1 September 2014

Pakistan isn't ready for peace with India

25 August 2014 
Source Link

We have to draw some hard lessons from the latest drama in India-Pakistan relations. 
If we do not, we will continue being beset with unmet expectations, unrequited gestures and a thousand cuts.

Let us accept normal relations with Pakistan will elude reality in the foreseeable future. Pakistan cannot structurally make genuine peace with India. 

The military dominates the Pakistani state and because it is deeply hostile towards India it will always impede bilateral ties
It has over the years become even more of an ideological state than when born. 
Islam now increasingly influences its politics and social trends are towards more conservatism. 

The military dominates the Pakistani state and because it is deeply hostile towards India it will always impede bilateral ties. 
While at the political, commercial and cultural levels exchanges take place between us, at the military level they are absent, apart from local commanders on both sides of the LOC in J&K staging occasional flag meetings and the DGMOs speaking periodically on the phone. 
These contacts are in the context of managing hostility, not ending it. 


It is remarkable that, unlike during the Cold War when the two superpowers, despite their global confrontation, could engage each other at the military level, the Indian and Pakistani armed forces have no formal contact with each other.
If the most powerful element in Pakistan’s polity does not want to make peace with India, then peace will not come our way. 

AN ABNORMAL SITUATION - India is itself partly responsible for the Hurriyat blowback

Kanwal Sibal

Pakistan created an abnormal situation by asking its high commissioner to meet the Hurriyat leaders despite the Indian foreign secretary’s “advice” against such a move. Advice like this is not given normally to a foreign envoy unless an issue of high political sensitivity to the host government is involved. But, if given, the expectation is that it will be accepted. A foreign envoy has to maintain a functional relationship with his host government that can be seriously impaired if a confrontational choice is made. After all, the advice to the high commissioner was against meeting a category of Indian citizens on Indian soil — a request that did not abridge his country’s sovereignty on its own territory. So, it is aberrant of the Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson to raise the issue of Pakistan’s “sovereignty” in this context.

Pakistan cannot argue that it has a sovereign right to override India’s sovereignty on Indian soil, and therefore its envoy can act as he chooses in the exercise of that sovereignty. Pakistan considers Jammu and Kashmir as “disputed” territory and does not recognize India’s sovereignty over it. Following this logic, the high commissioner could insist on going to Srinagar and meet the Hurriyat there without the permission of the government. He had the option of protesting against the Indian “advice”, drawing attention to the occurrence of such meetings earlier and the political debit for Pakistan in case he failed to meet the Hurriyat before the foreign-secretary-level talks. He could have made his protest public, but he was diplomatically obliged to respect the political advice of the Foreign Office. By failing to adopt this sensible course, the Pakistan high commissioner has grossly violated diplomatic norms. Worse, he escalated matters and graduated from rejecting the Indian advice to showing contempt for it by having a second round of meetings with the separatists. He then decided to be triply offensive by declaring to the press that what he did was helpful to “peace”.

Because Pakistan crossed the line

By: Kanwal Sibal
August 30, 2014

The Pakistan high commissioner seriously transgressed diplomatic norms in meeting the Kashmiri secessionists after being advised against it by the foreign secretary. Accredited envoys do not disregard such top-level “requests” from the host government. Such defiance has a cost, which can be either expulsion or a functional boycott of the envoy.

The high commissioner has doubly offended the dignity of the host government by meeting the secessionists a second time, behaving as if India’s sovereignty over its own territory and citizenry is subservient to Pakistan’s superior sovereign right to meet in India’s capital city even treasonous elements. One can imagine such effrontery in a superpower’s dealings with a banana republic, but not India-Pakistan relations. We should have had the last word by either expelling the high commissioner or placing serious limits on the mission’s activities and accepted Pakistan’s inevitable retaliation, but we have chosen not to escalate matters at this stage, retaining room for calibrated responses in future.

The arguments excusing Pakistan’s conduct are largely specious. Pakistani representatives meet the Kashmiri secessionists to stress that they alone truly represent the Kashmiri people — not the elected government and mainstream parties. Because these elements seek a solution in Kashmir through the defunct United Nations resolutions, Pakistan needs to keep bolstering them to buttress its own core position on Kashmir and showcase that Kashmiris have not accepted Indian rule. Ignoring them would mean relying on terrorists alone to oppose Indian sovereignty over Kashmir, which undercuts Pakistan’s position. We might argue that the Hurriyat is a declining force and thus tolerate Pakistan’s hobnobbing with them, but that overlooks the crucial point that by allowing this, we give Pakistan a political role and extra-territorial rights in Jammu and Kashmir in contradiction of our own position that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Why we allow secessionist Kashmiri elements to meet the Pakistani leaders and officials in our capital city in the first place is, of course, perplexing.

Viewpoint: Why Pakistanis crave stability

29 August 2014  

Imran Khan says last year's vote was rigged and the prime minister must quit

Pakistan needs and deserves better leaders - but it also needs stability and an end to games played by politicians and generals, argues guest columnist Ahmed Rashid.

When Imran Khan launched his movement three weeks ago to force the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and bring fresh elections, the former cricket captain-turned-politician thought the nation would mobilise in his favour.

The masses were to pour into Islamabad and just by sheer weight of numbers, they would terrify the government and force it to quit. After all, Mr Sharif's first year in power has so far looked extremely lacklustre. Every problem he was faced with a year ago has become worse.

However, what actually happened was just the opposite. The nation mobilised against Imran Khan and his supporters, and their claims that last year's election was rigged. Almost the entire political spectrum supported Mr Sharif's staying on - even his political enemies in parliament.

The business community, traders, civil society, the media, lawyers and the courts all voiced strong support for the government, the constitution and the status quo. Many of them described Imran Khan's demands as illegal and unconstitutional - but that was not the point. 
The reality was that nobody wanted to see another crisis, more turmoil, another change of government, which could bring the army directly into play.

Such a reaction was not predicted. Imran Khan was advised that Nawaz Sharif's administration would fall like a pack of cards, he would flee the country and Pakistanis would welcome his departure.

