10 July 2014

Good Drone, Bad Drone: How to Fix the Drone PR Problem


Military drone flying over the clouds.Erik Simonsen—Getty Images

Just saying the word

 Medea Benjamin July 9, 2014

Military drone flying over the clouds. Military drone flying over the clouds. Erik Simonsen—Getty Images Just saying the word makes people shudder, but there are plenty of good drones already in use. And as to future possibilities, the sky’s the limit. RECOMMENDED FOR YOU How soccer is destroying America: Celine Dion's Response to the Week's Best Viral Video Is Incredible Watch The Bowe Bergdahl Video by Taboola It’s no wonder the drone industry doesn’t like the word “drone.” Thanks to the work of human rights activists in exposing the ugly side of how Predator and Reaper drones kill innocent people overseas, “drones” can evoke a one-word reaction similar to the word “sweatshops”: yuck! Then there’s the transnational campaign to ban fully autonomous drones, a campaign that’s instilling public fear about a brave, new world where kill decisions are increasingly made by machines. Add to the mix the specter of drones being used by government agencies here at home to increase Big Brother’s ability to invade our privacy, and you have a reaction to drones that isn’t just disgust and fear, but defiance. 
 MORE Tinder, Women, and the Question Every Investor Should Ask Google’s Blocking an Email Because Goldman Sachs Asked It To Forced Smile? Bergdahl Pictured With Taliban Commander NBC News Britney Spears' 'Alien' Without Auto-Tune Is Not Meant To Be Heard Huffington Post Before the Killing: Texas Suspect Lived Quietly With Parents NBC News After Congress passed legislation in 2012 calling for the opening of U.S. airspace to drones by 2015, dozens of states began cobbling together legislation. Some bills restrict law enforcement agencies from gathering information on the public without a court order; others prohibit the weaponization of domestic drones. Cities began passing “no-drone resolutions” restricting the use of their airspace. The small town of Deer Trail, Colo., garnered national attention when it contemplated providing a bounty for shooting down a drone. Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano pronounced that the first American who shoots down a drone that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero. Matt Rosendale, a Montana state senator running for Congress, unveiled an ad where he points his rifle at a hovering drone and declares that he is ready to “stand tall for freedom.”
 How Many People Watched Orange Is the New Black? No One Knows The drone industry reacted to its image problem with a disastrous campaign to simply drop the hot-potato term “drone” and instead use cumbersome names like “unmanned aerial systems,” “unmanned aerial vehicles,” “remotely piloted aircraft” or, worse yet, their acronyms (UASs, UAVs, RPAs). At the 2013 annual D.C. gathering of the drone lobby, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), presenters continually pleaded with attendees to drop the term “drone.” The wireless password for the attending journalists was a not-so-subtle “dontsaydrones.” AUVSI President Michael Toscano got in trouble during a March 2013 Senate hearing when he lectured the senators that they shouldn’t use the term “drone” because of its hostile connotation. Senator Leahy fired back, “I appreciate you telling us what we should call them, but why don’t you leave that decision to us. We’ll decide what we’ll call them and you call them whatever you like to call them.” Recognizing defeat, the industry began a much more successful PR campaign touting the positive uses of drones. Indeed, there are plenty of good drones already in use, and as to future possibilities, the sky’s the limit. 
Drones can battle wildfires, track endangered species, predict weather patterns, provide farmers with crop analysis, deliver humanitarian aid and, yes, perhaps drones might one day deliver your Amazon packages or your take-out tacos. And let’s face it: some drones are fun. There are tens of thousands of DIY hobbyists around the world who are crafting home-built drones to film themselves on the ski slopes or take aerial photos of their weddings. Even Martha Stewart has her own drone, gushing on Twitter that it takes amazing photos of her farm: “We love the possibilities and opportunities drones offer. Do you?” But not even Martha Stewart can sweep aside the important ethical and legal issues that have arisen with President Obama’s killer drones, or the deployment of autonomous drones or the coming use of domestic spy drones. 
My organization, CODEPINK, has protested these issues at many a drone convention and Congressional hearing. We have tried to get the industry to work with us by supporting international and national regulations to make drone use compliant with international law and our moral values. But the industry has not wanted to alienate weapons companies like General Atomics, whose bread and butter come from lethal drones or powerful government agencies like the CIA. Rather than ignoring or white-washing the problematic nature of killer drones, spy drones and autonomous killer robots, the industry—and drone enthusiasts—should work with the human rights and peace communities to distinguish between good, the bad and the ugly. Medea Benjamin, the cofounder of the peace group www.codepink.org, is author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

Forgotten stories of Indian soldiers during World War I

July 9, 2014 

The Hindu ArchivesA feature-film is being made on the lesser known fact about the 1.4 million Indian soldiers and civilian workers who came to France and Belgium during WWI.

Rare film footage, photographs, portraits, Indian war songs, sound recordings, and interviews with the descendants of the soldiers feature in the documentary.

Heartwarming stories, including romantic ones, about Indian soldiers who fought in the First World War as part of the British Army, culled from archives and personal testimonies, feature in a new documentary.

The upcoming feature-length film Mademoiselle France Pleure (Miss France is in Tears) attempts to piece together the lesser known fact about the 1.4 million Indian soldiers and civilian workers who came to France and Belgium to defend France’s freedom against invasion.

“The soldiers faced various hardships, casualties and diseases in the war. The feature-length documentary attempts to show their specific situations within the British Army and hospitals,” says Vijay Singh, an Indian filmmaker and novelist based in Paris.

Mr. Singh, who has shot critically acclaimed feature films such as Jaya Ganga and One Dollar Curry in the past was in New Delhi recently to announce the project and firm up plans to shoot in countries including India, France, Austria and Belgium.

