17 March 2015

As a Christian, suddenly I am a stranger in my own country, writes Julio Ribeiro

March 16, 2015

There was a time, not very long ago — one year short of 30, to be precise — when only a Christian was chosen to go to Punjab to fight what then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi termed “the nation’s battle” against separatists. I had accepted a “demotion” from secretary in the Union home ministry to DGP of the state of Punjab at the personal request of the prime minister.

Then home secretary, Ram Pradhan, and my dear friend, B.G. Deshmukh, then chief secretary to the government of Maharashtra, were flabbergasted. “Why did you accept this assignment?” they asked. The same question was put to me over the phone by then President Zail Singh. But Arjun Singh, the cabinet minister who personally escorted me by special aircraft from Delhi to Chandigarh, remarked that when my appointment was announced the next morning, the Hindus of Punjab would breathe more freely and rejoice. I presume Hindus would include RSS cadres who had been pinned into a corner by the separatists.

When 25 RSS men on parade were shot dead in cold blood one morning, then Punjab Governor S.S. Ray and I rushed to the spot to console the stricken families. The governor visited 12 homes, I visited the rest. The governor’s experience was different from mine. He was heckled and abused. I was welcomed.

Today, in my 86th year, I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country. The same category of citizens who had put their trust in me to rescue them from a force they could not comprehend have now come out of the woodwork to condemn me for practising a religion that is different from theirs. I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra.

Building on Aadhaar

March 17, 2015

As of the first half of March, 786 million of those who are 18 and older have got Aadhaar numbers. The largest absolute numbers are in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. There are two broad channels for Aadhaar enrolment — the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) itself and the Registrar General of India (RGI). For instance, in Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha, Nagaland, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Assam, the enrolment responsibility is with RGI. The UIDAI is responsible for other geographical areas. One test of how enrolment is progressing is to gauge what percentage of the population has been covered. If you want to be statistically correct, this isn’t that simple.

The distribution of the 18-plus population is available for Census 2011, not 2015. One can extrapolate from those numbers to get the denominator. Or, the 2011 numbers can be used as a base, recognising that population growth will mean one may get more than 100 per cent enrolment. For trends, extrapolation seems unnecessary. One may as well use Census 2011 numbers. All enrolment numbers are public-domain information on the UIDAI website. There is also another issue, that of comparing residents to citizens. But that may not be quantitatively important.

For UIDAI-driven enrolment states/UTs, 86 per cent of the target population has been covered, from 127.6 per cent enrolment in Delhi to 46.3 per cent in Bihar. For RGI-driven enrolment states/UTs, 82 per cent of the target population has been covered, ranging from 108 per cent in Lakshadweep to 1.1 per cent in Assam. At that broad-brush level, the UIDAI’s track record is better than the RGI’s. This is clear from average daily enrolments too, running at about 9,40,000 for the UIDAI and 65,000 for the RGI. There are around 111 UIDAI districts where enrolment is still less than 50 per cent and 206 RGI districts where enrolment is less than 50 per cent. But these are stock numbers.

The coming of a new king in an old land

Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty
March 17 , 2015

The king is dead; long live the king. The king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz passed away on January 23, 2015, just before India celebrated its Republic Day with the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, as chief guest. Saudi Arabia is a long-standing American ally and Abdullah's demise was important enough for Obama to cut short his visit to India and stop over in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to convey his personal condolences to the new king, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a half-brother of Abdullah and, as the former crown prince, the designated successor. Saudi Arabia's government is tightly controlled by the Al Saud family. It is the only country in the world which bears the name derived from a family, Al Saud. There are no political parties, no public institutions of governance and no politics, except within the royal family. The Al Saud family has kept it that way to maintain a vice-like grip on the country.

The new king's succession was smooth. Another half-brother, Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, was appointed the new crown prince and the first deputy prime minister, making him a potential candidate in the line of succession. Under Saudi law and practice the king has to be a son or a direct male descendant of Abdul Aziz al Saud, the founder of the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All kings after him have been his sons. Abdul Aziz reportedly fathered over 40 sons and over a hundred daughters from his dozen or more wives and numerous concubines. The issue of succession came up during the final days of Abdul Aziz, because his eldest son, Saud, was incompetent. So Abdul Aziz decreed that Saud will succeed him but Feisal, his shrewd second son, would become the crown prince and thereafter, the throne would pass from one son to another on the basis of seniority and competence. Saud visited India in 1955, the first Saudi king to do so. Some years after Abdul Aziz's death, Saud was persuaded to resign and Feisal, as king, modernized Saudi Arabia. Half a century later, Abdullah was the second to visit India in 2006, as chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations.

