12 August 2014

China Sends Aid, Medical Teams to Fight Ebola Outbreak

August 12, 2014

China is stepping up its role in containing the deadly virus’ rampage in West Africa. 

As the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to spread, China is stepping up its response efforts. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak, which has so far centered on Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, a “public health emergency of international concern.” 1,711 cases have been reported to the WHO, including 932 deaths. The WHO emphasized that “a coordinated international response” would be necessary to halt the spread of the deadly disease. In response to the outbreak, China is sending aid and a medical team to Africa. CCTV reports that this marks the first time China has offered help to foreign nationals undergoing a public health emergency.

The supplies from China (including protective medical clothing, disinfectants, and medicines) arrived in Guineaon Monday. The total value of the shipment was 30 million renminbi (roughly $5 million), according to Xinhua. This week’s aid shipment is the second from China to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, following a previous batch of supplies sent in May. The supplies were accompanied by a medical team from China. According toCCTV, the aid workers will help train local doctors and nurses in disinfection and other protective measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The recently arrived team will join a group of nine doctors and nurses who have been in Liberia since 2013. This group has announced their intention to stay and fight the outbreak.

China is also continuing scientific research into Ebola. People’s Daily reports that Chinese scientists haveidentified antibody genes for Ebola, raising hopes of a potential vaccine. China is also continuing research into refining diagnostic tests for Ebola, People’s Daily reports.

Meanwhile Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his personal condolences to the presidents of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Xi expressed his sympathy for the “massive human and economic losses caused by the Ebola outbreak,” and offered China’s support for efforts to contain the disease. To Xi, China’s support is another symbol of the special relationship Beijing enjoys with the African continent. Xi called China and Africa “good brothers, friends and partners” who will always help each other in times of need.

The close ties between China and Africa provide even more incentive for China to join global efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak. According to AidData, between 2000 and 2011 China invested $22 billion in Guinea and around $3 billion each in Sierra Leon and Liberia. China has even more at stake in Nigeria, which is feared to be the next country at risk for a major outbreak. China poured $47 billion into Nigeria from 2000 to 2011.

With Chinese investment came Chinese nationals, from business people to construction workers and small traders. Nigeria alone is home to 65,000 Chinese nationals, who are now at risk from the Ebola outbreak. In addition to working with local health care practitioners, China’s aid workers are also tasked with educating Chinese nationals about disease prevention.

In addition, there are concerns that Ebola could make its way into China, which houses a substantial African migrant population. Guangzhou and Hong Kong has already stepped up efforts to screen (and if necessary quarantine) travelers from Africa who may be carrying the disease. Guangzhou in particular has a large African population, and China Daily reports that over 1,000 people from Africa arrive at the city’s Baiyun International Airport every day. However, there may be another reason behind Guangzhou and Hong Kong’s tight precautions. The Wall Street Journal notes that both cities’ experiences with SARS have led them to be more cautious with potential outbreak scenarios.


The Telegraph
Harsh V. Pant
August 12 , 2014
Modi’s visit to Nepal should set off a process of repairing ties

India’s outreach to Nepal in recent days has hit all the right notes. It has managed to capture the imagination of Nepalese people and politicians alike. The recent visits of the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, to Nepal were an important opportunity to recalibrate Indo-Nepalese ties and they have succeeded in doing precisely that. Modi’s visit to Nepal in early August was the first bilateral visit to Nepal by an Indian prime minister in 17 years, an example of negligence that is as disconcerting as it is incomprehensible. Nepalese polity, cutting across party lines, had welcomed the assumption of power by Modi, with most expressing hope that Nepal would be a beneficiary of Modi’s developmental agenda. And Modi has reached out to that country promptly as a sign that he is serious about prioritizing India’s South Asia policy.

Nepal, too, reached out to Modi in an unprecedented manner — the prime minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala, breaking protocol and receiving Modi at the airport, giving Modi a 19-gun salute on his arrival, the Nepalese parliament inviting Modi for an address, the first by a foreign head of state to that body after 1990, with the people of Nepal giving him a rousing public welcome. Modi’s speech at the Nepalese parliament was a graceful reflection on the trials and turbulence that have shaped Indo-Nepalese ties over the last few years with a promise of a change of course in the coming years. Although the signing of the power trade agreement was deferred, Modi concluded three memoranda of understanding. These included one on the 5600-MW Pancheshwar project, the first report of which was drafted by India as far back as 2002. The other two were a Rs 69 million grant to Nepal for the supply of iodized salt and cooperation between Nepal Television and Doordarshan. Modi announced a 10,000 crore (Nepalese rupees) line of concessional credit to Nepal. Most significantly, Modi has promised prompt implementation of Indian projects in Nepal, a cause of needless irritation in this bilateral relationship as delay is seen as symptomatic of India’s lack of seriousness by most Nepalese people.

The groundwork for Modi’s visit was done during Sushma Swaraj’s visit a few days earlier, when she managed to convey the right message by settling a long-pending issue. That is, she promised a review of the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship within two years, on the basis of recommendations from a group of eminent persons from both countries. She also co-chaired the Nepal-India joint commission that met after a gap of 23 years, and reviewed bilateral ties as a whole. The Modi government now has an opportunity to reshape the contours of New Delhi’s relations with Kathmandu and it should lose no time in doing that, especially as India seems to be losing ground in Nepal to China.