Instead the country has taken a firm stand - not necessarily in favour of Mr Sharif, but in favour of stability. That is where Imran Khan and his advisers - many of them ministers for former military regimes and spy chiefs - had got it all wrong.

After decades of military coups, political turmoil, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the rise of Islamic extremism, a collapsing economy and the experience of the 1990s when governments were elected and fell like ninepins - people were dying for an end to all the upheavals.

Last year, they got it when for the first time a sitting elected government of the Pakistan People's Party (also deemed corrupt and incompetent) completed its term without military intervention, elections were held and a new government was chosen in a vote that was not free and fair by Westminster standards, but was deemed good enough by most people for the first transition to a democratic handover.
Mr Sharif won the election but has little to show for his first year

**** Backgrounder: The Four Year Rise to Power of ISIS

Michael Knights
August 2014

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)[1] has the world on edge. Since its nadir in the spring of 2010,[2] ISIL is considered to have evolved from a terrorist group on-the-ropes to “a full-blown army,” in the words of U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk.[3] As the Institute for the Study of War noted, ISIL’s overall strategy of consolidating and expanding its caliphate “fundamentally relies upon military superiority to wrest control of land and cities from modern states.”[4]

An analysis of ISIL’s recent military accomplishments is difficult due to the lack of confirmed facts about much of what has transpired in Iraq, particularly during the hectic months since the collapse of federal security forces in Mosul on June 10, 2014. Questions still remain over the actual contribution that ISIL made to the loss of federal control and over the mix of ISIL and non-ISIL forces fighting since June. Nevertheless, using a range of case studies from the Iraqi side of ISIL’s area of operations, this article explores what is currently known about the movement from a military standpoint. If ISIL is an army, what kind of army is it and what are its weaknesses?

This article finds that ISIL is a military power mostly because of the weakness and unpreparedness of its enemies. Lengthy shaping of the battlefield, surprise and mobility made its recent successes possible, but all these factors are diminishing. As a defensive force, ISIL may struggle to hold terrain if it is attacked simultaneously at multiple points or if its auxiliary allies begin to defect.

ISIL’s Multi-Year Offensive 

ISIL’s successful offensive since June 2014 can only be understood by situating it in the broader context of its political-military campaigns since the organization “re-booted” under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s leadership on May 15, 2010.[5] ISIL did not suddenly become effective in early June 2014: it had been steadily strengthening and actively shaping the future operating environment for four years. As Brett McGurk noted in congressional testimony in February 2014, ISIL’s planning has been “sophisticated, patient and focused.”[6]

The shattering of Iraqi security forces (ISF) in June 2014 is a case-in-point, the result of years of patient preparatory operations. Early in Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s tenure, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the current group’s forerunner, began targeting pro-government Arabs in a powerful multi-year campaign of assassinations that culminated in al-Baghdadi’s “Soldiers Harvest” campaign against on-duty and off-duty security force members from July 29, 2013, to June 2014.[7] In addition to demolitions of soldiers’ homes, the first six months of “Soldiers Harvest” witnessed a sharp 150% increase in the number of sophisticated close quarters assassinations of troops manning checkpoints and effective under-vehicle improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on key leaders.[8]

Although the campaign was executed across Iraq, it was particularly focused on Mosul and Ninawa Province, including escalating efforts to cut off Mosul’s highway communications with Baghdad.[9] By June 2014, according to McGurk, “by day [Mosul] would appear normal, but at night, ISIL controlled the streets.”[10] When ISIL’s offensive began in Mosul on June 6, 2014, the ISF were brittle and comparatively easy to crumble during three days of escalating skirmishes within the city.[11]

Alongside weakening the opposition, al-Baghdadi also used the years preceding this summer’s successes to build the current ISIL force. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the Syrian civil war provided ISIL secure bases and a reinvigorated pipeline of suicide bombers. As analysts have noted, ISIL has developed a highly-motivated cadre of quality light infantry forces since 2012, drawing on the combat experiences of urban and mobile warfare in Syria, as well as from the prior combat experiences of foreign jihadists who served in the Balkans and Chechnya.[12] These lessons have been institutionalized and refined in training camps in Syria and, since the first half of 2013, also in Iraq.[13]

**** Iraq and Syria Follow Lebanon's Precedent

August 26, 2014

Lebanon was created out of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This agreement between Britain and France reshaped the collapsed Ottoman Empire south of Turkey into the states we know today -- Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and to some extent the Arabian Peninsula as well. For nearly 100 years, Sykes-Picot defined the region. A strong case can be made that the nation-states Sykes-Picot created are now defunct, and that what is occurring in Syria and Iraq represents the emergence of those post-British/French maps that the United States has been trying to maintain since the collapse of Franco-British power.

The Invention of Middle East Nation-States

Sykes-Picot, named for French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and his British counterpart, Sir Mark Sykes, did two things. First, it created a British-dominated Iraq. Second, it divided the Ottoman province of Syria on a line from the Mediterranean Sea east through Mount Hermon. Everything north of this line was French. Everything south of this line was British. The French, who had been involved in the Levant since the 19th century, had allies among the region's Christians. They carved out part of Syria and created a country for them. Lacking a better name, they called it Lebanon, after the nearby mountain of the same name.

The British named the area to the west of the Jordan River after the Ottoman administrative district of Filistina, which turned into Palestine on the English tongue. However, the British had a problem. During World War I, while the British were fighting the Ottoman Turks, they had allied with a number of Arabian tribes seeking to expel the Turks. Two major tribes, hostile to each other, were the major British allies. The British had promised postwar power to both. It gave the victorious Sauds the right to rule Arabia -- hence Saudi Arabia. The other tribe, the Hashemites, had already been given the newly invented Iraqi monarchy and, outside of Arabia, a narrow strip of arable ground to the east of the Jordan River. For lack of a better name, it was called Trans-Jordan, or the other side of the Jordan. In due course the "trans" was dropped and it became Jordan.

