26 January 2015

Agni missing as Obama witnesses Republic Day parade

Dinakar Peri
January 26, 2015 

The focus of this year’s parade was more on cultural diversity than on military might.

Nuclear-capable Agni missiles - a highlight for the past several years - were missing as U.S. President Barack Obama witnessed India's military might and cultural diversity on what proved to be a rainy and cold 66th Republic Day.

In doing so, Mr. Obama became the first U.S. President to be the chief guest at the parade as President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute at the parade.

In another departure from practice, Mr. Obama arrived in his own motorcade and not with President Pranab Mukherjee as is the practice. The crowd erupted in cheers as Mr. Obama and First Lady Michelle stepped out of the ‘Beast’ vehicle.

Mr. Obama watched as several Russian-made tanks rolled over. The latest imported military hardware took part in the flypast such as the C-130 Hercules tactical transport, C-17 heavy transport and the Naval P-8I maritime patrol aircraft flying in formation with the two latest Russian-built MiG-29Ks.

While some of India’s latest military arsenal was on display and impressive marching contingents marched in precision, it marked a departure from past years in that the focus of this year’s parade was more on cultural diversity than on military might.

Some of the recent inductions both indigenous and imported were on display. The Akash medium-range surface-to-air missile and Weapon Locating Radar developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), INS Kolkata, the most advanced ship in the Navy’s arsenal and BrahMos cruise missile were the indigenous highlights.

In R-Day message, China tells India don't fall into ‘trap’ laid by U.S.

Atul Aneja
January 26, 2015

China has offered to lift its strategic partnership with India to a “higher level,” and prompted New Delhi to avoid a “zero-sum trap” that was being set up by Washington and its allies.

In a message, on the occasion of 65th Republic Day, to President Pranab Mukherjee, his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping expressed China’s willingness “to make concerted efforts with India to lift their strategic cooperative partnership oriented to peace and prosperity to a higher level”.

The felicitations coincided with the New Delhi visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.

An article on Monday that appeared in the Global Times and People’s Daily, cautioned India, not to fall into the “trap” that was being laid, to pit New Delhi against Beijing, by Washington, as part of its “pivot to Asia” doctrine.

The commentary noted that "the second visit by a sitting U.S. President to India, the first time on record, has undoubtedly drawn wide attention from the international community”.

It added that many Western media reports “have pointed out that the U.S., regardless of historical complications, is putting more efforts into soliciting India to act as a partner, even an ally, to support Washington's "pivot to Asia" strategy, which is mainly devised to counter China's rise.

In a further elaboration, the daily pointed to the West’s “ulterior motives’’ to frame the "Chinese dragon" and the "Indian elephant" as natural rivals. “The West is egging India on to be fully prepared for "threats" posed by its large neighbour.

Rajpath in full colour

January 26, 2015 

The HinduPrime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Barack Obama at the 66th Republic Day parade in New Delhi .

United States President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive at Rajpath for the Republic Day celebrations under cloud cover.

In a first, all-women contingents of the three Services march across Rajpath during this year’s parade.

12:03 pm: Republic Day parade comes to a close as tricolour balloons are released into the air.

11: 57 am: Huge applause for the Indian Nay's P-81 as it flies above Rajpath

11: 51 am: The Air-Force Flypast now begins. MI-35 helicopters fly past saluting dais at 240 kmph

Beyond the immediate present

Rudra Chaudhuri
January 26, 2015 

President Obama’s attendance on this January 26 is as important from the perspective of furthering bilateral ties, as it is to show the world that India is ready to play a central role well beyond its borders

“There is a peculiar appropriateness about this January 26 for this day links up the past with the present and this present is seen to grow out of that past.” This was the central argument in Jawaharlal Nehru’s message to the nation prior to the inauguration of the Republic in 1950. That the day itself was of “great significance” is hardly contestable. It demonstrated the “fulfilment to a dream,” as Nehru put it. It was to communicate an achievement accomplished by no other nation in the modern world. History, as Nehru argued, was full of examples of the “chaos giving birth to the dancing star of freedom.” India was an exception. On the whole, the great change that ushered Independence had “taken place by agreement.” This is perhaps the single most important fact that connects India and the United States. This was as true in 1947 as it is today. It was not just that India won her independence from colonialism, but that she did so minus violent rebellion. Similarly, it’s not just that India is the largest democracy in the world that attracts American entrepreneurs and political leaders today, but that it is a democracy able to absorb huge amounts of variance and remain largely steady.

Opportunities created by history

The invitation to President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the 66th Republic Day is both a reflection of something bold and at the same time unsurprising, when understood in historical context. Bold because concerns about perception and the bogeyman of empire matter little to a Prime Minister more interested in the future than in history. Unsurprising because much like Nehru’s message in 1950, the relationship between India and the U.S. too is an example of how the present has in fact grown out of the past. Most commentators have preferred to look at the opportunity of today. Nuclear agreements, defence contracts and export control laws absorb the headlines and for good reason.