“A yam between two rocks” was how the founder of Nepal, Prithvi Narayan Shah, described the Himalayan kingdom, underlining the pivotal geo-strategic location of Nepal, land-locked between China and India. In 1955, Nepal established diplomatic relations with China, recognizing Tibet as part of China in 1956. Since the mid-19th century, Tibet, rather than Nepal, had served as India’s buffer with China. The role of this buffer passed on to Nepal after the Chinese annexation of Tibet. It became imperative for New Delhi to deny China direct access to Nepal because of the vulnerability of India’s Gangetic plain containing critical human and economic resources. For China, the growing influence of India had grave implications for its security, especially as regards Tibet. Thus, preserving the balance of power in southern Asia in its favour and securing Nepal’s active co-operation to prevent its rivals’ use of the country for anti-Chinese activities became principal strategic objectives of Beijing’s Nepal policy.


12 August 2014

India cannot afford to nurture holy cows. It should lay bare the role played by the British, especially Mountbatten with his mesmeric hold on Gandhi, Nehru and even Sardar Patel

With the National Conference repeatedly questioning Jammu & Kashmir’s accession to India, and Pakistan continuing to claim Maharaja Hari Singh’s erstwhile kingdom in entirety, it is imperative that New Delhi lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the events that resulted in the ruler opting for India. The time has come to transcend the pious orthodoxies around Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other actors in this episode which has hurt India’s security, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national self-esteem.

Great nations must have the gumption to face unpalatable truths, introspect, and not hide behind obfuscation. Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, one of our foremost strategic thinkers, studied Pakistan’s persistent claim that Jammu & Kashmir was the “unfinished agenda of partition”. After his death in August 2013, his colleagues Manpreet Sethi and Shalini Chawla collected the best of his thoughts on Pakistan and India’s nuclear ethos in an excellent memorial volume (India’s Sentinel. Select writings of Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, AVSM, VrC, VM (Retd), Knowledge World, 2014).

Pakistan’s main argument is that since partition was along communal lines and Pakistan was created from Muslim majority areas of India, it should have received Jammu & Kashmir on account of its Muslim majority. This is also the crux of Pakistan’s defence for its aggression in 1947 and refusal to honour UN resolutions calling it to vacate the seized territory.

The reality was more complex. Despite the communal basis of partition, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s first Governor General, made strenuous efforts to coax some Hindu rulers to remain independent and join Pakistan later. The Maharaja of Jodhpur met Jinnah several times and nearly agreed to join Pakistan in return for the use of Karachi as a free port, free import of arms, control over the Jodhpur-Hyderabad (Sindh) railway, and grains for famine relief. Jinnah also approached the rulers of Jaisalmer and Bikaner; this negates his claim to Jammu & Kashmir on grounds of its Muslim majority.

Paradoxically, a referendum was held in the Muslim majority North West Frontier Province. But more pertinently, the partition process applied only to areas ruled directly by the British, and not the Princely States, where the decision vested in the ruler. Interestingly, decades later, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto wrote that East Pakistan’s wish to separate in 1971 was illegitimate because the right to self-determination had been exercised in 1947 and could not be re-exercised (Daughter of Destiny, 1989).

Air Cmde Jasjit Singh accepts without scrutiny Sheikh Abdullah’s claim (Flames of the Chinar: An Autobiography) that the then Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Meher Chand Mahajan, threatened Nehru when he brought the Maharaja’s letter of accession to Delhi on October 26, 1947. At a meeting where Abdullah claims to be present, Mahajan insisted: “The Army must leave for Srinagar today otherwise I shall proceed straight to Mr Jinnah and sign an agreement with him”. Nehru reputedly walked out in anger saying, “If you favour an agreement with Pakistan (you can) leave at once”. In Abdullah’s account, it was he who persuaded Nehru to accept the accession and pleaded with Mahatma Gandhi to send the Indian Army to defend the State.

This assertion needs to be interrogated on at least two counts. First, in his exhaustive work on Kashmir, AG Noorani observes that neither Maharaja Hari Singh, his Prime Minister at independence, Ramchandra Kak, nor Sheikh Abdullah favoured accession to Pakistan. When Louis Mountbatten visited Kashmir in June 1947 to get a decision from the Maharaja, Kak urged the Viceroy to state his preference. Evading a direct reply, Mountbatten said, “You must consider your geographical position, your political situation and composition of your population and then decide”. Kak retorted: “That means that you advise us to accede to Pakistan. It is not possible for us to do that; and since that is so, we cannot accede to India.”

Second, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre interviewed Mountbatten for their book, Mountbatten and Independent India: 16 August 1947-18 June 1948, where he admitted telling Hari Singh to join Pakistan. “I must tell you honestly, I wanted Kashmir to join Pakistan … (Sir Cyril) Radcliffe (Chairman of the India Pakistan Boundary Commission) let us in for an awful lot of trouble by making it possible for them to accede to India” (by awarding India a portion of Gurdaspur, which facilitated the land link to Jammu & Kashmir). In this, MC Mahajan, as member of the Radcliffe Commission, played a role by turning down the offer of district Lahore and getting district Gurdaspur for India.

Putting social agenda on the right track

Satyabrata Pal

If the Railways can help to bring down the incidence of bonded labour, and of human trafficking, it would perform a social service. That social service would be as valuable as the bullet trains the Railway Minister announced in 
his budget, and at a fraction of the cost.

IN his budget speech on July 8, the Railway Minister rued that his charge was “expected to earn like a commercial enterprise but serve like a welfare organisation.” He described these as “conflicting objectives”. What the Minister called “the burden of social service obligations” was 16.6 per cent of gross traffic receipts in 2010-11; in 2012-13, these obligations cost Rs 20,000 crore, which was more than half the Plan outlay for the Railways. Therefore, while the “Indian Railways would continue to fulfil its social obligations, sustaining these objectives beyond a point is not possible”.

Passengers stand in a queue to board a train at a railway station in New Delhi. The Railways should make a distinction between those who travel voluntarily and those who do not.

