24 April 2014

Handling Red Terror: Chicken Egg Debate

Issue Net Edition | Date : 23 Apr , 2014

Any debate about handling the Maoist insurgency finally boils down to whether it is or isn’t a ‘Law and Order’ problem and whether it should or should not be handled by the Centre or the State. The debate has been ongoing for many years despite the Prime Minister periodically describing it as the biggest internal threat to the security of the country. And so it went at a recent confabulation at a premier training institution in the Capital. The culminating panel discussion indicated that we appear to be going in the right direction, IPS panelists focused on marvelous achievements especially in targeting prominent leadership of the Maoists, with some panelists even prophecying that the problem would over in 2-3 years provided some ‘ifs’ get addressed, which was reminiscent of Chidambaram as Home Minister declaring in year 2010 that the Maoists insurgency would be over in 2-3 years.

Large Maoist movement was reported before polls in Chhatisgarh, 16 people were killed in Bastar, Ranjangaon and Kanker in pre-poll violence.

Before the Lok Sabha elections, the Maoists reportedly offered conditional truce, the conditions being: one, accept the Maoist movement as political; two, stop attacks on leaders and activists; three, book and punish “killers” of Azad who was negotiating framework for peace in 2010; four, stop CAPF and Police “aggression” against people in rural areas under partial control of Maoists; and, five, in order to preserve Maoist leadership from conspiracies of the ruling classes one more time in the name of talks, release all veteran comrades in prisons. The conditional truce offer was hailed as clear success by the government assessing that at the operational level, the Maoists are facing the heat with many politburo and central committee members behind bars or eliminated and saturation of the area of influence by security forces denying space for insurgent movement. More intelligent interpretation of the truce offer was that this possibly was a bid to shape the discourse with the new government that would take shape after the elections.

Foreign Direct Investment Policy 2014: Status Quo for the Defence Sector

April 23, 2014 

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has released the Consolidated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy for 20141 . It is effective from 17th April 2014. There is nothing new in the policy for the defence sector, if one takes into account DIPP’s Press Note 6 of 2013, issued on 22nd August 20132

Needless to say, ‘Defence’ continues to figure in the list of the sectors in which FDI is allowed to the extent specified in Chapter 6 of the policy, subject to the applicable laws, regulations and other conditionalities. 

The policy had been to allow FDI up to 26 per cent through the ‘Government route’3 till DIPP’s Press Note altered the status quo by permitting FDI beyond that limit with the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on a case-to-case basis, wherever it is likely to result in access (whatever that might mean) to ‘modern’ and ‘state-of-art’ technology in the country. The 2014 policy merely reiterates this. 

While the change brought about by the Press Note was in keeping with what MoD had been saying for a long time, neither the MoD nor the consolidated policy has addressed the issues associated with the decision to selectively relax the FDI limit. It is a bit disappointing as there was plenty of time to do so between the release of the Press Note and the consolidated FDI policy. 

The primary issue, of course, is as to what does the term ‘state-of-art’ mean and what will be the process of determining whether an FDI proposal meets this requirement. 

According to the procedure introduced through the aforesaid Press Note and reproduced in the 2014 policy, applications seeking permission for FDI beyond 26 per cent will, in all cases, be examined additionally by the Department of Defence Production (DoDP) in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) from the point of view particularly of access to the ‘modern’ and ‘state-of-art’ technology. 

This region could become the China-India gateway

By Katie Holliday | CNBC – 

Five Southeast Asia countries are set to bridge China and India - Asia's two largest economies - but whether or not they boost economic development remains to be seen, according to analysts at ANZ bank. 

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - which ANZ calls the Greater Mekong 5 (GM-5) - have the potential to connect South, Southeast and East Asia, which could help the region become one of the world's fastest growing, it said. 

The GM-5 have a combined population of 300 million, are strategically located and have rich natural resources, but remain underdeveloped and predominantly rural economies, said ANZ. 

"Improving the transport connection within the GM-5 should link the varied natural resources of the countries, encourage specialization, develop a supply chain, and ultimately transform the transport corridors into effective economic corridors," said the ANZ analysts. 

Thanks to a plan launched by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) over 20 years ago, huge progress has been made in improving transport infrastructure to link the more developed urban areas to the inner rural zones and develop the isolated borders as key economic zones. 

The Transport Master Plan launched in 1995 - by the ADB and other partners - involved the creation of a transport network consisting of three main corridors with several routes. The North-South Economic corridor (NSEC), the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) and the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC), all oriented toward seaports and giving land-locked countries access to world markets. 

Success is not guaranteed 

However, ANZ analysts pointed out that the success of these transport networks hinges on how quickly they can be used to boost trade between the countries. 

"Now that the three major transport corridors have been significantly completed, it remains to be seen how fast they will be transformed into arteries of economic activity," said ANZ. 

It's not enough to just be physically connected, the analysts said; the countries need to cultivate cooperative deals at a national level while also rallying community involvement on the ground. 

The GM-5 have already ratified a Cross-Border Transport Agreement, which is likely to encourage trade between Myanmar, Lao, Thailand, and Vietnam via the EWEC in a first positive step. 

Now, the extent to which local communities and small businesses engage across borders will be key. 