The pride and poaching of our heritage

Hemang Desai
Jan 26 2015

PRICELESS: Furniture pieces designed by Le Corbusier have fallen prey to the game of the antique vultures and the collectibles industry.

Lost to future

A 17th-century idol of Lord Raghunath, made of pure gold, worth crores of rupees was stolen from Kullu town of Himachal Pradesh in December, 2014. It has been recovered recently.

In April, 2014, the furniture designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, auctioned by Phillips auction house in London, fetched more than Rs 1.62 crore.

The furniture has made many millionaires. They sold the heritage furniture to auction houses abroad since it was thrown out as a piece of junk by an ignorant administration.
UNESCO estimates nearly 50,000 objects have been smuggled out of India between 1979 and 1989 alone, with figures multiplying in the last two decades.

On December 16, 2014, classic modernist furniture pieces, designed by Le Corbusier for the Ahmedabad Textile Mill Owners Association (ATMA) building in Ahmedabad were auctioned at the second floor gallery of the Philips Auction House in New York. The auction was called "The Collector - Icons of Design" and consisted of a conference table, chairs and a wall-cupboard. That title of the auction may have brought a smile on the face of Le Corbusier who reportedly wanted to conquer New York with his urban plans. Whatever the famously irascible, iconoclastic, Calvinistic and caustic Le Corbusier may have thought about the just-concluded auction of furniture made in India by him, the auction was certainly a loss for India for having lost a Modernist legacy made for and in the country.


By Lt Gen Kamal Davar*

On his first visit to India in November 2010, addressing the joint session of the Indian parliament, US President Barack Obama had enthusiastically proclaimed that “India-US relations will be the defining relationship of the 21st century”.

That after the stirrings of a promising relationship in 2005, between the world’s largest and most powerful democracies, commencing under US president George W. Bush and then his successor, Barack Obama with then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, the relationship, driven by common concerns of Islamist terrorism, energy security, climate change and US support, in principle, of India’s permanent membership of the Security Council — did lose its momentum is a well-accepted fact as regards an uneasy and unequal roller coaster relationship.

Notwithstanding clichés like ‘India and US being natural partners’ attributable to convergence of varied interests both regionally and globally, mutual relations between US and India, in the last three-four years in particular, had become rather lukewarm. However, it must be stated in all fairness to the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime that in the last few years India did receive some high -ticket, modern military equipment from the US, like the C-130, C-17 and P-80 aircraft, besides heavy lift and attack helicopters, all worth $10 billion, besides the signing of a strategic framework in 2005 and importantly, the widely acclaimed civil nuclear agreement in 2010 between the two nations.

Obama to Visit the New Owner of the 21st Century, India

January 23, 2015 

President and Mrs. Obama are now on their way to what may be the world’s most important city at mid-century.

Are they going to Beijing? No, they will be traveling to New Delhi.

The trip is historic. For the first time, an American leader will attend Republic Day celebrations in the Indian capital, and Obama will be the first U.S. president to visit India twice while in office. Moreover, this is the first time, in recent memory, that a White House occupant has taken a long-distance flight to just one destination.

The trip has just about everything. The president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will conduct wide-ranging discussions on, among other topics, climate change, education, nuclear power, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. There will also be pomp aplenty. India’s January 26 events, commemorating the adoption of the Indian constitution, are among the world’s most colorful. Expect business-deal making with CEOs in attendance. Speeches? Obama will lay out his “vision” for relations with India. There will even be time for sightseeing: the Obamas will tour the Taj Mahal.

Apart from the national pride of hosting the leader of the world’s most powerful state on the 66th Republic Day—chests will swell and hearts beat hard across the subcontinent on Monday—there is, in India, concern about China.

With Obama Trip, India and US Deepen Ties

January 23, 2015 

Mention January 26 and the thoughts of Australians jump quickly to barbeques, beaches and cricket. But this post isn’t about Australia Day. Many Australians will be aware that Indians celebrate their Republic Day on January 26. This year, the 66th since the Indian constitution entered into force in 1950, will be no different. Festivities in New Delhi will center around the Republic Day Parade, a showcase of the country’s defense capabilities—”the glories and follies old and new of the Indian armed forces, from camel regiments to tanks to ballistic missiles”—alongside the lush diversity of Indian culture. Moreover, Barack Obama is set to attend this year’s parade as the invited chief guest, the first time a U.S. president has received the honor. Obama’s attendance represents a diplomatic coup for Indian PM Narendra Modi. It’s yet another sign that relations between India and the U.S. are being reinvigorated, and serves as a reminder of the foreign policy dynamism Modi has displayed since his election last May.

