14 April 2014

Our leaders are not asking hard questions

First Published: 13/4/2014
In 1903 Gandhi went to Varanasi for the first time. As a Hindu, he wanted naturally to visit the Kashi Viswanath temple. He was unimpressed by what he saw. “The swarming flies and the noise made by the shopkeepers and pilgrims were perfectly insufferable,” he wrote, adding: “here one expected an atmosphere of meditation and communion, it was conspicuous by its absence”.

When Gandhi finally reached the temple, he “was greeted at the entrance by a stinking mass of rotten flowers”. The marble floor had been “broken by some devotee innocent of aesthetic taste, who had set it with rupees serving as an excellent receptacle for dirt”. He walked all over the shrine, “search[ing] for God but fail[ing] to find him” in the dirt and the filth.

Gandhi was back in the holy city 13 years later. He had been invited to the opening of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in February 1916. This was his first major public appearance after his return to India from South Africa. Gandhi was one of the less important invitees; the real VIPs were the Rajas and Maharajas whose donations had enabled the new university. Also present were important leaders of the Congress. Compared to these dignitaries, Gandhi was then relatively unknown. Characteristically, he did not let his obscurity or comparative lack of social status hinder his quest for the truth.

When his turn came to speak, Gandhi charged the elite with a lack of concern for the labouring poor. The opening of the BHU, he said, was “certainly a most gorgeous show”. But he worried about the contrast between the “richly bedecked noblemen” present and “millions of the poor” Indians who were absent. Gandhi told the privileged invitees that “there is no salvation for India unless you strip yourself of this jewellery and hold it in trust for your countrymen in India”. “There can be no spirit of self-government about us,” he went on, “if we take away or allow others to take away from the peasants almost the whole of the results of their labour. Our salvation can only come through the farmer. Neither the lawyers, nor the doctors, nor the rich landlords are going to secure it.”

The war of winning hearts

Published: April 14, 2014 

Rahul Pandita

The HinduPhoto: Rahul Pandita

Chhattisgarh’s first Maoist recruit and the lessons the Indian state needs to derive from his story

When former Maoist commander Badranna is not tending to plants at the public park in Chhattisgarh’s Jagdalpur town, he likes to spend time with his ten-year-old daughter Manisha and her pet parrot at their small house. Badranna’s wife, Latakka, once a Maoist guerrilla herself, works with the State police after the couple surrendered in the year 2000.

Badranna, now in his late forties, was among the first batch of men to be recruited in Chhattisgarh by the Maoists. He is from the Dorla tribe and comes from Bijapur district’s Pamed village, close to Andhra Pradesh.

In 1980, after the formation of the CPI-ML (People’s War), its Andhra-based leader Kondapalli Seetharamaiah sent Maoist squads to four areas in the State’s Telangana region: Khammam, Karimnagar, Warangal and Adilabad. Three other squads went across the Godavari river, one of them to Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, while two of them went to Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region (then a part of Madhya Pradesh). The idea was to create a rear base where safe guerrilla zones could be created.

One of these squads reached Badranna’s village. Badranna, a teenager then, recalls how the villagers would initially run away upon spotting the guerrillas. “We were all scared of them. Elders would caution us not to go near them; it was rumoured that the Maoists carried some potion that could make people follow them,” says Badranna.

Badranna’s family and others lived a difficult life. Most of them earned a pittance by collecting tendu leaves, used in the manufacture of beedi. For a pack of 100 leaves, the contractor paid them a few paise. “We would put the leaves in a string and the contractor used his head’s circumference to measure it,” says Badranna.A change in strategy.

Procurement: Why India Flails At Procurement


April 12, 2014

India imports more weapons than any other country. Over the last decade those imports have more than doubled. There are several reasons for this. India has one of the top five armed forces in terms of manpower (about a million troops) and needs a lot of stuff. Until the end of the Cold War in 1991 India had a lot of government control in the economy and did not develop companies that could produce modern weapons, or modern anything for that matter. So many of the more techy weapons (armored vehicles, warplanes, warships, artillery, missiles and the like) were imported. Russia offered the best prices and even allowed India to assemble many of the weapons (like MiG-21s and tanks) in India. This saved some money and allowed India to say these weapons were “made in India.” Actually they were just assembled in India because India could not produce most of the components, which had to be imported from Russia. 

In the 1990s India began to realize that their economy needed some fundamental reforms and many were implemented. China’s reforms a decade earlier, and the rapid growth of the Chinese economy ever since made a big impression in India. Freeing up the economy meant that suddenly there were firms that could develop and manufacture modern technology. But military technology had made great strides in the 1980s and Russia had fallen way behind. Worse, the rapid growth of the Chinese economy meant a lot more money and new weapons for the Chinese military. This played a part in a more powerful China reviving old claims on Indian territory. 

Suddenly buying Russian weapons was not good enough because the Russian stuff was not a lot better than what the Chinese were building themselves or buying from the Russians. India began to look West for weapons and redouble its efforts to develop weapons manufacturing capability. The Western stuff was more expensive and Western media tended to uncover the corruption that was so much a part of Indian weapons procurement. The Russians knew how to be discreet about the bribes and kickbacks. At the same time there was growing popular clamor in India to crack down on the corruption and the Western firms were much easier targets. This caused numerous delays in ordering new weapons from the West. Despite the delays, more and more foreign weapons were ordered, because the many state controlled weapons firms were unable to develop and manufacture what the military needed and were often a decade or more behind in contracts they already had. 