And thus, along with Syria, five entities were created between the Mediterranean and Tigris, and between Turkey and the new nation of Saudi Arabia. This five became six after the United Nations voted to create Israel in 1947. The Sykes-Picot agreement suited European models and gave the Europeans a framework for managing the region that conformed to European administrative principles. The most important interest, the oil in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, was protected from the upheaval in their periphery as Turkey and Persia were undergoing upheaval. This gave the Europeans what they wanted.

What it did not do was create a framework that made a great deal of sense of the Arabs living in this region. The European model of individual rights expressed to the nation-states did not fit their cultural model. For the Arabs, the family -- not the individual -- was the fundamental unit of society. Families belonged to clans and clans to tribes, not nations. The Europeans used the concept of the nation-state to express divisions between "us" and "them." To the Arabs, this was an alien framework, which to this day still competes with religious and tribal identities.

The states the Europeans created were arbitrary, the inhabitants did not give their primary loyalty to them, and the tensions within states always went over the border to neighboring states. The British and French imposed ruling structures before the war, and then a wave of coups overthrew them after World War II. Syria and Iraq became pro-Soviet states while Israel, Jordan and the Arabians became pro-American, and monarchies and dictatorships ruled over most of the Arab countries. These authoritarian regimes held the countries together.

Reality Overcomes Cartography

****Six Strategies Obama Could Use to Fight the Islamic State

August 29, 2014 

The president says he doesn’t have a plan yet. So we asked defense bigwigs for some
Six Strategies Obama Could Use to Fight the Islamic State 
The president says he doesn’t have a plan yet. So we asked defense bigwigs for some ideas. 

After a summer in which Islamic State militants have rampaged through Iraq and Syria, declared an Islamic caliphate, recruited extremists from abroad and claimed credit for decapitating American journalist James Foley, President Obama vowed earlier this week that “justice will be done” to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL or simply the Islamic State—a group that Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey have called an “imminent threat” to the United States with an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision.”

But the president has long resisted getting “dragged back into another ground war in Iraq,” as he recently reiterated, and in a White House press conference on Thursday, he made clear he has not yet made up his mind about how exactly to counter the terrorist group, aside from dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to talk with other countries in the region and tasking Hagel and Dempsey to “prepare a range of options.” Asked whether he would get approval from Congress before potentially going into Syria, Obama said it would depend what kind of intervention, if any, the United States pursues: “We don’t have a strategy yet,” he admitted.

While the president deliberates, we at Politico Magazine decided to ask for some suggestions, and so went to some of the country’s top defense thinkers—hailing from the military brass to the Pentagon to Congress. Here’s what they think Obama’s strategy should look like.

Bomb the Islamic State

By Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap

Some evils in this world can only be stopped by force. ISIL is one of them.

ISIL might be adept at sadistically brutalizing the helpless, but if President Obama orders a robust and sustained American air campaign, the militants might well find themselves on the receiving end of military force so ferocious that it could unhinge their most hardened fighters.

Some pundits like to insist that airpower can’t do much, but they need to look harder at how ISIL’s style creates liabilities for itself. ISIL arrogantly eschews the furtive, hit-and-run tactics that other Iraqi (and Afghan) militants used to escape being bludgeoned by U.S. fighters and bombers. Rather, they like to collect themselves into brazenly visible groups and use their reputation for savagery to scatter their already terrorized opponents.

All of this actually makes them vulnerable to a determined American air campaign. Among other things, ISIL isn’t going to “scatter” or intimidate American airpower. What’s more, ISIL’s penchant for operating openly—as well as for seizing, occupying and trying to administer territory instead of hiding quietly among the civilian populace—presents targeting opportunities that other terrorists assiduously avoid.

If American airpower dominates the skies, no ISIL militant can count on seeing another sunrise. Some ISIL fighters might think they can endure airstrikes having undergone some desultory bombing by Syrian or Iraqi air forces, but that experience doesn’t give them even an inkling of the hell that the United States can unleash from the air.

** Terrorism as Theater

August 28, 2014

The beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq was much more than an altogether gruesome and tragic affair: rather, it was a very sophisticated and professional film production deliberately punctuated with powerful symbols. Foley was dressed in an orange jumpsuit reminiscent of the Muslim prisoners held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. He made his confession forcefully, as if well rehearsed. His executioner, masked and clad in black, made an equally long statement in a calm, British accent, again, as if rehearsed. It was as if the killing was secondary to the message being sent.

The killing, in other words, became merely the requirement to send the message. As experts have told me, there are more painful ways to dispatch someone if you really hate the victim and want him to suffer. You can burn him alive. You can torture him. But beheading, on the other hand, causes the victim to lose consciousness within seconds once a major artery is cut in the neck, experts say. Beheading, though, is the best method for the sake of a visually dramatic video, because you can show the severed head atop the chest at the conclusion. Using a short knife, as in this case, rather than a sword, also makes the event both more chilling and intimate. Truly, I do not mean to be cruel, indifferent, or vulgar. I am only saying that without the possibility of videotaping the event, there would be no motive in the first place to execute someone in such a manner.

In producing a docu-drama in its own twisted way, the Islamic State was sending the following messages:

-- We don't play by your rules. There are no limits to what we are willing to do.

-- America's mistreatment of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay comes with a "price tag," to quote a recently adopted phrase for retribution killings. After all, we are a state. We have our own enemy combatants as you can see from the video, and our own way of dealing with them.

-- Just because we observe no limits does not mean we lack sophistication. We can be just as sophisticated as you in the West. Just listen to the British accent of our executioner. And we can produce a very short film up to Hollywood standards.

-- We're not like the drug lords in Mexico who regularly behead people and subsequently post the videos on the Internet. The drug lords deliver only a communal message, designed to intimidate only those people within their area of control. That is why the world at large pays little attention to them; in fact, the world is barely aware of them. By contrast, we of the Islamic State are delivering a global, meta-message. And the message is this: We want to destroy all of you in America, all of you in the West, and everyone in the Muslim world who does not accept our version of Islam.