The Republic Day parade will be rich in symbolism for both leaders. The imagery of an American president watching on as India flexes its military muscle won’t escape the attention of India’s neighbors. That Obama’s trip marks the first time a U.S. president has visited India twice while in office (he visited in 2010) will bring additional diplomatic cachet. The chief guest role will offer simple yet important sponsorship of the “rebalance;” it’ll similarly illustrate Modi’s support for a continuing American role in Asia.

The most crucial Indo-US defence issue that Modi-Obama need to discuss

January 25, 2015 

'Implementation of the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative is as much a test for the Modi government to direct its bureaucratic processes, as it is of US commitment,' says Lieutenant General Anil Chait (retd).

President Barack Obama's visit to India is without doubt a watershed event in India-US Relations. Besides being the very first occasion when a US president is the chief guest at India's Republic Day Parade, the invitation, as also its acceptance, are both reflective of a new resolve and determination of the two countries, to enhance their relationship across several areas of mutual interests.

The invitation also indicates the determination of the present government in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to re-shape India's foreign policy -- the corner stone of which is its policy towards the US.

Equally, it signals an incremental restoration of US confidence in India, because of the energy that the two nations have generated in each other, in the last couple of months, giving a significant boost to bilateral relations.

The zeal to take forward this revived mutual bonding is visible in the extraordinary efforts underway to ensure that the visit is a memorable one.


By Dr Subhash Kapila*

Pakistan’s existential crises generated by Pakistan Army’s repetitive onslaughts on Pakistan’s democratic fabric are widely recognised. Constitutional abdication once again stands forced by the Pakistan Army on PM Nawaz.

In wake of TTP suicide attack on Peshawar Army Public School, the Pakistan Army instead of shouldering responsibility for its institutional inadequacies deflected Pakistani public reaction and outcry by demanding a Constitutional Amendment for setting-up Special Military Courts for trial of terrorists.

Pakistan Army’s not so subtle manoeuvre in this direction is nothing but a “Back-Door Coup” in which Constitutional organs of the Pakistan nation-state like the Prime Minister, the Government and the Pakistan Supreme Court stand short-circuited and by-passed. Implicitly and effectively, the Pakistan Army Chief and his generals have taken over the administration of Pakistan.

Regular readers would recall that at the height of Imran Khan and Qadri’s protest movement besieging the government of incumbent PM Nawaz Sharif I had pointed out that this prolonged besieging of Pakistan Parliament and government offices in Islamabad was a Pakistan Army facilitation as a prelude to a possible coup or a soft coup. What has occurred in the wake of Peshawar suicide bombings was a subtle operation by the Pakistan Army without sending soldiers on the streets forcing PM Nawaz Sharif to virtually hand over effective reins of government to Pakistan Army Chief.

As the Western Powers Withdraw: Afghanistan at a Crossroads

EN Rammohan
24 Jan , 2015

The withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan has left the troubled country in an undecided state. NATO alone had 1, 30,000 troops on the ground. By the year’s end this number will become around 12,000. Will this not leave a vacuum into which the forces of disruption—the Afghan Taliban—backed by their masters Pakistan’s Army are waiting to pounce?

Let us go back to briefly recount when, how and why Afghanistan descended into this mess. The first problem for Afghanistan happened when the British drew the Durand line dividing Afghanistan from India in 1893. The eastern portion of Afghanistan comprising two areas that later came to be called the Frontier Administered Tribal areas consisted of Pashtun tribes who lived in eastern Afghanistan. This constitutes two areas South and North Waziristan. The Pashtuns are a proud warrior tribe who live in eastern Afghanistan. They have a proud, peculiar code of tribal law that probably does not exist anywhere in the world of tribes. This is called Pashtunwali. Its distinctive code is that any insult has to be avenged to restore the honour of the tribe.

…leaving a vacuum in the security and economic sphere in Afghanistan. The result is that there is going to be a big drop in the employment of local Afghans in serving all the foreign agencies and troops.

Iraq Situation Summary

January 24, 2015

A joint force of Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army, and Popular Mobilization Units containing Iraqi Shi’a militias reportedly launched an operation to retake villages in the Mansuriyah sub-district, north of Muqdadiyah. Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Ameri claimed that attack was launched from four axes, affirming his involvement in the operation. This operation is likely intended to clear ISIS from its remaining stronghold in Diyala northwest of Muqdadiyah. A separate attack by ISF and PMUs recaptured the Sudur irrigation dam from ISIS, a longstanding ISIS stronghold between Diyala and southern Salah ad Din. ISIS control of the dam has begun to cause a water crisis in Balad Ruz, Diyala. Residents of Balad Ruz had protested recently on January 18, demanding the recapture of the dam. The Anbar Operations Command additionally launched an operation to clear villages southeast of Fallujah. An additional report suggested that Peshmerga and PMUs had killed an ISIS commander in Ninewa, north of Shirqat. Peshmerga and IA have recently begun to attack ISIS from east of the Tigris near this position. Although difficult to verify, this would be the first suggestion of PMU activity this far north. ISIS is still likely the dominant military power in southern Ninewa, but there have been indications that ISIS control of local villages has begun to slip. ISIS executions across Ninewa are also further indications that ISIS is feeling pressured by internal resistance in the province.