"Access to transport corridors is a necessary but hardly sufficient condition for economic development," said ANZ. 

In the absence of these two elements, ANZ said there is a risk that economic enclaves will emerge leaving local communities isolated on the fringes of the corridors.

The SEC, completed in 2006, includes the Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh Highway Project, a network of arteries from Bangkok through Cambodia reaching destinations along the Vietnamese coast.

Meanwhile, the EWEC, also completed in 2006, is the only direct and continuous land path stretching the Indian Ocean on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east. It passes through the less populated and poorer areas of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Pakistan Army: Composition, Character and Compulsions

IPCS Discussion 

IPCS Discussion on Rana Banerji’s monograph, ‘Pakistan Army: Composition, Character and Compulsions’, organised in collaboration with the Pakistan Studies Programme, Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.

Opening Remarks
Amb TCA Rangachari
Director, MMAJ Academy of International Studies, JMI

The monograph provides an account of the Pakistan Army that has always occupied a dominant position in Pakistan. It traces the historical influences that are key to shaping the Army’s functioning. It gives a detailed social backgrounder and talks about military doctrines and the strategic compulsions of the Army, the status of its leadership and internal cohesion. It also provides a detailed account of its civil-military relations. 

Lt Gen (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain 
Former Indian Army General Officer

The chief question driving this discussion is, what can be expected from the Pakistani Army in the future? The Pakistani Army was built during 1947-71, and it underwent a transition during 1971. Ever since, the significance of the Army has not dwindled. The credit for retaining this prominence goes to the Army itself. 

Several factors that were skipped from the monograph but are of critical importance are – the issue of raising the centralised core reserves (CCRs) as had been discussed in 1991; the Indian Army imitating the innovative structure and fine leadership skills of the Pakistani Army; and the 22 out of 66 deployed brigades in southwest Pakistan. 

Another vital aspect is the emotive issue of Siachen between India and Pakistan. The avalanche that killed nearly 150 men in 2011-12 raised the question of whether stationing the Army in such terrain was a feasible option. Like Kashmir, Siachen too is an emotive issue and cannot be delinked from it. However, has Pakistan been able to develop a certain level of trust with India wherein the Indian forces can afford to leave the terrain? Can one risk losing another 500 lives like during the Kargil War? Leaving the terrain at this juncture would not be advisable as there is no knowledge of Pakistan’s tactics and future moves. With greater advancements in science and technology in the future, a better environment for the troops can be created. 

However, as of now, a complete withdrawal of the troops from the region would impose a sense of paranoia since athat level of trust with Pakistan has not been attained. 

Another dimension is the ever-evolving dynamic of Kashmir with respect to the role of the Pakistani Army. How do they look perceive the Line of Control? Will there be stabilisation of the security situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir and the LOC? There is a strong sense of a change of heart within the Pakistan Army. Although such changes are going to be slow, the unpredictable nature of the Pakistani Army cannot be ignored. 

Sushant Sareen
Senior Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation

The Pakistani Army is among the most important institutions in Pakistan. The monograph has highlighted a few factors that play key roles in the strategic discourse, such as the position of dominance of the Army. In terms of ethnicity, the monograph also points out that ethnic influences play a major role within the Army. Ethnic origin-wise, most of the chiefs have primarily been Punjabis followed by Pashtuns. With the ethnic diversity evolving within the military, the nature of Pashtun nationalism is also being altered to Islamised Pashtun nationalism. Another subject of concern for the Pakistani Army is dealing with the insurgent elements. This is with regard to the Taliban that has created a fear of the fundamentalists within Pakistan. How does the Army curb this accelerating paranoia? 

There were other aspects mentioned in the monograph that draw counter-views, such as the element of a liberal thinking process within the Army. Modern thought is not always favourably viewed within the Army since it has a conservative outlook. The parody is that while India continues to make all the concessions, Pakistan does not. This questions the role of its dominance and challenges its efficacy. However, the Army continues to demonstrate the ability to take decisions for ‘big ticket items’ such as for the civilian government in terms of delivery and function. Thus, the controllability factor and level of authority of the Army is challenged. 

India must revamp its policy towards Pakistan

IssueCourtesy: Mail Today| Date : 22 Apr , 2014

The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Nawaz Sharif

Several aspects of our Pakistan policy need a fresh look by the new government in May, though how much change can be brought about remains an open question as the issues involved and the options available have been analysed over the years without producing an optimal policy for dealing with our neighbour.

Pakistan still harps on the Kashmir issue and its resolution on the basis of self-determination. While terrorism against India has declined because of developments on its western frontier, the infrastructure of terrorism remains in tact, both against us and Afghanistan.

India’s Pakistan challenge is unique as it involves state-sponsored terrorism, religious extremism and nuclear arms.

Pakistani territorial claims cannot be dealt with rationally as they are rooted in religion and the “idea” of Pakistan.

Its Kashmir claim also sustains the dominant position of the strongly anti-Indian armed forces in the country’s polity.

Rhetoric apart, Pakistan’s attitude towards India remains fundamentally unchanged over the years.

Pakistan still harps on the Kashmir issue and its resolution on the basis of self-determination. While terrorism against India has declined because of developments on its western frontier, the infrastructure of terrorism remains in tact, both against us and Afghanistan.

