded into the shadows. The TTP owned up for the January attack and has publicised its unease with the media group’s liberal approach. On a live show on Express TV, a TTP spokesperson managed to extract an assurance from the TV anchor that the coverage would be balanced. The hapless anchor in turn demanded protection for his colleagues. Last year the TTP also made public a hit-list of media houses and journalists on its website, and after the attack on Mr. Rumi, initial TV reports of the incident pointlessly focused almost exclusively on whether he was on this list or not.

Spending for a modern armed force

by Rohan Joshi and Pavan Srinath — March 14, 2014

While transparency in defence procurement has been repeatedly stated as a focus, no focus on procurement is visible.

On February 6, 2014, India’s defence minister AK Antony announced that an important deal for 126 multi-role combat aircraft could not be signed in fiscal 2013, claiming that there was no money left to support the signing of the deal. The official proposal for what came to be known as the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition dates back to 2005, when the Government of India issued requests for information from prospective vendors. After a laborious vendor selection process that lasted seven years, Dassault’s Rafale emerged as the winner in 2012. Since then, complaints about the vendor selection process, disagreements over specific terms of transfer of technology and India’s ability to make monetary commitments due to a weakening economy have stalled the signing of the contract with Dassault.

This general lethargy in India’s defence management is worrying. Indian Air Force (IAF) force levels are at an all-time low owing to obsolescence, attrition and retirement of aircraft. Force levels have depleted to 29 squadron today, against IAF’s minimum sanctioned strength of 39.5 squadron. Worse, nearly half of IAF’s inventory consists of aging MiG-21s, which have been manufactured domestically under licence since the 1960s. India’s domestic multi-role fighter Tejas, conceived over 30 years ago and meant to replace the MiG-21s, has stalled. It is now expected that MiG-21s will not be retired until 2025, 62 years after the aircraft was first introduced in India.

Issues pertaining to obsolescence do not plague the IAF alone. The Indian army is woefully short of tank ammunition. It is also short of artillery guns, not having inducted any howitzers into the army since the Bofors scandal in the 1980s. Delays in our indigenous aircraft carriers, and conventional and nuclear submarine programs impact India’s defence preparedness. Overall, neither do India’s Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) appear capable of meeting the needs of the armed forces – the ubiquitous political lip-service given to ‘indigenisation’ notwithstanding — nor has the Ministry of Defence (MoD) displayed any sense of urgency in procuring equipment and systems needed to sustain the armed forces.

As Ajai Shukla highlighted in February, only 4 percent of the 2013-14 capital budget is allocated for new acquisitions, down from 38 percent in 2010-11. The interim defence budget announced in February 2014 appears to do little to alleviate this systemic decline. Although a 10 percent increase in the defence budget was announced, there was only a paltry 3 percent increase in capital outlay, with revenue expenses garnering a large part of the increase. What little money will go towards defence modernisation from the overall capital outlay is as of yet unknown.

In the context of the budget, Mr Antony’s admission that there was no money left for the MMRCA deal in FY 2012-13 is surprising. Capital allocation for the IAF was increased in FY 2012-13 by 22 percent, conceivably in order to account for the first installment of Rs. 10,000 crore due to be paid to Dassault after the deal was to be signed in FY 2013. If we are told that the IAF has spent all but 3 percent of its allocated capital acquisitions budget for FY 2013, where has the rest of the money gone? The interim budget for FY 2014 has decreased the IAF’s capital allocation budget by about 15 percent (over FY 2013 beginning estimates) to Rs. 31,818 crore. Worse, if the worrying trend of committed liabilities accounting for 95 percent of the capital acquisition budget lingers, this effectively means that the MMRCA deal cannot be concluded in FY 2014-15 either.

Pakistan and the United States: The Days Ahead

MARCH 27, 2014 

Following the annus horriblis of 2011, U.S.-Pakistan relations are finally looking up. The strategic dialogue between the two countries has resumed with a realistic scope and calibrated expectations. The defense relationship is settling back into polite engagements focused on multi-year assistance planning. The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, is distracted by crises in Syria and Ukraine, and the Pakistani elite are focusing their anxieties on militancy at home and the upcoming elections in Afghanistan and India. 