Social obligations

Rather worryingly, the Minister did not specify where that point lay, or, when it was in his perspective reached, which obligations the Railways would jettison. In his speech, the Minister seemed to have in mind the lines and trains, serving a tiny fraction of the population, bequeathed to him by predecessors who camouflaged patronage as social concern. That filthy bathwater should be thrown out, but there is a baby to look after. The Railways has much larger social obligations, which it cannot ignore.

Redirecting his gaze to the needs of the customer, as a commercial transporter must, the Minister announced that two of the “focus areas” of his budget would be the cleanliness of railway infrastructure and the security of passengers. Each of these would also make the Railways a more socially responsible organisation if properly implemented, even more of a black hole if they are not.

Degrading profession

The Railways continues to be the largest user of manual scavenging, that most degrading of professions, into which persons are bonded by descent. Even now, an Indian train is like a herd of cattle, dunging its trail as it goes. Putting modern toilets on all trains should have the highest priority because it would rescue huge numbers from hereditary bondage, make railway tracks and stations less toxic, and be a relief for passengers. That is a prime social responsibility, but all the Minister said was that “bio-toilets will be increased in sufficient numbers in trains in order to mitigate the problem of direct discharge of human waste…” Mitigate, not remove, and no specifics. What numbers? How quickly? The budget is opaque. And silent on whether the Railways will accept any responsibility to rehabilitate the manual scavengers it has used.

Budget for cleanliness

The Minister went on to say that he was increasing by 40 per cent the budget for “cleanliness” and would outsource the work of cleaning 50 major stations to professional agencies. That, of course, is now standard procedure at airports, but there is no human excrement to be lifted from tarmacs and concourses. It is important therefore that the Railways employs only those companies that will not use manual scavenging to clean tracks at stations. This must be a contractual requirement.

The Minister announced that he was setting up a Corpus Fund for the upkeep of stations and CCTV would be used to monitor cleaning. These are welcome innovations. The fund should be used to invest in the mechanical cleaning of tracks, and CCTV used to ensure that manual scavenging is not.

There is the even larger problem of migrant bonded labour, with which the Railways are complicit. The Global Slavery Index 2013 estimated 14 million in bondage in India, which is more than half the global total. An ILO report this year puts annual profits world-wide from forced labour at $150 billion; pro rata, a practice officially banned in India probably brings in $75 billion, which makes it 4 per cent of GDP, and partly explains the state of denial in government and society on bonded labour. These invisible millions do exist, however, and a very substantial number are taken on the Railways as migrant, inter-state labour or as victims of trafficking.

***Jozef Pilsudski's Europe

August 9, 2014

Russia's geopolitical threat to Central and Eastern Europe should have everyone's mind rushing in the direction of a protean Polish revolutionary, statesman and military leader, Jozef Pilsudski, and his concept of the Intermarium -- Latin for "between the seas;" Miedzymorze in Polish. This was a belt of independent states from the Baltic to the Black seas that would work in unison against Russian tyranny from the east and German tyranny from the west. While geopolitics may be about the impersonal influence of geography upon international relations, human agency still applies, so that the idea of an individual Pole from the early 20th century could provide a means for defending freedom in our own era.

Pilsudski dominated Polish affairs from the middle of World War I until his death in 1935. In the words of the late British-educated academic Alexandros Petersen, Pilsudski was from a "staunchly Polonized" family of "disestablished nobility" that had held lands in present-day Lithuania and originally owed its position to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the great powers of 16th- and 17th-century Europe. The destruction of that colossal geopolitical force at the hands of invaders from both east and west provided the motivation behind Pilsudski's vision of a belt of small states to hold in check both Russia and Germany. It was not an altogether new idea. The British geographer Halford Mackinder had proposed something similar a few years earlier in 1919. But whereas Mackinder was only a well-known scholar writing in a book, Pilsudski was a dynamic political leader.

Pilsudski's vision was a product not only of his family history but also of his own bloody experience. He had saved Poland from invading Soviet forces in 1920 in the midst of a number of border wars and went on to become the primary founder of the Second Polish Republic in 1926. Pilsudski's belief in a multicultural Poland to encompass his own Lithuanian background played well with his expansive vision of this anti-Russian belt of states that was, in turn, a spiritual and territorial descendant of that vast tract of territory that had constituted the late medieval and early modern Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which stretched at its zenith from the shivering flatlands of northeastern Europe to the confines of the Ottoman Empire -- in present-day Ukraine.

Pilsudski's realization that the independence of the Baltic states, the Balkans and Ukraine was central to Poland's own security lives on today in the country's post-Cold War foreign policy. To wit, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has been publicly tireless and ever-present in pushing NATO and the European Union toward a tougher stance against Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea. Of course, the European Union's expansion to include Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, together with their incorporation into NATO, has represented the partial institutionalization of Pilsudski's idea -- even if Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the countries of the Caucasus lie stranded in the neither-nor geopolitical landscape of the European Union's Eastern Partnership, which offers insufficient protection against the designs of Russia.

*** Pruning the U.S. Military: We Will Do Less But Must Not Do It Less Well

Poster Collection, US 4403, Hoover Institution Archives.

Clearly America's military will continue to shrink. Across our body politic from fiscal conservatives to those who support increasing entitlements to those unimpressed with the last ten or forty years of America's role on the international stage, there is no longer in Washington adequate vision or sufficient political will to restrain the downsizing of our military. With scant political leadership to make the case persuasively for sustaining a larger military, it is inevitable that our smaller military will not be capable of doing all that the post-World War II American military has done around the world. This is comforting to those who doubt the efficacy of our military operations, to those who want America to come home, to stop playing the world's policeman, or to stop sending money overseas, and to others with a host of reservations about America's military role in the world. Our countrymen are also increasingly aware that America is on a fiscally unsustainable path: until we elect a government that can govern responsibly our military power will certainly continue to erode.

