23 April 2014

Keeping the NSA in Perspective

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

By George Friedman

In June 1942, the bulk of the Japanese fleet sailed to seize the Island of Midway. Had Midway fallen, Pearl Harbor would have been at risk and U.S. submarines, unable to refuel at Midway, would have been much less effective. Most of all, the Japanese wanted to surprise the Americans and draw them into a naval battle they couldn't win.

The Japanese fleet was vast. The Americans had two carriers intact in addition to one that was badly damaged. The United States had only one advantage: It had broken Japan's naval code and thus knew a great deal of the country's battle plan. In large part because of this cryptologic advantage, a handful of American ships devastated the Japanese fleet and changed the balance of power in the Pacific permanently.

This -- and the advantage given to the allies by penetrating German codes -- taught the Americans about the centrality of communications code breaking. It is reasonable to argue that World War II would have ended much less satisfactorily for the United States had its military not broken German and Japanese codes. Where the Americans had previously been guided to a great extent by Henry Stimson's famous principle that "gentlemen do not read each other's mail," by the end of World War II they were obsessed with stealing and reading all relevant communications.

The National Security Agency evolved out of various post-war organizations charged with this task. In 1951, all of these disparate efforts were organized under the NSA to capture and decrypt communications of other governments around the world -- particularly those of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by Josef Stalin, and of China, which the United States was fighting in 1951. How far the NSA could go in pursuing this was governed only by the extent to which such communications were electronic and the extent to which the NSA could intercept and decrypt them.

The amount of communications other countries sent electronically surged after World War II yet represented only a fraction of their communications. Resources were limited, and given that the primary threat to the United States was posed by nation-states, the NSA focused on state communications. But the principle on which the NSA was founded has remained, and as the world has come to rely more heavily on electronic and digital communication, the scope of the NSA's commission has expanded.

The missed handshake of ’71

Published on The Asian Age (http://www.asianage.com)
The missed handshake of ’71
By editor
Created 23 Apr 2014

Pakistanis fancy themselves to be the descendants of Central Asian conquerors who repeatedly defeated Indian forces during invasions of India in the medieval period. They have a notion that they have inherited their martial superiority.

Pakistanis fancy themselves to be the descendants of Central Asian conquerors who repeatedly defeated Indian forces during invasions of India in the medieval period. They have a notion that they have inherited their martial superiority.

For centuries, India’s defence policy was managed exclusively by her rulers and Indians were nowhere in the loop. There was no tradition of strategic thinking in our country.

In 1947 we assumed responsibility for India’s defence. Neither our political nor military leadership had knowledge or experience of managing national strategy. Our military leadership was ill-equipped to do so. For a year-and-a-half after Independence we had British army chiefs, first General Lockhart and then General Bucher. The Navy and the Air Force had British service chiefs for much longer. Lord Mountbatten was the head of state.

The first priority for these top military officers was to serve British national interests. There were not more than one per cent Indian officers in the Army and hardly any in the Navy and the Air Force who had risen above the rank of major or equivalent. Very few Indians had served on staff at formation headquarters and almost none at the national level in Service Headquarters. The first Indian to be promoted major general was Brig. Cariappa on August 15, 1947.

Our political leadership of that time failed to take full cognisance of developments on our borders. The popular slogan during Partition was “Hanske lia Pakistan, Larke lenge Hindustan”. The origin and history of Pakistan has been of relentless hostility towards India. Sir Syed Ahmed, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, asserted, “Is it possible that two nations, the Mohammadan and the Hindu, could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. Our co-religionists from the hills in North will come down like locusts and make blood flow up to Calcutta” (Divide and Quit, by Sir Penderrel Moon).

Pakistan invaded Kashmir within weeks of Independence, unleashing tribesmen led by Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army along with Army personnel in civilian clothes to capture Srinagar and the Kashmir Valley. Timely intervention by the Indian Army rescued the people while the invaders lost two days in plunder and rapine of Baramulla, drenching it in “pools of blood”. Srinagar was saved and the people of the Valley rescued by the timely arrival of Indian soldiers. A decisive victory was won against all odds and the entire Valley was cleared by November 14, 1947. A golden opportunity was lost when the Army was at Uri and not allowed to pursue the fleeing enemy to Muzaffarabad and seal the border. This was a wrong political decision supported by the top military leadership at Delhi which was all British. The dream of “Larke lenge Hindustan” was duly foiled.

The Siachen Saga

April 21, 2014
A chapter from Nitin A. Gokhale’s new book on the Siachen Glacier conflict between India and Pakistan.
By Nitin A. Gokhale

The following is an extract from a new book by long-term Diplomat contributor Nitin A. Gokhale, Beyond NJ 9842: The Siachen Saga. The book details the history of Operation Meghdoot and the fighting between India and Pakistan on the Siachen Glacier. The extract is printed here with the kind permission of the author.

In April 2012, Pakistan’s then Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani suddenly called for demilitarization of the Siachen glacier for the “development of Pakistan and environmental reasons.”

“India and Pakistan must live in peaceful coexistence as defence without development is neither viable nor acceptable,” he declared. He saw all issues dividing India and Pakistan as capable of resolution and Siachen and Sir Creek as convenient starting points, low hanging fruit to be plucked as strong confidence building measures.

This was completely out of character and a departure from Pakistan’s position on the Siachen glacier.

So what prompted the change of heart?