Need to Treat Naxalites with Iron Fists, not Kid Gloves

On 11th March 2014, Naxalites ambushed a Road Opening Party of the Chhattisgarh Police and the Central Reserve Police in Bastar Division of Chhattisgarh killing fifteen policemen and an innocent civilian. This happened in the Jhiramghati area, very near Darbaghati where last year much of the senior leadership of the Chhattisgarh Congress was wiped out in an ambush, which killed twenty-six people, including members of the police escort. Earlier still, when the Collector of Sukma was abducted and held hostage, the Naxalites shot dead in cold blood the two personal security officers of the Collector, one a Muslim and the other a tribal. This region saw the deadliest ambush on the police ever, when 75 jawans were killed in one incident alone. Even at the height of the Nagaland insurgency, this magnitude of casualties in one incident had not been suffered by jawans of the Army or the Police. In the fight against Naxalism, more than 3000 policemen have been killed, about 1500 in Chhattisgarh alone.

The Naxalite dominated districts have the local population, largely tribal, living in remote areas, with poor infrastructure and with considerable poverty. In old Madhya Pradesh, the southern part of which has become Chhattisgarh, there was always the Ryotwari system of tenure, which meant that there were no intermediaries between government and the agriculturist, who was the Bhoomiswami or owner of the land. In 1951 even the intermediaries for revenue collection and management of common lands, the Malguzars, were abolished. In Bastar, later extended to the whole State, the Aboriginal Tribes (Protection of Interest in Trees) Act was in operation and this ensured that the tribes would be protected from exploitation on account of timber standing on their bhoomiswami land, with felling being permitted only under strict control and that, too, only by the Forest Department, with the permission of the Collector. There was also a total ban on transfer of tribal land to non-tribals. In other words, the exploitative Zamindari system which prevailed in neighbouring Telangana, formerly a part of Hyderabad State and then Andhra Pradesh, did not prevail in Madhya Pradesh which, before 1956, included Chandrapur and Gadhchiroli Districts of what is now Maharashtra. As a result of this, whilst Bastar and other tribal areas may have been poor, they were not in ferment caused by iniquitous land tenure. In trying to understand Naxalism, it is important to bear this fact in mind.

Long before Naxalbari, extreme left violence prevailed on a large scale in Hyderabad State in the Telangana portion because the peasants, largely tribal, were mercilessly exploited by the Zamindars. The resistance movement became so violent that in 1943 the Government of the Nizam of Hyderabad banned the Communist Party. When Hyderabad State was taken over by India after the Police Action, Telangana was marked out for special attention in order to restore the rule of law there. V. Nanjappa was appointed Special Commissioner and with great vigour he pursued the extremists and brought the area under control.

Afghanistan Newspeak: 10 ways the US skews the narrative

NATO forces aren't 'leaving' but 'transitioning.' 

As the clock ticks down to the promised withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US military is trying to figure out how to market the idea that the international intervention has actually accomplished its core mission — bringing peace and stability to a nation that has known little of either for the past 35 years.

The solution: a little Newspeak.

As George Orwell described the wonders of this invention: “It means a loyal willingness to say that black is white … But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”

Welcome to the war in Afghanistan.

1. “We are not leaving, we are transitioning.”

These words belong to Gen. Joseph Dunford, NATO commander in Afghanistan, who was at some pains to explain why the beleaguered country would not sink into civil war after the NATO withdrawal, similar to the way conflict exploded after the Soviets left 25 years ago.

In an interview last weekend with the Financial Times in Kabul, the general brushed aside the comparison. “I don’t view what we are doing as withdrawing, so I reject the analogy with the Soviet days,” he said.

NATO now has just over 51,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 33,500 of them belonging to the US. At the height of the war, there were close to 150,000 pairs of boots on the ground. This means that nearly 100,000 troops have “transitioned” so far.

Point, Counter-Point: ‘Overlooking’ Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers

Research Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi
April 9th, 2014

Mark Fitzpatrick’s argument for “nuclear rehabilitation of Pakistan” in his bookOvercoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers reminds one of a scene from a famous Bollywood movie Sholey. Jai, one of the male protagonists goes to meet the female protagonist’s (Basanti) aunt (Mausi) to ask her consent for the marriage of Basanti and his friend Veeru. Upon enquiry by Mausi regarding Veeru’s character, Jai gives a very quirky response with numerous contradictions. He says that Veeru is a commendable person despite the fact that he does not win every time he gambles. Despite of this, Veeru will surely begin earning responsibly once his gets into a marital alliance. He adds that he is a nice guy but once he drinks he loses control; however if Basanti marries him, he will also stop such activities and would also put an end to his practice of going to brothel. Upon more enquiries regarding Veeru’s ancestral origin, Veeru says that he will inform her once he becomes aware of it. He periodically praises Veerudespite all bad habits he has. Mausi, shocked by the responds, retorts that it is surprising how Jai is appreciating his friend who seems to possess no great quality of a respectable groom. To this Veeru responds, “kya karu mausi, mera toh dil hi kuch aisa hai!” (What to do aunt, my heart is such).