January 24, 2015

Nepal has been without an effective constitution or political system since the abolition of its monarchy in 2008, despite an interim constitution. As TheDiplomat previously reported, Nepal has tried for years to successfully draft a permanent constitution. Violent protests broke out a few days ago in anticipation of Thursday’s deadline for the Constitutional Assembly to finish their work. To nobody’s surprise, Nepal failed to produce a constitution by then (yet again).

Despite constant negotiations, attempts at compromise, and even advice from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nepal’s politicians have failed to come up with a constitution for several years. There is nothing to indicate that this is likely to change any time soon. The problem lies in the fact that there are two irreconcilable positions among Nepalese politicians. The first position is taken by the majority alliance of the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), which together hold more than two-thirds of the seats in the assembly. This party wants Nepal, a multiethnic country, to be a unitary state. This would, in effect, concentrate power in upper-caste Nepali speakers, who form only 44.6 percent of the Nepali population. The alternative proposal, mooted by the Maoists and regional parties, would see Nepal become a federal state with ethnic-based states. Additionally, they want the constitution to be formed on the basis of consensus rather than majority. India seems to lean toward this position.

Nepal consists of roughly three ethnic belts. The terai or plains form the southern belt and border India; half of Nepal’s population lives there and is virtually indistinguishable from the Hindi, Maithili, and Bhojpuri speaking population of the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The central belt of Nepal is the hilly belt (pahad), which forms the bulk of Nepal and is the dominant political region of that country. This region is inhabited by ethnic Gorkha or Nepali speakers (Nepali is related to Hindi). The northernmost belt, the mountainous belt borders the Tibet region of China and consists of ethnicities that have religious and linguistic affinities with Tibetans.

Chinese SIGINT Stations Opposite Taiwan Have Been Modernized and Expanded

Jason Pan
January 24, 2015

China has installed new aerial listening stations on the coast of its Fujian Province, a military spokesman said yesterday, adding that are being taken to counter surveillance and enhance the security of important electronic communications.

Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said the military is monitoring the development closely and that Taiwan has its own surveillance system to deal with intelligence gathering by Chinese signal-snooping stations.

The statement came one day after the Canada-based Kanwa Information Center reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had set up at least three large aerial listening stations, directly across the Strait from Taiwan.

Lo said that the ministry has instructed its telecommunications units to strictly follow established regulations on frequency signals and radio data encryption to ensure the security of classified information.

According to Kanwa, the PLA has been installing new facilities in Fujian to monitor telecommunications and radio signals, including mobile phones and other types of wireless communications, from military bases and government institutions across the nation’s western region.

China, Japan, and the 21 Demands

By Yanzhong Huang
January 24, 2015

Compared with the high-profile national Memorial Day for the Nanjing Massacre last month, the date January 18 passed uneventfully. Chinese media appeared to have forgotten that one hundred years ago, on exactly that day, Japan presented Chinese President Yuan Shikai (Yuan Shih-Kai) with requests that would have turned China into a de facto Japanese protectorate.

The Japanese requests included five groups of secret demands that became known as the Twenty-One Demands. Groups One and Two were designed to confirm Japan’s dominant position in Shandong, southern Manchuria, and eastern Inner Mongolia. Group Three would acknowledge Japan’s special interests in an industrial complex in central China. Group Four forbade China from giving any further coastal or island concessions to foreign powers except for Japan. The most outrageous was Group Five. Group Five required China to install Japanese advisors who could take effective control of Chinese government, economy, and military. These demands would have had a similar impact to that of what the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty had on Korea in 1910.

These notorious demands were issued at a time of shifting balance of power in East Asia. With the Qing dynasty’s humiliating defeat in the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), regional dominance for the first time had moved from China to Japan. Japan’s ambitions in China were further emboldened by its decisive victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), which affirmed the Japanese presence in south Manchuria and Korea. The 1911 Revolution brought an end to the Qing dynasty and ushered in the Republican era in China, but China remained a pushover in the face of pressure from Western powers.

Chinese Hackers Stole 50 Terabytes of Data From Computer Databases of US Defense Contractors

Bill Gertz 
January 23, 2015 

China obtained more than 50 terabytes of data from U.S. defense and government networks, notably the Joint Strike Fighter’s stealth radar and engine secrets, through cyber espionage, according to newly disclosed National Security Agency documents. 

