11 July 2014

A GOOD MAIDEN BUDGET - Jaitley needs to be better aware of his need for more knowledge

Ashok V. Desai 

I had modest expectations of this budget for two reasons. First, Arun Jaitley is at least as good a lawyer as P. Chidambaram, for whose intelligence I continue to entertain high respect; and Chidambaram was a consistently lousy finance minister. And second, Jaitley did not have much time to prepare the budget, especially since he is Narendra Modi’s right-hand man and gets pulled into all kinds of extra-curricular affairs. I must admit that my expectations have been exceeded; in fact, I find it a very good budget for the present circumstances.

But a few things are not great about the budget. The fiscal deficit is projected to change very little. This, however, can be justified on the grounds of mixed signals. On the one hand, the current account is running huge deficits; that would have called for fiscal tightening. On the other hand, the growth rate, close to 4 per cent, is low for India; industry in particular is doing pretty badly. That would have called for a fiscal stimulus. One can say that pulled on both sides, the finance minister decided to stay where he was. Second, Congress budgets were known for numerous boondoggles with Sanskrit names ostensibly for the poor, children, widows and such other people worth helping. They were all schemes for making corrupt party men, bureaucrats and traders rich; one only has to look at the assets of election candidates in the past twenty years to see how rich they made them. Jaitley’s budget is also replete with such boondoggles. To mention just a few, there is one to “cover every household by total sanitation”, whatever that might mean, another to “deliver integrated project based infrastructure in rural areas”. Third, the gigantic statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. I am a great admirer of him; I met him for the last time just two months before his death. But a statue of him is of the same order as the elephants erected by Mayavati, only a hundred times more wasteful. Vallabhbhai would have thoroughly disapproved of it. And finally, Jaitley is extremely vague about many of these schemes. Clearly, he has done precisely what Chidambaram did. Every year before the budget, the finance minister is swarmed by opportunists of his party who put up ostensibly philanthropic schemes; for each, he provides fifty or a hundred crores in the budget. But Jaitley did not ask for even minimum details. He was in too much hurry to present the budget; he should have taken another month and done a better job. His good intentions are transparent; everyone would approve of them. But he tells us so little about how he will go about realizing them, that one’s confidence in him is apt to evaporate.

ISIS Seizes Nuclear Material—but That’s Not the Reason to Worry


"Like the Taliban’s Afghanistan before 9/11, the Islamic State may become a safe haven for people from other groups and countries to train and plot complex attacks."
Matthew Bunn

July 11, 2014
The Iraqi government has told the United Nations that when the group now calling itself the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, sometimes referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL) seized the city of Mosul, it also acquired some 40 kilograms of uranium compounds from the university there. Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Ali al-Hakim, warned that “terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state.” (See the excellent account from Frederik Dahl of Reuters here.)

This has provoked a bit of a hullabaloo on the internet (see, for example, hereand here) – but I would argue it’s time for everyone to calm down. All of the highly enriched uranium (HEU) that once existed in Iraq – the material that could really be used for a nuclear bomb, which Iraq had as fuel for research reactors provided by Russia and France – was removed after the 1991 war. (Saddam Hussein launched a “crash program” to make a bomb out of that HEU after the invasion of Kuwait, but didn’t succeed before the war intervened.) Iraq’s most dangerous radiological sources that could be used in a so-called “dirty bomb” were largely removed in a cooperative effort after the 2003 war. Former IAEA safeguards chief Olli Heinonen has confirmed that there should be no enriched uranium in Mosul. IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor told Dahl that “on the basis of initial information we believe the material involved is low grade and would not present a significant safety, security, or nuclear proliferation risk.”

What we appear to be talking about here is 40 kilograms of compounds of natural or depleted uranium – useless for a terrorist group trying to make a nuclear bomb. It’s of no significant use for a “dirty bomb” either, as uranium is only very weakly radioactive. Even if intentionally dispersed in a city, it would pose only a modest health hazard (far less than the risk to human life from virtually everything else the Islamic State has been doing). It’s not clear this even demonstrates an interest by the Islamic State in getting materials for a nuclear bomb – they may have just seized whatever happened to be lying around at the university, without thinking in any detail about what they were going to use it for.

This is not the first time uranium has been compromised in Iraq since the ill-begotten U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Many forget now that the United States failed to properly secure the al-Tuwaitha nuclear site, and barrels of uranium “yellowcake” were looted – not for the yellowcake, but for the barrels, which local residents used to store food, thereby creating a significant local contamination problem. (See here for a useful account of investigating the resulting issues.)

