23 January 2015

A tricky partnership- Dealing with the US will always be a challenge

Kanwal Sibal
January 23 , 2015

The visit of the American president, Barack Obama, to India this month as chief guest at our Republic Day celebrations invites some reflections on the state of India-United States of America relations and expectations from the visit.

India-US relations in the last decade have become distinctly warmer. The 2005 India-US nuclear deal dissipated mutual strategic distrust and triggered numerous dialogues in the areas of energy, education, health, science and technology, trade, defence, counter-terrorism, innovation and so on. This had the objective of building Indian capacities in various sectors with US know-how to fuel India's growth and give the US a greater foothold in an expanding Indian economy. These dialogues have produced modest results.

In 2010, during his India visit, Obama visualized the India-US relationship as a defining one for the 21st century, meaning, presumably, that India as a democracy and a growing economic power could, in the decades ahead, join the US in managing a liberal global order. If shared values are the basis for India calling the US a natural partner, then India's democracy and pluralism have not shielded it from punitive US policies in the past and do not guarantee any special consideration in the future at the cost of US interests. In both cases, rhetoric and reality differ.

Revived: plan to give access to bases


New Delhi, Jan. 22: The Narendra Modi government has asked the defence establishment to resurrect an 11-year-old proposal from the Pentagon that will enable India and the US to grant mutual access to each other's military bases, refuel and replenish warships and fighter planes and, in a contingency, participate jointly in multi-nation military operations.

"The US has given us non-papers on LSA. We are now ready to look at the fine print. We have asked them to explain how these 'foundational' agreements benefit us. Yes, we have the political nod," a senior defence source told The Telegraph today.

The LSA is short for "logistics support agreement". A non-paper is a diplomatic instrument for background information before an agreement is signed (or not signed).

The crucial element the Indian establishment is grappling with is: will signing the agreements get construed politically as a military alliance? Within the establishment there is a growing belief that they can weather such an allegation because it can translate to economic benefits domestically. Also, there is awareness that the impact of fundamental policy changes can only be assessed years after the changes have been made.

"People have long looked at this relationship (India-US) and seen the fundamentals in place for a really, really close partnership, and yet it's been a challenge in translating that into outcomes," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser in the White House's National Security Council, said in a tele-conference from Washington last night.

The list is also likely to include "non-defence items," the source said. This is more likely a reference to "dual-use" items, which serve both civilian and military purposes.A review of the framework agreement on defence cooperation over the last 10 years has also found that it favours the "foreign military sales" route of the Pentagon through which government-to-government transactions are preferred over company to government transactions.

An ‘India exception’ for climate talks

Samir Saran,Bruce Jones
January 23, 2015 

If the U.S. partners with India for more efficient industrialisation, it could be the kind of investment that cements ties between the two countries

As India and the U.S. build closer ties, they should pursue a win-win agreement on climate. It is in the U.S.’s strategic interest that India grows into a regional power, which can only be accomplished if India is given sufficient development space to grow its economy and eliminate poverty. It is in India’s interest to diversify its energy portfolio — a prospect that can be strengthened with the U.S.’s assistance. The way to achieve these objectives is to forge an “India exception” at the global climate talks in Paris; doing so is the only realistic pathway to a global climate deal and will cement the growing ties between the two critical actors in an evolving international order.

A unique dilemma

India faces a predicament which previous countries that used energy to grow their economies did not face. It stands on the cusp of industrialisation just as the world may finally be willing to take multilateral action to reduce carbon emissions. As it possesses vulnerable coastlines and is reliant on the monsoon and glacial melt, India is as susceptible as any other country to the consequences of collective action failure on climate. But for India, the tradeoffs between environment and growth (and poverty elimination) are harsher than perhaps anywhere else. India’s overall size of both population and emissions makes it the most critical low-income country at the Paris climate talks.

Going beyond bonhomie

M. K. Narayanan
January 23, 2015 

A Modi-Obama summit provides an opportunity for an all-encompassing look at geopolitics and geoeconomics across the region and beyond. This option should not be foreclosed by concentrating on the smaller items

Visits to India by world leaders are routinely high profile events. A visit by the President of the United States has the added attraction of high expectations. President Barack Obama’s coming visit — the second during his Presidency — has raised expectations by several notches and greatly raised the stakes, coming as it does so soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s highly successful visit to the U.S.