“Everybody remembers India’s freedom struggle, but very few or in fact nobody would remember the contribution made by Indian soldiers during the World War I about the role played by Indian soldiers during the World War I,” says Mr. Singh.

The filmmaker attempts to show various tragicomic situations faced by the French and the British while feeding Indian soldiers according to their strict religious beliefs and the hospitality of French hostesses, which won the hearts of Indian soldiers during their convalescence in French barns.

With the initiative of the French government and embassy, Mr. Singh, says he has been successful in gathering testimonies from the archives and descendents, in France, India, Belgium and the UK of the brave soldiers out of which 10,000 did not even return home.

There are accounts of the soldiers who fell in love with French women during their stay in France and had children with them.

A blueprint for the defence industry

July 10, 2014

The Narendra Modi government needs to set up a national committee to resolve turf battles between various government agencies and reconcile competing interests of small and medium enterprises and industry majors

As the new government prepares to present its first general budget, there is expectation that foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence sector will be liberalised, but by itself, this is unlikely to contribute much towards the goals of self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

There are reports that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is pushing to allow 49 per cent FDI without transfer of technology, 74 per cent with transfer of technology, and even 100 per cent in cases involving the transfer of state-of-the-art technology and equipment, while the Defence Ministry would like it to be restricted to 49 per cent. This debate is sterile because merely liberalising FDI will not help. What is needed is an appreciation of the characteristics of the defence industry and coordination among the multiple stakeholders who drive, and have often distorted the decision-making process.

Distant goals, continuing imports

The twin objectives of self-sufficiency and self-reliance have been articulated, sometimes interchangeably and at times separately, since the early 1950s. In 1947, India inherited the Ordnance Factories (OF) Organisation, which today consists of 41 OFs, nine Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) and 50 or so defence R&D laboratories under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The model followed was “production of technologies conceptualised by the DRDO; projects nominated by MoD [Ministry of Defence] after consulting the Services; and assembly and production of platforms under licence from foreign OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).” Currently, with about two lakh employees, the OFs and DPSUs have a modest turnover of $7.6 billion. The goals of self-reliance and self-sufficiency remain distant, with almost 70 per cent of defence equipment still being imported.

A task force set up in 1998 concluded that the public sector alone could not deliver; licensed production had fostered neither indigenisation nor innovation; and frequent blame games between the Services, the DRDO and the DPSUs were leading to delays in acquisition. A self-reliance review committee set up in 1992, under Dr. Abdul Kalam’s chairmanship developed a self-reliance index (SRI), defined as the percentage share of indigenous content in total procurement expenditure, and set a target of 70 per cent self-reliance by 2005, now pushed to 2020.

Merely liberalising FDI will not help. What is needed is an appreciation of the characteristics of the defence industry and coordination among the multiple stakeholders who drive, and have often distorted the decision-making process

Push for Global No First Use

By B B Singh
10th July 2014 

In its election manifesto, the BJP declared that it would study afresh India’s nuclear doctrine, revise and update it to evolve an independent Strategic Nuclear Programme relevant to the challenges of the current times and to maintain a credible minimum deterrent in tune with changing geostatic realities. India’s nuclear doctrine has mainly two aspects to ponder over, namely the no first use (NFU) pledge and the voluntary moratorium on further underground testing of nuclear devices. While NFU is a sociologically and politically important issue, nuclear testing is a technological requirement for credible and effective deterrence. It has enormous political and economical repercussions.

NFU is normally referred to as a pledge or policy of a nuclear weapon state that it shall not use nuclear weapons against any other state unless first attacked with nuclear weapons or such other weapons of mass destruction like chemical and biological weapons. China was the first country to announce it soon after it conducted its first nuclear test in 1964. Chio Kuan-hua, the leader of the Chinese delegation to the UN General Assembly, officially stated the NFU policy in 1972, saying “I once again solemnly declare that at no time and under no circumstances will China be the first to use nuclear weapons.” He continued: “If the United States and the Soviet Union really and truly want disarmament, they should commit themselves not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. This is not something difficult to do.” However, this pledge was misinterpreted by the then two super powers, the US and the Soviet Union who thought the Chinese had announced the policy because their arsenal could be destroyed by any of them in a single preemptive strike. It was also misunderstood to mean that on such a pledge by China no country would attack it on moral grounds. This was proved wrong when China repeated the pledge in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011 while it had conducted over 45 nuclear tests and built a large nuclear arsenal. Whether China’s repeated assertion on the issue can be relied upon or not, only time will tell.

India also announced its draft policy of NFU on August 17, 1999, soon after the “Shakti” series of nuclear explosions in May 1998 at Pokhran. By this announcement India neither meant seeking moral shield nor had the fear of preemptive annihilationary strike. With it, India has shown it is a mature and responsible nuclear state and has developed nuclear weapons only as an effective deterrence against rogue states and ill-advised adversaries. But, nuclear weapons will be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or forces anywhere and nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive. Pakistan, which conducted nuclear tests at Chagal just two weeks after the Indian tests, made no such pledge. Instead, in 2001, it announced its nuclear doctrine stating that its nuclear weapons were aimed solely at India and they would be used if India conquers a large part of its territory; destroys a large part either of its land or air forces; proceeds to the economic strangling of Pakistan, pushes it into political destabilisation or creates large-scale internal subversion.

India's nuclear doctrine: The fog lifts

7 July 2014

Lieutenant-General BS Nagal was an important man in India's nuclear weapons program. From 2008 to 2010 he served as India's Strategic Forces Commander, an office established just over a decade ago to lead the process of managing and using nuclear weapons. After his retirement from the military, Nagal was appointed head of a little-discussed nuclear cell within the Indian Prime Minister's Office. This cell reportedly sought to mimic Pakistan's own powerful nuclear secretariat, the Strategic Plans Division, a body I wrote about for the Interpreter last year (SeePakistan Gets a New Nuclear Weapons Chief). Nagal’s responsibilities included the development of 'a perspective plan for India’s nuclear deterrent in accordance with a 10-year cycle'.