Water issues are now being raised to expand the area of conflict with us. The failure to accord MFN status despite promises indicates an inability to overcome deep seated political antipathies towards India.

The Pakistani narrative about India mirroring ours about Pakistan makes the bridging of differences exceedingly difficult.

We are accused of being unreconciled to Pakistan’s creation and constantly conspiring to break it up.

Accusations of ISI depredations against India are countered by allegations of RAW’s subversive activities in Pakistan, especially Balochistan.

The world has changed but Pakistan has not moved beyond 1947 and 1971 in its thinking about India…

The Mumbai terrorist attack is equated with the Samjhauta Express, and the delay in trying those accused of perpetrating the former is bracketed with similar delay by us in investigating those involved in the latter.

Kargil is justified as a reaction to our action in Siachen. Their nuclear tests were in response to ours.

They deny MFN because we raise non-tariff barriers against Pakistani exports.

The world has changed but Pakistan has not moved beyond 1947 and 1971 in its thinking about India, no matter what spin some Pakistanis give about wanting to live in peace with us, of Pakistan being less obsessed with India than vice-versa, about India not being an issue in Pakistani elections, of India failing to respond to “sincere” Pakistani overtures, of India no longer being enemy number one in popular perception etc.

In reality, if our relations are blocked, it is because Pakistan believes that its readiness to talk is in itself a concession which must be reciprocated by acceptance of its demands.

We must be willing to change the status quo in J&K and be open to UN or third party intervention if bilateralism fails; we should withdraw from Siachen and settle Sir Creek in accordance with Pakistan’s claims, not international principles; the issue of state-sponsored terrorism is no longer relevant as Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism; we should cease squeezing the lemon of the Mumbai attacks to its last drop; we should not build power projects on Jhelum even though the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) allows it.

Should we establish public contact with Baluch leaders and announce “political and moral support” to them?


Each new Indian prime minister nurtures, nevertheless, the hope of a breakthrough with Pakistan. Because Pakistan clings to its core positions, we have to be flexible for any dialogue to progress.

We pressure ourselves by believing that for us to rise as a nation, maintain our economic growth and secure foreign direct investment we must have a “successful” neighbourhood policy.

We have no choice but to have a dialogue with Pakistan, we affirm, and in the process we have de-linked dialogue from terrorism and even accepted that Pakistan is as much a victim of terrorism as us.

The challenges before the new government would be many. What must it do if a new Mumbai-scale attack is engineered by Pakistan-based terrorists against us? Will it respond with surgical strikes against POK targets?

How will it deal with Nawaz Sharif’s renewed emphasis on Kashmir? Should it allow Pakistan to provocatively interfere in our internal affairs by meeting the Hurriyat leaders in Delhi?

Should we in response establish public contact with Baluch leaders and announce “political and moral support” to them?

Should we resume the dialogue with Pakistan as structured at present, despite its sterility? Should we pursue back-channel contacts with Pakistan?

We need not look to strike a “statesmanlike” posture to disarm fears raised by the emergence of a reputedly more robust Indian leadership.


Should we make Siachen non-negotiable, given China’s Depsang valley incursion and its increasing presence in POK? How should we counter Pakistan’s anti-India campaign on the water issue despite being a bigger beneficiary of the IWT?

Has the time come to review the presence of UNMOGIP in J&K as it represents the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue?

Should cross-border trade and transport links be curtailed or expanded when cross-border terrorism remains a threat?

Should we raise our voice more strongly against US military aid and China’s nuclear transfers to Pakistan?

How much should we encourage people to people and sporting contacts with Pakistan and support liberal lobbies there?

Should we not finesse Pakistan’s calculation that against offering MFN-like treatment to the new government they can seek the resumption of the dialogue?

Should the new government not watch Pakistan’s conduct in Afghanistan post-Nato withdrawal and assess the implications of the religious radicalisation of Pakistani society as it forges a new approach towards our neighbour?

One can argue against any hurry to engage Pakistan. Reaching out to it hastily to prove the new government’s moderate credentials will be construed as weakness.

We need not look to strike a “statesmanlike” posture to disarm fears raised by the emergence of a reputedly more robust Indian leadership.

Any calculation that the anti-Muslim image of a Modi-led government would be attenuated with a gesture towards Pakistan, with accompanying domestic returns, may be short-sighted.

Afghanistan - Can 1996 Repeat itself?

Paper No. 5687 Dated 22-Apr-2014
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

A paper produced by late B. Raman in 2013 on the consequences of US withdrawal from Afghanistan in end 2014 is reproduced below. The points made by him including India’s options are still relevant. The only change if any is that the Haqqani network has emerged stronger thanks to the total support given by ISI of Pakistan. -- Director

Can 1996 Repeat itself in Afghanistan?

Paper No. 5459 Dated 13-Apr-2013
By B. Raman

1. As the US troops prepare to thin themselves out of Afghanistan starting from next year, India has to worry whether 1996 can repeat itself in Afghanistan, when the Taliban, with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), captured power from the Afghan Mujahideen in Kabul and enforced its rule.