U.S. Presidents, in their second term, tend to be generally more expansive in their attitude towards India than during their first term. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush demonstrated this in ample measure. Mr. Obama did not, however, wait for his second term to demonstrate his desire to strengthen the relationship with India. The effusive welcome that he afforded former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009, including holding his first State Banquet in honour of the Indian leader is part of diplomatic folklore in Washington and New Delhi.


By Saumitra Mohan

Pragmatism informed by the appreciation of national interests seems to have given way to a garbled policy of compromising national security in favour of playing safe to avoid the accusations of ‘kickbacks’ in defence purchases. One really fails to understand as to why it took so long to comprehend the emergent need for replenishing our defence hardware, more so when the same has serious implications for national security.

The best that could have been done under the circumstances by the then decision-makers was to evolve a consensual policy in consultation with all the stakeholders to shop for the required military equipment and hardware. A transparent defence purchase policy predicated on a well-thought out guideline would have long done the needful in this regard. It is good that the new dispensation in New Delhi has finally seen through the problem to effect the necessary changes to keep our war machine fighting fit as the same was slowly becoming rusted for want of due care and nurturing it needed. After all, they rightly say, ‘if you want peace, it is better to prepare for war’.

As per the decision taken by the government, the operations of ‘representatives’, another term for agents or brokers, will now be officially recognised and allowed in defence purchases, something that could have been done long back. The fact remains that these ‘brokers’ have always been there and working behind the scenes to facilitate defence deals for governments across the world. However, the same has often complicated defence acquisitions over the years to the chagrin and detriment of the armed forces in this country. Such priggish thinking has at times tarred every ‘agent’ with the same brush, vilifying each of them as a crook of the first order who must be shunned at any cost.


By C. Raja Mohan

US President Barack Obama’s participation in India’s annual Republic Day celebration is rich in symbolism. It is also a major opportunity for Washington and Delhi to reboot their relationship and set ambitious new goals for their strategic and economic partnership.

President Barack Obama’s visit to India to participate in the coming annual Republic Day celebrations is likely to give a second wind to the strategic partnership that failed to meet the expectations raised a decade ago by Washington and Delhi. The historic civil nuclear initiative and a defence cooperation agreement announced by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in mid 2005 generated hopes that the United States and India had finally shed the tag of “estranged democracies”.

Although the relationship has expanded significantly over the last decade, there was a distinct sense by the end of Singh’s tenure that the ties had plateaued. Political ambivalence and bureaucratic recalcitrance in both capitals seemed to prevent the implementation of agreements signed and limit the possibilities for a genuine strategic partnership.
Breaking the taboo

Supreme Court backs NSA Doval's plan on black money

Harish V. Nair
January 21, 2015

National Security Advisor Ajit DovalNational Security Advisor Ajit Doval has a prescription for getting black money back to the country and it is being taken rather seriously by the highest court of the country. Till now, nothing has worked as far as getting the 70,000 crore estimated to be stashed away in foreign tax havens back is concerned.

Taking note of Modi government's sluggish efforts to bring back black money, the Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to force the Centre's hand by asking the Special Investigation Team "to consider" registration of "omnibus" criminal cases to expedite prosecutions and permit authorities to seek help from the police in foreign countries.

Every election candidate may also be asked to file an affidavit while filing nomination that he does not hold illegal money abroad.

These were part of recommendations in an article authored in 2011 by Ajit Doval- "India's Plundered Money Abroad- Can we get it back ?" - which was submitted to the court by lawyer Ram Jethmalani, the petitioner in the public interest litigation seeking to bring back illegal money.