The state of the economy - Why the Economic Survey should not be ignored

Ashok V. Desai
March 17 , 2015

The Economic Survey is presented the day before the budget; and the budget has to be assessed as soon as it is presented. So it is impossible to write immediately about the Survey. But this year saw the arrival of a new Chief Economic Advisor from Washington, who put much effort into the Survey. More important, there is a disconnect between the Survey and the budget. The Survey reflects the high spirits with which the government came to power - the Prime Minister's ambition to Make in India and turn India into an economic superpower. The exuberance was missing from the budget; it was such an insipid, plodding, boring affair. The Survey must have gone to the finance minister some weeks before the budget; but he did not seem to have opened it, or at any rate to have got its message. It is difficult to believe that the CEA was not part of the team that made the budget, or that he did not articulate to the budget team the message of his Survey. So I have to conclude that the finance minister has been selectively hard of hearing. But whatever his choice, the rest of us should not ignore the Survey. It is written in good English and a cheerful style; the CEA quotes various eminences such as Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás and Karl Emil Maximilian Max Weber. Even laymen would enjoy reading it.

Arvind Subramanian began with his reading of the CSO's figures of GDP growth; I was reassured that he was as mystified by them as I was. But he had to make some sense of them; he decided that they suggested a recovering, rather than a surging, economy. To me, they convey nothing; they are a complete mess. Manufacturing growth in the CSO's new figures is 5 per cent higher in 2012-13 and 6 per cent higher in 2013-14 than in the old figures. The only difference between the old and the new figures is a change in weights; such rebasing simply cannot change figures so substantially. If I were CEA, I would call in the CSO statisticians and ask them to explain this absurdity. Maybe he did, and they went away in a funk; for I tried to consult the national accounts division of the CSO on the web, and got the message: "404 - File or directory not found. The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable."


Abhijit Iyer-Mitra
17 March 2015

The Responsibility to Protect doctrine has received conditional approval even before the military and legal infrastructure to implement the strategy has been put in place. Also, R2P is a racist concept that denies the Third World the right to fight and settle its own scores

The Indian military is really in no state, infrastructurally or intellectually, to fight a modern war, but it refuses to acknowledge this in public, or for that matter, even internalise it. This, however, has not prevented the the Ministry of External Affairs from giving conditional approval to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, even as our Defence and External Affairs Ministries plod along without dedicated legal wings. Now all of these might seem disparate strands with no connecting threads but the dangers for India — especially for our supposed strategic autonomy and our elected political leadership — are immense. 

Several times, in these columns, the inability of the Army, Navy and Air Force to understand, internalise, enforce and disseminate modern warfare has been discussed. Similarly, the economy cannot absorb the industrial costs of such modern warfare. Why? Because the emerging warfare scenario — precision strike and minimal civilian casualties — is a reflection of 21st century industrialisation, which is very different from the 20th century industrialisation. The 20th century was dependent on heavy machinery which could be replicated through industrial drawing and some reverse engineering. In the 21st century, however, the focus is on processes — extremely complex inter-disciplinary processes, that are virtually impossible to duplicate without enormous intellectual rigour and huge sums of research funds, as can be seen in the Western university system.

In such an ecosystem, each piece of ammunition is so expensive that it makes no sense to expend it on the wrong target — or those targets that are irrelevant or tangential to victory — such as civilians, hospitals and schools. In order to make each bomb hit exactly where it is intended to hit, a huge amount of money is spent on electronic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance complexes to generate accurate targeting data. In such cases, the fighter that actually drops a bomb on its target is simply the tip of the iceberg.

In India, however, we believe that merely acquiring a fighter platform with the capability to launch pin-point attacks, without developing the necessary intellectual and industrial infrastructure, gives us the ability to duplicate Western paradigms of war. This is utterly misguided, because a Third World economy cannot sustain a First World military infrastructure and, consequently, achieve the kind of minimum civilian casualties that Western warfare can.

Terror, Islam and the liberal-Left response

March 17, 2015

AP“The liberal-Left’s response to Islamic terror exposes the cracks in its discourse surrounding violence perpetrated by religious zealots.” Tributes being paid to Avijit Roy.

The liberal-Left’s denunciation of terror attacks inspired by radical Islam has been mostly ambiguous, raising doubts over its commitment to the values that it claims to defend.

The recent cold-blooded murder in Dhaka of U.S.-based writer Avijit Roy, who fought for a more liberal and secular Bangladesh, by Islamic radicals, holds an important lesson for the global liberal-Left.

The liberal-Left’s response to a string of events across the world — the attack on a cultural centre in Copenhagen for hosting a debate on Islam and blasphemy, the attack on Charlie Hebdo cartoonists for ‘insulting the Prophet,’ the flogging of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, and theanti-Islam protests in Germany — exposes the cracks in its discourse surrounding violence perpetrated by religious zealots. The liberal-Left’s denunciation of such attacks has been mostly ambiguous, raising doubts over its commitment to the values that it claims to defend.

‘Tolerating’ differences

AFT upholds army HQ changes for higher command courses

Man Aman Singh Chhina
March 15, 2015 
Source Link

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has upheld the changes made by the Army Headquarters in the year 2014 in the nomination parameters of prestigious courses like the Higher Command, Higher Defence Management Course, Air Higher Command and Naval Higher Command Course which involved excluding the weightage given to officers for gallantry awards.

The principal bench of the AFT made the decision on a petition, by an officer, challenging the changes made in the parameters when the selection for the saidcourses was in progress.