Similarly, Fitzpatrick seem to acknowledge all the problems with nuclear Pakistan – track record of proliferation, a lowered nuclear threshold, command and control prone to human error, warheads not one-point safe, inability to control the terrorists – and still vouches for Pakistan to be recognised “as a normal nuclear state” especially when some may say that Pakistan itself is not a normal state. His compassion is discernible when he says “how long Pakistan must pay the price” for the Khan nuclear proliferation network – “a solitary event.” Drawing a parallel to India’s performance, Fitzpatrick argues that “the time has come to offer Pakistan a nuclear-cooperation deal akin to India’s”.

At the outset, his thesis suffers from the ‘India parity syndrome’, which has in fact drained Pakistan for more than six decades now. The author warns that preferentially accepting India’s NSG membership is “likely to drive Pakistan further away from the West”. However, he has overlooked the repercussions of rewarding Pakistan.

Most disturbing is how the author equates Pakistan’s proven nuclear proliferation record with baseless allegations against India’s without substantiating it with convincing facts. He further says, “India must realise that Pakistan does not control all groups that perpetrate terrorism”. In this context,an observation by George Perkovich is worth noting. He deftly states that in the larger context of deterrence stability, “a state cannot be a responsible possessor of nuclear weapons if it does not have sovereign control over organized perpetrators of international violence operating from its territory”.

A New Book Delves Into Pakistan’s Not-So-Secret Role in the War in Afghanistan

April 11, 2014
A Reporter Analyzes the Driving Role of Pakistan in the Afghan War
Seth G. Jones
New York Times

On July 7, 2008, insurgents detonated a huge suicide car bomb outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 54 people, including an Indian defense attaché. The attack destroyed the embassy’s protective blast walls and front gates, and tore into civilians waiting outside for visas.

On one level, the attack was merely one among many that occur across this war-torn country, terribly unfortunate but numbingly frequent. But there was something particularly insidious about this one. According to United States intelligence assessments, agents from Pakistan’s chief spy organization, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, were involved in planning the attack. After being briefed by American intelligence officials, President George W. Bush dispatched Stephen R. Kappes, the C.I.A.’s deputy director, to Pakistan.

The involvement of the ISI in such a high-profile attack illustrates one of the most ignominious undercurrents of the war in Afghanistan and the subject of Carlotta Gall’s new book, “The Wrong Enemy”: the role of Pakistan. Ms. Gall, a reporter for The New York Times in Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than a decade, beginning shortly after Sept. 11, is in an extraordinary position to write this important and long overdue book.

Carlotta Gall Credit Hiromi Yasui

At its core, “The Wrong Enemy” is a searing exposé of Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan war, which Ms. Gall drives home in the book’s opening salvo. “Pakistan, not Afghanistan, has been the true enemy,” she pointedly writes.

The book opens with the Taliban’s November 2001 defeat in Afghanistan, a striking blow to a group that had initially seized Kabul in 1996 with aid from the ISI and other Pakistan government agencies. By December 2001, however, some Pakistani officials began conspiring against the nascent Afghan government. In the Pakistan frontier town of Peshawar, more than 60 prominent insurgents and several well-known Pakistan military and intelligence figures met and plotted their revenge.

“The Taliban leaders divided Afghanistan into separate areas of operations,” Ms. Gall notes. “The Taliban comeback was underway.”

New Report Finds That China Continues to Expand Its Cyber Espionage Operations

April 12, 2014
China Expands Cyber Spying
Zachary Keck
The Diplomat

A new industry report says that the Chinese government has expanded the scope of its cyber espionage despite the greater public scrutiny these operations received in 2013.

The new report was published by Mandiant, now part of FireEye, the same company that in February 2013 published the much discussed APT1 report directly linking a unit of the People’s Liberation Army to a massive cyber espionage campaign against foreign businesses. APT1 was the hacking unit the report profiled.

The APT1 report was one of a number of very public exposures of China’s cyber operations in 2013. Others included the New York Times revealing its website had been repeatedly targeted by China-based hackers (a unit called APT-12) after the newspaper published an article tracing the the massive wealth senior Chinese leaders accumulated while in power. The Mandiant and New York Times’ reports led the Obama administration to raise the profile of cyber issues in U.S.-China relations, an effort that was partially undercut by the subsequent Edward Snowden leaks. The U.S. Defense Department also began more openly discussing Chinese cyber operations against the U.S. military and defense industrial base.

In its new annual report, M-trends, Mandiant explains that the “release of the APT1 report in February 2013 provided a unique opportunity to observe whether revelations of China’s state-sponsored cyber activity could spur a diplomatic solution to the problem of nation-state cyber espionage on behalf of private sector entities.”

It concludes that the exposure has failed to do so thus far. In the report, Mandiant states that APT1 and APT12 responded to being exposed in two ways: first, the units delayed restarting operations ; second, “both groups quickly shifted their operational infrastructure to continue their activities.” Notably, Mandiant found that in the case of APT1, the group had only changed the parts of its infrastructure that Mandiant had exposed in the report, while keeping the rest of its infrastructure in place.

Information Warfare: How The Internet Created Modern China

April 11, 2014: By the end of 2013 China had over 3.5 million websites hosted within its borders and thus under the authority of the Chinese Internet censors (the Golden Shield organization and its two million employees). These 3.5 million websites used over 4.6 million domain names and were operated by over 2.8 million organizations (70 percent) and individuals (30 percent). There are over 620 million Internet users in China, about 43 percent of the population. In the U.S. its 81 percent, while Japan is 79 percent, Russia is 54 percent and Hong Kong (a semi-autonomous part of China) is 73 percent. The first Chinese web page went live on the Internet in 1994. 