In fact, it was the tragic death of 130 troops of the 6 Northern Light Infantry in a massive avalanche at Gayari on April 7 that year that triggered Gen Kayani’s new thinking. After visiting the site of the accident, Gen Kayani spoke at Skardu about the need to demilitarize Siachen. He said Pakistan was not manning those treacherous heights out of choice. “The world knows why we are in Siachen,” reiterating the Pakistani position that it was India that started the dispute in 1984.

But even while announcing his desire to make peace with India on “Siachen and Sir Creek,” Gen Kayani was being economical with the truth.

The reality is Pakistani troops are nowhere near the Siachen glacier. They are deployed on the western slopes of the Saltoro ridge, far from the glacier and at much lower altitudes.

Indian positions, on the other hand, are on absolutely dominating heights on the main passes of the Saltoro ridge, Sia La and Bilafond La. As far as the Indian Army is concerned it sees no need to withdraw from the commanding heights it controls given Pakistan’s perfidy in the past, especially in Kargil when it tried to cut-off Siachen in the summer of 1999.

What ails Indian Submarine Fleet?

IssueNet Edition| Date : 21 Apr , 2014

There been a spate of accidents in the recent past in Indian Navy’s fleet, particularly in the submarine arm of the Navy. One of the most unfortunate accidents of the Indian Navy, was the mishap with INS Sindhuratna, a Russian made Kilo-class submarine on 26 February this year. It was the tenth such incident in a series of such accidents involving an Indian warship in seven months. The incident led to the resignation of Navy Chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi from the high office of Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), first time in Indian naval history that a CNS had to resign.

The repeated accidents of this kind at the strategic weaponry can also hinder morale of its own forces and strategic aspiration of the nation.

Though the exact reason for the mishap is yet to be made public, the initial probe says that a fire extinguisher had become operational automatically in the sailors accommodation spewing out poisonous Freon gas which resulted in death of two officers and several injuries due to inhalation of the noxious fumes. There are also consistent reports from within Navy circles about the malfunctioning of the batteries. Each Kilo class Submarines like INS Sindhuratna, acquired from Soviet Union in late 1980s has 240 Lead acid batteries weighing around 800 kg. TheSindhuratna, commissioned into the Navy in 1988, was originally intended to have been phased out in 2013. Instead the submarine underwent a refit and was again inducted to the Navy in December 2013. It was reported that the batteries on board were not replaced by new ones when the submarine underwent a refit. The submarine was at sea on a training and inspection exercise post the refit. The trials were being supervised by the Western Fleet’s Commodore Commanding Submarines or COMCOS who was personally aboard the submarine when the accident had occurred.

Aspiring to become a maritime regional power, the Indian Navy had recognized the importance of submarines as early as 1947. However, owing to budgetary constraints, difficulties in operating the submarine fleet and sourcing procedures hampered the acquisition process and the submarine hardly featured in the Navy’s ten year plan of 1948-1958. Large parts of the Navy’s efforts in the early 1950’s were to counter the threat posed by Pakistan and the submarine hardly featured in the list of countermeasures. The border war with China in 1962 changed this, dramatically. The defense review following the border war, allowed the Navy to make its claim for the submarine arm once more. Eventually, a deal was signed in 1965, which allowed for acquisition of submarines from the Soviet Union (Hiranandani, G. M, 2000). Apart from the acquisition of submarines, the 1965 agreement also paved the way for a Dockyard, a submarine base, training facilities and submarine repair areas to be set up in India.

Foreign Funding of Indian NGOs

IssueNet Edition| Date : 21 Apr , 2014

Introduction to FCRA 

From time to time there is a furor over receipt of donations from abroad. In December 2013 the Supreme Court gave the Central Bureau of Investigation a further period of eight weeks to report on the actual of NGO’s in the country.

FCRA regulates the receipt of funds by NGOs and is managed by the MHA.

Does the Government know the total amount of money received under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)? How does GOI ensure that recipient organizations are working in national interest?

Using the 2010-11 FCRA report this article seeks to provoke thought by sharing data of donor countries, donors-their objectives, recipients etc.

First, a bit about the regulatory framework for NGOs who receive foreign funds?

FCRA regulates the receipt of funds by NGOs and is managed by the MHA. Any organization that wants to receive contributions from abroad has to apply and get approval from the Home Ministry. The associations could be religious, social, educational, cultural or educational organizations.

If an NGO, whether registered or not, receives a contribution in excess of Rs 1 cr during a period of 30 days, the Bank has to report this to the Central Government within 30 days of the date of such last transaction. The NGO has to annually submit audited accounts to MHA who scrutinize the returns to ensure that contributions received for a particular purpose are used for that purpose only. It does a detailed check of randomly picked associations and collates the data received to present the FCRA Annual Report.

Trends in Foreign Contributions

As on 31.3.2012, there were 41,844 registered associations under FCRA. As compared to 2004-05 (UPA came to power in 2004) the amount received in 2011-12 has gone up by 85% and their number 38%. See table.

Reported receipts by NGOs between 1993-94 to 2011-12 were Rs 1,16,073 crs. Only about 55% NGOs gave audited accounts so amounts received by them are included in this report. Actual receipts were much higher.