A NSA briefing slide labeled “Top Secret” and headlined “Chinese Exfiltrate Sensitive Military Data,” states that the Chinese have stolen a massive amount of data from U.S. government and private contractors. 

The document was made public by the German magazine Der Spiegel in a two articles detailing how NSA in the mid-2000s was capable of conducting global cyber intelligence-gathering by tapping into the networks of foreign intelligence services and stealing the data they were collecting from others. 

The unique capability of spying on the spies was described in a series of documents that were stolen in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, currently a fugitive in Russia. 

For the F-35, according to NSA the Chinese were able to obtain digital design information on several different types of radar modules used by the fighter. 

Northrop Grumman, the jet’s manufacturer, built the AN/APG-81 active, electronically scanned array radar for the F-35. The high-tech radar uses small, solid-state transmitter and receiver modules that allow the jet to avoid detection by enemy radar, a key stealth feature. 

The West’s four-part strategy to deal with radical Islam

Fareed Zakaria

The conversation at Davos is often dominated by economics, and this year it’s no different. But the shock of the Paris terror attacks lingers, and discussions at the World Economic Forum here often turn to radical Islam. I posited in my previous column that the solution does not lie in more American military interventions in the Middle East. What, then, is the answer? 

The problem is deep and structural (as I wrote a few weeks after 9/11 in Newsweek, in an essay titled “Why They Hate Us”). The Arab world has been ruled for decades by repressive (mostly secular) dictatorships that, in turn, spawned extreme (mostly religious) opposition movements. The more repressive the regime, the more extreme the opposition. Islam became the language of opposition because it was a language that could not be shut down or censored. Now, the old Arab order is crumbling, but it has led to instability and opportunities for jihadi groups to thrive in new badlands. 

Over the past few decades, this radical Islamist ideology has been globalized. Initially fueled by Saudi money and Arab dissenters, imams and intellectuals, it has taken on a life of its own. Today it is the default ideology of anger, discontent and violent opposition for a small number of alienated young Muslim men around the world. Only Muslims, and particularly Arabs, can cure this cancer. 

The Once and Future Saudi Kings

The most significant political news from Saudi Arabia this week was not the death of King Abdullah, at the age of ninety, or the ascension of his half-brother Salman to the throne. Abdullah had been ill and Salman had been his designated successor for some time. The real news lay in a secondary announcement that Salman made upon becoming King. He named his nephew Muhammad bin Nayef as the Deputy Crown Prince, meaning that he is third in line for the throne. For the first time in modern Saudi Arabian history, a grandson of the kingdom’s first ruler, rather than a son, has a place in the order of succession.

In the information-pinched, refracted realm of Saudi watching, this is a thunderbolt. It means that the opaque shura of royal-family elders known as the Hayat Al Bayah, or the Allegiance Council, has for now resolved a puzzle that had been hanging over the kingdom for decades, namely, how to move power within the royal family down a generation without causing a bloody fissure among cousins of the sort depicted on “Game of Thrones.”

To appreciate the significance of this week’s news, it is necessary to go back to the deathbed of Saudi Arabia’s founding king, Abdul Aziz, who died in November, 1953, at about the age of seventy-seven. Abdul Aziz seized power in Riyadh in 1902. During the next three decades, he conquered the lucrative, pilgrim-gorged cities of Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina to his west. He also took over a succession of small oasis emirates to his east. Then, in the early nineteen-thirties, oilmen arrived and informed Abdul Aziz not only that he was the ruler of the holiest cities in Islam but that he would soon be unimaginably rich.

U.S. Should Stay Out of the Russo-Ukrainian Quarrel: Why the Conflict in Ukraine Isn’t America’s Business, Part I

Fighting over the Donetsk airport between Ukraine’s military and separatist forces backed by Russia has flared anew. The U.S. has begun providing heavier weapons as well as personnel training to Kiev. The conflict could go on for a long time, with Kiev and Moscow locked in a small hot war and the U.S. and Russia stuck in a larger Cold War lite. An extended confrontation would be in no one’s interest, especially America’s.

The U.S. has made a habit of promiscuously meddling around the world. The results rarely have been pretty. Thousands of Americans have been killed, tens of thousands have been wounded, hundreds of thousands of foreigners have died, and a multitude of international furies have been loosed.

At least none of these conflicts involved a real military power. In contrast, advocates of confrontation with Russia over Ukraine want to challenge a nation armed with nuclear weapons and an improving conventional military, steeped in nationalist convictions, rooted in historic traditions, and ruled by a tough authoritarian. No one should assume that in a military showdown the Kremlin would yield to Washington or that war with Moscow would be a cakewalk.

“The U.S. has made a habit of promiscuously meddling around the world. The results rarely have been pretty.”