Internet growth was slow at first in China but after the 1990s is rapidly accelerated. By 2004 there were 87 million Internet users in China. That was a 28 percent increase over 2003. While that was only seven percent of the population, it was a very well off and well educated fraction of the population. Sixty percent of them were male, and 54 percent were 24 years old, or younger. Moreover, these Internet users were found throughout China, meaning that any information the government did not want distributed could now get past the censors and to the general population. The government had already begun investing heavily in software and hardware to control what Chinese Internet users could access. But these censorship techniques have not stopped stories that do the most damage. If there is an event that would embarrass the government, it got through to most Internet users, and this has increasingly caused the government to respond to the public will. 

By 2007 there were 132 million Internet users and 265 million by 2009. By now the average Internet user was older and more frequently female. There was then a big jump to 400 million Internet users in 2010 and nearly twice as many cell phone users. Now nearly all adult (and most teenage) Chinese had a cell phone. By 2011 there were 465 million Internet users and that rose to 620 by 2014. Thus in a decade Internet users in China increase seven fold. In twenty years it went from a handful to nearly half the population. That has changed everything and the government is still trying to get a grip on it all. Meanwhile India, where only 13 percent of the population has Internet access, sees this disparity as one reason India, with about the same number of people as China, is falling farther behind the Chinese in economic and military power.

China’s Growing Military Might Hides Vast Insecurity and Frustration

April 11, 2014
During Hagel Visit, China Showed Its Military Might, and Its Frustrations
Helene Cooper
New York Times

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — When Robert M. Gates visited China in 2011 as the United States defense secretary, the military greeted him with an unexpected and, in the view of American military officials, provocative test of a Chinese stealth fighter jet, a bold show of force that stunned the visiting Americans and may even have surprised the Chinese president at the time, Hu Jintao.

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited China this week, the military greeted him with a long-sought tour of the country’s lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in what many American officials interpreted as a resolve to project naval power, particularly in light of recent tension between Beijing and its neighbors over disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

The displays of China’s military power reveal some dividends from years of heavy investments, and perhaps a sense that China is now more willing to stand toe-to-toe with the Americans, at least on regional security issues.

But American officials and Asia experts say the visits also showed a more insecure side of China’s military leadership — a tendency to display might before they are ready to deploy it, and a lingering uncertainty about how assertively to defend its territorial claims in the region.

Mr. Hagel encountered both combative warnings in public forums and private complaints that Beijing felt besieged by hostile neighbors, especially Japan and the Philippines, which it asked the United States to help address. The impression for some American officials was that China still has not decided whether it wants to emphasize its historical status as an underdog or adopt a new posture as a military powerhouse.

On the tough side, China’s minister of defense, Gen. Chang Wanquan, announced that his country would make “no compromise, no concession, no treaty” in the fight for what he called its “territorial sovereignty.”

“The Chinese military can assemble as soon as summoned, fight any battle, and win,” he said.

But the tough stance belies a different reality on the ground, a military with little or no combat experience, outdated or untested equipment, and a feeling of being under siege. The Liaoning, according to American defense officials who toured the ship, still lags well behind the United States’ 10 aircraft carrier groups. While Mr. Hagel spoke expansively about how impressive he found the Chinese sailors he met aboard the ship in his public remarks, one American defense official who accompanied Mr. Hagel noted privately that the Liaoning was “not as big, it’s not as fast,” as American carriers.

In China, Warning Signs

By David Ignatius - April 11, 2014

WASHINGTON -- China's financial markets seem to be signaling trouble, as a government crackdown on corruption and loose credit begins to bite and jittery local investors scramble for safety.

China remains an opaque country, and even the most knowledgeable experts say they aren't sure how to read the tea leaves. But the warning signs are growing that after decades of economic expansion and exploding wealth, China is moving toward the scary side of the perpetual seesaw between greed and fear that drives financial markets.

An early warning that China might be facing a liquidity squeeze came from Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist of Silvercrest Asset Management, at a conference I attended in Shanghai in February. In a subsequent report, he explained that "a steady stream of defaults has raised awareness of China's mounting bad debt problems" and that "China's existing growth model has reached its sell-by date."

Signs of trouble abound: A report last week by the China Index Academy noted that real estate sales during the first quarter of this year in China's four biggest cities were more than 40 percent below the levels of a year ago. To sell property and raise cash, developers are said to be cutting prices sharply in some smaller cities.

According to Anne Stevenson-Yang, a Beijing economist who blogs for the Financial Times, 40 percent price cuts have been offered by developers in Changzhou and Qinhuangdao, and developers in Ningbo, Wuxi and Suzhou have offered discounts of up to 40 percent.

The slowdown in China's super-hot property market appears to be part of a broader pattern of difficulty. In mid-March, a big developer in Zhejiang province defaulted on $600 million in loans, according to The Wall Street Journal; a few days later, a commercial bank in Jiangsu province was hit with a run by skittish depositors. Investors' nerves were frayed partly because China had suffered its first modern bond default in early March, when a solar energy company in Shanghai failed to make scheduled payments.

China Might Actually Seize Japan's Southern Islands

It's not as crazy as you think-- and here's how the United States and Japan can prevent it from happening. 
APRIL 8, 2014 

In a speech in Tokyo on April 6, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a not-so-subtle reference to China's aggressive behavior in the disputed Senkaku Islands, warning that countries cannot "redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation," whether that be "small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe." Two days later, Hagel's Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister Chang Wanquan fired back: China, he said, has "indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu" -- as the Chinese call the islands -- while noting that the "Chinese military can assemble as soon as summoned, fight any battle and win." 