India-US defence ties grow with assertive Modi government

By Ajai Shukla
21 January 2015

Defence purchases from the US



USS Trenton
$50 million

20 GE F-404 engines for Tejas
$100 million

6 Super Hercules aircraft
$1 billion

8 Boeing P-8I maritime aircraft
$2.1 billion

$3.25 billion


500 CBU-97 sensor-fuzed bombs
$250 million

40 Harpoon anti-ship missiles
$370 million

6 additional Super Hercules aircraft
$1 billion

10 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft
$4.12 billion

$5.74 billion

In the pipeline

145 M777 guns from BAE Systems
$700 million

22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters
$1.4 billion

275 F-125 Honeywell engines for Jaguar
$2 billion

50 General Electric F-404 engines for Tejas
$250 million

4 additional Boeing P-8I maritime aircraft
$1 billion

15 Chinook CH-47F heavy lift helicopters
$1 billion

6 more C-17 Globemaster III aircraft
$2 billion

$8.35 billion

Iran, Afghanistan Approach Strategic Cooperation Pact

January 22, 2015

Afghanistan and Iran are nearing the conclusion of a major bilateral strategic cooperation agreement that would see the two expand their trade and transportation links. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met with Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif in Kabul on Tuesday to finalize the terms of the agreement. Zarif additionally extended an invitation for Ghani to visit Tehran. In Kabul, Zarif also met with Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah. According to Afghanistan’s Pajhwok News, Ghani stressed “cooperation on issues of counter-terrorism, drugs, refugees, economic links and transit trade” in his meeting with Zarif.

The bilateral cooperation agreement would build on a similar August 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between the heads of the National Security Councils of the two countries when Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in power — shortly after the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The 2013 agreement emphasized expanded bilateral cooperation on military, intelligence, and economic issues. Significantly, the 2013 agreement was primarily a security agreement — it emphasized cooperation in military training, combating terrorism and organized crime, and even referenced joint military exercises. These exercises, according to the agreement, would help the two countries come together to fight ”against the shared threats of terrorism, narcotics and others.” The 2013 agreement also provided for intelligence sharing between the two countries on “developments in the field of threats for national security… including in Central, West and South Asia.”

Military Courts: Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Intervention

21 Jan , 2015

On 6 January 2015, the National Assembly of Pakistan approved the 21st Constitutional Amendment and Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2015. The President of Pakistan, Mr Mamnoon Hussain, gave assent to the Bill a day later, making it into a law [i]. With this, law makers in Pakistan gave constitutional validity to trial of offences relating to terrorism by military courts and amendment to the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 extended the jurisdiction of military courts to try terror suspects. The Bill, to be in force for two years, was unanimously approved by all 247 members present in the House, with just two groups, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) abstaining from the vote.

Repeated terror attacks across Pakistan have induced a sense of hopelessness in the country…

The Bill provides for entering the Pakistan Army Act 1952, the Pakistan Army Act 1953, the Pakistan Navy Act 1961 and the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014 in the First Schedule of the Constitution. The First Schedule contains laws which are exempt from the operation of Article 8 (1) and (2) of the Constitution which relate to fundamental rights. As per the provisions of the 21st Amendment, the judgements delivered by the Special Courts are not open to review by either the nations High Courts or the Supreme Court. An amendment to the Pakistan Army Act 1952 also provides the federal government the power to transfer cases related to terrorism, pending in civil courts, to a military court. In such cases, it is not necessary to record evidence which has already been recorded. Activities which can be tried under the Military courts are vast and varied, including trial of those belonging to any terrorist group or organisation, waging war against the state, attacks on civil and military installations, kidnappings for ransom, possession, storage and transportation of explosives, suicide jackets and the like within or outside Pakistan. As per the statement of the objects and reasons, ‘an extraordinary situation and circumstances exist which demand special measures for speedy trial of offences relating to terrorism, waging war or insurrection against Pakistan and prevention of acts threatening the security of Pakistan’.[ii]

China and Internet Sovereignty Revisited

January 22, 2015

How can China more effectively cooperate on cybersecurity issues with the rest of the world? 
Back in December 2014, China’s cyber czar, Lu Wei, director of the State Internet Information Office, succinctly summarized Beijing’s position on sovereignty in cyberspace in the title of an article published by the Huffington Post: “Cyber Sovereignty Must Rule Global Internet.” Time and again, China has repeated the mantra that states have to respect China’s “information borders,” emphasizing that a focus on national sovereignty and a state-centric approach will guarantee stability in cyberspace. The People’s Republic is especially keen to discredit the Western propagated multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, which it sees as intrinsically dangerous and undermining China’s national security interests.