These apparent signs of normality are just enough to make longtime Pakistan-watchers nervous. There are many changes afoot in the region -- among them, civil-military developments in Pakistan, elections in India and Afghanistan, and the ongoing drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan -- that have the potential to bring about a shift in Pakistan's relationship with the United States. 

Two such changes deserve particular attention. The first is what is bound to be a dynamic political environment in Afghanistan following the presidential elections on April 5, and the new government's eventual decision regarding a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States. The second concerns the prospect of a large-scale Pakistani military operation in North Waziristan, many times rumored and many times deferred. 

Time to Get Tough on Pakistan? 

Regardless of who wins the Afghan elections, the outcome is bound to shape the contours of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, though perhaps not right away. Each of the leading candidates has pledged publicly to sign the BSA with the United States, which would enable an ongoing U.S. military presence in the country and would presumably form the basis of a similar agreement with NATO. 

If the new Afghan president promptly signs the BSA, the United States would likely leave a small residual force focused on security cooperation and counterterrorism -- one that Pakistan expects and in private may even welcome. If, on the other hand, there is an election deadlock or the new Afghan leader delays ratification of the BSA until late summer or beyond, logistical considerations alone could make it difficult for the U.S. military to retain a force of more than a couple thousand soldiers. 

Pakistan: the deer in the jihadist headlights

by Dr Mohammad Taqi — March 21, 2014

As unhinged as Mr Nawaz Sharif’s antiterrorism policy is, his bigger problem seems to be a military still working through its good/bad Taliban paradigm. 

The more things change in Pakistan the more they remain the same when it comes to handling the jihadist terrorism. A country grappling with terrorism ideologically anchored in the virulent exclusivist interpretation of Islam i.e. Wahhabism/Deobandism/Salafism for almost 14 years still does not have a coherent counter-jihadist policy. For the past seven years the bane of a common Pakistani’s life has been the jihadists ganged up under the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella. Since its inception the TTP or one of its affiliates have claimed virtually every attack inside Pakistan, killing upwards of 50,000 people. Still the country’s interior minister Mr Nisar Ali Khan had the gall to say that “a clear majority of the Taliban are not anti-Pakistan“ as he went on to announce possible direct negotiations between the federal government and the TTP soon. Ironically, his cabinet colleague in charge of the defence affairs, Mr Khawaja Muhammad Asif said in an interview that the country was on the verge of a military operation against the TTP if the latter violated a truce it had announced. The Pakistan Muslim League- N (PML-N) government’s one hand does not seem to know what the other is doing. A supposedly well-oiled political machine has been clumsily ad-libbing its anti-terrorism act.

In about two months since the Pakistani prime minister Mr Nawaz Sharif opted to negotiate with the TTP via a proximity committee, his message has been muddled and his policy confused at best and disastrous at worst. The TTP on the other hand has been beating Mr Sharif at his political game as well as continuing deadly attacks on a daily basis. Mr Sharif, and indeed the Pakistani state, increasingly comes across as the proverbial deer caught in the headlights as the jihadist truck heads their way full speed. In tackling terrorism the current civilian government has fumbled every step of the way since it assumed power nine months ago. The government’s dysfunction is partly due to the civilians opting to take flak for the reluctance of the country’s all powerful military to act decisively against the jihadists.