Ukraine's Dangerous Drift Towards Chaos


Tensions are rising; positions are hardening; the tension between “self-determination” and “territorial integrity” is coming into play. What happens now?
David C. Hendrickson
July 11, 2014
One of the most deplorable features of the Ukraine crisis has been the unwillingness of both Russia and the United States to restrain their respective allies. Until yesterday, when reports emerged that Washington is now counseling a go-slow approach to the prospective sieges of Donetsk and Lugansk, Washington has betrayed little anxiety that the Ukrainians might go too far. About the only daylight observable between the two states has been that the U.S. State Department refers to the insurgents as separatists, whereas the Ukrainians call them terrorists. But American officials have not condemned the use of that terminology by the Ukrainians, and they continue to defendUkraine’s military actions as “moderate and measured.”

The language of the Ukrainian authorities is of a war to the death. "We will not stop,” said the newly appointed Defense Minister, Valeriy Heletey. He continued:
We will bring in maximum numbers of troops and weapons, and strengthen them with National Guard soldiers, police troops and the Security Service - all will be thrown in to defend the Donbas . . . to defend those cities from terrorists.

Those not willing to give up arms [will] understand that waging a war against the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian people is not just dangerous but it will mean doom for these people . . . We will continue the active phase until the moment there is not a single terrorist left on the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Heletey, the fourth defense minister since February, was appointed on July 3; in his maiden speech, he promised to liberate Crimea. “There will be a victory parade,” he declared, “in Ukraine's Sevastopol.” The minister acknowledged that the people in the southeast “are disoriented and afraid of Ukraine, of Kyiv. They are afraid they will be punished and tortured.” But he also warned the residents, in effect, that you’re either with us or against us. “The residents have to . . . first and foremost not support, passively or actively, those terrorists. If it works this way, the process will be very quick," he said.

Another piece of ominous news, from the New York Times, is that the new Ukrainian forces have learned to kill their fellow countrymen without being conscience-stricken about it. This, the Times intimates, is great progress. "They have overcome that psychological barrier in which the military were afraid to shoot living people," says one local expert. Once the military had gotten over their silly phobia, “and it became clear who were our people, who were foes, the operations became more effective."

Can India's military be fixed?

A reformist prime minister vs. a dysfunctional defense ministry
June 20, 2014

India's new Finance Minister and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley (2nd L) inspects a guard of honour aboard Indian aircraft carrier "INS Viraat", in Mumbai June 7, 2014.

American strategists are taken with the idea of India’s strategic potential: a large democracy with a blue-water navy and the world’s third-largest armed forces that happens to be jammed between an imploding Pakistan and an expansionist China. But a deeply dysfunctional Indian defense community has frustrated efforts to turn that potential into reality. Will the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month with the strongest mandate of any Indian leader in 30 years jumpstart much-needed reforms? The answer will help determine whether India begins to fulfill its vaunted potential as a U.S. strategic partner in Asia and beyond.

On the face of it, Modi’s election augurs well for India’s defense preparedness. On the campaign trail, Modi promised a strong India able to stand up to its adversaries. He deplored what he called the then-ruling Congress party’s lack of respect for soldiers, and promised to devote his government to long-overdue military modernization.

But the list of problems he faces is a long one. The Indian defense budget has declined to less than 2 percent of the country’s GDP, the lowest in five decades. This might be tolerable if the country’s security environment had gotten appreciably better in recent years—but it hasn’t. Though India hasn’t witnessed a major terrorist strike since the carnage in Mumbai in 2008, Pakistan remains a threat, and the prospect of terrorist attacks has not gone away. As the United States draws down its troops in the region, Afghan instability is likely to be of increasing concern, and India faces on land and at sea a rapidly rising military power in China, with which the country shares a disputed 2,500-mile border.

The challenges, however, run much deeper than a lack of resources. The procurement system is broken, corruption a constant problem, and tensions between the various military services and the civilian defense bureaucracy are serious and longstanding. Politically appointed defense ministers have had little time for—and, more important, little interest in—straightening out all that ails the Indian defense effort.

The last defense minister, A. K. Antony, was so worried that corruption associated with military procurement would tarnish his image that he brought India’s acquisition process to a virtual halt. At the slightest hint of scandal, purchases would be stalled and companies blacklisted until investigations could be completed. The result: tens of billions of dollars in new equipment not acquired, with existing platforms growing outdated and more expensive to maintain.

Indians themselves point to the history of multiple on-again, off-again attempts to procure aerial refuelers, transport aircraft, and light utility helicopters. For example, even though India’s air force is replete with older (in some cases, relatively ancient) fighter aircraft like the MiG-21, there seems little urgency in replacing them. After a drawn-out bidding process, the government finally opted in 2012 to buy 126 of Dassault’s Rafale aircraft for $11 billion, but it still hasn’t finalized the contract. As a result, the full complement of Rafales probably will not enter the Indian Air Force’s inventory until well into the next decade.

Afghanistan and the Growing Risks in Transition

JUN 30, 2014 

As the Vietnam War and recent events in the Iraq War have shown all too clearly, every serious counterinsurgency campaign involves at least three major threats: the enemy, dealing with partners and allies, and dealing with ourselves. A review of the trends in all three areas raises growing questions as together the U.S. and its allies can carry out a successful Transition in Afghanistan.