Infrastructure Development in Northeast India : Ushering Peace in the Region

Two seemingly insignificant events about northeast India received miniscule mention recently in the national media but are poised to make a significant impact on the development potential of the region in the coming years. The first was the completion of railway line from Mendipathar in North Garo Hills to Dudhnoi in Goalpara District in Assam signifying the connectivity of Meghalaya with Indian rail network. Though the 19.7 km long railway line was announced in the 1992-93 railway budget, it was integrated with the rail network on 27 February 2014. The activation of the railway line will increase trade and business opportunities for the local population apart from providing a cheaper and sustained means of communication. Ironically, the construction was stalled in the initial stages due to opposition from the Khasi Student Union, which claimed that the rail network would lead to increase in migrant population[1]. The second event was commencement of rail services to Itanagar on 07 April 2014, making it the second state capital in northeast to have rail connectivity. The daily services are proving a boon to the people of Arunachal Pradesh providing them a rail link to Guwahati via Dekragaon in Sonitpur district in Assam. The rail link will to lead to economic upliftment by improving transport efficiency, lowering cost of transportation of commodities besides increasing tourism in the state.

Indian Railways is pursuing an ambitious plan to connect all state capitals with a rail network. Presently, the rail network in northeast is 2602 kms long and 11 new projects will add 882 kms[2] of rail lines. The notable networks are construction of rail link from Jiribam to Imphal by 2016, extension of rail line from Dimapur to Kohima and feasibility studies to link other capitals. Three strategic railway lines are planned to provide a boost for faster movement of equipment in case of hostilities with China. Two railway lines, Missamari-Tawang and Murkongselek-Pasighat have been sanctioned for construction[3]. Detailed survey is in progress on Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai and North Lakhimpur-along-Silapathar routes. Similarly, a number of rail links are planned to be constructed providing connectivity with neighbouring countries. Rail link between Akhaura (Bangladesh) and Agartala was approved in 2011. Feasibility study is being conducted for connecting Sabrum (Tripura) to Chittagong to access Chittagong port. Also, a 252 km track is planned between Jawaharnagar (Tripura) to Darlong (Myanmar) via Kolasib (Mizoram)[4].

The road network construction and upgradation had received a boost with the implementation of Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SADRP) in 2006. The first phase envisages a 6500km network to be completed by 2016. Though only approximately 1000 km[5] of the proposed network has been completed till date, a 3723 km network is planned for the second phase. Uncertain security situation, threats of violence by local insurgent groups by demanding payoffs has resulted in slow progress. Another significant project under construction is the Kaladan Multi Mode Transportation Project (KMMTP) providing an alternate connectivity for the northeast states. The project envisages an 826 km route by sea, river and road connecting Mizoram to Kolkata. It includes improvement of Sittwe port in Arakan province, west Myanmar, construction of an inland waterway on Kaladan river and preparation of a highway transportation system linking upto Mizoram capital of Aizwal[6]. The work on the project commenced in November 2010 and is likely to be completed by 2016-17. Once completed, the project will provide a shorter route to Kolkata besides reducing dependence on a single national highway, NH 54. The Kunming-Kolkata road project is planned as part of Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Forum initiative to harness the economic potential of the member countries. Another important road connectivity planned is the 3200 km long highway linking northeast India to Thailand via Myanmar, which is slated to be completed by 2016.

India’s Increasingly Bloody Marxist Insurgency

April 21, 2014
India struggles with rebel threats during election
Associated Press

RAJNANDGAON, India (AP) — Indians cast ballots Thursday on the biggest day of voting in the country’s weekslong general election, streaming into polling stations even in areas where leftist rebels threatened violence over the plight of India’s marginalized and poor.

Nationwide voting began April 7 and runs through May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to be announced four days later. Among the 13 key states voting Thursday was Chhattisgarh, now the center of a four-decade Maoist insurgency that has affected more than a dozen of India’s 28 states.

With roadside bombings, jungle ambushes and hit-and-run raids, the rebels aim for nothing short of sparking a full-blown peasant revolt as they accuse the government and corporations of plundering resources and stomping on the rights of the poor.

But authorities say that, amid the bloodshed, there are signs that the rebels have waning support - including lines of voters shuffling into polling booths in rebel strongholds.

"I want a good life for my baby, security and peace," said Neha Ransure, a 25-year-old woman who was voting in the Chhattisgarh town of Rajnandgaon. "The rebels are bad. They kill our soldiers. I don’t go outside of town. It is too dangerous."

Rebels always threaten to disrupt Indian elections, and this year is no different.

While Rajnandgaon was peaceful Thursday, rebels set off a bomb near a group of polling officials and security forces in the neighboring district of Kanker, police said. No one was hurt. Another blast injured three paramilitary soldiers and a driver in the state of Jharkhand, where they also blew up railway lines.

Crimson Tide: Storm Brewing Over Pakistan by Sherry Rehman

A regional storm is brewing, and Pakistan could well be at its centre.

As Pakistan faces off its darkest moment of terrorist challenge, citizens are asking how long they will have to wait for a consistent policy response from the state and government. The drumbeat and din are growing; the pressure to act is also upped by gunship helicopters and Air Force jets pounding previously untouched terror spots in the federally-administered tribal areas.

There is little disagreement in the policy community—or elsewhere, for that matter—that much of what Islamabad has to contend with is home-grown, complex, and not easily reversible. With the prolonged dialogue-dance between the government and the Pakistani Taliban, out-of-the-bottle genies such as proscribed terrorist groups are now claiming space as legitimate actors. This in itself represents a serious challenge to a state whose soldiers and law enforcement agencies stand confused. Their targets have now been recast as interlocutors for peace.