The PML-N clearly remains apprehensive about the TTP carrying out retaliatory attacks inside the Punjab province, which is the party’s power base. Out of the four Pakistani provinces and the tribal areas, the Punjab has been least affected by terrorism. The TTP has successfully used the threat of violence in the Punjab to cow the religiously conservative and pro-talks PML-N into negotiating with it. The TTP did carry out sporadic attacks in the Punjab and the contiguous federal capitalIslamabad to indicate it meant business but it has generally exercised tremendous tactical restraint there. The TTP is well aware that the public opinion turning against it in Punjab will force both the civil and military establishment into meaningful action. While battering the Pashtun tribal areas and the Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province the TTP keeps the pot simmering in Punjab but never brings it to the boil. The TTP’s negotiations ploy has effectively divided the public opinion between the anti-Taliban Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement demanding action against it while the pro-Taliban elements like Mr. Imran Khan and his rightwing clerical allies of the Jama’t-e-Islami party vociferously pushing for talks and blaming the United States for terrorism in Pakistan. The TTP’s primary objectives are to retain control in the tribal areas and parts of the Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province where it holds sway through terror and avoid a head on confrontation with the military till the things become clearer in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal and elections there. The TTP intends to hold out till its Taliban counterparts in Afghanistan can provide it more strategic depth there.

How to Avoid a Naval War With China

In the contested waters of Asia, it's difficult to understand Beijing's intentions. 
MARCH 24, 2014 

War between the United States and China is not preordained. But tensions are high, especially in the fiercely contested waters of the East and South China seas -- and even further into the Pacific. Communication is the best medicine: the United States should be explicit with what it needs to know about China's behavior in the waters near its coast. Unfortunately, the intentions and supporting doctrine for Beijing's growing naval capabilities are unclear, specifically regarding disputes with China's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). 

Most countries, including the United States, agree that territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from a nation's coastline, while EEZs extend much further -- usually up to 200 nautical miles. There is also consensus that while the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) established EEZs as a feature of international law and gives coastal states the right to regulate economic activities within them, it does not provide coastal states the right to regulate foreign military activities in their EEZs beyond their 12-nautical-mile territorial waters. However, China and some other countries like North Korea interpret UNCLOS as giving coastal states the right to regulate all economic and foreign military activities within their EEZs. 

There are numerous international agreements that regulate interactions at sea. The United States and Soviet Union signed the Incidents at Sea Agreement (INCSEA) in 1972 after Soviet warships collided with a U.S. destroyer. While INCSEA allowed for U.S. and Russian commanders to communicate directly, and ultimately avoid an escalation of force between warships, it really functioned as a stopgap between the 1972 signature and 1977 implementation of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS). And while the 2000 Code for Unalerted Encounters at Sea (CUES) is not an international agreement or legally binding, it does offer safety measures and procedures, and a means to limit mutual interference and uncertainty when warships, submarines, public vessels, or naval aircraft are in close proximity. 

Mao Won the Battle, Chiang Kai-shek Won the War

History will prove the defeated Generalissimo had a greater impact on modern China than its most famous father. 
MARCH 24, 2014 

China is the geopolitical hinge on which war or peace in East Asia rests. And no figure has been so central to China's destiny over the past century as Mao Zedong, who unified China out of the chaos of competing warlordoms in 1949 and made it a world power. The decades of unprecedented economic growth in China that are only now starting to fade would have been impossible without the political coherence Mao provided. But Mao may not last as China's most important 20th-century figure. That title may eventually pass on to the man Mao defeated in a civil war in the 1940s, and who generations of Western journalists and intellectuals have so often disparaged: Chiang Kai-shek. 

Mao's personage began to diminish internationally following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1990, which came with the realization of just how many people the communists had killed. Among intellectuals in the post-Cold War era, communism has now come to signify an evil as great as fascism. Concomitantly, it turns out that the tens of millions who owe their untimely deaths to Mao's policies -- mostly from the famine caused by the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and early 1960s -- may well outnumber those murdered by Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. 

Of course, within China itself, reverence for Mao as a nationalist figure survives, long after Marxist ideology has been cast off. But this is just a phase. As Beijing currently has no choice but to pursue a whole new array of economic reforms -- eliminating more and more remnants of state control -- even as a civil society and a middle class struggle to emerge from the ruins of totalitarianism, one can imagine the historical reckoning within China itself that Mao must one day face. 