The Burke Chair has prepared three related reports that illustrate the current security threats in stabilizing the Afghan security forces; the post-election challenges to Afghan reconstruction; and the challenges facing Afghan governance and the Afghan economy. 

The first report is entitled The Post-Election Challenges to Afghan Transition: 2014-2015, and is available in the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/140708_Transition_Afghanistan.pdf

It provides a comprehensive overview of all of the key trends in “Transition,” Afghan forces, Afghan governance, and the Afghan economy using unclassified maps, graphics, and key factors from a wide range of official and NGO sources. 

The second report is entitled the Security Transition in Afghanistan, and is available on the CSIS web site athttp://csis.org/files/publication/140708_Security_Transition_Afghanistan.pdf.

It excerpts key portions of the first report that focus on the trends in the war, the impact of U.S. and other allied force cuts, military budget issues, and the trends in each key element of Afghan National Security forces. 

The third report is entitled the Governance and Economic Transition in Afghanistan, and is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/140630_Gov_Econ_Transition_Afghanistan.pdf.

It excerpts key portions of the first report that focus on governance, corruption, budget problems, demographic issues, and economic issues, poverty, narco-economics, agriculture, and the limits to near development. 

These reports all show a rising risk that Transition will fail. They show that the “surge” in Afghanistan did not achieve anything like the positive results that the surge in Iraq achieved before U.S. and allied forces left, and that Afghan security forces still have critical problems in quality and funding. These are problems that President Obama largely discounted in his May 27, 2014 speech on Transition in Afghanistan:

President Obama, May 27, 2014, on Transition in Afghanistan:

“… Our objectives are clear: Disrupting threats posed by al Qaeda; supporting Afghan security forces; and giving the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed as they stand on their own.

“Here’s how we will pursue those objectives. First, America’s combat mission will be over by the end of this year. Starting next year, Afghans will be fully responsible for securing their country. American personnel will be in an advisory role. We will no longer patrol Afghan cities or towns, mountains or valleys. That is a task for the Afghan people.

“Second, I’ve made it clear that we’re open to cooperating with Afghans on two narrow missions after 2014: training Afghan forces and supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda.

“Today, I want to be clear about how the United States is prepared to advance those missions. At the beginning of 2015, we will have approximately 98,000 U.S. -- let me start that over, just because I want to make sure we don’t get this written wrong. At the beginning of 2015, we will have approximately 9,800 U.S. service members in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners. By the end of 2015, we will have reduced that presence by roughly half, and we will have consolidated our troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. One year later, by the end of 2016, our military will draw down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul, with a security assistance component, just as we’ve done in Iraq.

“Now, even as our troops come home, the international community will continue to support Afghans as they build their country for years to come. But our relationship will not be defined by war -- it will be shaped by our financial and development assistance, as well as our diplomatic support. Our commitment to Afghanistan is rooted in the strategic partnership that we agreed to in 2012. And this plan remains consistent with discussions we’ve had with our NATO allies. Just as our allies have been with us every step of the way in Afghanistan, we expect that our allies will be with us going forward.

“Third, we will only sustain this military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement that our two governments have already negotiated. This Agreement is essential to give our troops the authorities they need to fulfill their mission, while respecting Afghan sovereignty. The two final Afghan candidates in the run-off election for President have each indicated that they would sign this agreement promptly after taking office. So I’m hopeful that we can get this done.”

In spite of the rushed and uncertain character of Afghan force development, the president chose to provide the minimum recommended mix of U.S. advisors, enablers, and counterinsurgency forces recommend by ISAF for only one year. This, in spite of the fact that the U.S. military has consistently understated the need for advisors, aid, and prolonged effort in their past plans in Vietnam, Iraq, and other operations.

More generally, he did not address either military or civil aid issues, focused solely on the election as a measure of governance, establish no condition for aid and support other than Afghan agreement to a bilateral security agreement, and did not address economic risk, the problems posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan and Pakistan’s part actions. The White House also issued a “Fact Sheet” that repeated past claims to progress in “Afghanistan” that are uncertain, false, or taken out of context.

As the data in these report show, the end result is to grossly understate the risks facing our Afghan ally, and to repeat the false estimates of progress or “follies” the U.S. issued in Vietnam and towards the end of the fighting in Iraq. These kinds of assessments make the U.S. a potential threat to its own interests, and are the same failures, oversights, and shortcomings that Neil Sheehan described in his critique of U.S. folly in Vietnam, A Bright and Shining Lie.

The range of metric and data in The Post-Election Challenges to Afghan Transition: 2014-2015, and its subreports, can only cover part of this story, but they do provide a wide range of warnings of just how serious the risks in Transition really are. In practice, both these risks and the prospect of some form of failure in Afghanistan may be acceptable. The U.S. has higher strategic priorities in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and finite resources. It has a weak and uncertain Afghan partner, and one that has yet to show it can develop either effective leadership or effective governance.