OROP – diminutive in deeper malaise

30 Aug , 2014

There is plenty hoopla about OROP and with reason – some angered, some amused, some complacent. Articles have appeared that veterans are disappointed and are losing faith in the government. Some write that since Uttrakhand had large number of military veterans, they chose to vote for opposition parties in assembly elections and that trend will likely continue. Reporters and cross section of the public ask what has happened that announcements about OROP by two successive governments have yielded nothing so far. So what exactly is happening?

…if an IAS officer becomes Joint Secretary in 17 years of service the officers of Organised Group A Service will start drawing the salary of Joint Secretary in maximum of 19 years of service and similarly that of Additional Secretary / Lt Gen in 30 and 32 years respectively

One thing is quite certain that the BJP by far has been the political party that favours the military the most. It is no secret that during the Kargil Conflict it was the BJP that raised the grant to the next of kin of a martyr from Rupees 2 Lakh to Rupees 20 Lakhs in one go. Had it been Congress in power, raising the grant by 20 paise would have perhaps taken 20 years. Therefore with the majority BLP government in power, observers are all the more puzzled what is happening about OROP. Government has announced they are committed to honour the commitment but that is what UPA II kept singing with Anthony leading the choir.

An analysis would tell you that OROP is drowning in a much deeper malaise, whose history runs back decades. It is on record that post Independence Nehru wanted to disband the army and on being asked how the country would be defended had responded that he had the police. Now why would Nehru have such view who otherwise was hailed as a statesman is puzzling unless he was following an agenda of his actual ancestry discounting the pseudonym Nehru adopted by his father. It is well known he had a disdain for the military and treated them no more than ‘necessary evil.

The second nut in the jigsaw came in the form of VK Krishna Menon, the worst Defence Minister India has had to-date. He not only kept the military, particularly army, starved of basic equipment but initiated the arms mafia in MoD by masterminding the infamous jeep scandal; short-circuiting the laid down procedure for imports and signing the deal in personal capacity while High Commissioner in London prior to taking up assignment of Defence Minister, imported jeeps at triple the actual price, procured less jeeps than number contracted and pocketed huge profits. Whether Nehru shared the booty is unknown but Nehru did not reprimand Krishan Menon for this blatant corruption. Both Nehru and Krishna Menon abhorred military advice and initiated violation of the institutional integrity of the military by thrusting Kaul an ASC officer as the commander of the vital Corps facing the Chinese in NEFA.

What happened thereafter is history but the fact remains that the nation and the military were ridiculed to put it mildly and Krishna Menon who should have been castrated for bringing such shame to the country was rewarded with a road named after him in the capital, replete with his statue that is garlanded annually on his birthday.

This language too was not changed in the ‘Rules of Business’ so that the top bureaucrat of MoD would become the mighty Skeletor while the Defence Minister could remain free for making money for the political party in power…

The above circus was keenly observed and analyzed by the bureaucracy in the MoD, and though sans any military sense, deduced that there was much profit in continuing with this arrangement. If they could continue to rule the roost (forget military issues) and make profits like the jeep scandal, what better situation? The involvement of the political hierarchy would make the polity hostage to the bureaucracy, latter knowing all secrets, which aside from money making would secure equally or more lucrative post retirement assignments. The only caution required was to keep the military at bay. Luckily, no one noticed that the ‘Rules of Business’ adopted from the British mentioned the Services Headquarters as “Attached Offices”. So not changing this gave the handle to not only keep the military away but also absolve MoD of whatever happened in the Services.

India's hollowness and Pak’s perpetual war path

29 Aug , 2014

“Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from defeat” – Jean-Paul Sartre

After many years, the nation’s retrieval of some lost territory astride the Kargil heights found endorsement as an event to be solemnly observed; previously, this national level military undertaking seemed to have been propagated or ignored according to political considerations!

By the year 1993, defence budget had been curtailed to such an extent that routine upkeep of weapons, equipment, ammunition stocks, even buildings, roads and parks – the hallmark of cantonment order – had to be severely curtailed.

The Kargil Conflict is a saga of supreme valour and grit displayed by young Indian soldiery, and its wholehearted appreciation by the people of India, thanks to the live media. But there rests in the conscience of many observers, a sense of loss, another story.

Strategic Deliration

Every country goes through occasional economic stagnations when it becomes impossible to keep their armed forces in best trim – equipped and modern. Matured governments negotiate through such problematic times with due forethought and wisdom. The military hierarchy is taken on board who, with equal measure of wisdom, respond by keeping the institutional ethos and core competences alive while finding ingenious ways to manage depleted combat power. In 1991, that however was not the case with the Indian Government, ruled as it was by politicians and bureaucrats who, if competent in most affairs, were evidently innocent of the nuances – and imperatives – of nurturing the nation’s military institution.

Neglect of the armed forces and their role in the overall security of the nation was in stark evidence from the year 1990. That was when drastic cuts in defence budget was negotiated between officials of the Finance and Defence Ministries; needless to state, the military hierarchy was not taken on board. By the year 1993, defence budget had been curtailed to such an extent that routine upkeep of weapons, equipment, ammunition stocks, even buildings, roads and parks – the hallmark of cantonment order – had to be severely curtailed1. More crucially, by tacit understandings within the governing machinery over curtailment of defence expenditure, an atmosphere of avoidance of services related matters had been allowed to prevail – Ministries of Defence and Finance mainly, but even others like the Home, the Railways and Surface Transport Ministries no less. This deliration manifested in the dismissive manner by which the political hierarchy and the bureaucracy responded to matters concerning the armed forces.

The DRDO had meanwhile appropriated an arbitrary authority to decide as to what weapons and equipment the soldier would have to fight with – and when. That was how the authority, but not accountability, to vet professional opinions of Generals was vested!