In the Huffington Post article, Lu Wei, posits,

“For example, with regard to the cyberspace governance, the U.S. advocates ‘multi-stakeholders’ while China believes in ‘multilateral.’ [‘Multi-stakeholder’ refers to all Internet participants on an equal footing making the rules and is considered more ‘people-centered’ while ‘multilateral’ refers to the state making the rules based on the idea of the sovereignty of the nation-state representing its citizens.] These two alternatives are not intrinsically contradictory. Without ‘multilateral,’ there would be no ‘multi-stakeholders.’ Exaggerating our disagreements due to difference in concepts is neither helpful to the China-U.S. Internet relations nor beneficial to global governance and the development of the Internet.”

Partially to accommodate Chinese fears about the United States’ control over Internet structure, Washington announced back in March 2014 that it will give up oversight of web domain managers at ICANN — a non-profit organization that manages worldwide domain names and the assignment of IP addresses, among other things. Yet, unsurprisingly, China so far has not been prepared to yield an inch in turn on its stance on Internet sovereignty. It is hard to find common ground with the United States and its allies, since to Western countries Chinese ideas on Internet sovereignty are tantamount to Internet censorship, the restriction of free speech, and the online prosecution of political dissidents.

Yet, as an article in the Strategic Studies Quarterly already argued in 2011, the Chinese are not unique in their quest. In one way or another every country is attempting to control what comes through its borders:

China's Quest for Global Influence - Through Think Tanks

January 22, 2015

A new policy document outlines China’s strategy for creating “think tanks with Chinese characteristics.” 
China is seeking to boost its soft power by developing “a new type of think tank with Chinese characteristics,” Xinhua reported on Tuesday, citing new guidelines from the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and the State Council (China Copyright and Media has an English translation of the entire Party document). The main goal is to have “several think tanks wielding major global influence” by 2020.

How do China’s think tanks rank so far? The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania provides an annual ranking of over 6,500 think tanks worldwide. According to their 2013 report, the U.S. accounted for three of the top five think tanks worldwide (with the other two being located in the U.K. and Sweden) and six of the top ten. China, meanwhile, has its top-ranked think tank, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, ranked 20th in the world.

Overall, China has only three think tanks in the top 50 worldwide (in addition to CASS, the Chinese Institute of International Studies comes in at 36 and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations ranks 44th). Again, that’s the same number the U.S. has in the top five. Even when the category is restricted to “think tanks in China, India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea,” China’s CIIS and CASS lose out to the Korea Development Institute and the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

Small wonder, then, that Beijing is seeking to boost the international prestige of its think tanks. China has long sought soft power commensurate with its growing economic and political clout. Think tanks are important both as a measure of soft power and as a channel for increasing global influence. As the newly released CCP guidelines state, “Think tanks are an important carrier of national soft power; they are becoming an increasingly important factor in international competition and have an irreplaceable role in international relations.” Yet in China, the guidelines continue, “There are no high-end think tanks with major influence and global prestige; research results are limited; resources are not appropriately allocated and there are few prominent leading figures.”

Why We Should Study China's Machiavelli

January 22, 2015

The similarities and differences between Niccolo Machiavelli and Han Feizi are illuminating. 

Ryan Mitchell wrote a fascinating piece for The Diplomat entitled “Is ‘China’s Machiavelli’ Now its Most Important Philosopher?,” outlining the role the ancient philosopher Han Feizi plays in shaping President Xi Jinping’s political agenda. For example, Xi Jinping quoted Han Feizi’s dictum “when those who uphold the law are strong, the state is strong. When they are weak, the state is weak” to justify his tough anti-corruption campaign and his allegedly more authoritarian style of government. Xi Jinping’s quote of Han Feizi was subsequently reprinted thousands of times in state-owned and party-controlled media outlets.

Xi’s citation of Han Feizi is an instance of ruling political men relying on and defending their actions per the authority of recognized political thinkers. It is curious to me the way in which public figures use philosophical elites to empower and elevate, or at least attempt to justify, controversial praxis and principle. It provides them with a mantle of legitimacy by continuing an apparent tradition already established a long time ago. Mitchell also seems to indicate that Han Feizi’s ambiguous reputation is analogous to the controversial rap on Machiavelli in the West.

What I found interesting to ponder over is the public reaction if a European or American president cited Machiavelli in a speech (e.g., “Politics have no relations to morals,” or “Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot.”). Of course, there are ontological and philosophical differences between Machiavelli and Han Feizi and their respective philosophies, and any quote, by definition, is taken out of context, which is especially problematic for philosophical texts.