We can debate the wisdom of downsizing the U.S. military while the world situation is increasingly unstable and our troops are engaged in confronting sworn enemies, but we cannot deny that the reality of ongoing downsizing must impact our use of force and thus our foreign policy.

As our military shrinks the implications will be starkly portrayed. While in the event of hostilities our immediate vital interests, if well-defined, can likely be defended at increased risk and cost, we will have significantly reduced wherewithal to undertake discretionary operations. Despite moral outrage or serious humanitarian plight we will rediscover that we have no moral obligation to do the impossible, and our smaller military dictates that many more such operations will be, in fact, impossible. In an age of terrorism our diplomats will be at increased risk and we will need to pull back diplomatically in some realms. Our allies too will be directly impacted, for they will need to calculate carefully just what they believe America will fight for, then look to accommodate those forces that may no longer gain American military commitment on their behalf. In our own decision making, we will need a level of discipline in our foreign policy that is lacking in our current fiscal policy.

The most direct impact will be the absolute requirement to adjust our strategy. Assuming that we are capable of crafting a strategy that realistically links political ends with our reduced means through ways that gain bi-partisan support, the new strategy will demand fundamental rework of our assumptions about the use of force. Specifically we will need to pay increased attention tending to allies with shared security interests. We will need more alliances, not fewer, and they will underpin a world where unilateral American military efforts will at the same time be more constrained. Building those alliances will mean compromising more of our objectives and supporting more of others'. The military aspects of our strategy will inevitably become more naval in character providing time for political leaders considering the employment of additional or other forms of military power.

An immediate implication of a smaller military is its impact on our military itself. Whatever the reduced size of our Armed Forces brings, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines must be capable of fighting well enough on short notice to prevail, composed in a manner that ensures we have the fewest possible big regrets when surprise strikes. When the Commander-in-Chief puts our forces into their next fight, the military must be prepared to make it the enemy's longest day and their worst day. In a time of sequestration-level cuts, emphasizing our fighting capability so we will prevail means that readiness must be prioritized, while recognizing that continued nonsensical cuts, aka sequestration, will eventually doom any service chief’s efforts to sustain a balanced capability ready to fight and win.

While we will do less with a smaller military, we must not do it less well. At the point of contact with our foes it must be made painfully clear to a globalized world audience that the size of our military notwithstanding, the quality of our troops and equipment ensures that we are at the top of the game and no one wants to take on the U.S. and our allies. This is the one constant that regardless of size America's military cannot sacrifice even as our military shrinks.

After Modi's Big Win: Can India and Pakistan Enhance Relations?

August 11, 2014

Are conditions ripe for a leap forward in ties between the long-time rivals?

As the new Indian government settles in, questions arise about the future of the Indian-Pakistani relationship—questions prompted mostly by the new Indian prime minister’s history of Hindu nationalism. But a more revealing lens for analyzing this relationship might be to regard it from the perspective of Pakistan. Pakistan’s “dysfunctional civil-military relations” suggest an uncertain political future, leaving India in an essentially reactive role. That dynamic, may have an even more powerful impact than Narendra Modi’s politics.

Modi’s decision to invite his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to hisswearing-in ceremony together with all the other heads of state or government from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, was considered a positive gesture on both sides of the border. The meeting between the two prime ministers was cordial and frank but—to no one’s surprise—not groundbreaking.

While Pakistani leaders are unanimous and sincere in welcoming warmer relations with India, civilians and military officials have opposing long-term objectives. It is doubtful that the Pakistani military supports such a change for any reasons beyond the narrowly tactical, and in fact will fight fiercely against such a change affecting its territorial claims. Sharif is pursuing an opposite strategy—trying to turn a tactical rapprochement into a more permanent arrangement.

India is likely to adopt a “wait and see” attitude. While the election of a new government may have elevated resolve to punish Pakistan in case of a terrorist attack, it has not increased India’s capacity to coerce its neighbor into any specific outcome. New Delhi will have to walk a fine line between ignoring Pakistan, which it can’t control and does not need economically, and keeping the door to better relations open enough to provide a real incentive for Islamabad to adopt meaningful new policies—all without making unilateral concessions to Pakistan.

Most-Favored-Nation Status

A year ago, then-candidate Sharif made the normalization of relations with India a central plank of his platform. Hopes were high, therefore, that Pakistan would finally extend India Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) status, removing tariff and other trade barriers. Sharif did not spell out any preconditions. But, twelve months later, the issue is still pending. Pakistan is now stipulating that the MFN status will be attributed to India only if New Delhi reopens the composite dialogue, a stalled executive-level negotiation process.

Awarding the MFN status to India is important in its own right. A substantial part of the business community, in particular small- and medium-sized enterprises, seem to fear being overwhelmed by a massive arrival of cheaper Indian products on the Pakistani market. Nontariff barriers to India’s market have also been invoked as a justification for Pakistan’s hesitations. Yet, the Pakistani government continues to insist on the need to facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries. It blames several Indian lobbies (the automobile, textile and pharmaceutical industries as well as the agricultural lobbies) forobstructing the negotiations and maintains that awarding India MFN status would benefit Pakistan.

However, the MFN issue provides clues to a larger domestic political dynamic in Pakistan. The main political parties support Sharif’s policy. Jihadi organizations, on the contrary, oppose any trade deals with New Delhi as long as Kashmir remains under Indian control. Here, as elsewhere, the jihadis are joined by the military—whose opposition Sharif seems to have underestimated. The nomination of Raheel Sharif as replacement for Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) did not usher a more receptive posture in Rawalpindi. It was the military that insisted that the government take the small- and medium-sized enterprises’ objections to heart. It also lent its explicit support to their cause, warning the Sharif brothers “against making rapid concessions, particularly in the run-up to India’s general election.” In February 2014, Shabaz Sharif, the prime minister’s brother, obliquely accused the military of obstructing trade normalization.