Chiang, meanwhile, has been the beneficiary of much-needed historical revisionism that has gone under the radar of the Western elite. In 2003, Jonathan Fenby, former editor of the London Observer, published the revisionist biography, Chiang Kai-shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. Fenby partially challenges the received wisdom about Chiang -- that he was a corrupt and inept ruler who dragged his heels on fighting the Japanese despite the considerable aid he got from the United States during World War II, and who lost China to Mao because he was the lesser man. 

Then, in 2009, Jay Taylor, former China desk officer at the U.S. State Department and later research associate at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard, followed up with an even stronger revisionist biography of Chiang, The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China, which took apart many of the preconceptions about the founder of Taiwan. Both authors blame the unduly negative image of Chiang on the journalists and State Department foreign service officers who covered China during World War II. The pivotal character in this story was the wartime U.S. military commander in China, Army Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell. Stilwell quite simply hated Chiang, whom he considered corrupt and ineffectual; he, called him "Peanut" behind his back, and passed on his criticisms to the journalists and foreign service officers, who, courted by Stilwell, simply took the American general's side. 

Another factor behind Chiang's negative image was the glowing reports that journalists were filing about Mao and his comrades. Time magazine's Theodore H. White wrote in his 1978 memoir In Search of History: A Personal Adventure the "wine of friendship flowed" between Mao and the charismatic future Premier Zhou Enlai, whereas of Chiang, he wrote of a "rigid morality ... animal treachery, warlord cruelty and an ineffable ignorance of what a modern state requires." But as Taylor documents in his biography, Chiang from early-on -- as a result of his studies -- was consciously Confucianist, a world view which emphasized political order, respect for family and hierarchy, and conservative stability. It is this belief system, which Chiang embodies, that has ultimately triumphed throughout much of East Asia and in China itself, accounting for the region's prosperity over recent decades, even as the communism of Mao and Zhou celebrated by some Western journalists of the era has been utterly discredited. 

Mapping China's Economic Activity

Fully half of China's GDP comes from a smattering of major cities, many near the coast. 
MARCH 28, 2014 

It's not easy in the Chinese heartland -- at least, not yet. The country's GDP grew at 7.7 percent in 2013 to over $9.1 trillion dollars, which rates as the world's second-largest economy behind that of the United States. Yet China also faces the daunting reality of sharp regional inequality, with metropolitan areas on the east coast far richer than most of central and western China. In an early February inspection trip taken shortly after the Chinese Lunar New Year, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang jointly visited rural areas, vowing to close the gap between the east coast and the central and western regions. (In China, such early-year trips generally indicate a policy focus.) 

Inspired by a similar map which highlights uneven economic activity in the United States, Foreign Policy compiled GDP figures reported by municipalities across China and found that 35 cities contributed just under half of China's GDP in 2013. 

The map (below; click to enlarge) merits two caveats. First, the definition of a "city" in the PRC includes all counties, county-level cities, and city districts it governs. (Chongqing, for example, is a megacity in southwest China with a population of just under 30 million that covers 31,814 square miles, netting in smaller towns that lie far away from the bustling, recognizably urban center.) Second, multiple regions will sometimes take credit for the same dollar of GDP, such that the sum of reported numbers exceeds the top-line national statistic. Nonetheless, the below map provides a revealing look at just how much China's GDP growth machine depends on a few regions: 

Of those top 35 cities, 20 comprise one percent or more of China's massive GDP. Below is a list of China's one-percenters: 

Shanghai (3.80 percent) 
Beijing (3.43 percent) 
Guangzhou (2.71 percent) 
Shenzhen (2.55 percent) 
Tianjin (2.53 percent) 
Suzhou (2.29 percent) 
Chongqing (2.22 percent) 
Chengdu (1.60 percent) 
Wuhan (1.59 percent) 
Hangzhou (1.47 percent) 
Wuxi (1.42 percent) 
Nanjing (1.41 percent) 
Qingdao (1.41 percent) 
Dalian (1.34 percent) 
Shenyang (1.27 percent) 
Changsha (1.26 percent) 
Ningbo (1.25 percent) 
Foshan (1.23 percent) 
Zhengzhou (1.09 percent) 
Tangshan (1.08 percent) 

Image copyright Foreign Policy Group. Do not reproduce without permission.