2. In searching for an answer to this question, one has to remember what happened after the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988:

1989: The Afghan Mujahideen, with ISI’s help, tried to have Najibullah’s army defeated at Jalalabad, so that they could set up a base there. They were defeated by Najibullah, who demonstrated the strength of his army.

1992: The Afghan Mujahideen succeeded in overthrowing Najib by taking advantage of a US-encouraged split between Najibullah and Rashid Dostum and setting up their Govt in Kabul.

1994: Naseerullah Babar, Benazir Bhutto’s Interior Minister, promoted the formation of the Taliban in Kandahar to escort Asif Ali Zardari’s cotton convoys from Turkmenistan. The US established secret contacts with the Taliban to secure its support for a gas-oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan being planned by UNOCAL.

1996: The Taliban, with the ISI’s support, overthrew the Mujahideen Government in Kabul and set up its Government.

1996: Ahmed Shah Masood set up his Northern Alliance to counter the Taliban.

1996: Osama bin Laden shifted from Khartoum to Jalalabad and from there to Kandahar where Mulla Omar, the Amir of the Taliban, was based.

1998: bin Laden formed the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People for fighting against the US and Israel.

Bangladesh: Cheap T-Shirts and Fundamentalism

The presence of Islamic hardliners among the rescuers at Rana Plaza last year raised some interesting questions. 
By M. Sophia Newman, April 23, 2014
In Savar, Bangladesh, on April 24, 2013, just after a nine-story garment factory called Rana Plaza collapsed on top of 3,500 workers, the scene was horrifying. Within minutes of the collapse, screams of trapped workers began to rise from the wreckage. A flood of laypeople began searching for survivors. “Everyone came to help,” says Aleya Akter, 29, a Bangladesh Federation of Garment and Industrial Workers labor activist. 

Among them, interestingly, were madrasah students and men clad in a quasi-uniform of Panjabi tunic and prayer cap; in other words, people locally associated with Islamic fundamentalism. As it happens, around the time of the Rana Plaza disaster, an Islamist group was mounting a vociferous campaign that would push women out of the workforce. On this day, however, as the majority-female workforce at Rana Plaza lay beneath the rubble, some of these hardliners were risking their lives to help them. The apparent contradiction hinted at an interesting philosophical congruence – and begged a question: Could cheap t-shirts be effective recruiting tools for fundamentalism? 

In the spring of 2013, Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh seemed to need no help recruiting. On April 6, 2013, more than one million men and boys flooded Dhaka for a rally called “the Long March.” Hefajat-e-Islam, an Islamist hardline group launched in 2010 to protest women’s rights, were the organizers. 

The event’s piece de resistance was a list of thirteen demands that ran the gamut of fundamentalist thought. Most notably, the list contained calls to “ban free mixing of males and females.” Many Bangladeshis interpreted these requests (and Hefajat’s earlier protests against the government’s “women policy”) as misogynistic opposition to women in the public sphere, including the workforce. (This interpretation recalled Islamic fundamentalism’s philosophical origins with thinkers like Sayyid Qutb, who spoke of “this vulgarity you call the emancipation of women.”) 

The march pressed for the incorporation of all thirteen points into national law by May 5. Hefajat leader Ahmed Shah Shafi’s son read out a threat: “You have to accept our demands. Otherwise, there will be dire consequences.” 


By Delwar Hossain

The issue of a ‘power corridor’ has sparked a new debate in Bangladesh-India bilateral relations. Bangladesh has agreed in principle to provide India a ‘power corridor’ to help its neighbour link its north eastern and north western parts with electricity transmission lines passing through Bangladeshi territory. Bangladesh and India reached agreements on this issue during the seventh meeting of the Joint Steering Committee on Power Sector Cooperation between the two countries. It is expected that India would transmit around 6000 MW of hydro-electricity from Arunachal Pradesh to Bihar.

This is the third concrete step between the two nations to strengthen energy cooperation since the Awami League-led Grand Alliance government came to power in January in 2009 in its last term. The first inter-country power grid in South Asia was commissioned in October 2013 between Baharampur (India) and Bheramara (Bangladesh) to facilitate the transmission of 500 MW electricity from India to power-deficit Bangladesh. The second initiative came in 2013 when under a joint venture, Bangladesh and India set up a 1320 MW coal-fired power plant at Rampal Upazila in Bagerhat district.The Ramphal project was opposed by different sections in Bangladesh particularly the environmental activists who argued that the project would inflict permanent damage to the forests of Sundarbans in the nearby area.

Now with the announcement of a ‘power corridor’, Bangladesh and India have taken the issue of bilateral energy cooperation to a new level. Though it will take time to implement the project, the rationale behind the decision has been questioned in different circles. Why has Bangladesh agreed to sign this agreement? There has not been any official statement from the government about the need for signing the agreement. The Bangladeshi Power Secretary mentioned that the electricity transmission is a part of the government’s plan of promoting regional connectivity. Besides, as a proposed concrete gain for Bangladesh, India has agreed to provide 30 MW of additional electricity to ensure the import of 500 MW of electricity from India – currently, Bangladesh is able to get only 470 MW due to transmission losses under the current contract. India has also agreed to provide 100 MW of electricity to Bangladesh from Paltana power project in Tripura. It may be mentioned that Bangladesh facilitated the transportation of heavy equipment to build the Paltana plant. A 450 metre-long embankment-cum-road across the Titas River was erected to dispatch over-dimensional cargo (ODC) carrying heavy equipment to Paltana power station in Tripura from Kolkata via Brahmanbaria. It vertically cut across the river, navigation through the point snapped and a serious decline in the river flow caused silting. This caused a huge hue and cry in Bangladesh leading the matter to the apex court of Bangladesh.