However, what makes the comparison to Machiavelli more interesting is not so much the obvious similarities in the authoritarian streak of both philosophers and their amoral counsel on how rulers ought to run their affairs (by the way, I strongly suspect that Machiavelli’s core political philosophy is buried in his Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy rather than the Prince), but in how the fundamentals underlying their political thought have evidently much more in common than the Italian thinker has with other great European philosophers. This makes Han Feizi’s work more “European,” and Machiavelli’s philosophy more “Chinese.”

Plato, for example, argues in his Republic that the best regime happens by chance, the unlikely coming together of political philosophy and political power. This is based on the ancient Greek understanding of human nature and in a sense cautions against social engineering or the attempt to make utopia, the ideal state, a reality. However, Machiavelli broke with this tradition publicly by pronouncing that chance (fortuna) can be influenced: “For my part I consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly.”

The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles

January 22, 2015 

"Air-Sea Battle” with Chinese Characteristics: a large fleet of land-based aircraft armed with some of the world’s most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles. 

During the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina possessed a measly total of fiveExocet anti-ship cruise missiles with which to face down the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic. Had that number been more like 50 or 100, that conflict might well have had a very different ending. This important lesson has not been lost on China’s military chiefs. Indeed, China has placed great emphasis on anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) development over the last three decades and is now set to reap the strategic benefits of this singular focus.

Western defense analysts have taken up the habit of fixating on the “whiz-bang” aspects of Chinese military modernization, such as the anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), or threats that are largely hypothetical, such as Beijing’s supposedly fearsome cyber arsenal. However, it will be unwise to ignore certain more mundane threats of proven lethality. These concern, at least in part, China’s emergent naval air arm and not the carrier-based part of that air-arm – which continues to be the red herring of Chinese naval development, at least for now. Flying from bases in the Mainland out to longer ranges with more sophisticated search radars and electronic countermeasures, the large fleet of land-based aircraft will now deploy some of the world’s most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to boot. This rather mature capability might be described as “air-sea battle” with Chinese characteristics.

This edition of Dragon Eye probes a survey from the October 2014 issue of Mandarin-language defense magazine舰载武器 [Shipborne Weapons] of “中国海军空基对海打击力量” [The Chinese Navy’s Air-Based Maritime Strike Force]. The magazine is published by a Zhengzhou institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), a primary actor in China’s ongoing naval modernization process.

Hardly Satisfied

Chinese Wild Claims in Arunachal

McMahon Line signed by Lochen Shatra and Sir Henry McMahon

The Chinese are not happy at all. Why?

Because the Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida dared to speak about what Beijing calls “a Chinese territorial area adjacent to India as Indian territory.”

McMahon Line is very much legal: it was signed by the Prime Minister of Tibet (Lochen Shatra) and India’s Foreign Secretary (Sir Henry McMahon) in March 1914.

According to The China Daily, the Japanese diplomat was referring to Arunachal Pradesh.

Beijing immediately lodged a strong protest: “We hope Japan fully understands the sensitivity of the China-India boundary question,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

He added that in a speech in New Delhi, “Kishida attracted media attention after referring to a southern area of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region as Indian territory. …Beijing has taken notice of the report, expressed serious concerns, demanded Japan make a clarification and immediately manage damage control.”

US using India as pawn, says Chinese daily

India Today 
January 20, 2015

The US is only treating India as a pawn in its rebalancing strategy to the Asia-Pacific region, a Chinese daily said Tuesday. 

The US is only treating India as a pawn in its rebalancing strategy to the Asia-Pacific region, a Chinese daily said Tuesday.

The daily, Global Times, said that developing a good relationship with India will help Washington seek more support in international affairs and reduce the influence of emerging powers such as China in Asia.

The two countries are undoubtedly getting closer, but, it might be not as wonderful as it appears, because they both build their ties by taking advantage of each other, the Global Times said Tuesday in an op-ed page article "Pakistan, trade, emissions issues could frustrate closer Indian-US ties".

The daily said the US has never treated India as an equal friend and the global strategic background at present is the reason it values India so much.

It said that cultivating India as a partner will enhance the US influence in international affairs as well as the global economy.

For example, the US has nearly been dragged into a new Cold War with Russia due to the Ukraine crisis, while competition between the US and an emerging China also seems to be escalating.