On March 18, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finally approved the National Internal Security Policy. This document estimates the threat to Pakistan as existential and assures that some coordination among Pakistan’s myriad security agencies is actually on the agenda. But whatever the policy’s merits or otherwise, violence-fatigued Pakistanis want to know whether and when the government will actually act decisively against terrorism. The scale of Pakistan’s internal threat seems hard to top for the harvest of blood it draws. But a number of global and regional conflict trends looming on the horizon look set to add to the toxic combination of conflict-triggers that, if unmitigated, could present a perfect storm for Pakistan.

India-Pakistan: Islamic Terrorists Insist They Are Misunderstood

April 20, 2014 

India and Afghanistan persuaded the United States to refuse Pakistani demands for surplus American military equipment in Afghanistan. India pointed out that Pakistanis discuss among themselves that the American military aid is actually to be used against foreign, not domestic, enemies. There is evidence of that because Pakistan refuses to go on the offensive against domestic terrorists and continues to maintain a sanctuary for them in North Waziristan. Pakistani political leaders, responding to popular pressure, find that they cannot order the military to go after North Waziristan. Oh, the elected leaders can order such an attack but the generals make excuses and suddenly rumors of another coup start appearing. So the politicians back off and Islamic terrorists continue to survive in North Waziristan. Pakistani politicians don’t trust the Pakistani military and neither does anyone in India or Afghanistan. 

Most Afghans blame the Pakistanis for any successes the Taliban have. There is some truth to this as it is no secret that ISI created the Taliban in the early 1990s and Pakistan has been supporting Islamic terrorism since the late 1970s. In the last few years more evidence of this Pakistani perfidy has come to light. Officially Pakistan still denies that they sheltered Osama bin Laden, but it’s no secret that Pakistan still tolerates sanctuaries for all manner of Islamic terrorists who operate inside Afghanistan. One of the biggest complaints Afghans have against the Americans is that the Americans are not more forceful in persuading Pakistan to shut down these sanctuaries. Pakistan insists it is innocent and the civilian government in Pakistan will, at most, admit that it cannot control its own military, which is most responsible for providing support to Islamic terrorists. The sad fact is that this is all self-inflicted. Over three decades of government sponsored propaganda supporting Islamic terrorists has left a lot of Pakistanis still willing to accept excuses for all the terrorist violence. Many Taliban insist that they are not terrorists but simply “angry brothers” of fellow Pakistanis and trying to make Pakistan a better place. A growing number of Pakistanis see the flaws in this approach, but the Islamic terrorists and their supporters are still able to threaten critics with violence and that keeps many anti-terrorism Pakistanis quiet. 

In Afghanistan the increased popular (and often violent) opposition to the Taliban and Islamic terrorists in general has forced the Taliban to depend more on bases and support from Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban are particularly dependent on the Islamic terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan, where many of the bombs used in Afghanistan are made and many of the suicide bombers are trained. The Afghan security forces have responded by increasing efforts to block Taliban efforts to get bombs, weapons and Islamic terrorists into Afghanistan. The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban have become a lot closers in the last few years because both groups are encountering more opposition, heavier losses and more problems raising money. Both groups have lots of factions that don’t agree with each other and despite all that is threatening them, the factions will still fight each other. Despite all these troubles there are still a lot of broke, uneducated and aimless young men willing to join up. That often ends up in an early death, but along the way these guys get a little respect (as a byproduct of fear) and, for a short while, the feeling that they are someone important. 

He Hunted Osama bin Laden, He Breaks Into Nuclear-Power Plants

The unlikely career of Dalton Fury
APR 16 2014

John Cuneo

Delta Force lore has it that when the Army is filling its elite Special Operations unit, it looks not just to those who are the best, but to those who are the best at blending in. As the onetime Delta Force commander Dalton Fury puts it in his new counterterrorism thriller, Full Assault Mode, the ideal Delta operator is “a chameleon”—someone who looks “as normal as the next guy on the street corner.”

It’s a clear February evening, and I’m scanning the parking lot of a chain barbecue restaurant, looking for Fury. We are supposed to have dinner, if I can just find him—or rather, the person who goes by that name. Dalton Fury is my subject’s pen name; he has asked me not to use his real one in this article. Nor am I to identify the midsize southern town where we are meeting. The man is more than a little shy of attention: when Fury appeared on 60 Minutes in 2008 to discuss his part in the battle of Tora Bora—he commanded the Delta Force team charged at the time with hunting down Osama bin Laden—he was concealed by full special-effects makeup, complete with a Duck Dynasty–style beard.

Given all this, I didn’t bother to ask Fury in advance of our meeting what he looks like. He volunteered that he’s driving a silver Jeep, so I pull up to one in the parking lot. It turns out not to be his. Even his car is hiding in plain sight.

When he arrives he is, in fact, average-looking: Neither short nor tall. Fit, but not in a conspicuous way—not too big, not too thin. White, but again, not notably so; his skin is neither pale nor tan. Middle-aged, in a T-shirt and khaki pants. His voice has the soft imprint of a somewhat southern accent, one that’s impossible to place. If it weren’t for his slightly gray high-and-tight hairstyle, there’d be nothing notable about him at all. I later find myself wondering how I’d describe him to a police sketch artist: Draw a generic man. Yep—that’s him.