Beijing's position on the islands is clear. But are the Senkakus dessert, or are they an appetizer? If Chinese troops were to seize the Senkakus, might they also wrest the nearby Ryukyu Islands from Japan? It's not so far-fetched: Japanese strategists fret about how to forestall a doomsday scenario in the Ryukyus, the southwestern island chain that arcs from Japan's home islands southwest toward Taiwan. 

Americans should worry as well. The southern tip of the Ryukyu Islands sits only about 80 miles east of the Senkakus. Unlike the uninhabited Senkakus, the Ryukyus host not only roughly 1.5 million Japanese residents, but also the U.S. Marine and Air Force bases that anchor the U.S. presence in the East China Sea. Occupying the Ryukyus would fracture the U.S. strategic position in East Asia -- separating U.S. forces based in Japan (to the north) from those at Bahrain, the other permanent U.S. hub in Asia, far to the west. At a bare minimum, U.S. ships and aircraft would have to detour around Chinese-held islands, waters, and skies -- incurring the additional time and costs longer voyages entail. 

Exclusive: Key General Splits With Obama Over Ukraine


The commander of NATO is insisting that the West do more to protect Ukraine from a possible Russian invasion. But the Obama administration has other plans. 

Late last month, as the world was still reeling from Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO was warning Congress that Moscow was preparing to make another move. 

During classified briefings on March 26 and March 27, Gen. Philip Breedlove painted for members of the House Armed Services Committee a bleak picture of Russia’s actions—and warned that the United States was not taking steps it could to help Ukraine better defend itself. On several points—from estimates of Moscow’s troops to intelligence-sharing with Russia’s likely adversaries—Breedlove’s briefing directly contradicted the message coming from other branches of the Obama administration. 

Breedlove, a four star Air Force general, was careful not to tell members of Congress anything that directly undermined the authority of the Commander-in-Chief during his March briefings. But lawmakers and Congressional staff members who attended these sessions say it was clear that Breedlove felt he was stifled to respond adequately to the crisis in Ukraine. 

The quiet protests from one of Obama’s most important generals at the moment reveal an important policy rift inside the administration. While President Obama, the joint chiefs of staff and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have hesitated to provide too much assistance to the interim government in Ukraine, Breedlove has wanted to do more. 

In a statement for The Daily Beast, Breedlove acknowledged that he met with members of both parties in Congress in the last week in March. “I provided my estimation of Russian capabilities and that estimation was well-received by the Members. As these sessions were classified, I can only get into generalities.” Breedlove added that he discussed a number of issues including the U.S. consideration of non-lethal aid to Ukraine. “I was clear that our efforts were aimed at reassuring our NATO Allies and European partners of our commitment and resolve,” he said. 



Cooperation between the littoral states in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in the South China Sea has prompted calls for more joint activities amongst them. The South China Sea Workshop Process started in 1989 identified many such opportunities. It may be time to revisit them.

By Hasjim Djalal and Ian Townsend-Gault

IN THE aftermath of the initial search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in the South China Sea, commentators have drawn attention to the need for ASEAN countries to work closely together to respond to such emergencies. They have also touched on the fact that territorial and jurisdictional disputes did not prevent the littoral states from engaging in a broad range of cooperation. This raises the question: Is this not a strong basis for regional cooperation in the South China Sea?

Reviving the South China Sea Workshop Process

The answer, of course is an emphatic yes. We have been making this argument since 1989, when we took the first steps to initiate what was to become the South China Sea Workshop Process. The central premise of the initiative was to have maritime cooperation over as broad a range of areas as possible to defuse the essentially divisive claims and counterclaims to sovereignty over the disputed islands.

While any form of cooperation was thought desirable as an end in itself, the 60 plus meetings in the decade that followed the First Workshop in 1990 tended to look at areas where cooperation was an absolute requirement to achieve a given objective.

With the passage of time, the extent of the work carried out under the aegis of the Workshop Process has perhaps been forgotten. Perhaps the time has come to revive the process. So what can be done? One immediate step perhaps is to re-examine some of the themes for cooperation identified by the leading experts of the South China Sea region and see how far they have developed over time.

The real question isn't naval presence but how to best empower U.S. partners in Asia

APRIL 9, 2014 
By Captain Paul Lushenko, U.S. Army 
Best Defense guest respondent 

No one questions the U.S. Navy's utility. The issue at stake, however, is how to achieve the best balance between the services to (1) provide for regional security and order while (2) meeting America's security obligations to its allies and partners, especially Australia, Japan, and South Korea. While the Navy, as both a ‘way' and ‘means,' as you point out, can help achieve both ‘ends,' your analysis is parsimonious to the point of obfuscating, particularly the diplomatic or messaging dividends of deploying land-based forces across the region. 

In a region beleaguered by a mélange of threats and vulnerabilities, epitomized by North Korea's increasingly brazen machinations and natural disasters respectively, the Navy can't do it all or by itself. Here, think of the U.S. Army's equally important response to Japan's 3/11 or its live-environment training exercises on the Korean Peninsula that do much to reassure regional-states -- again, especially allies -- of America's staying power. 