The AFT bench said that they do not find any irrationality or arbitrariness in the decision by the Army Headquarters.

“We do not find any irrationality in deleting this from the earlier policy as it does suffer from any constitutional or statutory violation nor is it arbitrary,” the bench said in its verdict.

The petitioner had maintained that he had been commissioned in an infantry battalion and had seen extensive field service and had been awarded Sena Medal for gallantry in Manipur in counter insurgency operations and was also given Sena Medal for ensuring zero infiltration while commanding his battalion on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Arguing that the Higher Command and equivalent Courses are important milestones in the career of an Army officer, the petitioner said these courses create a selected pool of officers who hold all important assignments at Colonel rank and act as reservoir for selection of all future higher military commanders who should be capable to lead at higher level in the Indian Army.

India’s Defence Budget cast in the old mould

16 Mar , 2015

Defence has got INR 2,46,727 crore (USD 40.07 billion), which is roughly 1.73 per cent of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 13.88 per cent of the total Central expenditure. If this is compared to 2014-15 budget, defence allocation is up by 9.87 per cent.

The armed forces lost the cutting edge as their hardware gradually slid into obsolescence. No appreciable effort, monetary or otherwise was made by the then government to arrest this trend.

The period from 2004-14, as far as country’s defence preparedness is concerned, is considered as ‘lost decade’. The armed forces lost the cutting edge as their hardware gradually slid into obsolescence. No appreciable effort, monetary or otherwise was made by the then government to arrest this trend.

India’s defence needs, as more and more military hardware fell into the obsolescence black hole, have accumulated over the years. For instance, Indian Air Force (IAF) has come down to 25 fighter squadron strength from its authorised 45 squadron strength. It is worrisome that by 2024, when MiG 21’s and 27’s are phased out and new aircrafts are not inducted, IAF’s fleet of fighter aircrafts will shrink to mere 11 squadrons. Navy has inducted only one submarine to its fleet, while it has retired five in the last 15 years. It is operating vintage ships and submarines, whose seaworthiness is questionable and are accident prone. Army, which prides at being third largest standing army in the world, finds itself at the end of its tether due to chronic shortages of artillery guns, air defence equipment and ammunition. This revelation was not made by any doomsayer but by a Parliamentary panel in December 2014. Today, the Armed Forces have a large inventory of military hardware, which is urgently needed to restore parity, if not superiority with the arch rival Pakistan and pose a credible deterrence to China on the Northern borders and in the Indian Ocean.

On many occasions, India has articulated its intent to play a dominant role in South Asia, East Asia and Indian Ocean Region. Such aspirations were evident when Prime Minister Modi and US President Obama met in New Delhi in January this year. US wants India’s countervailing weight to rebalance Asian strategic tilt, while we are ourselves are concerned about rising Chinese influence in South Asia and Indian Ocean.


By C. Uday Bhaskar*

China announced its annual defence allocation at US$141.5 billion on Thursday (March 5), and this makes it the world’s second largest national defence budget. The USA at almost $600 billion has by far the world’s highest military outlay. It may be recalled that India had announced its own defence allocation for the financial year 2015–16 on February 28 and this is pegged at just under $40 billion (Rs.246,727 crore).

This differential should not come as a surprise for the US remains a very high military spender and is also the lead nation in the world’s biggest military alliance – NATO. In the last decade, the US-led war on terror after 9-11 and the subsequent military operations, first in Afghanistan and then Iraq, have led to considerable fiscal expenditure by the Pentagon. The US is unlikely to dramatically reduce its military outlay (about 3. 5 percent of GDP ) in the near future and will remain the world’s most credible and militarily capable country for the next decade plus.

In contrast, both China and India allocate under 2 percent of their GDP towards defence allocation, and given the difference in their respective GDP, the China-India gap is over $100 billion in Beijing’s favor. Most estimates aver that China is relatively opaque about its total defence spending and that the actual amount allocated to the People’s Liberation Army may be closer to $250 billion.

Apart from the PLA military allocation, in past years Beijing had revealed that its internal security budget is higher than its military allocation. However this year, the internal security allocation was not indicated but one may infer that this figure will be in the range of $250 to $300 billion. In summary, the annual military and internal security allocation for China this year could well be in the $500 billion range.

Forked Tongues across the Border

16 Mar , 2015

If one were to talk of forked tongues, one prominent example would be Musharraf. Heading Pakistan, the man had no compunctions telling the world media there is not one single terrorist on Pakistani soil. Here is a man who said he wanted good relations with India but described India as the most devious enemy repeatedly in his autobiography ‘In the Line of Fire’ authored while he was President of Pakistan. But while his forked tongue was just like many of his ilk, what is worse about Musharraf is that his soul is much more forked, twisted and jaundiced than his tongue. Why else would an army chief disgrace his uniform and refuse to take back the bodies of his soldiers, as he did during the Kargil Conflict showcasing them as infiltrators even as his lies were exposed from his telephone intercepts talking to his number two from Beijing.

What Sartaj Aziz conveniently does not mention is that while the 1949 UN Resolution called for plebiscite, it categorically ruled that before the plebiscite Pakistan must withdraw all its security forces from territory of J&K.