In the June edition of India's defence and security themed Force magazine, Nagal has written a fascinating and somewhat critical essay on India's nuclear weapons titled Checks and Balances. His comments are noteworthy not just because of the positions he held and the general secrecy around India's nuclear weapons, but also because they come at a time when a public debate over India's nuclear weapons is, gradually, intensifying.

This debate has been catalysed by a variety of factors. These include Indian disquiet at Pakistan's development oftactical nuclear weapons, a widespread sense that India's nuclear deterrence has failed in the face of state-sponsored terrorism, concern that India's ability to project deterrence against China remains inadequate, and a general sense that India has been slow to translate its national power into usable capabilities.

Typically, only those at the fringe of this debate – the ultra-hawks – have proposed radical changes in India's nuclear policies, such as the resumption of testing or a shift to nuclear war-fighting doctrines. But a growing number of mainstream Indian voices – including former officials and military officers – are expressing dissatisfaction with India's nuclear doctrine, the first and only public version of which is now over a decade old. See, for example, the former civil servant PR Chari writing for the Carnegie Endowment in June, the April manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before it came to power this year, and articles such as those in The Hindu last week.

But it is fascinating to see an official who until recently was at the heart of Indian nuclear policies, in both military and civilian institutions, make such explicit criticisms of a doctrine with whose classified details he would be intimately familiar.

Critical Deficiencies in the Indian Army


The Prime Minister was briefed by the Army Chief in the War Room of Military Operations Directorate on critical hollowness afflicting the army on June 13, 2014. As per media reports, the briefing lasted for 2 hours and 45 minutes, and the army presented its readiness deficit in unambiguous terms[i]. The fact that the event was reported in the national news in a routine, matter of fact manner, without any comments/furore over implications of such a disclosure on our national security, is an indicator of the gradual acceptance to hollowness in the army. It was not very long ago that the mere use of the word hollowness for army’s capability and readiness was considered as a threat to national security. We have indeed come a very long way in a short period of time. Presently one of the seven thrust areas identified by the current Army Chief is to address hollowness[ii]. While it is good to talk openly about the hollowness and not brush it aside under the garb of security implications, at the same time, it is vital that the stakeholders do not become complacent to its continued existence. This article attempts to analyse hollowness in the recent context of the Indian army (without going back to 1962) and make a few recommendations to address it. 

During the Kargil conflict, the then Army Chief was constrained to say ‘we will fight with what we have’[iii]. This was one of the first serious but indirect admissions of hollowness in times of threat to the nation’s security. However, the first use of the term dates back to a classified Army study made by General JJ Singh in the year 2005[iv]. The first prime-time public acknowledgement of hollowness in army came many years later, when Gen VK Singh on April 01, 2010, explained to Nitin Gokhale on NDTV, that hollowness implied deficiencies and void in weapons and equipment that a soldier in combat unit needs. It occurs on account of obsolescence and as a consequence of procedural delays[v]. The term touched the zenith of media attention in March 2012, when a letter written by the then Army Chief to the Prime Minister on the issue became public. However, since then attention has only waned, as far as media and cyber content is concerned. Notwithstanding the changing profile of public attention, the army remains absolutely seized with the problem. 

Causes of hollowness have oft been debated by analysts and some of the obvious ones are actually not very difficult to arrive at. Inadequate resource allocation is the prime reason which comes to fore when talking of military inadequacies. Even recent media reports indicated that the army needs Rupees 19,250 crore funding to replenish ammunition stocks[vi]. However, on the other hand, successive finance ministers while presenting the union budget have assured that financial constraints will not come in the way of providing any additional requirement for the security of the nation[vii]. It is also true that additional allocations have hardly been sought, since the army’s capital budget has rarely been utilised in its entirety, and a significant portion has invariably been surrendered or apportioned to meet the revenue requirements. 

Lack of technological and industrial capacity is another reason which is cited to justify our inability to meet the operational needs of the soldier in field. This argument is also used to justify the fact that India is the largest importer of weapons and defence equipment in the world today. At the same time we also have one of the world’s largest defence industrial base. To the credit of this vast industrial base, India is among the few countries in the world that has developed, or is in the process of developing, a fourth plus generation fighter aircraft, an aircraft carrier, a nuclear submarine, a main battle tank, and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)[viii]. Further, Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan have adequately demonstrated the country’s huge capabilities to design, develop, test and manage technologically complex operations even in outer space, in the most economical manner. Therefore, if we can build cost effective yet state of the art systems, which only a handful of other nations on the planet can build, then there is no reason why we can’t produce weapons and equipment to meet the army’s operational needs. It is evident from the above arguments that the country possesses adequate fiscal, technological and industrial resources and the necessary will to utilise them. While it has successfully managed these resources for purposes of creating show-case technological demonstrators, routine management of these resources has been rather sub-optimal, and hence the continued phenomena of hollowness. 


JUNE 27, 2014

Tashkurgan is a small town of about 40,000 people (or over 60,000 population if it includes Chinese military personnel, tourists, and businessmen), situated in the south-eastern corner of the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The town represents the seat of the Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County, which borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. One of China’s remotest counties, placed in a barren high plateau at over three thousands meters above sea level, Tashkurgan has a long and rich history. Here were excavated artifacts produced by some of the earliest cultures of the region. It is believed by some that Tashkurgan – which means Stone Fortress (or Tower) – was in fact the stone tower mentioned by Ptolemy, where western and Chinese merchants performed their trade exchanges. Nevertheless, Tashkurgan’s role as a market town seems reinvigorated today by the presence of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), the road connecting Kashgar to Islamabad that represents the backbone of the projected “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”. A legacy of the legendary Silk Road, the KKH was opened to civilian traffic in 1982 and has since brought immense changes to Tashkurgan, a once forgotten outpost of the PRC.