Among other things, the dispatch of land-based forces is designed to placate allies and partners as well as deter potential challengers, namely the Chinese party-state on account of its reputed revisionism. All of these actors increasingly question the viability of America's so-called ‘pivot' or rebalance towards the Indo-Pacific. Such uncertainty is based not only on sequestration and its attendant spending caps, but the recent denigration of U.S. soft power given the country's failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and its frustrated management of global security challenges including Syria's implacable civil war and Russia's annexation of Crimea. If you don't believe me, perhaps you'll appreciate this recent article published by the New York Times, titled "U.S. Response to Crimea Worries Japan's Leaders." 

Moreover, because the Navy is not necessarily omnipresent -- unlike you, I disagree that the Navy can be everywhere at once on the basis of simple math, logistics, and manning -- land-based forces provide a tangible and stable deterrent. Do you think North Korea or China's provocations would be lessened if the Pentagon removed land-based forces on the peninsula and in Okinawa, respectively? Do you think Russia might also abrogate its competing claims to the Kuril Islands vis-à-vis Japan as well? 

The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels 

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.​* Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

Syria: Come With Me If You Want To Live

April 11, 2014: Three years of war have killed nearly 150,000 Syrians (about 80 percent men, the rest women and children), wounded over 600,000, drove over three million Syrian refugees into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere plus more than twice as many Syrian refugees within Syria. About half the Syrian population has been driven from their homes by the fighting at one time or another since 2011. The actual war-related deaths are rapidly increasing. This includes losses from disease, exposure, starvation and war related crime (murder, not just getting caught in a firefight). Include all that and the deaths grow by as much as 20,000. 

The war has trashed the economy. Since 2011 the Syrian GDP has gone from $60 billion to $34 billion and is still shrinking. The $8 billion a year tourism industry is gone for the moment, as is $3 billion a year in oil revenue. The rebels have captured the oil fields but ISIL has not been able to gain control over all the oil fields and facilities. Al Nusra and local tribes have opposed ISIL here, which means that a lot of pol is not being pumped or shipped. 

In fought over areas up to half (on average) the homes and businesses have been damaged and 10-20 percent destroyed. Much of the economy is no longer working, either because of facilities being destroyed or the workers have fled. It is believed that it will take over a decade to rebuild the economy, and perhaps as long as three decades. Imports and exports are crippled because of the fighting. Unemployment is about 50 percent and what remains of a functioning economy is largely in government controlled areas. 

The government and its suppliers Russia and Iran see eventual government victory although it may take years. The Assads have announced that the main fighting will end this year, followed by “counter-terrorist” operations for as long as it takes. The government has made it clear that it can play rough. In addition to the use of chemical weapons, the government is also accused to running brutal prison camps and regularly executing or torturing prisoners who do not provide information on rebel activities. This has produced calls for war crimes investigations against the Assads. This has not deterred the Assads, who are still in “fighting for survival” mode. 

U.S. needs to plan for the day after an Iran deal

By David H. Petraeus and Vance Serchuk, Published: April 10

David H. Petraeus is a former director of the CIA and a former commander of U.S. Central Command. Vance Serchuk is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security

Advocates of the effort to reach a negotiated settlement with Iran over its illicit nuclear activities have emphasized the benefits an agreement could bring by peacefully and verifiably barring Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Skeptics, meanwhile, have warned of the risks of a “bad deal,” under which Iran’s capabilities are not sufficiently rolled back. 

Largely absent from the debate, however, has been a fuller consideration of the strategic implications a nuclear agreement could have on the U.S. position in the Middle East. 

Such an assessment must begin by considering the consequences of lifting the majority of sanctions on Iran — and of Iran resuming normal trade with the world’s major economies. This prospect is what provides our strongest leverage to persuade the Iranian government to abandon key elements of its nuclear program. 

But lifting sanctions would also lead to the economic empowerment of a government that is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. Indeed, even under crippling sanctions, Iran has managed to provide robust support to extremist proxies as part of its broader geopolitical agenda across the Middle East and beyond — activities antithetical to U.S. interests and to those of our closest allies. 

It is possible that a nuclear deal would pave the way to a broader detente in Iran’s relations with the United States and its neighbors. It is, however, more plausible that removing sanctions would strengthen Tehran’s ability to project malign influence in its near-abroad, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, the Arabian peninsula and the Palestinian territories. 

Rather than marking the end of our long struggle with Iran, therefore, a successful nuclear deal could result in the United States and our partners in the Middle East facing a better-resourced and, in some respects, more dangerous adversary. 

This does not mean we should abandon diplomacy with Tehran. Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons ought to be our foremost priority, and a diplomatic agreement that truly bolts the door against that danger is worth potential downsides. Moreover, the alternative to successful diplomacy — military action — carries its own set of costs and risks to regional stability and the global economy. And military action holds less promise for decisively ending the nuclear threat than does a good negotiated accord. 

But we need to recognize there are genuine trade-offs involved in even the best possible nuclear deal — and start laying the groundwork for mitigating them. To that end, five actions should be considered. 

First, it is imperative to make clear there can be no true reconciliation between Iran and the United States, regardless of the outcome of the nuclear talks, without a comprehensive change in Iran’s destabilizing regional behavior. Such a message — delivered publicly, unambiguously and consistently — would help eliminate the corrosive, and inaccurate, perception that Washington is so eager to disengage from the Middle East that it would accept Iranian hegemony there. 