For the Pakistani public, the Dawn was prominent in exposing lies of Musharraf but even as this man stands indicted for the killing of Baloch leader Nawaz Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006 nothing is likely to happen because the military holds the country to ransom and the administration is toothless.

Now writing in a Kolkatta based publication New Approach exclusive titled ‘India-Pakistan Challenges Way Forward’, Sartaj Aziz, current Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs, has shown a veritable display of his forked tongue. To begin with in reference to J&K he writes “India is not ready to plebiscite under the UNSC resolution from which it reneged after 1954.” Now in his present position it is not possible that Aziz is illiterate, that he has not read the said UN resolution or that this resolution is written in a language alien to him.

13 Men Found Shot to Death in Pakistan Who Had Been Arrested by Pakistani Military in January

March 16, 2015

Thirteen bodies found in Pakistan were detainees of army - residents

(Reuters) - Shepherds found 13 bullet-riddled bodies in northwestern Pakistan, officials said Sunday, and two local residents identified them as men detained by the military in January.

Two intelligence officials said the bodies discovered near Mandao village in Shaktoi, South Waziristan, were Taliban fighters. A military spokesman declined to comment.

Residents identified the bodies found on Saturday as local villagers and said the incident raises further questions about human rights abuses by Pakistani security forces battling the Taliban insurgents. The Pakistani military has received billions of dollars in foreign funding.

Shaktoi resident Allah Khan told Reuters by telephone that the military arrested 35 people from Mandao in January.

"We contacted army officials here and they said that we will release them soon, but yesterday we found their dead bodies in the wild mountains of Shaktoi," he said. "Shepherds saw these bodies lying under trees; we village people get these bodies.

"They had been killed with bullets, and different parts were eaten by wild animals," he said. "Now we fear that the rest of the arrested people will be killed in such a way."

Residents were able to identify the men through their clothes and some of their faces, he said. He provided a list of names of the dead. “I know these people, they were from my village,” said another Mandao resident, Gul Wali. “Why are our forces killing us in such way?”

Two local intelligence officials disputed the account.

"The bodies are of militants and we are investigating they how they are killed," one said.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International say the Pakistani military has frequently carried out torture and extrajudicial executions. The military is holding thousands of Pakistanis in secret detention centres, Amnesty said in a 2012 report. Many have been missing for years.

Pakistan Says That It Has Successfully Tested Its Own Surveillance Drone

Tim Craig 
March 14, 2015 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —The global proliferation of armed aerial drones took a major leap forward Friday when Pakistan’s military said it had successfully tested its own version and would soon deploy them against terrorists. 

The drone, designated the Burraq, will be equipped with a laser-guided missile capable of striking with pinpoint accuracy in all types of weather, the military said. In the Koran, Burraq is the name of the white horse that took the Islamic prophet to ­heaven. 

Gen. Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, witnessed the test and commended the country’s engineers and scientists for “untiring efforts to acquire state-of­-the-art technology” that puts “Pakistan in a different league.” 

“It’s a great national achievement and momentous occasion,” Sharif said. 

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is not related to the army chief, said the weapons would “add a new dimension to Pakistan’s defenses.” 

Pakistan’s decision will likely accelerate the already supercharged race among nations to follow in the footsteps of the United States by deploying unmanned aircraft as an instrument of war. 

According to the New America Foundation, there is evidence that eight other countries — the United States, South Africa, France, Nigeria, Britain, Iran, Israel and China — have already put weapons onto unmanned aircraft. The United States, Britain and Israel are the only three that have fired a missile from a drone during a military operation, the foundation said. 

Dozens of other countries, including Pakistan’s archrival, India, are in the process of developing them, according to the foundation. And last month, the Obama administration said it would permit the export of armed drones to U.S. allies who request them on a “case­-by­-case basis.” 

Peter W. Singer, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, said Pakistan’s test confirms that the use of drones in warfare is here to stay. 

“This is not the start of the race; it’s mile seven of the race,” said Singer, adding that India will probably also be able to quickly deploy an armed drone. 


By Dr Ningthoujam Koiremba Singh and Dr.Anurag Tripathi*

On February 18, 2015, at least four Shia Muslims were killed and six others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up during evening prayers at a mosque in Qasr-e-Sakina Imambargah (Shia place of commemoration) located on Kurri Road in New Shakrial area of Rawalpindi district.

Earlier, on February 13, at least 20 Shia Muslims were killed and another 50 injured during a gun and suicide bomb attack at an Imambargah in the Hayatabad area of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The assailants — dressed in police uniform — attacked the around 800 worshippers who were present inside the Imambargah at the time. The Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) chief Shafqat Malik said the attackers looked like Uzbeks. Meanwhile, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), a total of 2,400 Shias have been killed in Pakistan in 407 targeted attacks on the community since January 1, 2001, (all data till February 24). Though terrorist formations have cited different reasons for these attacks, the reality is that the Shias in particular and all other religious minorities in general, are under relentless attack across Pakistan. According to the United States (US) Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report titled “Violence towards Religious Communities in Pakistan”, published in August 2014, over the one-year period from July 2013 to June 2014, at least 430 people were killed in a total of 122 attacks against minorities. These include 222 Shias in 54 attacks; 128 Christians in 22 recorded incidents; 10 Ahmadis in 10 such attacks; and two Sikhs in three attacks. Four attacks were recorded on the Hindu community in this period, with no fatality reported. At least 29 attacks resulted in 68 fatalities among other religious/sectarian groups.