Yet Ukraine’s most fervent advocates assume that any American who fails to believe that, say, inaugurating global nuclear war to save their distant ethnic homeland is a Putin troll, Russian agent, friend of dictators, proto-communist fellow traveler, or even worse. Of course, Ukrainian nationalists are not alone in their conclusion that anyone who disagrees with them is not only wrong but evil. That’s Washington politics today.

Civilian Blood Stains Donetsk’s Streets

Kristina Jovanovski

DONETSK, Ukraine—Lena Parshikova should be at school on Friday afternoon like any other 16-year-old. But classes were cancelled in her district because a bus was hit by shelling a short drive from her home on Jan. 22. Standing in her kitchen, she grabs her little sister and shows how she covered her when she heard the shelling. 

“Everyone was lying on the floor,” she said. “The situation [is] worse, it used to be a quiet area.” 

The bus was hit in Leninsky district of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, which is far away from the frontlines and not close to the center of the city. A United Nations Security Council statement on Thursday said as many as 15 civilians were killed and 20 injured in the shelling. 

The next day, pedestrians and drivers returned to the same road. The only signs of what had happened were some pylons and a small group of city workers. 

Ukrainian Army Not Performing Well in Latest Fighting Around Donetsk Airport

James Miller and Pierre Vaux
January 23, 2015

On Tuesday night, in a State of the Union speech that was heavy on domestic policy, President Barack Obama heralded a list of American accomplishments abroad, none more dubious than his claim that America was demonstrating “strength” in its response to the Ukraine crisis. “We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies,” the president optimistically intoned, while dismissing those who had appraised Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea as “a masterful display of strategy and strength.” Rather, said Obama, “it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.”

For Obama to be right, and for America to be successfully leading the way to a free, peaceful, and democratic Ukraine, it stands to reason that Putin would have to be on the back foot and growing less belligerent by the day. Then why is he only ratcheting up his aggression?

In the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian government has lost key front-line positions. This week, Russia has dispatched hundreds of additional soldiers and armored vehicles across the border. In fact, as Obama was addressing Congress, the Ukrainian military was locked in a desperate fight to hold back advancing Russian forces west of Luhansk.

One of the most tragic developments of what is now, undeniably, a Russian-Ukrainian war has unfolded over the last week when more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers were nearly butchered on live, Russian state-controlled television.

AK-47s, Now Made in America: Russia’s Perfect Killing Machine Comes Stateside

Cliff Schecter

Order the assault rifle that gave its creator “unbearable spiritual pain” today! Now made in the USA!

You may find yourself looking out over this vast and abundant land of ours and yet still finding a country with unmet material needs. More potable water in the Southwest. More sunlight in the Northwest. More high speed rail, everywhere. 

But the one exigency that clearly dwarfs the others, in our society of unfailingly polite strangers, incurious children and pharmacologically-based anger management, is self-evident: the lack of available AK-47s. 

Fear not, for even with the threat of a falling inventory of Kalashnikovs—due to sanctions against manufacturer—Mother Russia, this little kink in the supply chain has been solved. 

We’re gonna make them here. 

By “we,” I mean arms company RWC, and by “here” I am referring to Tullytown, Pennsylvania, where RWC is based. The gun maker conveniently owns the rights to the “AK-47 Kalashnikov brand of guns” in the only high-income country that thinks it’s a good idea for any schmo on its streets to port around mass homicide in the palms of his/her hands. 


By Lee Lane*

For the last six years, the U.S. system for getting crude oil to its refiners has been scrambling to adjust to the breakneck growth occurring in North American upstream oil production.1 The changes have sparked a number of fierce policy conflicts. The battle over the Keystone XL pipeline is the most prominent of those clashes. It is, though, far from the only one, and the policy issues at stake are much larger than any one project. Now, the sharp drop in world oil prices is adding new urgency to the discord over policy.

The U.S. oil and gas renaissance has placed heavy new demands on the U.S. logistics system. Between 2009 and 2013, annual U.S. crude production on private land grew by 61 percent (Humphries 2014). The burgeoning output of light tight oil (LTO) was the engine that powered this rise in output. Most of the LTO growth centers on a long roughly oval cluster of tight oil basins scattered from south and west Texas north all the way to Alberta. The oil sands of Alberta, which produce bitumen, have been a second major source of added North American oil output.

Bengaluru’s Terror Horror

S A Hemantha Kumar
23 Jan , 2015

The success of Intelligence apparatus is measured by the ability of the security forces to prevent or thwart a terror act. Going by this principle, it is to the credit of the IB, the Karnataka’s Internal Security Division (ISD) and the Bengaluru City Police, who, in a meticulous operation, arrested four jihadi activists belonging to the banned Indian Mujahideen and thwarted what could have been a “blood bath” on the Republic Day, not only in Bengaluru but also in Hyderabad, Bhopal and possibly Delhi.