China’s 2014 Defence Budget: An Assessment


April 21, 2014

China’s National People’s Congress in March 2014 announced that it would increase its defence budget to 808.23 billion yuan (132 billion dollars). In 2013, it was 720.2 billion (117 billion dollars) yuan amounting to an increase of 12. 2 per cent (See, Table 1). China does not release any more than the breakdown of expenditure at broad categories, complicating investigation about the priorities. However, it is possible to assess broadly its defence expenditure through statements from officials, news reports and white papers. The 2014 budget does not show any drastic increase and low compared to the GDP ratio. It however emphasises China’s shift to structural reforms for the military, in particular utilisation of defence spending towards boosting investment in training, weaponry and equipment.

China’s defence budget roughly covers personnel expenses renyuan shenghuo fei (military officers, civilian cadres, soldiers and employers wages, insurance, food and clothing); secondly, training and maintenance xunlian weite fei (troops training, college education, engineering facilities construction and maintenance, and everyday expenses); third, equipment expenses zhuangbei fei (weaponry and equipment research, testing, procurement, maintenance, transportation and storage). From 2013, China started emphasising on structural reforms and reorganisation for the military. The 2014 budget therefore stresses the shift towards training and investment in new high-technology weapons and equipment by encouraging more private enterprises to enter military procurement. In Chinese view, it would reduce reliance on foreign imports and boost defence industry and in turn, economic growth. The PLA Navy, Air Force, Army Aviation, Aerospace, and the PLA Second Artillery would receive more attention.

Xi Jinping vision for the PLA, the dictum of ‘fight war, win war’ (neng dazhang, da shengzhang), would provide the theoretical structure for China’s military construction. The General Staff Headquarters had identified Xi’s vision for as the fundamental goal that would drive military construction.1 This budget adheres to this policy, which underlines capability to win a war. The military would “develop new type of weapon equipment and strengthen military exercises” and “improve army informationalisation under deterrence and combat conditions”.2 Apart from equipment, the PLA Navy would receive more expenses for conducting exercises in the high seas.

No First Use Nuclear Doctrine with “Chinese Characteristics” by Dr. Adityanjee

Dr. Adityanjee Introduction Like a chameleon, the dragon, very predictably is changing its colors with regards to its often stated nuclear doctrine of “no firs... 

Preview by Yahoo 

Like a chameleon, the dragon, very predictably is changing its colors with regards to its often stated nuclear doctrine of “no first use” (NFU). Since 1964 when China conducted its first nuclear weapon test, China has repeatedly and vociferously insisted that it would not be the first nuclear power to use a tactical or strategic nuclear weapon in pursuit of its strategic objectives. This NFU pledge was explicitly and unconditionally included in each of China’s defense white papers from the first in 1998 through the seventh one in 2011. Recently, there is some international debate about possible changes in China’s NFU doctrine following publication of China’s biannual 2013 Defense White Paper. However, it appears that China may have moved beyond its so-called NFU doctrine and its duplicitous pledges do not hold any sincere meaning. Strategic deception has been an important part of China’s military DNA since the times of Sun Tzu who wrote in his treatise the Art of War: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away. Since achieving a great economic success and flush with $ 3.4 trillion foreign exchange reserves, China has increased its list of core national issues and has adopted a more belligerent strategic posture and hegemonic attitude towards international community in general and its neighbors in particular. Disregarding the Deng’s advice of lying low and bidding your time, the current (5th) generation of China’s leaders are adopting aggressive postures militarily though the transformation into visibly hardened strategic claims started really during the reign of the 4th generation leaders (Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and Wu Bangguo).

The last time a Chinese paramount leader reaffirmed the so-called NFU pledge was on March 27th 2012 in Seoul Nuclear Conference when Hu Jintao mentioned it in his address. However, in December 2012, the new 5th generation Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping failed to mention about the so-called no first use pledge in a speech given to Second Artillery Force of the PLA which manages China’s land-based nuclear weapons. Apparently, he also stated that nuclear weapons create strategic support for China’s status as a major world power. This is a significant departure from the previously stated public positions citing Mao Zedong’s ideas about the use of nuclear weapons as a taboo and labeling the nuclear weapons essentially as “paper tigers”.

Russia Displays a New Military Prowess in Ukraine’s East

APRIL 21, 2014

Armed men outside an administrative building in Slovyansk, Ukraine. American officials say Russian troops or pro-Russian separatists under Moscow’s influence control such buildings.

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of behaving in a “19th-century fashion” because of its annexation of Crimea.

But Western experts who have followed the success of Russian forces in carrying out President Vladimir V. Putin’s policy in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have come to a different conclusion about Russian military strategy. They see a military disparaged for its decline since the fall of the Soviet Union skillfully employing 21st-century tactics that combine cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops to seize the initiative from the West.

“It is a significant shift in how Russian ground forces approach a problem,” said James G. Stavridis, the retired admiral and former NATO commander. “They have played their hand of cards with finesse.

The abilities the Russian military has displayed are not only important to the high-stakes drama in Ukraine, they also have implications for the security of Moldova, Georgia, Central Asian nations and even the Central Europe nations that are members of NATO.

The dexterity with which the Russians have operated in Ukraine is a far cry from the bludgeoning artillery, airstrikes and surface-to-surface missiles used to retake Grozny, the Chechen capital, from Chechen separatists in 2000. In that conflict, the notion of avoiding collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure appeared to be alien.