Information Warfare: China Preps For Cybergeddon

January 21, 2015: An American government official, Xiafen Chen, was arrested in October and charged with supplying China with classified data about American dams. This is part of a Chinese effort to collect detailed data on American infrastructure and other economic targets to support preparations for Internet based attacks on these facilities in wartime, or anytime. Xiafen Chen and her husband moved to the U.S. from China in 1992 and later became American citizens. The FBI found emails in which Xiafen Chen discusses the data she took from U.S. government databases and passed to senior Chinese officials.

The U.S. government has been aware of this Internet threat for over a decade and has been trying to develop a way to respond to a serious Cyber War attack, one in which the attacker does not reveal who they are. The data the Chinese received from Xiafen Chen could be used for such an attack.

Back in 2010 American officials created lists of the types of kind of attacks that would qualify as an "act of war", and thus deserving of a violent response. That was easy enough if there was substantial physical damage from the attack. This was the case in Iran during 2010 after the Stuxnet worm got finished with their uranium enrichment centrifuges. Similar damage could be done to electrical power systems, water and sanitation utilities and some kinds of industrial facilities (steel making, chemical, refineries, and so on.)

Are the Chinese Capable of Mounting a “Cybergeddon” Attack on the US?

January 21, 2015

An American government official, Xiafen Chen, was arrested in October and charged with supplying China with classified data about American dams. This is part of a Chinese effort to collect detailed data on American infrastructure and other economic targets to support preparations for Internet based attacks on these facilities in wartime, or anytime. Xiafen Chen and her husband moved to the U.S. from China in 1992 and later became American citizens. The FBI found emails in which Xiafen Chen discusses the data she took from U.S. government databases and passed to senior Chinese officials.

The U.S. government has been aware of this Internet threat for over a decade and has been trying to develop a way to respond to a serious Cyber War attack, one in which the attacker does not reveal who they are. The data the Chinese received from Xiafen Chen could be used for such an attack.

Back in 2010 American officials created lists of the types of kind of attacks that would qualify as an “act of war”, and thus deserving of a violent response. That was easy enough if there was substantial physical damage from the attack. This was the case in Iran during 2010 after the Stuxnet worm got finished with their uranium enrichment centrifuges. Similar damage could be done to electrical power systems, water and sanitation utilities and some kinds of industrial facilities (steel making, chemical, refineries, and so on.)

Why China’s premier is making a rare showing in Davos

19 Jan 2015

In a rarity for Chinese leaders, Premier Li Keqiang will attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos later this week, joining 40 other heads of state and government including François Hollande and Angela Merkel.

This is the first time a Chinese leader is attending WEF Davos in five years, according to state-run Xinhua news agency. Li last attended the annual meeting as a vice premier in 2010.

"The [Chinese] new president is sufficiently well-established now, so it's appropriate for the prime minister to attend a gathering that sets the agenda for the business year – a year in which the fall in oil prices and the slowing of growth create great uncertainties," Colin Chapman, founder and editor-in-chief of think-tank Australian and ASEAN Strategies, told CNBC.

Also, with China hosting its own "Summer Davos" held in September, top level contact is essential in order to ensure attendance by political and business leaders. The Summer Davos is held annually in either Tianjin or Dalian.


The worldwide community has split over the Charlie Hebdo issue No. 1178, originally printed at 3 million copies. However, the increased demand caused the journal to increase the print run 5 million, later – 7 million copies. The “survivors’ issue” released on January 14, 2015, featured a cover cartoon that depicted the Prophet Mohammad holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign, titled “Tout est pardonné” (All is forgiven).

This was the first issue of the French magazine since the brutal January 7 attack. Only a few hours after the release of the previous issue that featured the drawing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State radical group, two armed men burst into the Charlie Hebdo headquarters. 12 people, including two policemen and editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, were killed in the attack.

Over 2 million people condemned the act of terrorism and shown their solidarity with Charlie Hebdo during Republican marches that took place on January 11. At the same time, leaders and representatives of Muslim communities in France, Britain, Canada, US, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other countries stated the attack completely violates the Islamic ideals.

America’s Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing

Jan. 21, 2015

David Sedney was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia from 2009-2013 and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia from 2007-2009. 