By Aloke Sen,Eurasia Review

At a recent seminar in Kolkata on what the foreign policy priorities should be for the new government in Delhi, I was somewhat startled to hear from the delegate of a neighbouring country that the general view there of India was of an ‘indecisive and inconsistent big neighbour’.

While India can justifiably be held guilty of having often displayed a condescending attitude to its smaller neighbours (except Pakistan that continues to consume, quite unproductively, a disproportionate share of our diplomatic energy), to be additionally charged with inconsistency and indecision was a little overwhelming. For good measure, the delegate added it was time India changed its image of a “big brother” to one of an “elder brother”.

From available indications, the Narendra Modi government has identified the neighbourhood as a priority area for India’s diplomatic efforts, and started work on improving relations. I assume the definition of neighbourhood would at some stage transcend only those countries with which India shares a physical boundary, and embrace a swathe of South, Southeast and East Asia, the focus of India’s Look East Policy (LEP). They form a composite whole and not seeing them as a single ‘extended neighbourhood’ would be a mistake.

The LEP was launched on the watch of P.V. Narasimha Rao, a vastly underrated but visionary prime minister, who was also at the time putting the country on a transformational course of economic reforms and liberalization. Throwing open of the gates for India’s economy and external relations came in the early 1990s, coinciding with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the official end of the Cold War. It was a time of upheaval and re-adjustment. LEP that heralded India’s intention to pay greater attention to its Southeast Asian neighbours was India’s re-adjustment mechanism.

This policy has since enjoyed bipartisan support. If Rao (Congress) was its author, former prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee (National Democratic Alliance) and Manmohan Singh (United Progressive Alliance)’s governments pursued it seriously. Trade with India’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) partners, now at $80 billion, has expanded impressively. Most importantly, close institutional links already forged with the ASEAN provide India with the strategic wherewithal to firmly ensconce itself in an emerging Asian economic community, whatever final shape it may take.

So utility of the LEP is not in question, but from my experience of having served in two ASEAN countries, I would suggest there is a need for more purposeful implementation.
A few suggestions:

One, the government can do with a cost-benefit audit. There is no reason to get carried away by the impressive growth in trade with the Southeast Asian countries; the question is if that is benefiting India as much as the partner countries. Otherwise, India’s openness would only lead to competitive pricing and sleeker packaging of products from many of these countries, dislodging Indian products from store shelves. The India-ASEAN free trade agreement on services is still elusive with, at last count two ASEAN countries holding it up.

India-China Relations in a Fast Changing World.

This century has been good for India, so far. Its economy has been bounding along finally reflecting a closer correlation between promise and performance. The demographic trends have never been so propitious. Given current trends and informed forecasts India’s GDP is expected to double every seven or eight years. It is climbing closer to $2 trillion now. Thus by, say 2050, we could be looking at a GDP in real terms of over $ 40 trillion. If the current trend were to do slightly better and keep it up, by 2050 or even earlier, India could conceivably emerge with the world’s largest GDP. While this potential may not be realized by India’s ever squabbling, petty minded and greedy elite, many knowledgeable people abroad seem fully aware of it. Some almost certainly would be contemplating tripping us up on the way to this tryst with destiny?

How we fare during these next crucial decades depends a great deal on how we perceive ourselves? This psychological factor is critical to sustained economic growth. Economics thinkers now seem to have come full circle in their reasoning’s. Classical economics was linked closely with psychology. Adam Smith’s other great work was “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” and dealt with the psychological principles of individual behavior. Jeremy Bentham contemplated a good deal on the psychological underpinnings of utility. It was the neo-classical economists who distanced themselves from psychology and sought explanations for economic behavior with what passed off as scientific and rational methods. It is not as if the switch was complete. Many great economists like Vilfredo Pareto, John Maynard Keynes and Joseph Schumpeter continued to base their analysis on psychological explanations. In more recent times this school of economics has been given greater importance and is reflected in the award of Nobel Prizes to behavioral economists like Herbert Simon and Gary Becker. Every politician worth his salt knows that national mood and perceptions are decisive in determining national outcomes. Thus defending India physically implicitly implies defending its national mood.

The changed nature of economics.

The inexorable growth of China’s GDP has been the dominant event of the past three decades. China having surpassed Japan a few years ago, is now taking aim at that of the USA ($14 trillion), whose economy is at present more than two and a half times bigger than it. It took China a little less than a decade to make a similar leap to overtake Japan. But then Japan has hardly been growing since 1995 and its GDP has been roller coasting between $4-5 trillion.

Overtaking the USA will still take some years and some effort as that country has begun posting some smart growth after the gargantuan Obama stimulus package pump primed, not just the US economy but also the world's economy, and particularly of countries like China which have a symbiotic economic relationship with it. Despite this, Chinese GDP is expected to surpass that of the US well before 2020 when it will be about $24.6 trillion as to the USA’s $23.6 trillion.

"The United States, India, and the Rise of Geoeconomics"

Author: Robert D. Blackwill, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
June 10, 2014

Presentation for The Ananta Aspen Center

Robert D. Blackwill presented for The Ananta Aspen Center a speech entitled "The United States, India, and the Rise of Geoeconomics," on June 10, 2014 in New Delhi.

To see the full text of his speech, please find a link to the PDF below:

Pakistani Army Brings in 3,000 More Troops to Protect Islamabad During Upcoming Political Rally by Opposition Party

Interior Ministry summons 3,000 FC troops to guard capital

Mateen Haider

Dawn, August 11, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Interior Ministry on Monday called at least 3,000 additional troops from the Frontier Constabulary (FC) to deal with the upcoming march of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) towards the federal capital.

The Interior Ministry sources told dawn that a notification was issued after approval of Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

The FC works under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry.