Policy Imbalance

Admittedly, in those days when bullion from the exchequer had to be bartered to keep the economy afloat, prudence did demand a curtailment of defence budget. But that compulsion could have been better managed through conjoined civil-military initiatives, as indeed it is done in matured governments. Instead, the sanctified practice of close and routine interactions between the Service Headquarters, the Defence Ministry and the political leadership became rarer if not non-existent. Thus under an acquiescent political leadership, the attitude of the bureaucracy towards national defence had fallen into frivolity. “Military preparedness was not a priority; there would be no war in the foreseeable feature”, “the ever-demanding military hot-heads are incorrigible; their clamour for exotic ‘toys of war’ need not be taken seriously”, and such notions had become the common refrain among power-wielders of the early 1990’s, and duly ‘justified’ by clichés and citations which were neither appropriate nor relevant.

State of Military Might in Resurgent India

Powerful nations radiate powerful influence far across their geographical borders over countries and continents. And this influence is mostly coercive – often disregarding opinions of a majority of sovereign nations. President Bush was brazenly explicit in conveying his threat even to friendly countries when he said, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” The world has watched in the recent decades how a couple of powerful nations have not felt deterred from launching punitive operations against unfriendly regimes. Ongoing conflicts in West Asia and Central Asia are glaring examples of this reality.

Much as the weaker nations might despise such arrogance of mighty nations, the latter have been succeeding in enforcing their plans, even if partially, in different parts of the world. In the realm of geopolitics, it is clear that the powerful nations use a combination of soft power and coercive power to achieve compliance, cooperation and, wherever possible, even submission of targeted regimes. Effect of soft power is enhanced manifold if it is backed by credible hard power, that is, military power that gives meaning to diplomacy, strategy, trade and economy. If wealth alone were power, West Asia would be ruling the world. If geographical size were power, Russia would be Power Number One and the Soviet Union would not have disintegrated. Irrefutably, it is the Military Might that adds awe and aura to a nation’s standing in the regional and international equations. Israel would simply not exist today if it were not so. Today its utterance and posturing shakes up the neighbourhood and makes the world sit up and listen to it – their consent or dissent just don’t seem to matter.

Even so, in the reckoning of military might, an array of high technology, sophisticated fighting machines and equipment – an area where critical deficiencies have seriously hampered the Indian Army’s modernisation programme – is but one factor, significantly weighty though. The man behind the gun, however, shall always be the decisive factor in projecting and executing this military might. No amount of modern technology and wherewithal can substitute human – the soldier whose wellness makes the ultimate difference between victory and defeat in war. Modern world’s high-tech protective gear, high precision weaponry, satellite communication systems, computerisation and nano-tech breakthroughs will deliver little until the user is motivated to dare adversity and danger. Napoleon accorded three times more value to the soldier’s morale vis-à-vis material. In 1993, when the Government expressed inability to finance raising of the Rashtriya Rifles, Gen B P Joshi relied on military morale and raised the Force equipping and manning it from the existing manpower and equipment of the Indian Army. Again, at the outset of Kargil War, it was this intangible but enormous asset of military morale that prompted the Army Chief, Gen VP Malik to say, “…..we will fight with whatever is available….,” despite critical deficiencies of arms and equipment.

Traditionally, military personnel are not expected to demand favours nor admit weakness. Enquire about his ‘morale’ and even a dying soldier would spring up and scramble to fight. The same is true of his commanders too. No unit or formation commander would ever confess a decline in morale or erosion of spirit de corps in the Forces no matter how pathetic their state might be. On an expedition – war or adventure – Indian soldiers have never sought rest, comfort or even food until it is all over! Little wonder, Kautilya whom the world knows more popularly as Chanakya, had cautioned King Chandragupta, “The day the soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha for then, on that day, you will have lost all moral sanction to be King!” Edicts in Atharvaveda (Kaand 4/Anuvakah 7/Sukta 31 & 32) and Kautilya’s Arthashastra (Sangram/10th Adhikaran/Ch 3) also underscore a powerful advice to Governments, “To win wars, influence neighbouring states and to promote his national interests, the King must build up an Army of soldiers so honoured, privileged and motivated that their wrath unnerves the enemy; their sacrifices beget love and respect of their own people; and their valour is rewarded with the highest esteem and admiration by the King and his ministers.”

"Passage to India" What Washington Can Do to Revive Relations with New Delhi

Author: Nicholas Burns
August 29, 2014

Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

In the century ahead, U.S. strategic interests will align more closely with India's than they will with those of any other continental power in Asia. The United States and India both seek to spread democracy, expand trade and investment, counter terrorism, and, above all, keep the region peaceful by balancing China's growing military power. As Washington expands its presence in Asia as part of the so-called pivot, New Delhi will be a critical partner. In the Asia-Pacific region, especially, India joins Australia, Japan, South Korea, and others in a U.S.-led coalition of democratic allies. And as the most powerful state in South Asia, India will exert a positive influence on a troubled Afghanistan, as well as on Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

The Obama administration should therefore use its remaining two years to make India a greater priority, especially since the country has not yet figured prominently in the rebalancing of U.S. attention and resources to Asia. In President Barack Obama's first term, many Indians complain, the United States devoted less attention to India than to its rivals China and Pakistan, pursuing economic links with the former and counterterrorism ties with the latter. That appearance of neglect, however fair or unfair, has rankled Indian officials and eroded some of their trust in Washington.

With the election of a new government in New Delhi, the Obama administration has a chance to repair the relationship. In May, Indians voted into office Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist from the western state of Gujarat who has signaled that he wants to build a more ambitious partnership with the United States. That will happen only if Obama pushes India to the top of his foreign policy agenda and Modi implements a series of reforms to enable stronger economic and political ties between the two governments. The leaders are scheduled to hold their first meeting in Washington this September, and before they do, both should begin thinking about rebuilding the U.S.-Indian relationship in five key ways: by expanding bilateral trade, strengthening military cooperation, collaborating to combat threats to homeland security, stabilizing a post-American Afghanistan, and, especially, finding greater common ground on transnational challenges such as climate change. It is an ambitious agenda, but pursuing it would put India where it belongs: at the center of U.S. strategy in the region.