Tashkurgan’s Stone Fortress

Tashkurgan is part of a large development project involving various remote places in the south of Xinjiang. Following the deadly Urumqi riots of 2009, long-term Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan was dismissed and substituted by Zhang Chunxian. He was the face of a new policy in Xinjiang that was finalized in theXinjiang Work Conference held in Beijing in mid-May 2010. The new approach abandoned the “stability above all else” formula, and moved to one of “expedite development”, later rephrased as “leapfrog development”, with the aim of achieving “long term stability” in the region. In this regard the Xinjiang Work Conference arranged a “pairing assistance” model whereby 19 affluent provinces and municipalities were each required to support the development of respective areas of Xinjiang. This included granting 0.3% to 0.6% of their annual budget and providing human resources, technology and management to support their “sister cities” in Xinjiang. This scheme paired Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County with Shenzhen, China’s first and perhaps most successful Special Economic Zone. In this regard, as recently reported by Xinhua (here in Chinese with more details) and others, June 2014 marked the beginning of the construction of a Border Trade Zone in Tashkurgan. The Trade Zone, which will cost 100 million RMB and cover an area of about 6.6 hectares, is meant to accommodate areas for trade, commerce, tourism, as well as hotels and restaurants. With the objective of providing 300 jobs for locals, the Trade Zone will not only boost tourism and trade relations with nearby Tajikistan and Pakistan, but also represent an important source of income for the local community.

Afghanistan Task Force Report: What India Can Do

2014 | Pages. 113

India has a vital stake in Afghanistan’s stability and in avoiding a repetition of the spillover of tensions and terrorist activity into the country. India’s developmental assistance to Afghanistan has thus far been shaped to build infrastructure, aid capacity building and support social empowerment, all as per Afghanistan’s own requests; this must now be expanded to incorporate military cooperation. India shares a common interest with Afghanistan in strengthening the bilateral strategic partnership through substantive and long-term exchanges in all sectors, including security. Mere supply of infrastructure and economic assistance without backing it with a display of the intention to protect Indian interests would be a waste of strategic effort and investment. Simultaneously, India should maintain active dialogue and cooperate with all major external players in creating an environment that helps to secure peace, stability and economic and social progress in Afghanistan. 

Not For Sale

Breakdownistan: U.S. Concerns in Central Asia and Afghanistan Going Forward

Journal Article | July 5, 2014
Breakdownistan: U.S. Concerns in Central Asia and Afghanistan Going Forward

Charles J. Sullivan

Abstract: This article highlights the phenomenon of state failure in Central Asia. (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan for this discussion) to address this security challenge. In order to try to effectively curtail state failure, this article maintains that the United States should focus its efforts mainly on three “fronts” (democracy, religion, and the narcotics trade) so as to prevent the collapse of these states to the greatest possible extent. Additionally, the United States should chart a course in Afghanistan for the remainder of Operation Enduring Freedom (presumably until 2016) with the aim of orchestrating a settlement between the primary warring parties in the hopes of ending this conflict. That said, if the aforementioned Central Asian states ultimately succumb to collapse in the coming years and/or negotiations do not lead to the brokering of a political settlement between Kabul and the Taliban, then the United States will have to somehow learn to cope with the added complexity.

Central Asia is widely perceived as a remote part of the world which rarely makes the news headlines. Generally construed as a post-Soviet backwater, it is a place where autocracy reigns supreme and corruption is rife.[1] Worldly interest in the region tends to focus on the Great Powers vying for political and economic supremacy in a “New Great Game.”[2] That said, it is also a somewhat dangerous place in that a considerable portion of this region presents a rather complex national security issue to the United States today.

The guiding purpose of this article is to initiate a discussion between the U.S. academic, military, and policymaking communities so that America may effectively address the challenges that it will likely face in Central Asia in the years ahead. Overall, I believe that it is worthwhile for national security professionals to engage in a discussion with others who normally consider themselves to be outside of this community (such as social scientists), namely because a variety of threats face us all throughout the greater Middle East today. Since 9/11, the United States has gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq in an effort to eradicate menacing regimes and replace them with peaceful democratic states. However, both state/nation-building campaigns have proven to be extremely costly and neither has led to a desirable outcome. As such, it is necessary to start thinking more about how to deal with complex security concerns as they arise in the future. In his recent commencement address to the graduating cadets of the United States Military Academy at West Point, President Barack Obama (in speaking about the danger of terrorism) stated that America must “develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat; one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stirs up local resentments.”[3] But what type of strategy should the United States adhere to in the future?

In my efforts to stimulate dialogue on this subject, this article puts forth an interpretation of Carl von Clausewitz’s “center of gravity” concept as it applies in the context of American interests in Central Asia. As U.S. and coalition forces prepare to withdraw most of their remaining resources from Afghanistan, the military and policymaking communities are surely aware that a substantial shift in the region’s power dynamics may soon take place. Yet the infinitely complex situation in Afghanistan is merely the tip of the iceberg, for the ruling regimes situated in neighboring countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan are extremely “wobbly” on account of a volatile mixture of “aging autocrats,” elite rivalries, and ethnic tensions, coupled with the inability of these governments to exert full authority within their borders.[4] In response, the United States should strive towards ensuring that none of these states collapse. Aptly stated, the “centers of gravity” here are the states, and it is in our interest that they do not give way. Preventing a collapse thus constitutes our core regional interest in the “Stans”.[5]

China's foreign aid: New facts and figures

8 July 2014 

China's foreign aid program is now the sixth largest in the world. Only the UK, US, Germany, France and Japan provided more last year.