Apart from the FC, Islamabad would be heavily guarded due to presence of Pakistan Army’s 111 Brigade commandos, Rangers, elite force and thousands of intelligence agencies’ personnel.

Earlier, the federal interior minister had announced the government’s decision to call in the military under Article 245 of the Constitution to assist the civil administration in maintaining law and order of Islamabad from August 1 for a period of three months.

Leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and many analysts see the timing of the imposition of Article 245 in the capital as a bid to set the army in place for the August 14 march in Islamabad.

Nisar had also said that the decision to call for army’s assistance in maintaining the law and order situation had been taken before the initiation of the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan.

Moreover, the chief of Pakistan Awami Tehreek, Dr Tahirul Qadri, had also announced that his ‘Inqilab’ march would move side by side with the PTI’s ‘Azadi’ march.

Gauging the Success of Pakistan’s North Waziristan Operation

July 25, 2014

Mechanized troops patrolling outside the cordoned area in North Waziristan Agency. (ispr.gov.pk)

The Pakistani military launched its long-overdue offensive against militants in North Waziristan on June 15 with much fanfare. Public support for the operation, titled Operation Zarb-e-Azb, remains high, with many people in Pakistan believing this to be the operation to end all operations. The Pakistan Army touted the fight as Pakistan’s own, as opposed to one undertaken at the behest of the U.S., and as one being prosecuted against militants of all stripes, both foreign and domestic. If the hype is to be believed, the Pakistani military offensive in North Waziristan is in the process of striking a crippling blow against militants operating in the region, particularly the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its foreign allies such as al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

While there have surely been successes so far—and the mere fact that the operation is taking place at all is a marked improvement over Pakistan’s previous policy of allowing one of the world’s most dangerous militant safe havens to fester unmolested—the reality on the ground appears somewhat less optimistic. The ground phase of the operation in North Waziristan is progressing at a cautious pace; most militants fled the main combat zones far in advance of the operation; the government is facing a humanitarian crisis on a scale it is grossly underprepared for; and Pakistani policies of favoritism toward certain militant groups do not appear to have changed. Whether Pakistan has learned from the lessons of its previous military operations and is prepared to do what’s necessary to make its gains in North Waziristan permanent, remains to be seen.



August 11, 2014

There are many important strategic, political, legal, and moral questions to ask about the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. One important set of questions revolves around the efficacy of Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket interception system. While there has been some dispute about the tactical effectiveness of the system, Iron Dome has had important strategic and political effects in allowing Israel to pursue a set of military objectives that is narrowly focused on locating and destroying Hamas’s network of tunnels. Without the success of Iron Dome in striking down rockets headed towards Israel’s population centers, Israel likely would have felt forced to pursue a much more extensive military operation, similar to operations conducted in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Lebanon, since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.

Tactically, Iron Dome’s effectiveness can be measured by the extent to which the system does what its designers intended it to do. Iron Dome is part of Israel’s multi-layered missile defense system. This system includes Arrow, designed to intercept ballistic missiles, David’s Sling (which is not yet operational), designed to intercept large caliber artillery and short-range ballistic missiles, and Iron Dome, which is intended to intercept shorter-range rockets like those fired by Hamas and Hezbollah when they are aimed at populated areas. The system works by detecting the trajectory of an incoming rocket right after it is launched, and only dispatching an interceptor if a projectile fired by an adversary is heading for a populated area. While some reports have questioned the effectiveness of Iron Dome, most suggest that the system achieved significant successes in knocking down almost all of the missiles that were headed towards Israeli cities—several hundred out of the more than 3,000 fired at Israel in the past month. Anecdotally, we know that there have been almost no successful strikes on Israeli population centers and that two of the three Israeli civilian casualties during Operation Protective Edge came from short range mortar strikes, against which Iron Dome is not effective.

Most of the data that would support definitive evaluations of the tactical effectiveness of Iron Dome are in the hands of the Israeli military, so conclusive evaluations will have to wait until after the war (and are no doubt already taking place within the corridors of the I.D.F.). But from what can be observed at this stage, the system seems to have chalked up significant tactical achievements.

"Stability Is Still Possible in Gaza. Here's How."

Authors: Shai Feldman, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Khalil Shikaki

August 8, 2014

On August 5, after twenty-nine days of fighting, Israel and Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal for a seventy-two-hour unconditional cease-fire. The cease-fire was meant to provide a calmer environment for direct and indirect talks on stabilizing the relations between Israel and Gaza. At this writing, fire has been renewed—and indeed might even escalate—but the efforts to restore the ceasefire and to then establish the terms of a broader and more enduring understanding also continue. This fluid phase in the process might continue for some time before such an understanding is reached. The following is an attempt to sketch the basic requirements for transforming any cease-fire the parties may agree on to more stable relations between Gaza and Israel, and between Israelis and Palestinians more broadly.

The Strategic Environment

Any attempt to establish a more stable relationship between Israel and Gaza must begin with ascertaining the causes of these relations’ current instability and the circumstances that caused the most recent eruption of violence. In the broadest sense the failure of U.S.-led efforts—most recently, the attempts by Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a permanent status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority—provided the environment in which the eruption of violence could be expected.

Regionally, during the past year Hamas has found itself in unprecedented isolation. This was partly self-induced—resulting from Hamas’ decision in 2011 to support the Syrian rebels and to relocate its headquarters away from Damascus. The decision alienated some of the movement’s most important regional supporters: Iran and Syria. But in part the isolation resulted from developments over which Hamas had no control, most important among them was the counter-revolution in Egypt in early July 2013 which ousted the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s natural allies. The latter development led to very tough Egyptian measures to isolate Gaza by closing the Rafah crossing even more hermetically than before and, even more important, by destroying the network of tunnels that Hamas had built under the Gaza-Egyptian border. The tunnels were designed to circumvent the restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel in the aftermath of Hamas’ take-over of Gaza in June 2007 by allowing the smuggling of weapons and goods to the Gaza Strip. The cumulative effect of these developments was to leave Hamas physically isolated and without regional allies. Not surprisingly, Hamas leaders were desperate to find a way to escape this growing isolation.