Ukraine crisis: Putin should know we mess with Europe's borders at our peril

Russian policy towards Ukraine risks reawakening European nationalism. Some sleeping dogs should be left to lie 

The Guardian, Sunday 20 April 2014 17.14 BST 

Black Sea fleet sailors watch a televised call-in show with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sevastopol, Crimea, last week. Photograph: Andrew Lubimov/AP

One of the greatest problems with foreign and defence policy is understanding the real motives for a state's action. No one knows Vladimir Putin's real intentions over Ukraine – perhaps not even the Russian leader himself. Any good liberal may hope that Putin is as respectful of international law as he claims, and that his interests extend merely to protecting the Russian-speaking minorities. However, the Geneva deal agreed between Russia and the west on Thursday is a thin reed that can mean too many things to too many people.

Start with the phrase: "All illegal armed groups must be disarmed." Who by? The west believes that the disciplined, well-armed and trained militants occupying government buildings in Donetsk, Kramatorsk, Mariupol and Slavyansk (where people were shot this weekend) are under Russian influence. The Kremlin denies it. The militants are not budging. One spokesman said they will only move when the Ukrainian government is replaced.

Take another piece of Geneva crack-covering: "The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable." For Russia, that means a process of federalisation of Ukraine that – at the minimum – leaves it a neutral buffer state. For the Ukrainian government, it cannot rule out the prospect of EU membership.

In the long term, there may be a potential compromise for Ukraine in what is increasingly great power politics: devolved administrations for Russian-speaking regions, EU membership and neutrality outside Nato. Finland and Sweden are precedents for this model. Putin may note, though, that his handling of the Ukraine crisis has reopened the Finnish and Swedish debates on Nato membership.

What if Putin is more ambitious? His televised interview shortly before the Geneva deal was worrying. He hoped that it would not be necessary to use the powers he had been given by the federation council to invade Ukraine, but added: "These are all territories which in the [1920s] were handed over by the Soviet government. Only God knows why they did this." He also used the old phrase "New Russia" to refer to the arc of eastern and southern Ukrainian territory by the Black Sea.

Beijing: No Meeting Between Chinese, Japanese Naval Chiefs

China stressed there would be no one-on-one contact with the visiting Japanese delegation at this week’s symposium. 
April 22, 2014

On Sunday, a spokesman for China’s navy announcedthat naval commander Admiral Wu Shengli will not meet with Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of staff of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces, during the Western Pacific Naval Symposium this week. This announcement contradicts earlier reports that the two men would meet during the symposium, marking the first such meeting between China and Japan’s naval chiefs since 2009. The snub also calls into question the possibility of a détente between China and Japan, despite some positive recent signs.

The Western Pacific Naval Symposium, to be hosted this year in Qingdao, China, has provided a miniature picture of the conflicting signals in China-Japan relations. First, Japan announced that it had not been invited to participate in a fleet review to take place in Qingdao alongside the symposium. In response, the U.S. said it would not send any ships to participate in the review. Ultimately, China cancelled the entire review in deference to the continuing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. “Under such a special situation and atmosphere, China decided to cancel the multinational naval parade,” naval spokesman Liang Yang said in a statement.

However, China does intend to hold a joint maritime drill alongside the symposium, and Japan was pointedly not invited to this event. According to China Daily, Liang said that Japan was excluded from the drill because “a series of inappropriate actions by the Japanese government and leaders have severely hurt the Chinese people’s feelings.”

The obvious (and purposeful) snub regarding the joint drill is at odds with earlier attempts to downplay the lack of an invitation. Last week, China’s navy issued a statement trying to separate the joint drill from the symposium, which would lessen the insult of Japan being invited to one but excluded from the other. “This joint naval drill is not an activity within the framework of the symposium, but to mark the founding day of the Chinese navy,” the statement said. “China invited countries participating in the symposium, and also countries not participating were invited to send ships.”

Chinese Court Seizes Japanese Vessel to Enforce WW2-Related Ruling

The Shanghai Maritime Court seized a Japanese vessel to compensate for WW2-era losses to a Chinese firm. 

April 21, 2014

The Shanghai Maritime Court has seized a Japanese ship owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL). The vessel,Baosteel Emotion, was seized to provide payment for a judgment against MOL relating to the use (and eventual loss) of two Chinese ships by the firm during World War II. Financial Times called the seizure “an unprecedented asset confiscation for wartime compensation.”

The seizure of Baosteel Emotion is perhaps the most dramatic turn in a case that has dragged on since the 1930s. In 1936, the Chinese company Chung Wei Steamship Co. leased two ships for one year to a Japanese shipping line, Daido Kaiun. However, in 1937 the ships were commandeered by the Japanese navy, which did not pay any leasing fees to Chung Wei. Both ships eventually sank while in the service of Japan’s navy. For decades, the Chen family (the owners of Chung Wei Steamship Co.) have been unsuccessfully trying to receive payment for the ships from Daido Kaiun’s successor firm, Mitsui O.S.K.

In 2007, the Shanghai Maritime Court ruled in favor of the Chen family, and demanded 2.9 billion yen ($28 million) in compensation from MOL. The court upheld the ruling in 2010, and in 2011 China’s Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from MOL. The current seizure of the Baosteel Emotion is a direct result of that verdict.According to Xinhua, the Shanghai court says “it will dispose of the ship if MOL continues to refuse to fulfill its obligation.”

For its part, a Mitsui spokesperson told Financial Times that the company had been in the middle of negotiations with the Chen family about a settlement. “We are very surprised about their sudden decision. We cannot accept it,” the spokesperson said. The official statement on MOL’s website also emphasizes that the seizure was sudden and disrupted efforts at reaching a settlement. South China Morning Post, however, reports that the ship was only seized after negotiations between the Chens and Mitsui had failed. In a similar case, MOL was able to reach an out-of-court settlement with the Dah Loh Industrial Co. last year after the Shanghai Maritime Court ruled in Dah Loh’s favor.