Significantly, according SATP data the first one month and 24 days of 2015 has recorded 104 Shias killing out of six incidents. The Shias of Pakistan remain the worst hit, militant outfits including the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and its extremist allies like TTP, along with subtle state support, and ideological backing from religious elites, form the militant troika that has encouraged and thereby sustained the massacre of Shia community. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook, Shias constitutes nearly 10-15 per cent of the Pakistan population, and are geographically spread across the country. The highest concentration is found in Gilgit Baltistan Province, where they constitute a majority. The Kurram Agency of FATA is also a Shia stronghold in the tribal belt. Similarly, all urban capitals, Lahore (Punjab), Karachi (Sindh Province), Peshawar and Quetta (Balochistan) have sizable Shia population.

China protests over 'deadly Myanmar border raid'

14 March 2015

China has sent fighter jets to its border with Myanmar and lodged a diplomatic protest after a Myanmar warplane reportedly dropped a bomb on its territory, killing four civilians.

The bomb exploded in a sugar cane field near Lincang in Yunnan province along the frontier with Myanmar, reports say.

Myanmar has been fighting rebels in the Kokang region, bordering China.

A Myanmar official quoted by Reuters denied bombing China and said rebels may have caused the explosion.

"It's possible that those fighting with us purposely created these attacks with the intent of causing misunderstanding between China and us," the official said.

China recently warned Myanmar (also known as Burma) that the escalating conflict in the Kokang region could destabilise the border area.

3 Chinese Weapons of War the U.S. Navy Should Fear

March 15, 2015

The U.S. Navy has a problem. The amount of threats it faces when it comes to ensuring the global commons remain open and free keep multiplying. Most of them come from what we have dubbed anti-access/area-denial strategies and weapons systems. Nations like China, Iran, Russia and in some respects North Korea and various non-state actors all want to raise the costs for Washington’s naval assets to operate near their coasts in the event of a crisis or war. And with the diffusion of cheaper weapons that only American and its allies held years ago-- such as various types of cruise and ballistic missiles, mines, subs, and other weapons-- Washington is working hard to find ways to negate such challenges.

But let there be no doubt, the greatest challenge to the U.S. Navy when it comes to A2/AD weapons platforms comes from China. Beijing has developed a sophisticated arsenal of weapons that would likely create lots of interesting dilemmas for the U.S. Navy in the event of a conflict or war. Below I present three of the most deadly that Washington needs to give careful consideration to--in no particular order, but all nerve wracking to say the very least:

The DF-21D: The Carrier Killer:

While China was clearly set upon a path to develop a more advanced military after the conclusion of the First Gulf War (see Robert Farley’s excellent discussion of this), an event much closer to home only helped to reinforce Beijing’s worst fears--which drove China to develop what many of us in the press have named “the carrier-killer” or DF-21D.

Let facts speak for themselves on India-China border

For almost 11 months now, the Indian Government has put a lid on the Himalayan border situation with China. Ever since several senior Government figures last September spoke out against the media coverage of Chinese border incursions, sources of information have dried up and newspapers and television networks have carried little news. It is not that the Chinese cross-border forays have ended or even abated. It is just that Indian media organisations have little information to report, even though the incidence of Chinese incursions remains high.

Beijing can only be pleased with the way New Delhi has managed to gag its own media over the border incidents. The unwitting message that this sends is that when the world’s biggest autocracy builds up pressure, the world’s largest democracy is willing to tame its own media.

Just as China has sought to pass off military incursions into Bhutan as instances of Chinese troops “losing their way”, soldiers of its People’s Liberation Army “lost their way” into Indian territory 270 times in 2008 alone — the last full year for which official figures are available. In addition, there were 2,285 instances of “aggressive border patrolling” by the PLA in 2008. Such a pattern of aggressive patrolling and intrusions has persisted to this day.

The plain fact is that the continuing border tensions reflect a growing strategic dissonance between China and India, which represent competing political and social models of development. Tibet has emerged at the centre of escalating Himalayan tensions. China has resurrected its long-dormant claim to Arunachal Pradesh — almost three times as large as Taiwan — and stepped up military pressure along the 4,057-km frontier with India.

As the resistance to its rule in Tibet has grown, Beijing has sought to present Tibet as a core issue to its sovereignty. Tibet now holds as much importance in Chinese policy as Taiwan. But in spotlighting the Arunachal issue, Beijing seems to be drawing another analogy, even if unwittingly:

Arunachal is the new Taiwan that must be “reunified” with the Chinese state.