At the same time, there are enough positive trends in Afghan forces, governance, and economics to show that that a still limited but more realistic level of U.S. effort might produce a relatively stable Afghanistan. A more realistic effort to support Afghan forces might offer a higher prospect of success, and the same World Bank reporting that provides level of realism on Afghan governance and economics is sadly lacking the U.S. official reporting present in past reports, including Islamic State of Afghanistan: Pathways to Inclusive Growth. That report offers a far more realistic and affordable path to acceptable levels Afghan governance and economics that dreams of a new Silk Road or sudden wealth in exploiting nation resources.

For all of the negative trends and warnings issued in these three Burke Chair reports, there are potentially affordable options that can prevent U.S. withdrawal from repeating the experience in Vietnam and Iraq and from ending in either a bang or a whimper.

Impact of Talibanisation

Impact of Talibanisation
IssueCourtesy: Aakrosh| Date : 09 Jul , 2014

The most serious implication of this onward march of the Taliban has been the radicalisation of Pakistan’s armed forces. As the armed forces draw their manpower from the same society, its composition is bound to reflect the biases of the society. General Musharraf, after two assassination attempts, did try to cleanse the army of radical elements and succeeded in purging overtly religious generals. However, the junior officers and other ranks by and large reflect the prevailing views of the society. Most of them still believe that the war against Taliban is America’s war and have reservations about fighting them.

The growing Talibanisation is eroding the state structure, and the unravelling of Pakistan is a distinct possibility. For the first time since its creation, there is a threat to the cohesion of the Pakistan army…

Every single attack on a military installation has borne clear marks of collusion by elements from within. Many PAF and Pakistan army personnel, including six officers, were convicted of attempts on General Pervez Musharraf in December 2003, when he was the president. An army soldier, Abdul Islam Siddiqui, was hanged on 20 August 2005, after court martial for the same offence. In April 2012, one of the six convicts, an air force technician Adnan Rashid, who had been sentenced to death, was freed by the Taliban in a daring jail break in Bannu.1 As early as 2006, six middle-ranking officers were court-martialled for refusing to fight in FATA.2

On another occasion, an anti-aircraft gun was discovered on the flight path of General Musharraf’s plane when he was taking off from the Rawalpindi airbase on a pitch-dark night. In September 2006, most of the 40 men arrested for attacks on Musharraf were mid-ranking PAF officers. The conspiracy was uncovered when an air force officer used a cell phone to activate a rocket aimed at Musharraf’s residence in Rawalpindi. The rocket was recovered, and its activating mechanism, also a cell phone, revealed the officer’s telephone number.3 The PAF confirmed in 2009 that it had acted against at least 57 personnel following the December 2003 assassination attempt against Musharraf. Six of these men were sentenced to death; others were arrested or dismissed from service. Over 100 PAF men faced disciplinary action in the aftermath of the murder attempt. However, the possibility that some of the accomplices evaded arrest cannot be ruled out.4 There were numerous instances of sabotage in the PAF to prevent aircraft from being deployed against the militants.

In one of the most bizarre cases, 200 armed security personnel led by a colonel were taken captive along with their officers and equipment by 20 Taliban militants in South Waziristan.5During subsequent attacks on Kohat Cantonment in 2008, there were reports that some tribal cadets of Army Cadet College had joined the militants. Former army personnel were also involved in the attack on the GHQ, which was carried out with the possible collusion of insiders. In 2010, two former army officers, along with two serving officers, including a colonel, were convicted by a court martial for planning an attack on the Shamsi airbase, which was being used by the Americans to fly their drones.

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

Journal Article | July 5, 2014
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]
Afghanistan and Its Neighbors: Regional Views
2014 | Rs. 300.00 | Pages. 84

This small compendium of regional prospects for Afghanistan from 2014 onwards grew out of a series of conferences organized by the Delhi Policy Group in 2012-13, looking at Afghanistan and its neighbors with participants from ten Heart of Asia countries.
ISBN: 978-81-87206-35-4

US Military Departure from Manas: Stirring a New Game in Central Asia

July 07, 2014
My Memories of Manas

A few weeks ago, when I landed in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, the Manas International Airport had a deserted look with only a few local aircrafts parked at bay. In comparison, when I left for home from Manas in October 2012, at least two dozen US C-17 transports and KC-135 aerial refueling tanker aircrafts actively stationed there. I recall participating at the events at the US Transit Centre, a tent city located next to Manas. It was the hub for onward movement of about 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo a month to and from Afghanistan. On June 22, 2014 I was told by a local Kyrgyz that the closure of the US Transit Centre after more than 12 years occurred just weeks back on June 3, though the last date for eviction was slated to expire on July 11 2014.