Gauging Bloomberg's China 'Rethink'

A conversation about the future of journalism in the world's largest country. 
MARCH 26, 2014 

East Asia On March 24, a 13-year veteran of Bloomberg News, Ben Richardson, an editor at large for Asia news, resigned in protest. A few days earlier, company Chairman Peter Grauer had said that the news and financial information services company founded in 1981 by Michael Bloomberg "had" to be in China and "should have rethought" some of its recent stories there. Grauer avoided specifics, but it seemed clear that he was referring to a series of investigative reports on wealth in China produced by Bloomberg journalists over the last year. In that same period, Bloomberg's China reports won awards, its website was blocked in China, and sales there of its core product -- the Bloomberg terminal -- declined. Moreover, tensions grew between editorial staff and management. Richardson told media blogger Jim Romenesko that "a small group of incompetent and self-serving managers" at Bloomberg had "screwed things up for everyone else," confirming earlier reports that Bloomberg had compromised its journalistic principles for fear of losing business in China.   

David Schlesinger, founder of Tripod Advisors and former chairman of Thompson Reuters China: 

Bloomberg's chairman "rethinks," a journalist departs with a bang, and Bloomberg, which had led the way in authoritative investigative reports on the government-business nexus in China, becomes instead the poster child for the ills of the business-pressure nexus in journalism. 

Does this mean that it is impossible to do good journalism in China? Of course not. 

In some ways, this is a golden age for foreign reporting in the People's Republic. Key wire services, newspapers, and magazines have more and better trained reporters in China than ever before, travel is freer, sources are more available and the amount of sheer official data, information, and verbiage that is turned out is unrivaled -- and almost impossible to keep up with. The trick is turning all this raw input into journalism of the highest order. 

Bloomberg and the New York Times showed that weaving publicly available information with source material can yield treasures, but also bring China's wrath (or at least financial penalties). That's a big risk to take, but it is one worth taking and also possible to take, if you have courage and prepare the ground properly. 

First, you have to be clear about what you are and what you stand for, and not let any opportunity go by without repeating it. Just as China repeats its "principled stands" on Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, etc., in word-perfect order year after year, so too I, when I worked for Reuters, would use that company's Trust Principles and fundamental journalistic values as the introduction to any official meeting. If your principles are strong and steadfast, they become something that has to be dealt with. If your principles can be rethought and changed, they become simply a negotiating point. 

Second, you must make sure you have plenty of opportunities to talk about your principles. Government relations is not something that is just for crises -- it must be a key job for bureau chiefs, editors, and senior company officials year in and year out. Your reporting focuses should never be a surprise. Your standards should be the stuff of regular conversations. 

The Ukes and Their Nukes

Why the Bomb wouldn't have helped Kiev protect Crimea from Russia. 
MARCH 24, 2014 

Vladimir Putin's justification for invading Crimea may be more contorted than even his girlfriend, but the discussion of whether nuclear weapons would have helped Ukraine defend itself has been nearly as bad. 

In 1994, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan gave up the Soviet nuclear weapons they inherited after the breakup of the USSR. Now, the usual suspects, including the strategic planning staff at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and peacocking Ukrainian politicians, are arguing that none of the past weeks' nastiness would have happened if Kiev had kept the Bomb. In most of these accounts, a nuclear arsenal is some sort of magic wand that can wave away all of Putin's bullying and, for more partisan sorts, swiftly return us to the glorious past when it was Morning in America. If only that were so. (Well, the part about stopping Volodya's bullying -- I'll take a pass on a reprise of the Reagan administration.) The reality is that nuclear weapons wouldn't have saved Crimea and can't protect Kiev from Moscow. 