Tibet, however, has always been the core issue in Sino-Indian relations. After all, China became India’s neighbour not owing to geography but guns — by annexing buffer Tibet in 1951. Today, Beijing is ever ready to whip up diplomatic spats with western nations that extend hospitality to the Dalai Lama. But India remains the base of the Tibetan leader and his government-in-exile.

China's Muhammad Ali Military Strategy

February 18, 2015

So China has no good strategy to counter American intervention—and may not even care that much about doing so—because Chinese officialdom and commentators seldom use the word “counterintervention”? Ah. Glad we straightened that out.

Or at least that seems to be the message coming from MIT professor Taylor Fravel and Naval Postgraduate School professor Chris Twomey, writing over at The Washington Quarterly.Read the whole thing. In brief, the twosome maintain that counterintervention is a Western term for describing Chinese strategy, that it’s so commonplace in Western commentary as to rank as a “meme” or “trope,” and that Chinese strategists rarely use it except to relate what Westerners are saying about China.

Projecting the term onto China, they say, implies that Beijing’s military strategy aims solely at deterring or defeating American intervention, whether in the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere in maritime East Asia. In turn, imputing a U.S.-centric view of Chinese maritime strategy to Chinese strategists obscures other purposes that impel China’s words and deeds.

Beijing, observe Fravel and Twomey, may have other purposes in mind for the warships, aircraft, and armaments the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is busily assembling. Some disputes don’t involve the United States, rendering the question of intervention moot. Nor has the Chinese Communist leadership confined its ambitions exclusively to East Asia. The leadership entertains ambitions in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere on the map. In short, everything’s not about America. Obsessing over the American factor in Chinese strategy skews strategy-making in Washington and allied capitals, narrowing strategists’ field of view.

Now, we can quibble over whether counterintervention really figures that prominently in the U.S. military lexicon. I doubt it expresses any consensus appraisal of the PLA, let alone dominates thinking or obscures much of anything. Apart from a handful of mentions in the Defense Department’s annual reports on Chinese military power, along with scattered mentions in op-eds and think-tank works—all amply documented in Fravel’s and Twomey’s endnotes—it’s far from a household term. Google it if you doubt me. The results will be sparse.

China under Xi Jinping

MAR 13, 2015 

Alternative Futures for U.S.-China Relations 

A series of three addresses on American and Chinese values, perceptions, interests, and strategic intentions, and their impact on the possibility of developing a common narrative for U.S.-China relations for the future.

Publisher CSIS 



China and US cross swords over software backdoors

05 March 2015

China has rejected US president Barack Obama’s criticism of its plans to force technology firms that want to trade in China to share their encryption keys and put backdoors in their software.

China's proposed counter-terrorism law requires companies to keep servers and user data in China, to hand over communications records and censor terrorism-related internet content.

The US president told the Reuters news agency he had "made it very clear" China will have to change its policy if it wants to do business with the US.

But China said the move was necessary to combat terrorism, accusing the US of double standards in the light of the National Security Agency’s reported hack of Sim card maker Gemalto.

"The legislation is China's domestic affair, and we hope the US side can take a right, sober and objective view towards it," said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

"On the information-security issue, there was a media revelation that a certain country embedded spying software in the computer system of another country's Sim card maker, for surveillance activities. This is only one of the recently disclosed cases.”

The war of words erupted as security researchers revealed an old US policy, requiring weaker encryption for export products, is making millions of iPhone and Android users vulnerable to attack.

Although the 1990s US policy had been abandoned, it resulted in a vulnerability inserted into websites and devices still widely in use that attackers can exploit, researchers revealed.

The so-called Freak vulnerability allows attackers to intercept connections between vulnerable devices and web servers of supposedly secure websites, and force those connections to adopt “export grade” encryption, which researchers say can be cracked with relative ease.
US double standards

In reaction to Obama’s criticism of the proposed law, China drew attention to the US imposing restrictions on Chinese companies such as Huawei over security concerns.

China’s parliamentary spokeswoman Fu Ying suggested the proposed law corresponds with the access to internet communications sought by the US and UK governments, reported the BBC.

Global manufacturing Made in China?

BY MAKING things and selling them to foreigners, China has transformed itself—and the world economy with it. In 1990 it produced less than 3% of global manufacturing output by value; its share now is nearly a quarter. China produces about 80% of the world’s air-conditioners, 70% of its mobile phones and 60% of its shoes. The white heat of China’s ascent has forged supply chains that reach deep into South-East Asia. This “Factory Asia” now makes almost half the world’s goods.

China has been following in the footsteps of Asian tigers such as South Korea and Taiwan. Many assumed that, in due course, the baton would pass to other parts of the world, enabling them in their turn to manufacture their way to prosperity. But far from being loosened by rising wages, China’s grip is tightening. Low-cost work that does leave China goes mainly to South-East Asia, only reinforcing Factory Asia’s dominance (see article). That raises questions for emerging markets outside China’s orbit. From India to Africa and South America, the tricky task of getting rich has become harder.