I remember over 1,000 US servicemen at Manas were engaged in aerial refueling, cargo airlift, as well in humanitarian programmess with Kyrgyzstan. The Commander and other officials of the US Air Force were always enthusiastic to call the Bishkek-based Japanese, Indian and Korean diplomats for entertainment at the sprawling military installation comprising air-conditioned tents and makeshift houses that boasts recreational facilities, movie theaters, gymnasiums, internet cafes, field canteens and duty free shop. My children liked to visit the Transit Centre for having pure American hamburgers. I recall how the American troops complained about being in Bishkek – an obscure destination and perhaps the end point of the world for them. They always expressed the desire to visit India (two and half hours flight from Manas) like the US diplomats in Bishkek do at every opportune movement.

According to the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, the Transit Centre, during its more than 12 years of operations, handled more than “33,000 refueling missions, moved more than 5.3 million servicemen in and out of Afghanistan and served 42,000 cargo missions.” The official data says that a total of 1 billion liters of fuel has been bought on the local Kyrgyz market. The Transit Centre provided humanitarian assistance under 37 projects, with 4.7 million dollars given to schools, hospitals et al. 

Manas, named after Kyrgyz epic hero, formed a critical military staging ground for the Soviet Army for their operation against enemies to the East. This was also called Ganci and the Frunze airport where many of our Indian pilots were trained in the past. Another airport, Kant, now a Russian military base under the CSTO, is just 40-km away from Manas. The US Air Force leased Manas from Kyrgyzstan three months after the 9/11. Putin had then agreed to Bush’s plan and offered to support for deployment and transit of troops and cargo to neighbouring Afghanistan via Kyrgyzstan. In 2001, Putin had to agree because it was not the NATO forces but the Chechens separatists, trained in Afghanistan by Al-Qaida that threatened Russia’s territorial integrity.

The US also then opened another base at Karshi-Khanabad (K2) in Uzbekistan. But the US urge to promote democracy in Central Asia had annoyed the Uzbek leader Islam Karimov who eventually ordered the US eviction from K2 in 2005. Years later, Putin also sought to pressurize the Kyrgyz government to shut down the Manas base but the Kyrgyz leaders opted for financial benefits from the US, and instead used Russian pressure only as a bargaining chip. The US had to simply raise the rent for Manas from $2 to $17 million – peanuts for the Americans but big fortune for the Kyrgyz elite which anyway siphoned off the regular rent.

Six Wars China Is Sure to Fight In the Next 50 Years

 08 Jul , 2014

On July 8, 2013, the pro-PRC Chinese-language newspaper, Wenweipo, published an article titled “中國未來50年裡必打的六場戰爭 (Six Wars China Is Sure to Fight In the Next 50 Years)”.

The anticipated six wars are all irredentist in purpose — the reclaiming of what Chinese believe to be national territories lost since Imperial China was defeated by the Brits in the Opium War of 1840-42. That defeat, in the view of Chinese nationalists, began China’s “Hundred Years of Humiliation.” (See Maria Hsia Chang,Return of the Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism. Westview, 2001.

Below is the English translation of the article, from a Hong Kong blog, Midnight Express 2046. (The year 2046 is an allusion to what this blog believes will be the last year of Beijing’s “One County, Two Systems” formula for ruling Hong Kong, and “the last year of brilliance of Hong Kong.”)

Midnight Express 2046 (ME2046) believes this article “is quite a good portrait of modern Chinese imperialism.” What ME2046 omits are: 
the original Chinese-language article identifies the source of the article as 中新網 (ChinaNews.com). 

The Chinese-language title of the article includes the word bi (), which means “must” or “necessarily” or “surely.” That is why the word “sure” in the English-language title of the article. 

September 16, 2013

China is not yet a unified great power. This is a humiliation to the Chinese people, a shame to the children of the Yellow Emperor. For the sake of national unification and dignity, China has to fight six wars in the coming fifty years. Some are regional wars; the others may be total wars. No matter what is the nature, each one of them is inevitable for Chinese unification.

The 1st War: Unification of Taiwan (Year 2020 to 2025)

China's Hypersonic Weapons Program: A Game-Changer?

July 9, 2014

A recent report in the Washington Free Beacon seems to shed new light on China’s budding hypersonic weapons program:

“China’s military is working on a jet-powered hypersonic cruise missile in addition to an advanced high-speed glide warhead that was tested earlier this year.

A Chinese technical journal disclosed new details of research on what China’s defense researchers are calling a hypersonic cruise vehicle.

A line drawing of the scramjet-powered vehicle shows that the concept being studied for eventual construction is nearly identical to an experimental National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scramjet vehicle called the X-43.

Publication of details of work on the powered hypersonic cruise vehicle indicates China is pursuing a second type of ultra-fast maneuvering missile capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 10—nearly 8,000 miles per hour. Such speeds create huge technical challenges for weapons designers because of the strain on materials and the difficulty of control at high velocities.

Large numbers of Chinese military writings in recent years have focused on hypersonic flight. However, few have addressed scramjet powered hypersonic flight.”

It goes on to note:

"The Chinese report outlines in technical detail how a scramjet-powered cruise vehicle operates at speeds greater than Mach 5 and discusses how to integrate airframe design with scramjet propulsion.