This is according to a new paper from the JICA Research Institute estimating China's foreign aid program from 2001 to 2013. Their calculations put China's total official development assistance (ODA) at US$7.1 billion in 2013. (China's aid budget is growing rapidly, so this fits with the US$6.4 billion figure reported in China Daily in April 2013.)

For the first time, we have a well-informed estimate that includes bilateral aid, multilateral aid, concessional loans, and aid that sits outside the main budget (like scholarships administered by the Ministry of Education). As China-Africa expert Deborah Brautigam has said, 'lead author Naohiro Kitano and his colleague Yukinori Harada have done a superb job. The methodology is carefully worked out and fully explicated.'

The paper highlights some interesting facts: 

Most Chinese aid is provided bilaterally. Only 15% is given as multilateral aid. 
Concessional loans, provided by China Eximbank, now make up nearly half of the total aid. 
There are more than 40 departments involved in some way. 

Given the lack of transparency in China's aid program, much is still (educated) guesswork. This new paper won't be perfect. But it is the best we've seen to date.

In fact, Japanese researchers and practitioners are at the forefront of work on understanding Chinese aid. This makes sense, as many Japanese officials have experience delivering aid to China (Japan was the largest donor to China in the 1980s), and there are many similarities between the Chinese and Japanese aid systems. A Study of China's Foreign Aid: An Asian Perspective, a 2013 study edited by Yasutami Shimomura and Hideo Ohashi, covers the history, principles, and implications of Chinese aid. But the real value of this collection is the information it provides about the mechanisms, tools, and institutions involved in the aid program. Since much of China's aid system is still a 'black box', and misperceptions are still rife, research like this is important. I'd encourage anyone interested in China's 'go global' policy, the links between Chinese aid and investment, or the role of China Eximbank and Chinese companies, to dip into it.

A Four Country Democratic Coalition vs. China?


Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media 
This article originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald

NEW DELHI -- Australia and India are deepening military ties and reviving the spirit of a controversial four-way democratic coalition with Japan and the United States, in response to growing concerns about China.

Momentum towards full bilateral naval exercises, intelligence sharing and a safeguards agreement for uranium exports has been propelled by the May election of a strong Indian leader, Narendra Modi, who in November is likely to become the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia since 1988.

And it has been spurred by China's escalating challenges to its eastern and southern neighbors and to what the U.S. and Australia call "freedom of navigation".

Referring to those conflicts, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop raised the spectre of World War I to warn that "random events can unleash forces that quickly spiral out of control."

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that China's actions were driving erstwhile enemies together. "The consequence has been how China's neighbors are drawing closer to the United States than ever before," he said.

Until now, India has been relatively muted in response to People's Liberation Army incursions across the "line of actual control," which stretches 4,000 kilometers along the spine of the Himalayas.

Mr Modi, however, is signalling a new policy of strategically and forcefully pushing back, according to serving and retired officials.

"Next time the response will not be fudge or denial," said the chief spokesman for Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, MJ Akbar, referring to a three-week Chinese army incursion into Indian Kashmir, which took place last year.

"You are playing chess, but the knights are fully armed," he said.

As well as signalling tougher reactions, the Modi administration is helping to weave a web of security relationships stretching east across the Indo-Pacific and south to Australia.

China Just Gave Obama a Second Chance

 JUL 7, 2014

Years from now, when the history of Barack Obama's much-maligned Asia "pivot" is written, he may owe a debt of gratitude to an unlikely ally: Xi Jinping.

The Chinese president is, of course, vehemently opposed to the U.S. rebalancing its focus toward the East. Hardliners in Xi's Communist Party believe the U.S. president should stick to his own neighborhood and leave the world's most dynamic economic region to China’s suzerainty. But Xi's ham-handed efforts to assert himself in Asia are having exactly the opposite effect.

Aggressive Chinese maritime claims are driving Vietnam into Washington's arms and leading Filipinos to welcome back the U.S. troops they once relished sending home. An apparent assault on Hong Kong’s cherished freedoms is alienating one population that has reunified with the mainland and another -- Taiwan’s -- that increasingly seems to dread the prospect.

Even in Seoul last week, as Xi tried to cozy up to South Korean President Park Geun Hye by highlighting their shared wariness of Japan’s rightward turn, his efforts appear to have come up short. As much as Park may loathe Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, she leads a vibrant democracy that remains home to tens of thousands of U.S. troops. South Korea is not about to align itself with Communist China.

Xi's overbearing ways are giving Obama a second wind in Asia. Question is, will the U.S. president take advantage of it?

Let’s face it, Obama's "pivot" has been reduced to a punchline. There’s been too much talk about America’s focus on Asia and too little to show for it. The U.S. has beefed up its troop presence in northern Australia and the Philippines and pledged to come to Japan's defense in case of conflict with China. But what’s still lacking is a clear and substantive plan for U.S. leadership in a region that’s changing at a breakneck pace.

This week affords a chance to turn the tide as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits China and India and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew hits Beijing to take the pulse of China's restructuring efforts. While the engagement is welcome, Kerry and Lew are too busy putting out today's fires to plan for tomorrow.

What Asian nations really want to see from the U.S. are signs of commitment to Asia’s long-term growth and development. That means dedicating more resources and creating new senior Asia posts in Washington, attracting experts in Asian history, economics, politics -- perhaps even naming an Asia policy czar. If Obama is going to make another Asia speech, it should be big and detailed on policy. The U.S. president also needs to make more trips to Asia than he cancels.

The Switch Chinese cyberspies have hacked Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks

7 July 2014

Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks were hacked by Chinese cyberspies in recent weeks as events in Iraq began to escalate, according to a cybersecurity firm that works with the institutions. 