The Realist Prism: West’s Tactical Blunders on Ukraine Go Unquestioned

on April 11, 2014, 

Petro Symonenko, the Communist Party deputy who was attackedearlier this week as he addressed the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, raised some uncomfortable points that Western policymakers need to consider about their response to the crisis in Ukraine. Symonenko aroused the ire of deputies from the nationalist Svoboda party by noting that some of those protesting the government of now-deposed President Viktor Yanukovych, including Svoboda activists, had used what might be termed improper methods—including storming buildings and breaking into armories—that are now being utilized by those who in turn do not recognize the authority of the interim government. By driving Yanukovych out of office, they created the conditions both for other aggrieved parties in Ukraine—namely, Russian-speakers in the south and east—to adopt similar tactics to advance their interests, and for Moscow to intervene in Ukrainian affairs and detach Crimea from Ukraine’s control.

It is easy, at first glance, to dismiss Symonenko. The Communists, after all, were close allies of Yanukovych, have opposed Ukraine’s membership in Euro-Atlantic organizations and have advocated for closer relations with Russia. And Symonenko’s accusation—that the manner in which Yanukovych was overthrown is what triggered the crisis—goes against the preferred narrative, which sees Yanukovych as a budding dictator who received his just political rewards and Russian President Vladimir Putin as the unprovoked aggressor against Ukraine. Yet while some Ukrainian politicians answered Symonenko’s words with their fists, Western statesmen might want to use his charges to re-evaluate their own positions—and their complicity in Ukraine’s plight.

The first question they should ask is why Brussels and Washington ignored clear warningsemanating from Russia prior to the beginning of the protest movement against Yanukovych last November. The Kremlin made it consistently clear that, while it would not object to Ukraine having somewhat closer economic ties to Europe, it would vigorously oppose any effort to bring Ukraine in as a full member of the Euro-Atlantic community. And while the level of Ukraine’s membership in Putin’s proposed Eurasian Union was still apparently negotiable, the Russian government signaled that, at minimum, it expected Ukraine to have some degree of association with any Eurasian economic entity. 

News of a Russian arms buildup next to Ukraine is part of the propaganda war

To project strength, Nato requires a convincing enemy and a retreating Russia does not do the job 
11 April 2014

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen walks past a guard of honour at the Czech government headquarters in Prague yesterday. Photograph: David W Cerny/Reuters

Any report about Ukraine these torrid days needs to come with a political health warning, even if that report originates from what might be called "our own" side. This includes the latest revelation from Nato aboutRussian troop deployments on the borders of eastern Ukraine.

Over the past six months, but especially since the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych's government in February and his circuitous flight from Kiev, there has been as much of a propaganda war as – potentially – a real war between Russia and the west. Two distinct, and for the most part mutually exclusive, versions of the truth have been put about, and have found receptive audiences on either side.

Russia saw Yanukovych's departure as the result of an illegal coup, orchestrated by dangerous rightwing nationalist elements. It discerned intervention by western, particularly US interests, in the formation of the interim government, and believed that these outside parties were driving events, the underlying purpose being to claim Ukraine for the west and do Russia down.

Western politicians and most of the media have taken a totally different view. Yanukovych was removed as the result of a genuine popular revolution. Russia annexed Crimea out of pique at what had happened, and in pursuit of Vladimir Putin's longstanding ambition to resurrect something like the Soviet Union. Next up would be eastern Ukraine, with its largely Russian-speaking and eastern-orientated population, and then – Moldova, perhaps even the Baltic states and Poland.

The latest Nato report has to be seen against this background. Its images purport to show Russian troops and hardware massing on the borders of eastern Ukraine. But there is one detail worth noting. Nato gives a date range for these pictures which makes them, essentially, historical. It is not at all clear that this situation pertains today.

Several more points could be made. The first is that several journalists have recently traversed the length of the eastern sector of the Russian-Ukrainian border, on the Russian side, and found nothing that would not correspond to the previously conducted exercises being wound down. They reported that the atmosphere seemed to be relatively relaxed; not the level of alert that might be expected of an army about to be aggressively deployed.

The second is that the US secretary of state, John Kerry, stated after his talks with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that Russia had withdrawn a battalion from the area near the border with Ukraine. In other words, the trend was for de-escalation – to use western diplomats' term of the moment – rather than the opposite.

None of this, of course, means that Russia could not, or perhaps would not, move into eastern Ukraine if serious disorder broke out there and urgent calls came from Russian "compatriots" for help. And it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that such calls might be deliberately manufactured by Moscow. There is also such a thing as contingency planning.

The seductive allure of wars we’re not winning

By Andrew J. Bacevich, Published: April 11 

Andrew J. Bacevich is a military historian at Boston University and the author of “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.” 

For better or worse, ours is today a warlike nation that depends on volunteers to fill the ranks of its armed forces. Young men and women have a variety of motives for signing up. No doubt some do so for high-minded, even idealistic reasons. For many, however, more pragmatic considerations figure: a job with salary and benefits, a chance to escape from a humdrum or dispiriting existence. In all likelihood, few volunteers know what they are getting into, particularly in wartime. Fully disclosing what service in a distant war zone might entail is not a high priority for recruiters trying to fill their monthly quota of warm and willing bodies. 

Even so, the new Washington Post poll of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans shows that, looking back, most of today’s veterans find no cause to regret their decision to join. Nearly nine out of 10 would do so again. Indeed, a majority of those who participated in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars profess to “miss” something they experienced there. 