A scramjet is an engine that uses supersonic airflow to compress and combust fuel, creating a highly efficient propulsion system with few parts.

The report analyzed “preliminary design methods for airframe/engine integrative configuration.”

The analysis “may serve as a basis for quick preliminary design and performance evaluation of airframe/engine integrative configuration” for a future Chinese hypersonic cruise vehicle, the report said.

The scramjet cruise vehicle was described in a technical military journal called Command Control & Simulation. The article was published by the 716 Research Institute of the state-run China Shipbuilding Industry Corp., China’s largest maker of warships, submarines, and torpedoes."

The Communist Party-Army Equation in China


In republican scheme of matters, warfare is the ultimate political recourse that is to be prosecuted to seek conditions for advantageous settlement of external disputes. Conversely, in communist theology, military force is but an integral component of external as well as domestic political articulation, more of the latter in fact, for it to remain committed as the guarantor of the regime’s autarkic endeavours.

Analysis: Ukrainian Army Still Has a Long Way to Go Before Kyiv Can Declare Victory of Pro-Moscow Separatists

July 9, 2014 
Ukraine army still far from victory over rebels in east 
BBC News 

Sloviansk: Ukraine has reasserted control in what was a rebel stronghold 

Ukrainian government troops have made significant gains in recent days, pushing pro-Russian rebels out of a string of towns in the east. The rebels have retreated to Donetsk from Sloviansk, for weeks a powerful symbol of their resistance to Kiev. 

So are Kiev’s forces winning the conflict? Alexander Golts, a military expert and deputy editor of the Russian online newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal, examines the new stand-off. 

Ukrainian politicians say a fundamental turning point has been reached in the conflict. But the experience of similar conflicts elsewhere - with a regular army confronting paramilitary units - provides no basis for such claims. 

Nobody has succeeded in defeating paramilitaries who are embedded in a city, virtually turning its residents into a human shield - the Americans did not win such a conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia, nor did the Russians win in the Chechen capital Grozny. 

In such a situation a regular army cannot use its superiority in heavy weapons over rebels - weapons such as armoured vehicles, aircraft and artillery. 

The army may manage - after huge efforts - to capture one town, destroying it with heavy artillery, only to find that the rebels have simply moved to another town. That town in turn has to be taken by storm, and then the same thing happens in a third town. 

It appears that the same thing has happened now in the Ukraine conflict. 

The rebels have set up defensive positions around Donetsk 

Better commanders 

It took the Ukrainian regular army several weeks to surround Sloviansk. The Ukrainian forces lost several planes and helicopters in that operation. 

The rebels led by Igor Strelkov - a military adventurer from Russia whose real name is Igor Girkin - moved to Donetsk and Luhansk to escape the siege. 

Now the Ukrainian army is doomed to suffer losses in a siege of regional centres, where each district can be turned into a centre of armed resistance. 

It would be wrong to state that the Ukrainian army has become more efficient than when the conflict started. 

It is simply that, as always in such wars, more decisive commanders have taken charge, men who do not hesitate to use heavy armour, artillery and aircraft. 

In fact Ukrainian National Guard volunteer units are playing a significant role. They are ideologically motivated, better paid than the army, and evidently making the armed forces more effective. 

Washington's Creation: A Russia-China Alliance?

"It is entirely possible that increasing U.S. sanctions on Russia and attempts to contain China will push the two countries into a full-blown alliance."

July 10, 2014

In June, I participated in a seminar called “The Dynamic of Trilateral Relations among Russia, China, and the United States in the Context of the Ukrainian Crisis and Western Sanctions against Russia” in China itself. The participants supported the assertion—frequently repeated by Russian and Chinese leaders—that relations between Russia and China have never been friendlier. Indeed, despite the fact that U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia do not directly affect China, Beijing is keenly aware of U.S. policies directed at containing it. The United States has unequivocally stated its support for China’s opponents in a series of conflicts concerning Chinese-Japanese, Chinese-Filipino, and Chinese-Korean squabbles. In addition, the American pivot to Asia has as its primary objective to preserve the status quo in Asia and contain a rising China.

Despite internal concerns in both Russia and China that prevent both countries from announcing loudly and decidedly their support for each other—as was in the case of China’s restraint in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia or the reincorporation of Crimea, and as in the reciprocal case when Russia has not voiced outright support for China in Chinese territorial disputes with neighbors—the two countries act as allies on a host of issues in world politics. These issues include stabilizing Syria, the Iranian nuclear program, U.S. regime change around the world, and the hard attempts of the United States to interfere in Chinese and Russian internal affairs masked as support for human rights. Russian-Chinese relations are entering a qualitatively new stage. They are more than merely partnership relations, but are not quite those of allies. However, it is entirely possible that increasing U.S. sanctions on Russia and attempts to contain China will push the two countries into a full-blown alliance.