Many Indian officials look back on the presidency of George W. Bush as a special moment in U.S.-Indian relations. From his first days in office, Bush made India a priority, arguing that its flourishing market economy, entrepreneurial drive, democratic system, and growing young population were crucial to U.S. aims in the region. He saw that the two countries, far from being strategic rivals, shared many of the same views on how power should be balanced in the twenty-first century. He believed that the United States had a clear interest in supporting India's rise as a global power.

The results of his emphasis were dramatic. The volume of trade in goods and services between the United States and India has more than tripled since 2004. Also since then, the two governments have dramatically strengthened their military ties and launched new cooperative projects on space, science and technology, education, and democratic governance.

Bush also engineered one of the most important initiatives in the history of the U.S.-Indian relationship: the civil nuclear agreement, which for the first time permitted U.S. firms to invest in India's civil nuclear power sector. (I served as the lead American negotiator for the deal.) This agreement helped end India's nuclear isolation, allowing New Delhi to trade in civil nuclear technology even though it is not a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In return, India opened up its civil nuclear industry for the first time to sustained international inspection. The agreement's real import, though, lay in its message to the Indian people: the United States took their country seriously and wanted to leave behind the previous decades of cool relations. More broadly, it was a signal of U.S. support for India's emerging global role.

When Obama took office, he followed Bush's lead. After all, Bush's India policy had enjoyed rare and strong support from Democrats -- including then U.S. Senators Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Obama himself -- throughout his second term. In 2009, Obama hosted then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife as the administration's first official state visitors. During his own successful state visit to New Delhi in 2010, Obama became the first U.S. president to endorse India's bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Yet despite this promising start, Obama's India policy never hit full stride. Although Clinton, as secretary of state, collaborated with New Delhi on development and women's issues, the administration was understandably preoccupied with the more urgent short-term crises it had inherited on taking office: the global financial meltdown, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the threat of a nuclear Iran. It was a classic Washington story of near-term crises crowding out long-term ambitions. As Obama's first term ended, India slid down Washington's priority list, and Indian officials complained privately about what they saw as a lack of attention from their American counterparts.

The Last NDA Government Set the Stage for India’s IT Revolution- Will There be an Act II?

By Richard M. Rossow, Rasika Gynedi 
AUG 26, 2014 

During the last Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime (1999-2004), two seemingly unrelated events— the New Telecom Policy 1999 and the Y2K crisis—triggered the explosive growth of India’s information technology-enabled services (ITeS) industry. The growth of this sector demonstrated that India was capable of competing in the modern economy and also led to stronger and more sustainable bilateral business ties with the United States than had existed in the past. 

Several U.S.-based multinational firms have made huge investments in the ITeS sector. IBM, Accenture, HP, and Oracle are all widely acknowledged as having large chunks of their global employees based in India. More tangible examples include Oracle’s project to help the BJP execute its social media strategy during the elections, and AT&T’spartnership with Bharti Airtel to expand network access.

However, growth rates for India’s ITeS industry have slowed recently (see Figure 1). This industry hopes that the return of a BJP government will reverse its fortunes, but the steps necessary to restart significant growth are more difficult than in the late 1990s.

What led to the growth of the IT services sector under the previous BJP regime?

Early in its tenure, the BJP created the Jaswant Singh-led “National Task Force on Information Technology & Software Development.” The Task Force released two forward-lookingreports in 1998. The BJP also anointed the country’s first-ever “Minister of Information Technology” in 1999, giving the new position to an important party leader, Pramod Mahajan, who became part-cheerleader and part-policy leader for the industry’s development. 

More specifically, in 1999, the BJP introduced a new policy in the telecom sector—the New Telecom Policy (NTP), which provided a critical boost to the ITeS sector. Under this policy, the government changed the fixed license fee regime to a revenue-sharing model for cellular and basic telecommunications services, which allowed more telecom service operators into the market. Additionally, excise duties on important components such as optical fibers and semiconductors were cut, providing easier access to telecom parts for equipment makers. Both these moves served to increase teledensity in India from 3 per 100inhabitants in 2001 to 70 per 100 inhabitants in 2012. Most importantly for the ITeS industry, NTP ‘99 broke the government’s monopoly on international long distance communications traffic, bringing down the price of international long distance data and voice traffic, unlocking one of the prohibitive cost barriers to the wider use of cross-border IT services. The NTP ‘99 originally proposed a five year phase-in period for opening international long-distance; however, the first license was issued in 2002, two years ahead of the initial timeline.

Despite Claims of Victory on Both Sides, The Latest Gaza Strip War Changed Absolutely Nothing

Jodi Rudoren
August 30, 2014
50 Days of War Leave Israelis and Palestinians Only More Entrenched

A Palestinian girl carried a Kalashnikov rifle on Friday amid Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza City. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times JERUSALEM — Only time will tell whether Israel will maintain the quiet it so desperately sought during 50 days of war with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, and whether Hamas will leverage the world’s outrage over so many civilian casualties to improve the lives of the coastal enclave’s 1.7 million residents.

But any gains for either side appear at best incremental and relatively short term, analysts said. The prospect of resolving the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict, already a long shot, was dealt a significant setback, many experts believe, with both sides dug deeper into intransigent, irreconcilable positions.

“Hope lost and fear won,” said Udi Segal, the diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Channel 2 News. Referring to Secretary of State John Kerry’s nine-month negotiations whose collapse in April contributed to the escalation, Mr. Segal added, “I don’t think the people in Palestine or in Israel feel more confidence in those Western, American Kerry-like ambitions to solve our problem with those peace slogans.”

The damage to Gaza’s infrastructure from the current conflict is already more severe than the destruction caused by either of the last two Gaza wars.

Sami Abdel Shafi, a Gaza-based political consultant, said, “A very thin line separates between this being taken as an opportunity versus this latest round resulting in further disaster.”

He continued: “It has just been demonstrated that military conflict will not present solutions. The only trouble is it doesn’t look like at least the present government of Israel is interested in a political solution.”