Internally, some members of Hamas’ military wing may have also turned to violence in order to thwart the April 2014 reconciliation agreement which they saw as enabled by excessive Hamas concessions. Thus, the abduction and killing of the three Israeli teenagers on June 12—a development that spurred the recent escalation—may have reflected the desire of some among the military wing to thwart the reconciliation efforts.

Another important development was the Israeli government’s negative reaction to the Palestinian national reconciliation agreement. The reaction was propelled by the perception that given Hamas’ ideological commitment to Israel’s destruction, such a move cannot but imply a PLO retreat from its commitment to peace. The battle against the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation may have also induced Israel to view the aforementioned abduction and killing as a Hamas operation and to assert that in reconciling with Hamas, PA President Mahmoud Abbas had entered into a partnership with a murderous organization. In turn, such framing led the Israeli government to take another series of measures against Hamas, notably the re-arresting of tens of Hamas operatives who were previously released from Israeli jails in the framework of the Gilad Shalit deal. Hamas responded with escalating rocket fire against Israeli towns and agricultural settlements in the south, later reaching even north of Tel Aviv.

The cumulative effect of the different components of this strategic environment amounted to an incentive structure that favored escalation over stability. Israel felt that the newly created Palestinian national reconciliation government was legitimizing a movement committed to its destruction and Hamas felt increasingly isolated, if not strangled, and thus with little to lose.

A Stronger Israel?

AUGUST 5, 2014 

Elite opinion believes Israel will lose “long-term” whatever happens in the next weeks. Not necessarily.

By Victor Davis Hanson

In postmodern wars, we are told, there is no victory, no defeat, no aggressors, no defenders, just a tragedy of conflicting agendas. But in such a mindless and amoral landscape, Israel in fact is on its way to emerging in a far better position after the Gaza war than before.

Analysts of the current fighting in Gaza have assured us that even if Israel weakens Hamas, such a short-term victory will hardly lead to long-term strategic success — but they don’t define “long-term.” In this line of thinking, supposedly in a few weeks Israel will only find itself more isolated than ever. It will grow even more unpopular in Europe and will perhaps, for the first time, lose its patron, America — while gaining an enraged host of Arab and Islamic enemies. Meanwhile, Hamas will gain stature, rebuild, and slowly wear Israel down.

But if we compare the Gaza war with Israel’s past wars, that pessimistic scenario hardly rings true. Unlike in the existential wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973, Israel faces no coalition of powerful conventional enemies. Syria’s military is wrecked. Iraq is devouring itself. Egypt is bankrupt and in no mood for war. Its military government is more worried about Hamas than about Israel. Jordan has no wish to attack Israel. The Gulf States are likewise more afraid of the axis of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood than of Israel — a change of mentality that has no historical precedent. In short, never since the birth of the Jewish state have the traditional enemies surrounding Israel been in such military and political disarray. Never have powerful Arab states quietly hoped that Israel would destroy an Islamist terrorist organization that they fear more than they fear the Jewish state.

But is not asymmetrical warfare the true threat to Israel? The West, after all, has had little success in achieving long-term victories over terrorist groups and insurgents — remember Afghanistan and Iraq. How can tiny Israel find security against enemies who seem to gain political clout and legitimacy as they incur ever greater losses, especially when there is only a set number of casualties that an affluent, Western Israel can afford, before public support for the war collapses? How can the Israelis fight a war that the world media portray as genocide against the innocents?

In fact, most of these suppositions are simplistic. The U.S., for example, defeated assorted Islamic insurgents in what was largely an optional war in Iraq; a small token peacekeeping force might have kept Nouri al-Maliki from hounding Sunni politicians, and otherwise kept the peace. Israel’s recent counterinsurgency wars have rendered both the Palestinians on the West Bank and pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants in Lebanon less, not more, dangerous. Hamas, not Israel, would not wish to repeat the last three weeks.

Oddly, Hezbollah, an erstwhile ally of Hamas, has been largely quiet during the Gaza war. Why, when the use of its vast missile arsenal, in conjunction with Hamas’s rocketry, might in theory have overwhelmed Israel’s missile defenses? The answer is probably the huge amount of damage suffered by Hezbollah in the 2006 war in Lebanon, and its inability to protect its remaining assets from yet another overwhelming Israeli air response. Had Hamas’s rockets hit their targets, perhaps Hezbollah would have joined in. But for now, 2014 looks to them a lot like 2006.

The global rule of law is under fire


Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Saturday, Aug. 09 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

Erna Paris’s latest book is The Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice.

Are we witnessing a hollowing out of the global rule of law and other norms that have provided a framework for peace since the end of the Second World War? It is true that the laws, treaties, statutes, and regulations – so reluctantly negotiated by nations anxious to maintain their sovereignty and rights – have often been honoured in the breach; but until recently the breach, itself, was seen as an aberration, as a subject of fierce international debate.

Less so now, it seems. As postwar configurations of power shift and new pockets of violence erupt, international institutions seem less able to make a difference. In consequence, the world is becoming a lot more dangerous – again.

Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexes Crimea in a throwback to similar deadly events that preceded both world wars, then initiates a proxy campaign in Ukraine. The international community imposes sanctions: its only non-military tool. A beleaguered Secretary of State John Kerry fails to mediate a sustained ceasefire in the Gaza war, signalling America’s diminishing influence in the Middle East. Israel and Hamas feel free to dismiss the envoy of the United States. They’ll take care of business once they’ve met their respective goals. Independent cells such as ISIL in Iraq threaten populations. The UN Security Council recommends humanitarian aid. U.S. President Barack Obama unilaterally orders airstrikes.