The present situation in trilateral U.S.-Chinese-Russian relations is at odds with the strategy articulated by Henry Kissinger during the Nixon Administration, which held that American relations with either Russia or China had to be substantially better than the bilateral relations between Russia and China themselves. Today the opposite is occurring. U.S. relations with either of the other two countries are considerably worse than bilateral Russia-China relations. Therefore, the potential for America pitting one against the other is decidedly smaller than the potential of the two countries uniting their efforts and resources to oppose American pressure in the spheres each country considers most sensitive.

Thailand in Crisis

Scenarios and Policy Responses 
By Gregory B. Poling, Phuong Nguyen and Kathleen B. Rustici 
JUL 8, 2014 

Thailand is in the midst of a period of political upheaval that started with massive antigovernment protests in November 2013 and took a menacing turn with a military coup in May 2014. But this is just the latest incident in a cycle of instability that has gripped the nation for a decade or more—a cycle that the military coup will not resolve. The real watershed will come with the country’s royal succession, when forces elite and mass-based, civilian and military, will jostle for primacy as the country enters a new era, without long-reigning King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the helm. Just weeks before the recent coup, CSIS undertook a study to determine the likely scenarios that could play out during this seminal moment, which could come anytime in the coming years. 

Realizing change after the Sewol tragedy

By David Hamon and Seongjin James Ahn 
JUL 7, 2014 

PacNet #51 -- Realizing change after the Sewol tragedyby David Hamon and Seongjin James Ahn

David Hamon (david.hamon@anser.org) is the director of Banyan Analytics. S. James Ahn (seongjin.ahn@anser.org) is an analyst at Banyan Analytics. The views expressed are solely the authors’.

The April tragedy of the ferry Sewol sinking off the coast of South Korea has brought that country to a crossroads. There has been a collective national attempt to pull the country together by addressing immediate issues that have emerged from the tragedy. The public outcry of grief and anger is palpable, and will not soon disappear. As Korean citizens ask tough, fundamental questions in search of explanations that could account for the disaster, authorities have struggled to find answers. As of this writing, some 12 victims have yet to be found. As the search for the remaining victims continues, South Koreans at all levels appear to be united and ready to take difficult steps to ensure nothing like this happens again.

In some ways, the impact of the tragedy on South Korea is reminiscent of the effect that Hurricane Katrina had on the United States. A developed nation, stricken by a tragic event, found its local, state, and federal authorities shockingly ill-prepared to coordinate an efficient and effective response to an emergency. After Katrina, the US government was drawn into a period of deep introspection that resulted in significant institutional changes to FEMA as well as legislative and policy improvements to emergency preparedness and disaster management in the US. The national sentiment after Katrina was “never again.” This could be South Korea’s Katrina moment.

Effecting real change

The most essential question for South Korea after the Sewol tragedy is: what real changes will be implemented and enforced by the government to fundamentally repair the nation, enabling it to avoid such national catastrophes? In her May 19 address, President Park Geun-hye provided a thoughtful outline of the government’s plans for reorganization, which will strip authority from agencies that failed in their duties and assign them to others. She also described bills that will be proposed in the National Assembly aimed at combating the corrosive collusion that exists between regulators and businesses and enables tragedies like this.

The Iraq/ISIS Debate: Beware the Ghosts of Saigon and Karbala

When debating Iraq, the fall of Saigon is as important as the history of Karbala.
July 10, 2014

Are we about to witness a “Saigon moment” in Baghdad? Or are we perhaps witnessing something more comparable to Iraq's February 1991 uprising, only this time in reverse?

Before addressing those questions, it’s worth considering Heather Marie Stur’sview that the Vietnam War is a bad comparison for Iraq. Certainly, it is right that we understand the slippery slope to a quagmire (as Paul Pillar has argued) but the Vietnam War also has applicable lessons for managing exit strategies.

Stur is right to suggest however, that the damage inflicted to Iraqi society by years of sanctions, war, sectarian governance and the shifting components of Iraqi politics needs to be better understood by policy makers. Reading about the Montagnards will not help that.

However, unlike in 1975, the United States has now militarily reentered the fray. A process has begun of assessing a bloated (and expanding) army that is moving brigades and even divisions across huge expanses of terrain, against a comparatively nimble and well-equippedinsurgency.

Aside from the security situation, we also see America’s adversaries sense a moment of weakness after an unpopular war. After Saigon fell, U.S. adversaries were quick to exploit America’s setback. At Cam Ranh Bay, Russia found a perfect home for the Soviet Pacific Fleet, as well as airfields at Da Nang. Across the world, insurgents, terrorists and dictators (including Saddam Hussein) were emboldened.

Nonetheless, Ford had promised that “the United States would not permit our setbacks to become a license for others to fish in troubled waters.” But he could do little to stop Russia from casting their fishing lines. In Iraq today, Obama still has options to compete with the worst aspects of Iranian influence, but the situation is tenuous.