…arrested four jihadi activists belonging to the banned Indian Mujahideen and thwarted what could have been a “blood bath” on the Republic Day, not only in Bengaluru but also in Hyderabad, Bhopal and possibly Delhi.

Though the suave, sober and cautious Police Commissioner of Bengaluru M.N.Reddi refused to divulge the intricate details, his expressions were sufficient to read that the police had laid their hands on somebody who had “something really diabolical” in their minds. “The kind and quantity of explosive and materials which we have confiscated from these IM activists indicate that they were planning something big. Beyond this, I cannot reveal anything more as it could hamper the investigations,” Reddi said in a crowded press conference.

Interesting Article on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)

Patrick Tucker
January 23, 2015

To the average American, the term intelligence agency refers to a group of secret military types, locked in a windowless room in Virginia, furtively collecting data on bad guys, good guys, citizens, everybody. That data is delivered up the chain in manila envelops marked “Top Secret.” There’s still some truth to that stereotype (apparently, they get to have windows now) but Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, or NGA, is hoping to secure an unconventional legacy as a spy chief.

The agency receives around $5 billion annually, according to documents published by the Washington Post, and is primarily charged with collecting pictures from space. It’s a job that lends itself to parody. Think of Jon Voight’s character in Enemy of the State, who oversees an intelligence agency heavily reliant on satellite imagery to snoop on innocent people.

But that’s not the image Cardillo wants to project, either of NGA or of himself. “I would like to amaze people with how relevant and responsive [NGA] can be in the open….What I would like to surprise people about… is how NGA can come out and be more relevant with public diplomacy.” Cardillo, at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance dinner, laid out his plans for the future of satellite intelligence collection. It’s a future where enormous, expensive, military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, ISR, satellites—still up there—play a more subordinate role to commercial image providers.

West Point and the Third Loyalty

by Stuart H. Loory 

On the table at which I write is a small silver mug with a square handle; it is inscribed to Eugene L. Vidal, Jr., October 3, 1925—a gift from the West Point football team to its mascot, which that year was not a mule but me. I drank milk from the cup for a good many years and from the look of the rim did a bit of teething on it, too. 

I have no early memory of West Point. Apparently I was born in the cadet hospital on a Saturday morning because my mother had decided to stay on the post and go to a football game. I was delivered not by an obstetrician but by one Major Snyder who happened to be officer of the day at the cadet hospital. Later, as Surgeon General of the Army, he looked after President Eisenhower (“Just indigestion, Mamie,” he was reported to have said when she rang him in the middle of the night with news of the Great Golfer’s first tussle with the Reaper. “Give him some bicarbonate”). More than thirty years later I visited General Snyder at his office in the basement of the White House. He recalled my birth; was still angry at my mother for not having gone to a civilian hospital; was most protective of his old friend the President. “Though South German peasant. There’s nothing at all wrong with him, you know, except this really nasty temper. That’s what’ll kill him.” Then the inevitable question, “Why didn’t yougo to the Point?” A member of a West Point family had chosen not to join the Long Gray Line. Something wrong there. 

At the time of my birth Eugene L. Vidal, Sr. was known as Gene Vidal to the world of jocks—and to just about everybody else in the country, for in those days college athletes were like rock stars (Scott Fitzgerald’s apostrophe to Princeton’s Hobe Baker is plainly tribute to a god). Class of 1918 at West Point, G.V. was an All-American quarterback; he is still regarded as the best all-around athlete in the history of the Academy, moving with equal ease from track to basketball to football to rugby (learned in one afternoon); a master of every sport except the one invented by Abner Doubleday (West Point 1842). “Baseball is the favorite American sport because it’s so slow,” G.V. used to say. “Any idiot can follow it. And just about any idiot can play it.” After graduation, he came back to the Point as football coach; he was also the first instructor in aeronautics. 

Let Slip the Robots of War

Ronald Bailey
January 23, 2015 

TerminatorLethal autonomous weapons systems that can select and engage targets do not yet exist, but they are being developed. Are the ethical and legal problems that such "killer robots" pose so fraught that their development must be banned?

Human Rights Watch thinks so. In its 2012 report, Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots, the activist group demanded that the nations of the world "prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons through an international legally binding instrument." Similarly, the robotics and ethics specialists who founded the International Committee on Robot Arms Control wants "a legally binding treaty to prohibit the development, testing, production and use of autonomous weapon systems in all circumstances." Several international organizations have launched the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to push for such a global ban, and multilateral meeting under the Convention on Conventional Weapons was held in Geneva, Switzerland last year to debate the technical, ethical, and legal implications of autonomous weapons. The group is scheduled to meet again in April 2015.