I'll spare you the review of the academic literature on whether states with nuclear weapons (or more nuclear weapons, or better nuclear weapons) are more likely to get their way in dealing with other countries. There is a healthy debate over at the Duck of Minerva that can introduce you to the contours of that discussion. Here, I will simply say that you can find a study to support any particular view. I think there are severe methodological and data problems with many of the studies. At best, I'd say the most interesting hypotheses about how nuclear weapons affect outcomes in the international system remain unproven. 

A brief survey of similar crises, however, offers no reason to think a Ukrainian bomb would have deterred Moscow from seizing Crimea. In 1973, Israel possessed both nuclear weapons and, to Anwar Sadat's annoyance, the Sinai Peninsula. On Yom Kippur of that year, the Egyptian military launched a surprise attack across the Suez Canal in an attempt to retake the peninsula. (The Syrians joined in for good measure, attempting to retake the Golan Heights.) Similarly, in 1982, the United Kingdom had nuclear weapons and, to the irritation of Argentina's ruling military junta, the Falkland Islands. The British also had Attila the Hen herself, Margaret Thatcher -- no small matter given the tendency of the most shrill American partisans to blame President Obama for everything. No matter, while the Brits were dancing to "Seven Tears" by the Goombay Dance Band, Argentina seized the Falklands. (Don't ask the Argentines how that turned out, it's a sore subject.) Leaders in Cairo and Buenos Aires had calculated that the territory in question wasn't an integral part of their intended victim's homeland and that fighting would remain conventional -- which it did. Israel and the United Kingdom responded with conventional forces, not nuclear weapons. 

We now have a crisis over Crimea for precisely the same reason that fighting broke out over Sinai and the Falkland Islands: Putin figures Ukraine and the world will accept Russia's devouring of Crimea on the pretext that it isn't a "real" part of Ukraine. And, although I think that's a very dangerous distinction for us to draw, Putin seems to be getting away with it. Ukraine always had a credibility problem when it came to defending Crimea. Nuclear weapons don't solve credibility problems like this; they suffer from them. 

Putin Explains Russian-Crimean Reunification

This transcript appears in the March 28, 2014 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

President Vladimir Putin addressed the two chambers of the Russian parliament and other dignitaries at the Kremlin on March 18, 2014. This official transcript has been slightly edited for clarity; emphasis, subheads, and footnotes have been added.

Federation Council members, State Duma deputies, good afternoon. Representatives of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol are here among us, citizens of Russia, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol!

Dear friends, we have gathered here today in connection with an issue that is of vital, historic significance to all of us. A referendum was held in Crimea on March 16 in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.

More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% of them spoke out in favor of reuniting with Russia. These numbers speak for themselves.

To understand the reason behind such a choice it is enough to know the history of Crimea and what Russia and Crimea have always meant for each other.

Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Saint Prince Vladimir[1] was baptized. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilization, and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea.[2] This is also Sevastopol—a legendary city with an outstanding history, a fortress that serves as the birthplace of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Crimea is Balaklava and Kerch, Malakhov Kurgan and Sapun Ridge. Each one of these places is dear to our hearts, symbolizing Russian military glory and outstanding valor.

Crimea is a unique blend of different peoples' cultures and traditions. This makes it similar to Russia as a whole, where not a single ethnic group has been lost over the centuries. Russians and Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and people of other ethnic groups have lived side by side in Crimea, retaining their own identity, traditions, languages and faith.

Incidentally, the total population of the Crimean Peninsula today is 2.2 million people, of whom almost 1.5 million are Russians, 350,000 are Ukrainians who predominantly consider Russian their native language, and about 290,000-300,000 are Crimean Tatars, who, as the referendum has shown, also lean towards Russia.

True, there was a time when Crimean Tatars were treated unfairly,[3] just as a number of other peoples in the USSR. There is only one thing I can say here: millions of people of various ethnicities suffered during those repressions, and primarily Russians.