Asia's Two Very Different Futures

April 23, 2014 

It’s well established that we are living in the Asian Century. Just what the Asian Century will look like is open to debate. 

In my view, Asia faces two possible divergent futures, both of which are tied to the trajectory of the Chinese economy. In the first scenario, China’s economy enters into a period of prolonged stagnation or even negative growth rates. In many ways, this is the most likely scenario. China’s economic miracle has been fueled by repressing household income in order to free up capital for state-driven investment. 

China is hardly the first country to adopt this model, although the degree with which it has sacrificed household income for state-led investment is unprecedented in scale. As Peking University’s Michael Pettis has pointed out, every country that has pursued this model in the past—including Germany in the 1930s, Brazil and the Soviet Union in the middle part of the twentieth century, and Japan a few years later—has witnessed a period of rapid economic growth followed by prolonged stagnation or crisis. There is good reason to expect the same from the Chinese economy in the years ahead. 

It’s hard to overstate the consequences of China entering into a period of prolonged stagnation for both Asia and the world. The impact of China’s economic slowdown would be most severe for Asian nations, many of whom rely on trade for much of their GDP. 

China is at the center of this trade. Globally, thirty-five nations count China as their largest trading partners, and many of these are in Asia including: Japan (20 percent), South Korea (20 percent), Taiwan (40 percent including Hong Kong), North Korea (72.9 percent), India, Russia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan (51 percent), Tajikistan (37 percent), Kazakhstan (not counting the EU), Turkmenistan (45.3 percent), Iran, and Pakistan. It is also ASEAN’s largest trading partner and the second largest trading partner of Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, and Uzbekistan

The impact of a Chinese slowdown for the region would not be limited to the loss of direct trade with China. Indeed, most Asian nations count other countries in Asia as most of their other largest trading partners. Thus, the economic impact for each country would be felt both in terms of their loss of trade with China, as well as the loss of trade with other regional states who would also be suffering prolonged recessions caused by their own loss of trade with China. 

China-EU Relations: Trade and Beyond

The Diplomat talks with Kerry Brown about the future of China-EU relations. 
By Justin McDonnell
April 24, 2014

Xi Jinping’s tour of Europe earlier this spring reflected China’s interest in deepening ties with Europe, as well as European countries’ desire for better relations with China. Trade remains the primary driver of China-EU relations, as well as China’s bilateral relationships with various European countries, but there are other factors at work as well. To find out more about the future of China-Europe relations, The Diplomat’s Justin McDonnell spoke with Kerry Brown, Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and editor of the upcoming book, China and the EU in Context

Why is European trade of strategic importance for China and its development? 

The EU and China are the largest trading partners in the world. They have a vested interest in being able to enjoy the maximum access to each other’s markets, with trade flows going over $1 trillion in recent years. The EU, even after the economic crisis of 2008, remains a vast market for Chinese goods, and China remains hugely important as a place where EU companies have to do better in terms of goods that they sell and services they are seeking to supply. For China, the EU is the ultimate counterbalance to the U.S. market. But more than that, it would be no exaggeration to say that the Chinese economy could not, and would not, have grown as well as it has since its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 without a beneficial relationship with the EU. 

Now that the row of underpriced solar panels has boiled over, Europe and China seem ready to improve business ties. During his recent European tour, Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to deepen trade relations with Europe. He’s looking to speed up the bilateral investment agreement, and is now encouraging a long term free-trade accord. While this would certainly help Europe’s more depressed economies and reignite their productive potential, there are serious reservations. Why does Europe seem to be dragging its feet about opening its markets to China? 

Obama Visit to Asia Seen as Counterweight to China

April 22, 2014

TOKYO (AP) -- President Barack Obama's travels through Asia in coming days aim to reassure partners about the renewed U.S. commitment to the region, with an eye both to China's rising assertiveness and the fast-growing markets that are the center of gravity for global growth.

The question: Will it be enough?

Nearly seven months after he cancelled an Asian tour due to the U.S. government shutdown, Obama's failure to prevent Russia from annexing Crimea has sharpened concerns that America lacks the will or wherewithal to follow through on its much-touted "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific.

"Words come easy," said Philippine political analyst Ramon Casiple. "But U.S. allies would want to know what help they can get when things reach a point of no return."

The United States has been stepping up regional military deployments, but has made less progress on rebalancing through broader diplomatic and economic initiatives, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Pacific Rim free trade agreement.

Obama arrives in Tokyo on Wednesday for the first state visit to America's closest ally in Asia by a U.S. president since Bill and Hillary Clinton came in 1996. He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Malaysia since Lyndon Johnson in 1966. Allies South Korea and the Philippines, the two other stops on his agenda, are also keen to shore up security ties.