The group behind the breaches, called "DEEP PANDA" by security researchers, appears to be affiliated with the Chinese government, says Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of the firm CrowdStrike. The company, which works with a number of think tanks on a pro bono basis, declined to name which ones have been breached. 

Alperovitch said the firm noticed a "radical" shift in DEEP PANDA's focus on June 18, the same day witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized Iraq's largest oil refinery. The Chinese group has typically focused on senior individuals at think tanks who follow Asia, said Alperovitch. But last month, it suddenly began targeting people with ties to Iraq and Middle East issues. 

This latest breach follows a pattern identified by experts of Chinese cyberspies targeting major Washington institutions, including think tanks and law firms. It's rarely clear why Chinese cyberspies hack specific American targets, but experts say there are a few clues to why the DEEP PANDA group may have been interested in Middle East experts at think tanks. 

China's need for natural resources has skyrocketed along with its economic profile, and the country has increasingly turned to the Middle East to fuel its energy needs. China surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest net importer of petroleum and other liquid fuels last September, according to the US Energy Information Administration. In Iraq, China is a major oil investor. 

"It wouldn't be surprising if the Chinese government is highly interested in getting a better sense of the possibility of deeper U.S. military involvement that could help protect the Chinese oil infrastructure in Iraq,"wrote Alperovitch in a company blog post. 

Experts say that breaking into organizations like think tanks can give adversaries access to sensitive communications about international strategy – and potentially allow them to use compromised e-mail accounts to get at other targets: A phishing message coming from a trusted acquaintance at a prominent think tank that asks a user to download an attachment is more likely to succeed than a seemingly random e-mail. 

"If you can go after these indirect targets that have some of the information or you can see who they are communicating with you build up a lot of intelligence," explains Benjamin Johnson a former National Security Agency employee who now works at cybersecurity firm Bit9. 

The troubling implication of this is that pretty much everyone is a target, he says. "If you have a relationship with anyone who has something valuable in terms of information, you yourself are a target because it might be easier for them to go after you than the target directly," Johnson explains. 

Pakistan must not be India’s neighbor

IssueNet Edition| Date : 08 Jul , 2014

Does India want good neighborly relations with its neighbors? Yes, but not with Pakistan. Does India love its neighbors? Yes, but not Pakistan. Should India live on good terms with its neighbors? Yes, but not with Pakistan.

India has tried for 66 years to live peacefully with Pakistan, but has simply not succeeded.

The reason for these assessments and positions is because there is a choice. People often say that nations cannot choose their neighbors. But, one answer is that they can. China chose to become India’s neighbor by annexing Tibet; Taiwan chose to become a neighbor of China by breaking away; the borders and neighbors in Central Asia changed remarkably during the great game of the 19th century. England chose to annex Wales and Scotland, thereby eliminating them as neighbors; the USA bought a large chunk of territory from France in the Louisiana Purchase to cease to be a neighbor of France; and the USA bought Alaska from Russia, thereby becoming a neighbor of Russia.

In India, there was a conscious choice to not have Hyderabad and Junagad as neighbors soon after independence. And, India chose to have Bangladesh as a neighbor on its eastern flank rather than continuing with Pakistan as a neighbor there. And when the British united India, it took away countries that were neighbors of each other. These are only a few examples in the region and world that illustrate that neighbors can be chosen, borders can be changed, and destinies of people forged. Sometimes, these destinies are forged by battle, at other times by purchase, and at yet other times by negotiation or threat. One example of the latter was Russia’s annexation of Eastern Siberia from China in the earlier part of the 19th century without firing a shot. At the height of its empire, Great Britain was neighbors with much of the world. It must simply be appreciated that times change, fates change, those down come up, those up go down, the free are enslaved, while the enslaved become free, kings have become paupers[1], and paupers kings[2]. Never should we lose sight of human history.

India has tried for 66 years to live peacefully with Pakistan, but has simply not succeeded. India must be mad if what Einstein stated is true. He had said, “[I]t is a sign of madness to make the same effort again and again, and expect different results.” Thus, India has again and again tried diplomacy with Pakistan, hoping that the result will be different each time. Indian leaders – and those in charge of foreign policy — need to see a mental doctor.

The major trouble with non-violence is that it doesn’t fit into the belief of the military.

Jihad v. Non-Violence

There is no comparison between the practice of jihad in military matters, and that of non-violence in military matters. Given one versus the other, Jihad wins hands down from a military perspective at every occasion.

But, as much as the principle of “jihad” in Islam has been twisted for centuries by Muslims to defeat a non-muslim enemy, so much has the principle of non-violence been twisted to forfeit the sword and the rifle. The true jihad is the internal struggle of the mind and soul to break through its bonds and emerge into an understanding and love of God, but that is not how Muslims have interpreted it against the Russians or Americans or British or Sikhs or Hindus. Similarly the true non-violence is the gradual ascension of the soul rather than forcing the soul to reach higher states of consciousness without establishing and cementing prior accomplishments in the spiritual journey. Thus spiritual non-violence is to attain to higher states by “sahej”, i.e., gradually, rather than pushing and forcing one’s unwilling mind to accept true thoughts it can’t hold. But, this beautiful spiritual meaning of non-violence has been distorted by Hindus and Mahatma Gandhi to forego the use of arms altogether, which is ridiculous. A country cannot survive without a military. To win wars, one needs a strong military, not one that merely achieves a stalemate.