Our tactics produce more dangerous, more committed extremists 

The U.S. approach to countering violent extremism is failing badly. Our current “light footprint,” counter-terrorism approach, posits that a combination of precisely targeted drone strikes, U.S. special forces raids, and training small, elite units of local forces can kill enough of the extremists’ “core” leadership to render those groups incapable. But, there has never been a strategy behind this hope, never an articulated theory of the case to explain where we were headed. 

These methods have, for limited periods, degraded extremists’ capabilities. But, today it is clear they are fundamentally flawed and severely counter-productive. Rather than reducing threats, our tactics produce more dangerous, more committed extremists. The crucible of the pressures we have created has not destroyed the extremists, instead it has evolved them into more virulent forms. Our singular focus on killing, without any serious attempt to ameliorate basic societal problems — and the absence of a moral core for our actions — have led huge swathes of the world to see us as the evil doers. Extremists today seek revenge for those we have killed, to punish us for abuses they suffer, and to end our support for abusive, corrupt rulers. 

The shape of the new world we are creating can be seen in theCharlie Hebdo attack, the growing Islamic State, the rampaging Boko Haram, the fractured, chaotic Yemen that features two radical groups that both hate the U.S., and the Taliban who massacre school children. 

Rather than a safer international environment with decreasing terrorism, terror attacks are at an all-time high and increasing. Two organizations — Al Qaeda and the Islamic State — are competing for adherents through escalating public brutality. And it is working: New believers are flocking to their banners; they control serious chunks of territory in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, and Yemen; they aim for a caliphate that rules from Myanmar to the Mediterranean; and they are quite clear that they will use violence to control us and our societies. The attacks in France, plots in Belgium, and threats to Japan of the past two weeks are only a harbinger of what is coming. 

Ukrainian and Russian Soldiers Battle Along Border in Eastern Ukraine

Rick Lyman and Andrew E Kramer
January 21, 2015

Ukrainian soldiers during fighting with pro-Russian separatists on Wednesday in the village of Pesky, near Donetsk. Credit Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — Shelling from both Ukrainian military and rebel separatist positions continued Wednesday over a remote border checkpoint northwest of Luhansk that Ukraine said was seized Monday by Russian troops, a chief spokesman for the Ukrainian military said.

With President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine claiming that thousands of additional Russian troops had crossed into Ukraine and engaged directly with Ukrainian forces, attention has shifted from the battle over the battered airport at Donetsk to this fresh front on the main road to the city of Luhansk, 90 miles northeast of Donetsk.

Lt. Col. Roman Turovets, a Ukrainian military spokesman at the base here, the main one in the conflict area, said that Ukraine believed the soldiers it was engaging near the small town of Krymske, northwest of Luhansk, were highly trained Russian regulars, based on their tactics, their weaponry and on intelligence.

State of the Union: Where's South Asia?

January 22, 2015
What does U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech tell us about his views on South Asia? 
What does U.S. President Barrack Obama’s State of the Union Address this year tell us about his administration’s plans with respect to South Asia? South Asia did not feature prominently in President Obama’s speech, indicating the relatively low level of priority that the United States gives that vital region compared to East Asia, the Middle East, and Russia. President Obama spoke at length on China’s challenge to the international system, U.S. policy towards Russian actions in Ukraine, and American negotiations with Iran. As Shannon points out, the State of the Union Address is usually a speech “that will likely have little to no relationship to actual government policy,” but this year’s speech featured some exceptions. For example, President Obama very adamantly held that American diplomatic efforts with Iran proceed without Congressional interference, even promising to veto any new sanctions bill that would undo the progress of U.S. negotiations with Iran. However, there was hardly this level of detail on U.S. policy in South Asia.

For starters, President Obama did not once mention India, South Asia’s largest and most important country; one that both Democrats and Republicans have been cultivating stronger ties with. It is surprising that President Obama did not find the room to mention India even once, especially since he is visiting India later this week. This is no ordinary visit, as Obama’s trip marks the first time an American President will serve as the chief guest for India’s Republic Day Parade, held from January 26-28. The parade is one of India’s biggest political events, celebrating India’s transition from a Commonwealth state to a republic in 1950. President Obama even moved the State of the Union Address from January 28 to January 20 in order to attend this event. Thus, his omission of India in his speech is notable.