U.S. allies wonder if America has adequate capability to back them up in territorial rifts with China, Caspile says, given Washington's budget problems and preoccupation with crises elsewhere.

"The American objective is to reassure countries that ... America is here to stay and is going to keep a strong interest in dealing with China together with those countries," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Tokyo's Sophia University.

A report released last week by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged that more effort and money be devoted to upgrading alliances in the Asia-Pacific. "A successful rebalance must underscore the strategic message that the policy represents an enduring U.S. commitment to the region, assuring our partners that we are in it for the long haul," it said.

Striving to allay Japan's worries over its territorial dispute with China and missile launches by North Korea, during a recent Asian tour U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pledged two more ballistic missile defense destroyers for Japan by 2017. In a further show of solidarity, Hagel rebuked Beijing for escalating its territorial dispute with Tokyo over Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea that Japan calls the Senkaku islands and China calls the Diaoyu islands.

PLA’s Information Warfare Capabilities on an Upward Trajectory

In end February this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping formed a new working group at the apex level on cyber security and information security. While this was seen as the political leadership’s renewed efforts in underlining the threats and challenges to the national security in this arena, the military leadership has been paying particular attention to information warfare (IW) challenges since early 1990s. According to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) concepts, the term information warfare encompasses cyber warfare, electronic warfare, deception warfare, psychological warfare, computer warfare, and transcends beyond the military realm.

The PLA has been adapting Western concepts to suit local conditions and considers it as a ‘driving force in PLA’s military combat readinesses. PLA has used the construct of People’s War and devised its own precepts of ‘Peoples War in IW domain’ where millions of Chinese, both civilians and soldiers armed with computers, could achieve the objectives of IW. That is what has been precisely happening since over the last one decade wherein a number of cyber/information attacks are known to have originated from China with India being one among many other countries being at the receiving end. In last few years, Indian government’s computers including those of National Security Council and some other important offices have been hacked with all evidence pointing towards China. PLA’s information warriors and hacker groups have been actively involved in virus warfare and hacking activities in countries of their interest.

PLA has intensified its efforts in IW field since it officially pronounced its military doctrine of ‘Local War under the conditions of informationalisation’ in its 2004 White Paper on Defence. The objective laid down was to build an informationalised force and to win an information war and push forward the revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics with ‘informationalisation’ at its core. Since the articulation of its current military doctrine, PLA has laid solid foundations for fighting information and cyber wars. According to PLA’s precepts, before any physical operations take place it would be the information and cyber domains that would be used to cripple the adversary’s capabilities.

Playing Putin’s Game

It’s time to start thinking strategically about how to deal with Vladimir Putin in a post-Crimea world.
April 15, 2014

Whatever the ultimate outcome of Vladimir Putin’s Crimean Gambit, now threatening to become a Donbas Gambit, it reminds us that the United States still has some unfinished business in Europe. Putin’s dramatic move into Crimea, and his subsequent sporting with Ukraine like a cat playing with a wounded mouse, is devastating to liberal aspirations about the kind of Europe, and world, we would like to live in. It affronts our moral and political sensibilities, and it raises the specter of a serious and unfavorable shift in the regional balance of power. But so far, Western leaders have signally failed to develop an effective response to this, to them, an utterly unexpected and shocking challenge.

Since the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union, successor state to the old Tsarist empire, fell apart, the former Russian empire has been divided into eleven separate republics. The closest parallel, an ominous one to many of these states, would be to what happened the last time the Russian state collapsed, in 1917-1919. Then as in 1990, the former empire splintered into a collection of separate republics. Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Central Asian states and the Baltic republics set out on an independent existence. Then, as Lenin and his heirs consolidated power in Moscow, the various breakaway republics returned (in some cases more willingly than others) to the fold. By 1939, when Soviet troops invaded the Baltic Republics, from Central Asia to the Baltic Sea, almost all of the far-flung dominions of the Romanovs were once more under a single flag. Only Poland and Finland were able to resist incorporation into the Soviet Union, and the Poles were forced into the Warsaw Pact.

Lenin and Stalin were able to rebuild the tsarist empire first because they succeeded in creating a strong state in Russia, second because many of the breakaway states were divided and weak, and finally because a permissive international environment posed few effective barriers to the reassertion of Moscow’s power.

There should be little doubt in anyone’s mind today that the Kremlin aims to repeat the process, and from President Putin’s desk it must look as if many of the pieces for a second restoration are in place. Many of the ex-Soviet republics are weak, divided and badly governed. Many are locked in conflicts over territory or torn by ethnic strife. President Putin, whatever one may think of his methods or of the long-term prognosis, has rebuilt a strong Russian state that is able to mobilize the nation’s resources in the service of a revisionist foreign policy. And the international environment, while not perhaps as permissive as in the immediate aftermath of World War One (when Lenin gathered many of the straying republics back to Russia’s bosom) or the prelude to World War Two (when Stalin completed the project), nevertheless affords President Putin some hopes of success.