At first blush, it might seem only sensible to ban remorseless automated killing machines. Who wants to encounter the Terminator on the battlefield? Proponents of a ban offer four big arguments. The first is that it is just morally wrong to delegate life and death decisions to machines. The second is that it will simply be impossible to instill fundamental legal and ethical principles into machines in such a way as to comply adequately with the laws of war. The third is that autonomous weapons cannot be held morally accountable for their actions. And the fourth is that, since deploying killer robots removes human soldiers from risk and reduces harm to civilians, they make war more likely.

Privacy Is Dead, Harvard Professors Tell Davos Conference

January 23, 2015

Imagine a world where mosquito-sized robots fly around stealing samples of your DNA. Or where a department store knows from your buying habits that you’re pregnant even before your family does.

That is the terrifying dystopian world portrayed by a group of Harvard professors at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, where the assembled elite heard that the notion of individual privacy is effectively dead.

"Welcome to today. We’re already in that world," said Margo Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University.

"Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible… How we conventionally think of privacy is dead," she added.

Another Harvard researcher into genetics said it was “inevitable” that one’s personal genetic information would enter more and more into the public sphere.

Sophia Roosth said intelligence agents were already asked to collect genetic information on foreign leaders to determine things like susceptibility to disease and life expectancy.

The notion of individual privacy is effectively dead, a Harvard professor says at Davos

"We are at the dawn of the age of genetic McCarthyism," she said, referring to witch-hunts against Communists in 1950s America.

What’s more, Seltzer imagined a world in which tiny robot drones flew around, the size of mosquitoes, extracting a sample of your DNA for analysis by, say, the government or an insurance firm.

Terrorism in the 21st Century: Battling Non State Actors

25 Jan , 2015

If we look in the past or even in the current situation no state has ever been a threat towards national and international security. On the other hand, despite their disregard for international security, peace cooperation and recognition some non-states forces have began exhibiting state like characteristics.

Today non-states can easily receive financial aids from external nations. The military wings of these non-states do not move from the area of conflict; instead they create conflicts right from their homes to controlled areas and then to areas where they desire to control.

For some Hezbollah is a terrorist organization for others Hezbollah is a party. The fact is that Hezbollah is a social, political, and military non-state actor that has national importance, working structure and governing capability.

Contrary to the state funded troops, these non-state military wings attain extensive funds, financial and technical assistance from offshore accounts and untraceable bogus organizations. Arrangements like these allow the military wings to continue their fights without any external or third front opinions. However considering the situation today, military wings have started rotating combat troops to areas of conflict through interstate support and ties.

The 5 Deadliest U.S. Weapons of War from World War II

January 25, 2015

The secret of American victory in World War II was quantity and quality. Copious amounts of weapons and equipment that not only overwhelmed and outmatched the Axis arsenal, but helped enable Lend-Lease allies like Britain and Russia to do the same.

Not that every U.S. weapon was great. The ubiquitous M-4 Sherman tank was plentiful but mediocre. Early U.S. fighters like the P-40 and P-39 were nothing to brag about (except in the hands of the Flying Tigers), while U.S. submarine torpedoes had a bad habit of not exploding until late 1943.

But utilizing its massive industrial and technological base, America was able to produce some excellent weapons, including:

Proximity Fuzes:

Shell fuzes aren't usually thought of as weapons. But Japanese pilots and German infantrymen learned otherwise.

The issue was that in an era when most anti-aircraft guns lacked radar or sophisticated fire control computers, their chances of hitting a target were not great. So complex were the calculations required to compute where to intersect the path of shell and airplane two to five miles high that tens of thousands of rounds had to be fired on average to score a hit.

Fire from the Sky: The 3 Most Deadly Air Forces in Asia

January 24, 2015 

Airpower has played a critical role in the conflicts that have set the Asian political scene since World War II. From the Korean War to the Vietnam Conflict to the several wars between India and Pakistan, air forces have helped tip the strategic balance in war, and frame the terms of peace.

But effective air forces need more than flashy fighters. They need transport aircraft that can provide strategic and tactical airlift, and Aerial Early Warning (AEW) planes that can maintain surveillance and control of the sky. They need a defense-industrial base that can keep the warplanes in the air. This article looks at the three most effective air forces in Asia, in the context of their ability to put planes in the sky, to make sure those planes are well flown, and maintain a reliable supply and procurement base.

Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF)

The JASDF was established in 1954 as the air branch of the Japanese Self Defense Force, the quasi-military mandated by the post-World War II peace treaty. Over the decades, Japan has combined its own high level of technical sophistication with a series of airframes provided by the United States to field a formidable force.

The JASDF is well stocked with modern, capable aircraft. It flies over 300 generation 4 and 4.5 fighters (F-15s and F-2s), supplemented by an older group of F-4 Phantoms. It maintains a large AEW fleet, along with a squadron of tankers capable of keeping its fighters in the air.