Israel: Hamas Needs A War

July 8, 2014

Israel launched air attacks on more than fifty targets in Gaza. In the last 24 hours nearly a hundred rockets were fired from Gaza and the Israeli air operations are mostly against rocket storage and firing operations. This is difficult because most of the rockets are deliberately stored in residential areas. This complicates Israeli air attacks, even though only smart bombs and guided missiles are used for these targets. Gaza medical personnel reported that nine people were wounded in todays’ air strikes. In late 2012 Israel was in a similar situation that led to an eight day offensive into Gaza. This ended with a Hamas promise to halt the rocket fire. Hamas was not able or willing to stop the attacks completely so here we are again. 

Israel has other serious problems besides Hamas. For example, Israel is a democracy and governments can only be formed if a majority coalition (in parliament) can be formed. It has proved impossible to form a coalition without including some parties that back Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Arabs are violently opposed to those settlements and that anger is encouraged by decades of Arab and Palestinian media propaganda calling for the destruction of Israel at all costs. The official line in most Arab countries is that there can be no real compromise on this “destruction of Israel” issue. Any peace deals with Israel are seen as temporary truces, not a permanent end to anti-Israel violence. Calls for radical solutions (as in the destruction of Israel) were long believed to be mainly an Arab disease but in the last two decades Israeli radicals (still a minority, but a loud one) have called for more rapid and violent responses to Arab terrorism and physical attacks. This has led to Israeli “settlers” attacking Palestinians regularly. In 2012 the Israeli government announced that Jewish residents of the West Bank making "price tag" (retaliatory) attacks would be treated like terrorists. This gave the police more power to investigate and prosecute these crimes, which diminished for a while then began increasing again. That may have slowed the attacks but it did not stop them. These price tag attacks were also carried out to protest Israeli government efforts to dismantle illegal settler structures in the West Bank in addition to the more publicized revenge attacks against Palestinians who went after settlements or settlers. Price tag attacks represented a shift in settler attitudes since the 2006 war with Hezbollah and increasing violence from Hamas. 

For decades the settlers could be depended on to be passive after a Palestinian attack, letting the Israeli police and military look for the culprit. But now the settlers are increasingly launching "price tag" counterattacks. The price tag refers to what the Palestinians must suffer for every attack on Israelis, or for Israeli police interfering with settler activities. This is vigilante justice, and it does more damage to Palestinians than Israeli police efforts to catch and prosecute Palestinian attackers. The Palestinians are not accustomed to this kind of swift payback and they do not like it. Israel has been under growing public and international pressure to crack down more vigorously on the vigilantes. This became especially urgent because the attacks are much more common, and are even extending to feuds between factions of Jewish religious extremists. The Palestinians are still committing most of the terror attacks, but the Jewish terrorists are catching up and extremists on both sides back increased violence in the hope of driving the other side out. Some extremist settler groups have long called for the expulsion of all Arabs from the West Bank and that idea is becoming more popular among settlers and Israelis in general. It’s still a minority attitude, but as more Israelis become frustrated with the relentless Arab calls for destroying Israel, extreme countermeasures appeal to more people. 

Winning: The Cycle Of Violence Persists

July 8, 2014

History often repeats itself and in the case of Iraqi Islamic terrorists there is, for the second time since 2007, a major dip in al Qaeda approval ratings because of the brutality of Iraqi Islamic terrorists. Back in 2007 it was the "Al Qaeda In Iraq" leadership that was out of control. Opinion polls in Moslem countries showed approval and support of al Qaeda plunging, in some cases into single digits. Thus after the 2003 invasion of Iraq al Qaeda managed to take itself from hero to zero in less than four years. Al Qaeda since recovered somewhat but that kinder and gentler approach did not last and by 2013 the Iraqi al Qaeda (ISIL or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) was again losing popular support. That was quite visible when ISIL recently seized control of parts of Iraq and promptly slaughtered captured Iraqi soldiers and police, mainly because these men were Shia. Then ISIL declared the parts of Syria and Iraq it controlled were the new Moslem caliphate. Naturally the ISIL leaders are running this new caliphate and are calling on all Moslems to follow them. Most Moslems have responded, according to recent opinion polls, by expressing greater fear rather than more admiration for Islamic terrorist groups, especially ISIL. In the meantime (earlier in 2014) al Qaeda leadership condemned ISIL as completely out of control and not to be trusted or supported. In the last year opinion polls show Moslems becoming more hostile to Islamic terrorists, seeing them as a cause for concern not as defenders of Islam. The same thing happened back in 2007. 

The Iraqi Islamic terrorists are really out there, at least in terms of fanaticism and extremism and have been since the Sunni dictatorship of Iraq was overthrown in 2003 (with the help of two divisions of American and one division of British troops). This eventually led the local al Qaeda branch of make several bad decisions. The first one was to killing lots of Moslem women and children in terror attacks. Then they declared the establishment of the "Islamic State of Iraq" in late 2006. This was an act of bravado, touted as the first step in the re-establishment of the caliphate (a global Islamic state, ruled over by God's representative on earth, the caliph.) The caliphate has been a fiction for over a thousand years but still resonated with Islamic radicals. 

The original caliphate came apart because the Islamic world was split by ethnic and national differences and the first caliphate fell apart after a few centuries. Various rulers have claimed the title over the centuries, but since 1924, when the Turks gave it up (after four centuries), no one of any stature has stepped up and assumed the role. So when al Qaeda "elected" a nobody as the emir of the "Islamic State of Iraq", and talked about this being the foundation of the new caliphate, even many pro-al Qaeda Moslems were aghast. 

When al Qaeda could not, in 2007, exercise any real control over the parts (mostly Anbar province in the West) of Iraq they claimed as part of the new Islamic State, it was the last straw for many Moslems. The key allies, battered by increasingly effective American and Iraqi attacks, dropped their support for al Qaeda and the terrorist organization got stomped to bits by the "surge offensive" a year later. The final insult was delivered by the former Iraqi Sunni Arab allies, who quickly switched sides, and sometimes even worked with the Americans (more so than the Shia dominated Iraqi security forces) to hunt down and kill al Qaeda operators. 