Machiavelli, Not Metternich: The Pipe Dream of Realignment with Iran

Don't let the ISIS crisis fool you. U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is not on the horizon. Here's why.
July 9, 2014

ISIS’ recent triumphs in Iraq have created a new strange bedfellows scenario: Iran and the United States supporting the Shi’ite Iraqi regime against Sunni extremists. This has led to the trumpeting of a historic rapprochement with Iran” and the possibility of a long-term strategic realignment in the Middle East, with the United States and Iran squaring off against the forces of Sunni extremism, such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. Over time, this realignment could redefine our competitive relationship with Iran into a cooperative relationship, setting the stage for a long-term transformation in the relationship.

This would be a very good outcome for the United States. Deprived of an existential threat, Iran would be much likelier to follow through on denuclearization, a vital U.S. interest. The United States would potentially be able to free up resources tied down by Iran and redirect them to other regions of U.S. interest, namely the Pacific. But despite the shared threat of ISIS, realignment is an unrealistic outcome. The goals of Iran and the United States are incompatible. And without a realignment, there can be no transformation and no rapprochement between the United States and Iran.

The traditional narrative spun by advocates of U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is that “political hardliners” have been the greatest obstacle to mended relations. These same advocates reflexively reach for the example of the Sino-American rapprochement of the 1970’s as a model to demonstrate that reconciliation between bitter foes is possible. Upon closer examination, however, the much-touted Sino-American rapprochement tells a very different story than the traditional narrative: Nixon, among the most hardline Cold War warriors, was able to engineer a strategic realignment of Communist China because the Soviet Union was the mortal enemy of both China and the United States.

This is emphatically not the case in the Middle East, where irreconcilable goals have primed the United States and Iran for competition. The rise of ISIS does not change the fact that the United States and Iran are each other’s greatest rivals for dominance in the Middle East, a decidedly zero-sum game. Contrary to the traditional narrative, the greatest obstacle to any form of reconciliation is likely to be the balance of power in the Middle East, not “political hardliners”.


July 9, 2014 · in Commentary

I’ll see you in New York” was the parting comment of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of the newly announced Islamic State (IS), to his American hosts at Camp Bucca in 2009. He was a nobody then, but since his release, Baghdadi has worked very hard to lead IS back from the graveyard to current relevance. His organization recently grabbed the world’s attention by taking as much Iraqi territory as the American-led coalition did in 2003, in much less time and with little fanfare. Baghdadi’s parting words must have brought a smile to his captor’s face, but they are less funny now.

The humor is lost on a country tired of war and bewildered that this particular jihadist problem has resurfaced. By our departure in 2011, U.S. and Iraqi Special Operations Forces had killed or captured 34 out of 42 leaders of the group formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Violence was at a post-2003 low, oil was moving steadily into record production, and all three Iraqi sects were involved in the political game — so much so that in 2010 a Shia politician backed by Sunnis almost won a political majority. Things seemed to be headed in the right direction.

This drastic rewrite of the screenplay for the American project in Iraq is enough to encourage many to think about letting Iraq deal with what could be called the third Iraq war on their own. This would be a mistake. The return of IS is a significant setback to our national interests in the Middle East and will eventually be a direct threat to our homeland. To understand why, we need to look closely at a group that we have fought since 2003 but don’t seem to understand very well.

IS’s origins were in Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s Salafi jihadist organization that enlisted with Al Qaeda in 2004. From its roots, it has always been a tightly controlled military organization with a penchant for spectacular attacks, a black-and-white categorization of enemies and friends, a unique ideology derived from their Salafi roots, and a highly functioning media arm. Zarqawi’s logistics genius facilitated a continuous flow of foreign fighters and waves of car bombs. More uniquely, the group specialized in attackingShia religious targets and civilians in a genocidal campaign that is now in its 11th year. If you are shocked by the recent slaughter of hundreds of captured Iraqi Shia soldiers, you have not been paying attention.

This history of IS is important because despite fears by informed commentators that the group would learn from its failures, IS continues the very same patterns. The notions of implementing an extreme interpretation of Sharia law remain, as witnessed in Mosul. The slaughter of the Shia population continues, as does the sectarian taunting in statements and videos. Analysts contend that this is strategic and therefore primarily instrumental in nature, designed to provoke a Shia response. But this isn’t the case. The leaders of IS have always categorized the Shia as the real enemy to a caliphate. If you disagree, ask yourself what 11 years of sectarian targeting has accomplished for AQI/ISIS, and then look at the videos of the killings and see for yourself the joy ISIS killers exhibit when they kill their Shia rivals. Look at this eulogy for a Saudi fighter named Abu Harira to understand how targeting the Shia has become a mark of high honor in the organization. This pathology has alienated many would be IS allies and eventually fueled its rift with Al Qaeda Central itself. On the other hand, IS atrocities against Shia targets in Iraq and in Syria has had a devastating impact on the level of sectarian tensions all over the region, and could hamper any political resolution in Baghdad.