At the military level, the United States now has its weakest military presence in Europe since the 1940s, and with large defense cutbacks built into budget assumptions and significant commitments elsewhere, it would be extremely difficult for the United States to rebuild its military presence in Europe without a 180 degree turn by the Obama administration. The European members of NATO, meanwhile, have continued their generational program of disarmament even as Russia rebuilt its capacity. Russia’s military capacity is limited and its ability to project power over significant distances is small, but the military balance of forces in the European theater hasn’t been this favorable to the Russians since the end of the Cold War.

Russian Military and Intelligence Services Conducting Classic Asymetric Campaign in the Ukraine, Analysts

April 22, 2014
Russia Displays a New Military Prowess in Ukraine’s East
Michael R. Gordon
New York Times

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.

Since then Russia has sought to develop more effective ways of projecting power in the “near abroad,” the non-Russian nations that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has tried to upgrade its military, giving priority to its special forces, airborne and naval infantry — “rapid reaction” abilities that were “road tested” in Crimea, according to Roger McDermott, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.

The speedy success that Russia had in Crimea does not mean that the overall quality of the Russian Army, made up mainly of conscripts and no match for the high-tech American military, has been transformed.


April 21, 2014

The strategic board game “Diplomacy” was created six decades ago. In the now-classic version of the game, each player is a country in pre-World War I Europe with a pre-determined number of supply centers, competing against other players for several more centers in neutral territories. The goal is to control the majority of neutral or state-controlled supply centers. The game has no dice and military units are moved strictly through diplomacy and guile. Each game is different because of the varied strategic capabilities and personalities of the players. Some players are more cautious, some more aggressive. The better players will form non-aggression pacts or alliances early in the game only to turn on their partners later.

Game alliances can be formed. Some are temporary and some are permanent. Promises are made, promises are broken, and greed is always at the heart of the game; greed for more supply centers, more territory, more resources, and greater military capability. Perhaps these are reasons why “Diplomacy” was reportedly a favorite of both Henry Kissinger and John F. Kennedy.

But at the heart of Diplomacy is the map – its geography. A player like Russia begins with more supply centers, but the enlarged territory forces them to defend nearly a third of the map against up to five players. The neutral supply centers of the Balkans are quickly absorbed and fought over by three or more competing powers. England, by virtue of its geography, primarily builds fleets until it has a foothold on the continent. The player who recognizes the advantages and challenges of his own geography, and his opponents’, will be more successful.

The Risks of Asia-Pacific Multilateralism

Those who would call for U.S.-led multilateral institutions in Asia need to consider the potential pitfalls. 
By John H.S. Åberg and Nathan W. Novak
April 22, 2014

There is little doubt that U.S. alliances in Asia are in a state of flux. The decades of Washington poking and prodding allies to contribute more to regional peace and the maintenance of regional order appear, at least in recent years, to finally be paying off. Japan, considered by many pundits a free-riding pariah for decades, in particular seems to be taking what many in U.S. defense and security circles consider the right course: boosting military spending and seeking substantive and substantial capabilities improvements. 

U.S. relations with a host of other East Asian nations have been improving as well. Ties with Vietnam have improved markedly over the past decade. South Korea remains a staunch U.S. ally in the face of North Korean provocations (despite recent signs of a North-South thaw) and the stir caused by China’s announcement of a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) last November that overlaps with South Korea’s (and Japan’s) own ADIZs. The U.S. and the Philippines recently reached an Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation, which would grant the U.S. military joint use of certain military facilities. U.S. troops for the last several years have been deployed on a rotational basis in Australia, both symbolically and substantively reinforcing the U.S. commitment to that ally’s security. The U.S.-Singapore relationship remains a strong force in the center of Southeast Asia. The list goes on and on. 

In this context, a growing number of leaders, government officials, and experts have supported the continued and enhanced development of multilateral institutions in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific, both inclusive and exclusive of the United States. American supporters of such initiatives of course tend to outline the necessary role the United States plays in maintaining not only the security and stability of the region but also American economic involvement. Indeed, American promoters of the institutionalization of multilateral security and economic cooperation are inclined to stress the necessity of preserving and even enhancing America’s centrality to regional well being. Such organizations would further advance U.S. interests in the region and ensure broader support for the U.S.-led order, guaranteeing Washington’s leadership far into the future. These institutions would work collectively to, in the best-case scenario, engage and moderate potential threats to the U.S.-led order or, in the worst-case scenario, function to collectively deter aggressors or, if necessary, defend the U.S.-led order were hostilities to break out. The main assumption tends to be that such a construct would be American-led and serve essentially American ends because the U.S.-led order in Asia has benefited most states in the region for the better part of the past seven decades. Alternatively, because regional security has for a long period of time depended on U.S. military predominance, a leading U.S. role is necessary to assure regional peace and security well into the future. 

These advocates of the formation of U.S.-led multilateral institutions in Asia as well as those who seek an exclusively Asian Asia tend to blame the strictly bilateral and asymmetrical “hub-and-spokes” system of alliances created in Asia at the end of World War II for stunting the development of regional multilateral institutions as well as greater Asian regionalism. Although some are quick to note that the political, economic, cultural, and religious diversity in the region also serves as obstacles to greater regionalization, most of the responsibility for this failure has been placed on U.S. postwar bilateralism

Bahrain’s disappearing moderates

Riot police briefly detain protesters during clashes after an antigovernment rally in Budaiya organized by Bahrain's main opposition party, Al Wefaq, March 21, 2014. (photo by REUTERS)

The toll from a string of car bombings in Bahrain is mounting. Over the last two months, five people have died and a handful more have been injured. Talks between the government and political groups — close to restarting in February — have been derailed. Businesses were questioning whether the turmoil that set back investments in 2011 was really coming to an end as they had hoped.