After a cease-fire agreement this week finally appeared to halt the hostilities, leaders on both sides rushed to claim victory, pointing to their specific battlefield achievements and the other’s weaknesses.

Should Israel Embrace Anew the Doctrine of Preventive War?


Zaki ShalomProfessor Zaki Shalom is a senior researcher at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel, Ben-Gurion University

Israel is engaged in warfare against Hamas – a terror organization that openly declares its desire to bring upon the destruction of Israel, and who does not seem to be willing to end the fighting. Israel will have to ask itself whether its military doctrine suits the challenges and threats Israel is facing

In mid-December 1955, the IDF launched a relatively large-scale operation against the Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. This operation became known as Operation Kinneret. From a military perspective, this operation achieved its goals. However, shortly after the operations ended, sharp criticism of the operation began to be heard. The critics claimed that no Syrian provocation preceded the operation. Therefore there did not seem to be any justification for such a large scale Israeli operation. 

In response to this criticism, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan presented the doctrine of Preventive War. According to this doctrine, when a state is threatened by an enemy wishing its destruction, the threatened state does not have to wait for an act of provocation in order to have justification to attack the threatening state. In an attempt to make their case more clear, they gave the following tangible example: a snake comes into your house and curls up by the door. It appears to be in a deep coma. You do not know when it will wake up. Does that mean you have to leave him alone and go to sleep? Certainly not. You need to hit him even when he is not hurting you. You are the one who will choose the time and place to attack it.

A year later, in October 1956, in part due to fears of a massive military buildup in Egypt following the Czech-Egyptian arms deal, Israel launched Operation Kadesh (The Sinai Campaign). This operation was defined as a "classic" example of Preventive War. In this case, too, the question raised was whether the Israeli military operation was justified. Here again it was claimed that no significant Egyptian provocation preceded the Israeli operation. Ben-Gurion and Dayan explained that the Egyptian military buildup of weapons threatened to put Egypt in a position of superiority over Israel within a few years. Therefore,Israel had to act immediately in order to prevent the development of such a situation. 

Ten years later, in May-June 1967, when Egypt concentrated massive military forces in Sinai,Israel decided to launch a preventive strike against the Egyptian army. The premise was that an immediate Egyptian attack is en route, and that if Israel would not precede and strike the Egyptian army, it may suffer a serious setback. 

Since the end of the Six Day War, we have been experiencing an erosion of the doctrine of Preventive War in Israel's national security perception. As we can recall, almost all the military confrontations in which Israel was involved since then broke out as a result of an Arab provocation – at different levels of intensity. 

Backgrounder: Third Gaza Strip Wars Ends in a Draw (Again)

A Grim Stalemate at War’s End in Gaza
August 27, 2014

TEL AVIV, Israel — The third Gaza War in six years appears to have ended in another sort of tie, with both Israel and Hamas claiming the upper hand. Their questionable achievements have come at a big price, especially to long-sufferingPalestinians in Gaza.

In a sense, Israel got what it wanted: Hamas stopped firing rockets in exchange for mostly vague promises and future talks. But the cost to Israel was huge: Beyond the 70 people killed — all but six of them soldiers — the economy has been set back, the tourism season destroyed, its people rattled for 50 days and its global standing pummeled by images of devastation in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces bristling from people who sense that Hamas controlled events and could not have its grip loosened on the Gaza Strip, which it seized by force from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Around the corner lie international investigations into war crimes allegations.

Hamas is celebrating its success after surviving Israel’s far superior firepower. The Islamic militant group’s rocket fire emptied a string of Israeli border communities and disrupted Tel Aviv’s international airport. Weak a few months ago, it may emerge as more of a player in Palestinian politics, and the plight of Gazans is again atop the world’s concerns.

It also paid dearly: 2,143 Palestinians were killed, including nearly 500 children and hundreds of militants, according to U.N. and Palestinian figures. The U.N. estimates the war destroyed or severely damaged 17,200 homes and left 100,000 Palestinians homeless, with considerable swaths of Gaza in rubble. Hamas’ rocket arsenal is much depleted and many — if not all — of its attack tunnels against Israel have been destroyed.

For the moment, Israel has promised to open border crossings with Gaza to a degree, something it does intermittently anyway, and to increase access for Gaza fishermen. Hamas’ other demands are to be later discussed: an airport and seaport, prisoner releases, salaries for its thousands of civil servants and the opening of the Rafah crossing to Egypt. Israel will ask for demilitarizing Gaza. Little is likely to be resolved anytime soon.

The region is unpredictable. But as it seems this cease-fire may stick, here are some preliminary lessons:


Inspired by ISIS, Violent Splinter Group Leaves the Pakistani Taliban

Hard-Line Splinter Group, Galvanized by ISIS, Emerges From Pakistani Taliban
August 27, 2014

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban has suffered its second major split in three months, with militant leaders this week confirming the emergence of a hard-line splinter group inspired by the success of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The new group, known as Jamaat-e-Ahrar, is composed of disaffected Taliban factions from four of the seven tribal districts along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, according to a video released by the group. Counterterrorism experts said the group was effectively controlled by Omar Khalid Khorasani, an ambitious Taliban commander with strong ties to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Khorasani’s faction, which is based in the Mohmand tribal agency near Peshawar, had emerged as one of the most active Taliban elements this year. It is believed to have carried out a bombing in Islamabad that sought to derail peace talks between the Taliban and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government.

The formation of Jamaat-e-Ahrar is one of the most serious internal threats to the Pakistani Taliban, officially known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, since it was formed seven years ago.

Main theaters of conflict in northwestern Pakistan.

In a lengthy video statement explaining the decision to break away, Mr. Khorasani said the Taliban had become undisciplined and suffered from factional infighting. “This was devastating for our movement,” he said.

The Islamic State's Dangerous Influence in Asia

August 29, 2014 

"While the administration has rightly focused on the Middle East, it should also pay attention to the ripple effects of IS in the Asia-Pacific region."