What they miss is not the chance to kill jihadists, pursuant to spreading democracy and the American way of life, but comradeship experienced in the midst of trying circumstances. In that regard, of course, today’s veterans do not differ greatly from prior generations. However mystifying to those who have never spent any appreciable time in uniform, the bonds formed between soldiers in the course of wartime service — and even on occasion in service other than in wartime — have an immediacy and intimacy seldom found in other walks of life. 

For decades now, Hollywood has milked this band-of-brothers narrative for all of its considerable entertainment value. More recently, in a curious sort of implicit homage to military life, an endless succession of television series has depicted relationships formed in precinct houses, fire stations, hospitals and law firms as equivalent in intensity to those forged on the battlefield. 

U.S. Offer Hampers U.N. Missions

APRIL 9, 2014 

The ongoing debate on U.S. immigration reform tends to focus on domestic aspects of this legislation still pending with Congress, but there is another issue worth looking at that has global impact. 

A little known provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC § 1101(a)(27)(I)) authorizes the U.S. government to grant permanent residency to retired staff members of international organizations who, while working for multilateral institutions such as the U.N., live in the U.S. for 15 years. 

Those engaged in the immigration debate rightly focus on the costs and benefits to the U.S. of immigration reform, but they are likely unaware of the detrimental impact this particular provision has on the work of the U.N. and other international organizations based here. Opening borders and welcoming others to stay in the U.S. may be beneficial in many ways, but it can hurt these institutions whose budgets are largely funded by American taxpayers. 

By offering legal permanent residency to international bureaucrats, the U.S. is encouraging them to avoid being sent overseas on field missions -- where they would share with their colleagues the challenges and benefits of being posted in a variety of locations, including hardship postings. These organizations are deprived of staff rotations and turnover, and those not already posted to the U.S. are unlikely to find many openings here. The result is a stagnant working environment, rather than a dynamic and vibrant workforce that could be more effective in tackling today's global challenges. 

For the past few years, this is precisely what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others seeking to reform the system have been striving to achieve. In August 2012, the secretary general presented his report on staff mobility as part of his human resources management reform proposal. 

The report states his goal as "to improve the ability of the Organization to deliver its mandates, helping to ensure that the right people are in the right position at the right time, and allowing the Organization and staff to benefit systematically from the opportunities that mobility affords." 

Armed and Dangerous?

UAVs and U.S. Security

1.2 MB 


Armed drones are making the headlines, especially in their role in targeted killings. In this report, RAND researchers stepped back and asked whether these weapons are transformative. The answer is no, though they offer significant capabilities to their users, especially in counterterrorism operations as has been the case for the United States. Will they proliferate? Yes, but upon a closer look at the types of systems, only a few rich countries will be in a position to develop the higher technology and longer range systems. U.S. adversaries and others will likely find weapons such as aircraft and air defenses more cost and militarily effective. Their proliferation will not create the kinds of global dangers that call for new arms control efforts, but the risks to regional stability cannot be dismissed entirely, as is the case of any conventional weapon. How the United States will use these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.
Key Findings

Longer-Range Armed Drones Are Unlikely to Spread Broadly 
The complexity and expense of long-range armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are quite different from short-range systems, which make them difficult to develop and even to operate. 
Many countries are developing and acquiring drones. Short-range drones are going to spread, because they have attractive civilian uses. Only a few rich and technologically advanced countries will be in a position to develop the higher-technology and longer-range armed systems. 

Cyberwarfare Goes Wireless

Cyberwarfare is changing rapidly and the U.S. military has to change with it. 

The field of cyberoperations is expanding, and the U.S. military must adapt. 

April 4, 2014

Recent reports indicate that Russian forces used hacking to intercept a U.S. surveillance drone flying over the Crimea region of Ukraine in March. Allegedly, hackers were able to sever the connection between the drone and its operator using “complex radio-electronic technology.”

Additional coverage indicates a wide range of cyberactivities under way during the standoff, from primitive vandalism of Russian websites by Ukrainian hackers to more sophisticated operations, such as the possible Russian use of “Snake” malware to stealthily siphon information from various networks.

For American audiences and policymakers alike, reports like these provide chilling reminders that cyberspace is emerging as a 21st-century global battlefield. They also point to a critical need for the U.S. military to redefine “information warfare” for a wireless world to defend against such threats This is one reason for the recent U.S. budget increases for cybercapabilities.

Among the most significant challenges now facing the U.S. military is the increasingly blurred boundary between wired and wireless technologies.

In the military and commercial worlds, “cyberoperations” long referred to attacking and defending networks and connected devices. Nefarious hacking is typically thought of as an intrusion into remote computers through wired channels. But cyberoperators have gone “wireless.” Radio and other frequencies that span the electromagnetic spectrum are the new contested domain. Sometimes this contest involves keeping these wireless channels up and running. At other times, it involves seeking to shut them down through jamming.

The past decade has seen a proliferation of wireless technologies, such as those used to fly U.S. drones and those allegedly used to intercept one of them over Crimea. Stories of insurgents using smartphones to detonate improvised explosive devices have gone from the Hollywood script to the newspaper.

America’s military and intelligence communities are grappling with these issues at all levels, but it’s particularly important for the Army given the large size and expansive reach of Army networks, which are the largest among all the service and which extend down to the tactical edge. The Army is responding to these developments in numerous ways.