The surprise may be that humanity was able to establish international rules in the first place. After the bloodletting of the American civil war, the 19th-century European powers strained to define the laws of war. The League of Nations was born in a burst of hope after the First World War, then dissolved into failure. Not until 1945, with the horrors wrought by Hitler still fresh in memory, were ongoing international safeguards established.

After a homicidal half-century in which tens of millions died, the founding of the United Nations was hailed as a moral and legal triumph. The Geneva Conventions had been fought over since 1864 before they were agreed to by the major powers in 1949. The creation of myriad UN agencies such as UNESCO, mandated to promote universal education; UNICEF, with a focus on protecting children; the UN Commission for Human Rights, devolved from the unprecedented Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the novel concept of UN peacekeeping – all were expressions of internationalism and postwar hope.


August 10, 2014
Ukraine related? Those opposed — or, for an invasion?

Putin ‘Sacks 18 Top-Ranking Russian Officials’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sacked 18 high-ranking officials from their posts


Among those who lost their jobs were heads of the Ministry of the Interior and Federal Drug Control Service

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sacked 18 high-ranking officers from their posts, according to a Ukrainian news website.

In a purging move by the embattled world leader, heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Drug Control Service and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation lost their jobs.

The dismissals, reported exclusively by Euromaidan Press, are said to have been carried out in secret.

While no official announcement appears to have been made by Mr Putin, reporters have posted links to the Kremlin’s official website – which can be translated into English – that show a list of staff “released” from their posts.

The move is understood to have been made on Wednesday, 6 August, but has not been reported in any of the mainstream media, either at home or abroad.

A number of high ranking military personnel are included among the 18 named.

The dismissals are laid out in two decrees. One has the rather abstruse title: “On the appointment, removal from office or dismissal from military service military personnel and employees of some federal government agencies.”

A screen-grab from the Kremlin’s official website which lists some of those “released” from their posts The other is titled: “On the dismissal of employees of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.”

Euromaiden Press is a subsidiary of Euromaidan PR. The company’s Twitter profile declares its actions to be on behalf of the headquarters of the National Resistance of Ukraine.

"Japan's Robust Self-Defense Is Good for Asia"

Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service ProfessorOp-Ed The Huffington Post
August 7, 2014

A 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 28, 2013. 35th Fighter Wing pilots fly to Draughon Range to practice attacking ground targets. The range is used continuously by USAF and Japanese Air Defense pilots.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Since the end of World War II, Japan has been ruled by an American-written "peace constitution," Article 9 of which prohibits war and limits Japanese forces to self-defense. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now seeking legislation to enable Japan to reinterpret the constitution to include "collective self-defense," whereby the country would enhance its security cooperation with other countries, particularly its closest ally, the United States.

Critics view this as a radical departure from seven decades of pacifism. But Abe's central objectives — improving Japan's ability to respond to threats that do not amount to armed attack; enabling Japan to participate more effectively in international peacekeeping activities; and redefining measures for self-defense permitted under Article 9 — are actually relatively modest.

Fears that the move would lead to Japanese involvement in distant U.S. wars are similarly overblown. Indeed, the rules have been carefully crafted to prohibit such adventures, while allowing Japan to work more closely with the U.S. on direct threats to Japanese security.

It is not difficult to see why Abe is pursuing broader rights to self-defense. Japan lies in a dangerous region, in which deep-rooted tensions threaten to erupt at any moment.

Given that East Asia, unlike Europe after 1945, never experienced full reconciliation among rivals, or established strong regional institutions, it has been forced to depend on the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty to underpin regional stability. When U.S. President Barack Obama's administration announced its "rebalancing" toward Asia in 2011, it reaffirmed the 1996 Clinton-Hashimoto Declaration, which cited the U.S.-Japan security alliance as the foundation for stability — a prerequisite for continued economic progress — in Asia.

That declaration served the larger goal of establishing a stable, albeit uneven, triangular relationship among the U.S., Japan, and China. Subsequent U.S. administrations have upheld this approach, and opinion polls show that it retains broad acceptance in Japan — not least owing to close cooperation on disaster relief following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

But Japan remains extremely vulnerable. The most immediate regional threat is North Korea, whose unpredictable dictatorship has invested its meager economic resources in nuclear and missile technology.

China Ascendant?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 

When it comes to the international system, realists believe that changing distributions of power are dangerous. The territorial boundaries, spheres of influence, and international regimes of the old order may no longer be stable. A rising power may use its newfound military capability to change existing territorial boundaries or even to completely conquer and annex all of the territory of a neighboring state. Extant spheres of influence within which a dominant power is able to influence or dictate the important foreign policy choices of subordinate states, including their security alliances and trade policies, may crumble, if they are challenged by a rising power that can make credible threats with regard to military action and trade sanctions, or offer promises of greater security or prosperity. International regimes, whose rules, norms, principles, and decision-making procedures have been taken for granted or at least not actively challenged, may not be sustainable if a rising power refuses to adhere to them or offers some alternative principles and rules that might be more attractive for weaker states.

The classic example of the dangers presented by power transitions is the rise of Germany in Europe in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. The following table shows the percentage of world capabilities for major countries from 1870 to 2007. These scores are based on the composite index of national capabilities (CINC), which is derived from six indicators (energy consumption, iron and steel production, military expenditure, military personnel, total population, and urban population). The table clearly shows the rise of German power from 1870 to 1939. Germany’s share of world power increased from 11 percent in 1870 when its still trailed Britain and France, to 16 percent on the eve of the first world war when it was the most powerful state in Europe but still trailed the United States, to 18 percent in 1939 when it was tied with the United States at the top.