In response, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the “sudden seizure” of the Baosteel Emotion“extremely regrettable.” He warned that the move “is likely to have, in general, a detrimental effect on Japanese businesses working in China.” Suga also said that the seizure of the ship is in violation of the 1972 joint communique between China and Japan, which normalizes relations between the two countries. In that communique, “in the interest of the friendship between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples,” the Chinese government “renounce[d] its demand for war reparation from Japan.”


This has been adapted from a blog post that first appeared on Strat.Buzz and was pulled from our friends at ASPI’s The Strategist.

In the last two weeks, there have been a number of articles circulating (includinghere, here, here and here) that Indonesia has formally recognised a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

This discussion has originated from statements (see here, and here for example) attributed to Indonesian Navy Commodore Fahru Zaini, an assistant to the first deputy of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam):

China has claimed Natuna waters as their territorial waters. This arbitrary claim is related to the dispute over Spratly and Paracel Islands between China and the Philippines. This dispute will have a large impact on the security of Natuna waters.

Commodore Zaini is also quoted as saying ‘…we have come to Natuna to see firsthand the strategic position of the TNI, especially in its ability, strength and its deployment of troops, just in case anything should happen in this region’.

This might give the overall impression that Indonesia’s defence modernisation and deployment plans are driven by China’s recent assertiveness in the South China Sea, and that now Jakarta has officially staked out its policy to challenge Beijing.

This impression is false for several reasons.

First, officially, there’s no maritime ‘dispute’ between Indonesia and China. Following the statement by Commodore Zaini, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Michael Tene said that ‘Indonesia has no maritime border with China’ and that Indonesia isn’t a claimant state to the South China Sea dispute. Indeed, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa clarified further on March 19,

We have to be absolutely clear about this…There are three seemingly related but separate issues. Firstly, there is no territorial dispute between Indonesia and China, especially about the Natunas. In fact, we are cooperating with China in possibly bringing about foreign direct investment plans in the Natunas. Second, we are not a claimant state in the South China Sea. Third, on the nine-dash line, it is true that we do not accept that. This is why we have asked for a formal explanation from China regarding their claims’ legal basis and background.

.2 Ways Obama Can Strengthen the Pivot

During Obama’s “great reassurance tour” in Asia this week, he should focus on the TPP and the status-quo. 

April 22, 2014

In a recent televised segment for Voice of America’sOn The Line here in Washington, DC, I described U.S. Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent visit to Asia as the great reassurance tour. The same can be said of President Obama’s trip to the region this week. The challenge for the President is quite simple: convince America’s allies that its “pivot” or “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific is the real deal.

While I disagree with the president a great deal when it comes to many aspects of his domestic agenda, as well as certain aspects of his foreign policy, one thing is clear: the move to anoint Asia as the central focus of American foreign policy was a no-brainer and smart strategy. However, when one labels their foreign policy goals with the sticky term such as “pivot,” any move that can be considered counter to such a strategy invites skepticism and charges of abandonment. Will Russia’s moves against Ukraine spark a counter pivot back to Europe? Could Washington get sucked back into another war in the Middle East if Syria’s civil war were to spread? Maybe the pivot was just an all-too-clever marketing strategy, one of the best bumper sticker foreign policy slogans of all time, which set expectations way too high. While we may have to let history be the judge in the years ahead, clearly with the rise of China and trillions of trade dollars at stake, America has very pragmatic reasons to make Asia the center of its foreign policy — hype excluded.

While President Obama has a number of ways to push ahead with a carefully crafted Asia-Pacific focused foreign policy, time is not on his side and he must choose his agenda quite carefully. Here are two possible items that could help ensure a successful reassurance tour of Asia.


The Strait of Hormuz has been the centre of significant activity in recent months. Three ships – two merchant vessels and a crude oil tanker – were attacked in the Strait at the end of March. In early April, Pakistan and Iran conducted joint naval drills in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, which sits on eastern side of the Strait.

Also in April, the Oman Supreme Council of Planning announced that it will begin constructing a 90 square kilometre logistics hub near the central coast of the country near one of the Strait’s two entry/exit points. That project aims to capitalise on the high volume of traffic that moves through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

It is no surprise that such activity has occurred in the Strait of Hormuz in such a short space of time. Despite the desire of some countries to lower their dependence on energy supplies from the Persian Gulf, the region remains one of the key global areas for petroleum production and distribution.

Approximately one-fifth of the world’s traded petroleum resources passed through the Strait in 2012. This amount is unlikely to have drastically changed in the last year and a half given that the economies of Asia continue to boom and western demand for petroleum remains high.

China, for instance, imported 55 percent of its petroleum resources from the Persian Gulf, with the majority of that passing through the Strait of Hormuz. This is a major fact considering China’s total amount of crude oil imports in 2013 was 280 million tonnes, according to Reuters.

Leadership: The Empires Strike Back At Each Other

April 21, 2014: The defining characteristic of the early 21st century can best be described as; “The Empires Strike Back.” This is all about the four empires (Russian, Chinese, Iranian and the Islamic Caliphate) that are trying to reconstitute themselves and causing trouble for each other and the rest of the world in the process. For many people this is something of a shock, because in the 1990s all the talk was of “the end of empire.” That’s because in 1991 the last of the great empires, the old Tsarist Empire dissolved as the Soviet Union came apart. This meant that half the population of that empire went off and formed 14 new countries (or reconstituted old ones the Russians had conquered). For the last decade Russian leaders have made no secret of the fact that they want to rebuild this empire. 