America's Secret Weapon to Stop Russia

March 31, 2014

Today Ukraine is threatened by a large Russian force on its border. The Crimea has been annexed by Russia, and Russian forces are consolidating their hold on the province. Despite assurances by the Russians that they have no interest in invading Ukraine, it is easy to be dubious of their claims. Capability doesn’t lie, and intent can change in a heartbeat.

Many have already said that there are no military options in the Ukraine crisis. While Western Europe and the United States do not desire conflict with Russia, the lack of action supporting Ukraine is actually a provocative gesture that invites escalation by the Russians. Fritz Kraemer, a little-known but highly influential strategist in the Pentagon best known for his many years as advisor to numerous secretaries of defense, believed that there were two ways to be provocative. One way was to be threatening, and in so doing provoke an enemy to action. The other way was to appear weak, and thus to provoke an adversary into a similar risky misadventure.

Before the United States Air Force began pounding Saddam’s forces in what would be a prelude to a one-hundred-hour ground campaign, it provided a much more subtle service to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. When considering the first Iraq war, most people think about the offensive campaign that pushed Saddam’s forces out of Kuwait. Few remember the deterrence provided by airpower before allied aircraft began the offensive that would be known as “Desert Storm.”

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Almost immediately the threat to Saudi Arabia was recognized in the United States. On August 7, the first contingent of F-15s were deployed to Saudi Arabia. These aircraft provided a stopgap to prevent Iraqi aircraft from supporting a ground invasion of Saudi Arabia. It also bought time to work diplomatic initiatives, and sought to quell the Saudi’s fear of an impending invasion.

This was just one of many examples where the United States has used military deployments to deter an adversary. During the Kennedy administration, the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to the Western powers calling for the withdrawal of all military forces from Western Berlin. Then on August 13, 1961 the East Germans began constructing the Berlin Wall. Kennedy went to Congress and asked for an increase in the defense budget and authorization to boost the end strength of the Army to one million men. In October and November of 1961, the United States began the largest deployment of Air National Guard interceptors to Europe in an operation dubbed “Stair Step.” This served to dissuade further Soviet aggression, and though the Wall remained it would ultimately be torn down.

*** The guns of August in the East China Sea

The guns of August in the East China Sea

By Robert D. Kaplan 
March 24, 2014 

Image Credit: Luis Vazquez/Gulf News 

The parallels of history have obsessed the foreign policy elite for years, and are building towards a fever pitch: Is the Asia of 2014 the new Europe of 1914? China is a rising and assertive new power much like Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany. An explosion of nationalism has taken hold among dynamic ethnic nations, from Beijing to Tokyo, Hanoi to Manila. And as Asia’s middle-classes enjoy a new and ascendant place in the world, sustained capitalist prosperity has led to military acquisitions. An arms race in Asia is on the loose — as the Australian analyst Desmond Ball reports, progressing to a dangerous phase of actions and reactions, as opposed to a normal, non-threatening build-up. If the First World War was “the first middle-class war in history,” as the Canadian historian Modris Eksteins writes, with literate masses bursting with patriotic pride, no wonder so many see the dark echoes in the Pacific becoming an armed camp.

Historical analogy is useful for rough orientation. But it is dangerous when taken too far; each situation is its own thing, thoroughly unique. Indeed, great statesmen are those who exploit unique opportunities, even as they are aware of vague parallels to the past. The Pacific Basin now offers a signal illustration of vague parallels and yet telling differences to Europe on the eve of the First World War. Miscalculations in the balance of power were a factor in the outbreak of the First World War, and with the rise of Chinese military power — Beijing recently announced a 12.2 per cent increase in its military spending, bringing its total annual budget to roughly 25 per cent that of the United States — the Pacific is no longer an uncomplicated US naval lake. A more complex balance of power between the United States, China, Japan and others is replacing unipolarity. Such an arrangement, because it promises more interactions, makes miscalculations easier.

While the Obama administration’s 2011 Asia pivot was intended to indicate a shift in emphasis from the Middle East to Asia — and guarantee that the United States would remain globally engaged despite difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan — it was also an admission of geopolitical anxiety: that the stability of the Pacific could no longer be taken for granted.