In places across Indonesia, small collections of political Islamists have “openly pledged their allegiance” to the extremist terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS). One of those who have voiced their support is Abu Bakar Bashir, the founder of the extremist Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) responsible for the deadly bombings during the 2000s, including the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002, the Marriott bombing in 2003, the Australian Embassy bombing in 2004, the Bali II bombing in 2005, and the Jakarta hotel bombings in 2009. While the spillover of IS into the Asia-Pacific region is unsurprising, this troubling yet under-recognized trend has serious implications for the region as well as the United States.

Southeast Asia’s history of homegrown terrorist groups heighten concerns of IS’ spillover effect. The demographics of the region itself contribute to the fear of a revival of militant Islam—nearly 62% of the world’s Muslim population lives in the Asia-Pacific—Indonesia being the world’s largest Muslim population, with 209 million or 87.2% of the population identifying as Muslim. In the case of Indonesia, although the number of Indonesians joining IS abroad is relatively small, the return of these experienced fighters to their homeland is a larger security threat with serious ramifications. These jihadists could “rekindle the domestic terrorist threat by developing new connections with well-funded, armed, and organized jihadi groups in the Middle East,” according to Sri Yunanto, an adviser to Indonesia’s national counterterrorism agency. As president-elect Joko Widodo transitions into office, he must be cognizant of the security threat and act decisively by identifying it among the most important issues of his administration’s policy agenda.

Japan-India Military-to-Military Coopertaion-Imperatives

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Japan, India and China form the Asian Powers Triad on which will revolve the future of Asian security. China gets excluded due to its hegemonistic impulses leaving Japan and India as the twin pillars of Asian security.

This reality stands emphasised in my earlier Papers along with the imperatives of Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership signed years earlier, as forming the nucleus around which Asian less powerful neighbours could coalesce around to offset the imbalance in the Asian balance-of-power equations.

Japan and India ever since Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s first tenure have worked assiduously to add substance to the Japan-India Strategic Partnership. This has not gone unnoticed by China and has caused some strategic concerns to it. China consequently has embarked on initiatives to prevent India getting into a proximate strategic partnership with Japan. Prime Minister Modi should not get enticed with such Chinese manoeuvrings especially when the Chinese President comes calling next month.

The United States following a dual-track policy of appeasing China and at the same time canvassing for a Japan-India-US Military Alliance subtly encourages the Japan-India relationship.

The Japan-India Strategic Partnership seems well on its way to exploit the growing strategic convergences between the two nations against the backdrop of China’s military overbearing behaviour in East Asia and South East Asia. However this process would be incomplete if Japan and India do not foster greater military-to-military contacts and cooperation between the Armed Forces of Japan and India.

Strategic Partnerships cannot be substantial or meaningful without the under-pinning of substantial military-to-military contacts and cooperation. Therefore Japan and India especially need to accelerate their initiatives in this direction.

As Prime Minister Modi heads for Tokyo tomorrow for a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Abe which should turn out to be a promising one, one would sincerely hope that the Indian Prime Minister also dwells in his discussions on greater military-to-military contacts and cooperation between the two Armed Forces as also greater access to Japanese defence production technologies.

Having spent nearly four years as a military diplomat in Tokyo many years ago one is amply qualified to make recommendations in this direction.

Time for India to use its Soft Power in China

July 2014 is an important month for global economics and China. It is the first time in recent history that China has overtaken USA in GDP [adjusted for purchasing power parity or PPP] and has become number one country in the world according to Euromonitor1. Now the order is China/USA/India/Japan in terms of GDP at PPP. Of course in per capita terms, USA has ten times more gross income than China given the population size of the latter.

Still China’s growth has been phenomenal and in the next two decades, it is poised to become numero uno even in nominal terms out running USA. This has implications for India from an Asian perspective and also we need to formulate our strategy about China. Traditionally in the last few decades, we have been looking at China using US or UK lens. This is due to the fact that we have not developed many China centers all over India. Hence we have few experts who understand their language and try to look at China with Indian glasses rather than Anglo-Saxon lens.

The major change that is taking place in China is not related to their growth rates and Three Gorges Dam and the shopping malls and Olympics stadia. That is a typical Western way of viewing China. The main change is in religious affiliation and assertion of Islamic followers and development of large scale underground Church. The middle classes have given up rice [perceived to be for the illiterate poor] and are embracing Christianity since it also helps in job mobility particularly in global companies where the heads could belong to the same Church. The Muslim population is less dispersed and more concentrated in specific locations like western part But there is also a growing interest in China about its past. The Ming dynasty tombs in Beijing which are made in marble were painted in red color during the great cultural revolution of the sixties and even today laborers are washing it to make it back in to white color without success. The guides are not reluctant to talk about it. The ten handed Buddha in the Summer Palace of Ching dynasty near Beijing has significant relationship with our idea of Lord Vishnu who destroys evil and even this is mentioned clearly. More importantly, China is opening what are called Confucius Institutes in more than fifty countries which is similar to British Council efforts but more focused on China’s ancient wisdom. . The first thing we should learn is to stop looking at China with Western glasses.

The economic boom in China has given rise to issues related to their faith/religion and associated things. First and foremost, China is facing a severe separatist [called splitters by Chinese] in their western region namely Xinjiang by Uighurs. The region is populated by followers of Islam religion and seeing unrest for the past two decades. But recently it has reached violent proportions. For instance, early last week Chinese claimed that at least 100 have been killed in disturbances in that region2. Not only that, some portion of the Uighurs has carried the battle to Beijing itself. In other words, one form of regional separation combined with Islamic terrorism has become a major problem in China. There are also reports that the Islamists are taking shelter in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

On the other hand, China is also waging a battle with “unrecognized” Church in its territory. Once a hub of Christianity, worshippers in Wenzhou fear their faith is facing its biggest threat since the Cultural Revolution3. The recent visit of the Pope to South Korea as part of his engaging Asia has fuelled concerns in China since China has its own church and does not recognize Papal authority.