China has been doing the same. The old Chinese Empire fell apart in 1911. Actually the Chinese Empire had been falling apart for over a century before that and the 1911 revolution was the blow it never recovered from. But in the 21st Century recovering lost bits of the empire has become very popular in China. 

The Iranian Empire has been around for thousands of years but was constantly being torn apart because of revolutions and civil wars and occasional overwhelming invasion. Thus the very empire-minded Iranian monarchy succumbed in 1979 to revolution and a religious dictatorship that is now trying to expand Iranian imperial power in the name of Islam as well as Iranian nationalism. 

Which brings us to the growing popularity of Islamic radicalism which is inspired, in part, by the century’s old desire to restore the ancient Caliphate (one civil/religious leader for all Islamic peoples). The original caliphate lasted, despite many civil wars and rebellions, from the 7th to the 10th century. By then the factionalism within the Moslem world made it impossible to maintain the unity of the original caliphate. So for over a thousand years the impossible dream of many Moslems has been to reconstitute the caliphate. 

Another problem with all these imperial wannabes is that cultural diversity has long been a source of internal problems and trying to absorb more minorities is a sure recipe for eventual failure. Iran as it is currently constituted is only about 50 percent ethnic Iranian. These rest of the population is Turkic, Arab and various smaller ethnicities. These minorities are often the main source of internal problems. Even Russia, after losing half it’s (largely non-Russian) population in 1991 is still about twenty percent non-Russian and these minorities are constantly being accused of disloyalty. Even China is only 90 percent Han Chinese (as is about 20 percent of the human race) and non-Han minorities are not well tolerated. One reason the Islamic caliphate has such a hard time reconstituting is that the spread of Islam caused lots of local mutations. There’s no Islamic “pope” or generally recognized religious authority to decide which local flavor of Islam is a little too eccentric to be considered real Islam. Thus the only viable method of restoring the caliphate is via force and that has never proved to be practical. The current generation of Islamic radicals believe that, because they are on a Mission From God, there will some form of divine intervention to make it all happen. 

Eyeing Pipeline, Russia Forgives North Korean Debt

Russia’s Duma has voted to forgive 90 percent of North Korea’s Soviet-Era Debt. 
April 22, 2014

On Friday Russia’s parliament voted to write off roughly 90 percent of North Korea’s debt as Moscow seeks to build a gas pipeline through the Hermit Kingdom.

This weekend Reuters reported that Russia’s Duma voted to write off roughly $10 billion worth of the debt that North Korea owes Moscow from the days of the Soviet Union. The vote ratified an agreement made in September 2012, after a meeting between then-President Dmitry Medvedev and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Siberia in the summer of 2011.

At the time the agreement was first announced, The Guardian reported, citing Russia’s Finance Minister Sergei Storchak, that Moscow would forgive “90% of the debt and reinvest $1bn as part of a debt-for-aid plan to develop energy, health care and educational projects in North Korea.” Russian experts hailed the agreement as a sign that North Korea’s leadership was looking to initiate market style reforms in the reclusive country.

The Reuters report from this weekend said the deal ratified by the Duma on Friday would leave North Korea with about $1.09 billion worth of debt to Russia. North Korea would pay off that amount in six-month installations over the next twenty years. It also summarized Storchak as saying that the money Pyongyang pays back would be reinvested into North Korea.

The U.S.-Russia Intelligence Tit-for-Tat War

April 21, 2014
Cold War Tit-for-Tat 2.0
Mark Thompson

Last week, Moscow canceled a scheduled U.S. surveillance flight over Russia, apparently to keep prying U.S. eyes from scouting out Moscow’s forces huddling along its border with Ukraine.

This week, Washington is debating whether or not to bar a new Russian spyplane, the Tu-214, from flying over U.S. territory as part of the same 22-year-old arms verification regime.

The two actions aren’t linked. In fact, some U.S. officials say Moscow’s cancellation was due to poor weather and will be rescheduled. But it’s interesting that in both nations, there is a push to deny the other from flying an unarmed aircraft, designed to monitor military movements, across its home turf.

The idea sure beats secret American U-2 flights. The Soviets shot down Francis Gary Power’s U-2 over its territory in 1960, triggering an international showdown that could have led to war. The U.S. initially denied the plane’s mission, but was forced to recant when Moscow publicly revealed the plane, and Powers, to the world.

The 1992 Open Skies treaty lets sensor-laden aircraft fly over other nations with 72 hours’ notice (so that sensitive items can be shielded from view) to confirm compliance with arms-control pacts and monitor troop movements. Russia and Sweden are the only two nations that have flown such aircraft over the U.S. according to the Pentagon.

Four members of the Senate intelligence committee recently warned that Russia has built reconnaissance aircraft that will “support digital photograph equipment, sideways-looking synthetic aperture radar, and infrared equipment,” and cautioned against letting them over the U.S.

“We strongly urge you to carefully evaluate the ramifications of certification on future Open Skies observation flights and consider the equities of key U.S. Government stakeholders,” said the letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by Senators Dan Coats, R-Ind., Mark Warner, D-Va., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. “The invasion of Crimea and Moscow’s ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine using subversive methods is sufficient enough to counsel further review, irrespective of any technical concerns that may exist.”