Say No to a Balance of Power in Asia

March 31, 2014

Many analogies and parallels have been made between the current power interplay in the Indo-Pacific and the balance-of-power system of nineteenth century Europe. This narrative is easily accepted by conventional wisdom, but it is necessary to concentrate on the potential implications of a genuine balance of power system in the region. Despite the Nixon-Kissinger proposition that “the road to peace still depends on a balance of power”, equilibrium of power in the Indo-Pacific may increase tensions and have adverse effects than fostering a benign and peaceful regional environment.

The general problem of the balance of power was already formulated by Hans Morgenthau—states “actually aim not at a balance—that is, equality—of power but at superiority of power in their own behalf … all nations must ultimately seek the maximum of power obtainable under the [given] circumstances.” Simply put, no state will deliberately hinder its growth to stay on par with its counterparts. The concept of power equilibrium also bothered the Italian-born political scientist A.F.K. Organski, who claimed that balance of power is “neither a logical abstraction nor an accurate description of empirical fact” and instead envisaged the “power transition theory”, which turned balance of power on its head.

Organski opined that it is not equilibrium of power that ensures peace, but rather the preponderance of power between great powers that leads to a peaceful environment. His “power transition theory” asserts that during the period of power parity (or balance) between two states (i.e. the “challenger” and the “dominant power”) the prospect for war increases, because the challenger is “eager to redress its grievances and assume its ‘rightful’ role in the world” and the dominant power is unwilling to give up its preponderance. In this sense, the theory seems to be a good fit for the current relationship between the United States and China.

Organski’s theory applies essentially to the interplay of great powers, but a similar necessity for preponderance of power was acknowledged by Richard Nixon in reference to Israel. In a presidential campaign speech, Nixon argued that the United States should ensure that Israel had sufficient military power to deter an Arab attack, and insisted that “the balance must be tipped in Israel’s favor. An exact balance of power … would run the risk that potential aggressors might miscalculate and would offer them too much of a temptation.”


By CGNews
By John Marks

In addition, there are other ways that one side’s hurt could be lessened without the other having to give up important interests. For example, to Palestinians the “right of return” to the places in Israel from which their families came is extremely important. However, to most Israelis, this is a non-starter that, if accepted, could result in Israel being swamped by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Palestinians. Although they do not openly proclaim it, Palestinian negotiators understand full well that no future agreement will provide for large scale return.

At the same time, there is a profound Palestinian need for acknowledgement that there is some “right of return.” A solution might be found that permits Palestinians who left Israel in 1948 – but not their offspring – to return to the land of their birth. Given that no Palestinian would be eligible who is not at least 66 years old and given that polls show that very few Palestinians from the Territories or the diaspora would choose to live in Israel, such a provision would have little actual impact and would raise few security concerns for Israel. Yet, it would at least symbolically help meet the Palestinian dream.

There could also be a limited number of returnees allowed on humanitarian grounds, such as reuniting spouses.

Here is yet another possibility. Both Israelis and Palestinians care deeply about their holy sites, and these are often located on the land of the other. A future peace agreement might contain clauses that assure preservation of and access to such sacred places.

There might be even apologies for pain and suffering.

As Israeli journalist Ari Shavit’s recent book, “My Promised Land,” graphically illustrates, Israeli and Palestinians both have good reason to believe that the other has carried out deeply damaging acts. This past cannot be ignored or forgotten, but as truth and reconciliation commissions in South Africa and Chile showed, public acknowledgement can go a long way toward allowing people to move into a peaceful future.

Without assigning equivalence to the actions of either side, suffice it to say that recognition of – indeed, apology for – the pain caused can have a very positive impact.

As US negotiators led by Secretary of State John Kerry push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, they would be wise to include “intangibles” that can be just as important as the so-called hard issues of borders and security.

John Marks is President and founder of Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest non-governmental organization, with offices in 33 countries.