Work to rule

China’s economy is not as robust as it was. The property market is plagued by excess supply. Rising debt is a burden. Earlier this month the government said that it was aiming for growth of 7% this year, which would be its lowest for more than two decades—data this week suggest even this might be a struggle (see article). Despite this, China will continue to have three formidable advantages in manufacturing that will benefit the economy as a whole.

First, it is clinging on to low-cost manufacturing, even as it goes upmarket to exploit higher-value activities. Its share of global clothing exports has actually risen, from 42.6% in 2011 to 43.1% in 2013. It is also making more of the things that go into its goods. The World Bank has found that the share of imported components in China’s total exports has fallen from a peak of 60% in the mid-1990s to around 35% today. This is partly because China boasts clusters of efficient suppliers that others will struggle to replicate. It has excellent, and improving, infrastructure: it plans to build ten airports a year until 2020 (see article). And its firms are using automation to raise productivity, offsetting some of the effect of higher wages—the idea behind the government’s new “Made in China 2025” strategy.

Checkmate: Breaking Iran’s Stranglehold over Iraq

March 16, 2015

The nuclear negotiation with Iran is much in the news and there is vigorous analysis and debate in Washington on elements of a possible agreement and their implications for the United States, for the region and for the non-proliferation regime. However, Iran’s recent geopolitical gains in the region, especially in Iraq, and their implications, have received far less attention. This neglect is both surprising and dangerous. 

The manner in which the United States and the West have conducted the war against the Islamic State (IS)/Daesh terrorists in Iraq has had many consequences—some unintended. One result of the U.S. military approach—reliance on air power, a slow buildup of the Iraqi national army and limited assistance to the Kurdish Peshmarga—is a significantly increased Iranian presence in Iraq and growing domination by Tehran over the Baghdad government. Although Iranian influence started after the U.S. invasion in 2003, it has been on the rise since the pullout of American troops from Iraq in 2011. Today, Iran is the dominant influence in Iraqi national security decision making in Baghdad, and controls the bulk of the effective fighting forces in Iraq.

When several of its divisions collapsed ignominiously last summer, Iraq’s national army lost its stature as the country’s principle military force. It was feared that IS would maintain its momentum and advance toward Baghdad, Karbala or Najaf to threaten the Shiite dominated government, destroy the Shiite holy cities, or both. There were even indications of Daesh moving towards the Iranian border in Diyala province.

Seeing its interests in Iraq threatened by these developments, Iran seized the opportunity to further expand its influence and to dominate its oil-rich, Shiite-led neighboring state.

What did Iran do? It moved quickly and decisively in three ways to fill the security vacuum and respond to the panic caused by the collapse of the Iraqi military units. 


By Musa al-Gharbi

ISIS distinguishes itself from other jihadist organizations, particularly its progenitor al-Qaeda, by positioning itself as the group that will do what other groups are unwilling or unable to do. There is a clear dialectic wherein other terror organizations will commit an a heinous act that receives widespread media coverage; ISIS will then try to divert the international spotlight to themselves by surpassing their rivals in terms of depravity or scale—especially if it is an act which al-Qaeda condemns as being unfit for mujahedeen.
Capturing and Enslaving Women

While ISIS and its precursors were known for persecuting religious minorities, forcing them to convert to Islam, pay “protection money,” or flee (upon penalty of death)—actions widely condemned as deviant or counterproductive, even in jihadist circles–they did not take slaves or justify selling people as chattel.

However, two months after ISIS delivered their edict on religious minorities, their atrocities against Christians were eclipsed by Boko Haram’s kidnapping, marrying off and selling hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls. The act went viral, spinning into the “Bring Back our Girls” campaign in which even the White House took part. Al-Qaeda also condemnedBoko Haram’s intention to auction off the girls.

Soon thereafter, ISIS captured thousands of Yazidi women—and they didn’t just declare an intention to sell them, force them into marriages, and use them as slaves but published awidely-condemned justification for these practices in their English-language magazine,Dabiq. Later they would publish a more extensive treatise detailing how to treat one’s female slaves.

In the face of this escalation, the plight of the Nigerian schoolgirls faded from public view. And astonishingly, hundreds of foreign women, including scores from Western countries, began flocking to Iraq and Syria to become willing “brides of ISIS”—acting as the primary enforcers of the groups strict ideology regarding women and their role in society.
Deliberately Targeting Children

The Ottoman Empire Heading towards disaster

The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East. By Eugene Rogan. Basic Books; 442 pages; $29.99. Allen Lane; £25.

“UNTO us a son is born!” It was with great excitement that Enver Pasha, the most powerful of the triumvirate of Young Turks who ruled the Ottoman Empire, greeted the news that two German warships had sailed into neutral Turkish waters on August 10th 1914. The Goeben, a heavy battleship, and the Breslau, a light cruiser, had bombarded French Algerian ports at the start of the first world war, and were being pursued by French and British vessels across the Mediterranean.

The Turks extracted a high price for granting the ships haven, including recognition of their demands for the recovery of territories lost in earlier conflicts and financial help if they entered the war. To avoid immediate hostilities, though, the Turks ostensibly bought the German ships (and the services of their crews), replacing two dreadnoughts that had been ordered from, but requisitioned by, Britain.