Over the last seven years al Qaeda in Iraq slowly rebuilt and received a major boost in 2011 when the Sunni Arab majority in neighboring Syria rose up against the decade’s old Shia dictatorship. While the Sunni Arabs are a minority in Iraq (20 percent of the population versus 60 percent Shia) it is quite the opposite in Syria (15 percent Shia and 75 percent Sunni). The Sunnis are most numerous in eastern Syria and western Iraq which the Sunnis see as one entity divided by artificial political boundaries imposed by Turks and the Western nations that replaced the Turks after 1918. This “Sunnistan” is the northernmost concentration of Sunni Arabs and long subjugated by non-Sunni or non-Arab powers. Turks and Persians (Indo-European Iranians) have long fought over the area, with the Turks largely in charge since the 16th century. The Turks were Sunni and what is now called Iraq has long been, not surprisingly, a center of the long religious battle between Sunni and Shia sects of Islam. 

Iraq: History Repeats Itself Again

July 6, 2014: The army has been fighting to retake Tikrit from ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) for a week now. Despite regular pronouncements of victory the fighting continues. In Syria ISIL continues to spend more time fighting fellow rebels than the Syrian government forces. This is apparently because ISIL is trying to clear all opposition out of their stronghold in eastern Syria, which they used to share with other Islamic terrorist rebel groups. One impetus for this is the need for money and ISIL has recently gained control over most of the oil fields in eastern Syria. The oil is sold to smugglers, at a big discount, and the smugglers then truck it into Turkey and sell it to brokers who buy oil with no questions asked. ISIL has moved a lot of armored vehicles and heavy weapons, captured from the Iraqi forces in Mosul, into Syria to use against other Islamic terrorist groups and this has been a big help. ISIL also uses violence against any Sunnis in Syria or Iraq who appear less than enthusiastic about ISIL ruling them. Many Iraqi Sunni tribes have openly joined ISIL recently and that means government forces passing through tribal territory face ambush and a generally hostile population. 

ISIL continues to hold 49 Turks (diplomats and families seized in the Mosul consulate) and nearly a hundred Indian workers (including 46 nurses) seized in the north. ISIL is holding a lot of foreigners it grabbed when it unexpectedly seized Mosul on June 9th. While many have been released, some are being held for propaganda or trading purposes. 

In northern Iraq ISIL is hunting down any real or imagined opponents (Shia or members of rival Islamic terrorist organizations) and killing them. ISIL is also destroying Shia mosques and religious shrines. To escape this over a million people (mostly Shia) have fled their homes in the north during the last four weeks. While some have fled south towards Baghdad or north into Kurdish territory many simply went to the many locations in the north where ISIL has no presence. ISIL actually controls little actual territory in the north. There are large parts of the countryside occupied by non-Sunnis. Many of these people have weapons and are organized to defend themselves. Of course if ISIL assembles a large enough forces (several hundred armed men and some heavy machine-guns, mortars and armored vehicles) they can overwhelm most of these village and town defense forces. The longer ISIL is active in the north the more of these local opponents they will crush. The government, with the help of Iran and the U.S. are trying to get these local defense forces organized and better armed and led. Meanwhile what armed men ISIL does have are increasingly tied up just patrolling or guarding Mosul and other towns in the north they do control along with the main roads connecting them all. 

Is Iraq imploding?

July 07, 2014

Yes, Iraq is imploding and unless a miracle happens we shall have to write the obituary of Iraq as a state to be succeeded by a Kurdistan, a Shiistan, and one or more Sunnistans. The Kurdistan will be more or less tranquil; the Shiistan will be more or less a protectorate of Iran; and the Sunni area will be a zone of contention.

The required miracle is obvious: A reconciliation between US and Iran; conclusion of an agreement on the nuclear issue and simultaneous lifting of sanctions on Iran; a joint effort by US and Iran to replace Maliki, Prime Minister since 2006, with support from both, by a Shia leader acceptable to the Kurds and the Shias; a national decision to revise the constitution to grant to the Sunnis the autonomy that the Kurds enjoy; and a commitment by the Shia leadership to create a truly federal Iraq.

Such a miracle is unlikely to occur. Therefore, it follows that Iraq is at present inexorably moving towards dissolution. In any case, even after that miracle occurs, it will be a difficult, if not impossible task to recover in full the territory under the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and its associates.

Let us look at the big picture. The government in Baghdad has lost control over a stretch of territory to ISIL. ISIL has declared a ‘caliphate’ claiming territory from Aleppo in northwestern Syria to Diyala in northeastern Iraq; the Iraqi army built by US at a cost exceeding $ 20 billion melted away as an armed group of a few thousand urban guerrillas approached Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city; the Iraqi army ran away leaving the US-made weapons and uniforms; a good part of the civilian population fled. Mosul fell on June 20th. Later, Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birth place, fell. So far the government forces have not succeeded in recapturing any significant territory from the rebels. Maliki asked US for F16s to use air power against the rebels. The US has not dispatched any planes; it believes that unless Maliki is replaced by a less divisive leader there is no use taking any military action in support of an unpopular government. For obvious reasons going back to the ill-starred 2003 invasion and occupation under President George Bush and the subsequent disastrous management by the occupiers, there is no question of sending US troops back to Iraq as combatants. President Obama has sent drones, some armed, and about 800 military advisors, ostensibly to show support to the government in Baghdad, but basically to secure the US Embassy, the largest in the world. At any cost, President Obama wants to avoid a repeat of the humiliating flight by helicopter of US Ambassador from a falling Saigon in 1975. It is unlikely that Baghdad might fall as Saigon did.