The mainstream opposition has struggled to respond to rising violence.

Posted April 22, 2014

Yet, among the biggest loser from the rising violence in Bahrain is the moderate Shiite political opposition, Al Wefaq, which is struggling to craft its response. It has not supported the violent tactics of groups such as the more radical February 14 Youth Coalition, to the disappointment of some in their antigovernment constituency. Yet, they have also not condemned the attacks adamantly enough to satisfy many of their critics at home and abroad.

“How can Wefaq condemn violence on the one hand, but then on the other continue to openly associate itself with groups like the February 14 coalition?” asks a political analyst close to government sources, in an interview with Al-Monitor. The youth movement, believed to have links to the bombings, was officially listed as a terrorist organization last month.

With each violent incident, the influence and political capital of the mainstream opposition is being whittled away. And their ability to negotiate with authorities — something that both sides agree is vital to settling three years of political turmoil — is slipping. That bodes poorly for moderates across the spectrum who hope Bahrain’s political conflict can be peacefully resolved.

Since antigovernment protests first erupted in 2011, opposition communities have slowly drifted away from the moderate center that their original, Arab Spring-inspired protests espoused. The largest opposition bloc, the Shiite society Al Wefaq, won plaudits for resigning from the national assembly at the time, but immediately lost support by entering into talks with the crown prince aimed a political solution amid a security crackdown.

Subsequent efforts at dialogue have put Al Wefaq leaders in an increasingly complex situation, as they try to address their constituency’s grievances while offering dialogue with the authorities they say are to blame. House raids, indiscriminate tear gas use, check points and arbitrary arrests became the daily rhythm in life in many Shiite villages, which began to organize their own local protests outside the purview of Al Wefaq. Meanwhile, activists increasingly used Molotov cocktails, makeshift weapons and later improved bombs against police.

It’s All About May 25

KIEV, Ukraine — The word “maidan” means “square” in Ukrainian and in Arabic. And the “Independence Maidan” of Kiev, like the “Tahrir Maidan” of Cairo, has been the scene of an awe-inspiring burst of democratic aspirations. The barricades of piled cobblestones, tires, wood beams and burned cars erected by Ukrainian revolutionaries are still there — indeed, it looks as if it could be the set of “Les Misérables” — and people still lay fresh flowers at the makeshift shrines for the more than 100 people killed in the Maidan by the old and now deposed regime here. Walking through it, though, I tried to explain to my host that, while I was incredibly impressed, a lot of Americans today have “Maidan fatigue” — too many dashed hopes for democracy in too many squares — from Afghanistan to Iran, Iraq to Egypt, Syria to Libya.

Get over it, Ukrainians tell me. Our revolution is different. There are real democratic roots here, real civil society institutions and the magnet of the European Union next door. With a little help, we can do this.

The more I learn here, the more I think they’re right. Something very consequential has happened here. In fact, I think the future of Ukraine is one of the most consequential foreign policy challenges of the Obama presidency because it will not only determine the future of Ukraine but of Russia.
It would have been nice if we could have forged a compromise with President Vladimir Putin of Russia that would have allowed Ukraine to gradually join the European Union and not threaten him. President Obama tried to find such a win-win formula. But Putin is not into win-win here. He is into win-lose. So he must lose, for the sake of Ukraine and Russia.

That won’t be a cakewalk. We and our European allies will have to overcome our fatigue, and Ukrainians will have to unite more than ever. The first test will come on May 25 when Ukraine holds presidential elections. Putin is working to prevent or discredit those elections by bombarding the more pro-Russian eastern Ukraine with propaganda that the Maidan movement was led by “fascists” and using his agents and hooded local thugs to keep the region in turmoil so people won’t vote.
Our job is to back Putin off so the elections can happen. That may require more sanctions right now. The Ukrainians’ job is to make sure elections are relevant by electing a decent, inclusive person, who will work to ensure Ukraine’s unity and clean up its corruption. We can deter Putin, but only Ukrainians can threaten his legitimacy. If a majority here votes in a free election to move toward Europe and away from Moscow, Putin has a real problem. It is a huge rebuke of his warped vision, coming from right next door.

Daria Marchak, a young business reporter here, explained to me why young Ukrainians are so desperate to join the E.U. “Up to 2011, there was a sense of improvement here,” she said. But the last government was so corrupt, at an industrial scale, people felt “we were going backward.” And then when that old government said it was abandoning the idea of joining the E.U. to join Putin’s bogus Eurasian Union, it was the last straw.

“People felt that if we joined Putin’s customs union the corrupt system here will be cemented forever,” said Marchak, and young people would have no future. Their desperation to join the European Union is in the hope that it will lead to what I call “globalution” — revolution from beyond — that the E.U. will force on Ukraine’s politicians standards of transparency that the young people here simply can’t. The E.U. “will be the instrument of change,” she said.