Thus did Germany appear to gain a new ally, and Turkey a protector against dismemberment. The Ottomans came fully into the war two months later, when Germany sent the now Turkish-flagged Goeben to attack the Russian navy in the Black Sea. The European war turned global, with Indians, Australians and New Zealanders brought in to fight against Arabs and Turks. The conflict was to prove as disastrous for the Ottomans as for Germany, if not more so. A multinational Muslim empire that had once threatened Vienna was broken up; the first modern genocide, of the Armenians, was committed; the Arab provinces were parcelled up into benighted colonial “mandates”; the foundations of the future Jewish state were laid; and the caliphate, established in the earliest days of Islam, was abolished.

The Real Strategic Goal in Iraq and Syria: How Do You Bring Lasting Stability?

MAR 16, 2015 

One of the ironies of a steadily more partisan Washington is that its politicians and policymakers continue to call for “strategy” without looking beyond the military dimension. One way to lose a war is to lose sight of the objective, and there seems to be an open contest between the administration and the Congress to see who can do the best job of ignoring the objective.

The key question in both Iraq and in Syria—and in what is far too often treated as a “war against ISIL”—is how do you bring any meaningful stability to either country? Military victories are at best a means to that end and can actually make things worse if they are not tied to a set of grand strategic goals.

It is important to seriously degrade the Islamic State—regardless of whether one wants to call it ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. A violent extremist protostate not only threatens the region immediately around it, it threatens to destabilize the Islamic world and spill over into terrorist attacks outside. Even total defeat of the Islamic State, however, will scarcely end the threat of jihadist violence or put an end to the divisions inside Iraq and Syria that helped empower the Islamic State in the first place.

This is also a case where the overall strategic objective is to bring stability to both Iraq and Syria, but bringing stability to each state involves very different challenges.

The Strategic Challenge in Iraq

Any meaningful and lasting form of “victory” in Iraq means that it must emerge from the current conflict with some solution to the deep divisions between Arab and Kurd, and Sunni and Shiite. 

There must be a functioning level of government and security and the ability to move toward some workable path of development. A Shiite-led occupation of Sunni areas may be better than an Islamic State occupation, but it will not solve Iraq’s political, governance, security, and stability problems.

The Great Powers in the New Middle East

By John McLaughlin 
MAR 6, 2015 

Part of Rocky Harbors: Taking Stock of the Middle East in 2015 

In Chapter 3 of Rocky Harbors: Taking Stock of the Middle East in 2015, John McLaughlin looks at how the roles of the world's great powers are evolving in the Middle East.

Trying to nail down how the world’s major powers—the United States, China, Russia, and Europe—see and set strategy for the Middle East these days has never been more challenging. Power relationships globally are in flux. The Middle East is in turmoil. And the powers themselves are struggling through difficult transitions. The metaphors commonly used to describe today’s international web of crises—three-dimensional chess, Rubik’s cube—fall short of capturing the sheer complexity of it all, especially when it comes to the Middle East. A more apt metaphor might be the sensation of walking into the middle of a barroom brawl: it’s hard to be sure who started it, who is allied with whom, exactly what is at issue, who just changed sides, who is fighting, who is just observing, where your leverage is, and how to break it up.

John McLaughlin was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and acting director from July to September 2004. He is now distinguished practitioner-in-residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he teaches and writes on a wide variety of foreign affairs topics. He is also a nonresident senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution. He serves on the Central Intelligence Agency's external advisory board. He led a review of counterterrorism "lessons learned" in 2010 at the request of the director of National Intelligence. He has previously held the positions of deputy director for intelligence, vice chairman for estimates, and acting chairman of the National Intelligence Council. He founded the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, an institution dedicated to teaching the history, mission, and essential skills of the analytic profession to new CIA employees. He serves on the Board of Trustees at the Noblis Corporation and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy. He holds an M.A. in international relations from SAIS.

A New Approach to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

By Sharon Squassoni, Kelsey Hartigan, Corey Hinderstein, and Andrew Newman 
MAR 11, 2015 

Best Practices for Security, Nonproliferation, and Sustainable Nuclear Energy 

In the past decade, a resurgence of enthusiasm for nuclear power has rekindled interest in efforts to manage the fuel cycle. The 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants in Japan and current proliferation crises in North Korea and Iran raise this question: Is the current approach on the fuel cycle—leaving uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities in the hands of national governments—too risky on proliferation grounds?

In early 2011, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Center for Strategic and International Studies launched the New Approaches to the Fuel Cycle (NAFC) project. This project, led by Corey Hinderstein and Sharon Squassoni, sought to build consensus on common goals,address practical challenges, and engage a spectrum of actors who influence nuclear energy policymaking.

Drawing from industry, government, and NGO community expertise in the United States and abroad, the NAFC project worked to outline a vision for an integrated approach to nuclear supply and demand. The result, presented in this report, is the first comprehensive approach that contains guidelines for shaping a sustainable nuclear supply system and leverages existing trends in nuclear industry, with “best practices” to help implement that sustainable system.