12 November 2012

Exit Petraeus–And His Famous Military Doctrine

Nov. 12, 2012

Christopher Morris—VII for TIME

David Petraeus listens as President Barack Obama addresses the nation on Afghanistan at the United States Military Academy at West Point in West Point, NY, December 1, 2009.

Resignation at the CIA: Why Petraeus Had to Go

The disgrace of David Petraeus has ended more than a great military career. It is also the symbolic end of a major chapter in American security strategy. The fall of the former Iraq and Afghanistan commander adds a tawdry exclamation point to the decline of counterinsurgency, the military theory for which Petraeus offered a heroic public face.

Flash back to the mid-2000s. The Iraq war was an unmitigated disaster, with no apparent hope in sight. Confronted with a potent insurgency, the occupying American forces often fought back with brute force that backfired, further alienating a hostile population. Along came the Princeton-educated Petraeus, preaching the gospel of counterinsurgency. Defeating an indigenous resistance, the thinking went, required a unique approach to warfare. To oversimplify, it was less about killing the enemy than winning over and protecting the local population; less about guns and bombs than about hearts and minds. That meant forging personal relationships, training local security forces and investing in expensive development projects. In short, it meant nation building. It was often described as the Petraeus Doctrine.

As Iraq began to stabilize in 2007 and 2008, counterinsurgency got much of the credit. Soon the theory caught fire in Washington: Think tanks hired and the media spotlighted some of the doctrine’s many well-educated (and combat tested) proponents. The U.S. military developed more counterinsurgency training programs for its troops, offering tips on things like making nice with village elders and knowing when to let the enemy escape rather than risk high civilian combat casualties. This was a form of warfare that even many liberals (perhaps misguidedly) saw as kinder and gentler enough than the usual shock and awe to tolerate.

Petraeus and the counterinsurgency he waged as George W. Bush’s top general in Iraq probably get too much credit for turning around that war. Other factors, including the way disgusted Sunni sheiks in Iraq’s Anbar province turned against al Qaeda fighters, were at least as important. But plenty of people, including military and political leaders in Washington, wanted to believe that what Petraeus had done for Iraq could also be done in Afghanistan. Soon after Barack Obama took office, his commander there, General Stanley McChrystal, devised an ambitious counterinsurgency strategy for the country. The White House seemed to accept the idea. Later that year, Obama sent 30,000 more troops to the country—fewer than McChrystal had requested, but perhaps close enough. When Obama dispatched Petraeus to replace McChrystal in 2010 after the latter’s firing, some people wondered if the Petraeus Doctrine might salvage another wrenching conflict.

It wasn’t to be. The final chapter of the Afghanistan war has yet to be written, but America seems to have run out of patience—both with that war and with the expensive and grinding work of counterinsurgency. In the 2012 election Mitt Romney agreed with Obama that the U.S. should aspire to be out of the country by 2014. A few weeks ago the New York Times published a long editorial calling for an even faster end to the Afghanistan war, and warning against more such interventions. (“America’s global interests suffer when it is mired in unwinnable wars in distant regions,” the Times wrote.) In his third debate with Romney, Obama delivered a memorable sound bite that seemed to complete official Washington’s abandonment of counterinsurgency: “What I think the American people recognize is that after a decade of war it’s time to do some nation building here at home.”

Even before he was sworn in as CIA director in September 2011, Petraeus was bending the rules of his own doctrine in Afghanistan. He reversed McChrystal’s counterinsurgency-inspired limits on air strikes, which can cause heavy civilian casualties, and bombed the hell out of the Taliban. He also oversaw a steep increase in Special Forces raids and armed drone strikes. Petraeus brought that attitude to the CIA, fighting to expand the spy agency’s drone fleet so that it can more easily kill suspected terrorists from Pakistan to Yemen to Northern Africa.

Those sort of targeted assassinations aren’t quite the opposite of counterinsurgency. (That would be carpet-bombing.) But they fly in the face of the doctrine in multiple ways. Drone strikes—which often kill unlucky civilians—are enraging local populations in countries like Pakistan and Yemen, risking “damaging and counter productive” effects for U.S. interests. At least one recent would-be terrorist plotting to attack America has said he was motivated by drone attacks in Pakistan. Counterinsurgency requires huge numbers of troops to protect and build relationships with local populations. Drone-based counter-terrorism strategy requires few if any boots on the ground. Death is rained down anonymously, typically no explanation or apology for “collateral damage.”

This is the new American strategy. Hearts and minds have been replaced by drones and SEALs. Working a tribal council is a less valuable skill than piloting a Predator. By the end of his career—in a country exhausted by war and slashing its budget—Petraeus had embraced that shift. He had lowered his profile too far to become the drone war’s public face. But to those watching closely, the Petraeus Doctrine had morphed into something different. Counterinsurgency was finished. Much like the general’s career.

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/11/12/exit-petraeus-and-his-famous-military-doctrine/#ixzz2C1QXB0Qd



1. In the history of the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), there have been three instances of Directors coming to grief because of their perceived wrong-doings.

2. RichardM.Helms (1966-73) was removed by President Richard Nixon from office because of his alleged disloyalty to the President during the Watergate enquiry.

3. James Woolsey (1993-95) had to resign following Congressional unhappiness over his reluctance to act against officers who were considered guilty of slack supervision in the case relating to Aldrich Ames, a Soviet/Russian mole in the CIA.

4. JohnDeutch ( 1995-96) had to resign following suspicions/allegations of breach of security against him. He was allegedly casual in handling classified information.

5. The resignation of Gen. David Petraeus reported on November 10,2012, following the alleged discovery of an improper personal relationship between him and his biographer Paula Broadwell, who was also from the Army like Petraeus, is the first instance of a Director quitting because of suspected moral turpitude. Both of them were married with children.

6. American society tolerates personal relationships between unmarried individuals, but looks askance at relationships between married persons from whom high standards of loyalty and faithfulness to the spouse are expected. Both Petraeus and Paula deviated from these standards and he has had to pay a price for this.

7. When such relationships between married persons come to light they go down in the esteem of their near and dear ones, friends and colleagues. They can no longer exercise effective leadership of the organisation headed by them.Bill Clinton's was a remarkable instance of a President continuing and flourishing in office after his relationship with a young girl was discovered and he had to face the humiliation of impeachment proceedings, which were not successful. His was an exception to the rule.

8. The media has projected Petraeus' resignation as voluntary.It is quite possible that the FBI brought his relationship with Paula to the notice of President Barack Obama who advised him to resign. The resignation was called for.

9. Gen.Petraeus was a highly distinguished officer of the US Army who had done well in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was selected by Mr.Obama to head the CIA in June 2011 when he decided to appoint Mr.Leon Panetta, the highly successful Director of the CIA who co-ordinated the covert action for the elimination of Osama bin Laden, as Defence Secretary in place of Mr.Robert Gates.

10. The Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees confirmed his posting after examining his credentials for the post and he took over in September last year. He had such a brilliant record and reputation as an Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan that his credentials appeared to have been assumed by the Congressional committees and his case was cleared.

11. Normally, the FBI does a detailed background check before the Congressional confirmation hearings, but nothing negative about him that could have made him unsuitable for the post of Director, CIA, appeared to have been discovered by the FBI.

12. It is now reported that during his posting in Kabul as an Army officer, Paula was also in Kabul to interview him for her biography and the two used to spend a lot of time together, often jogging together. It did not appear to have struck either the counter-intelligence division of the CIA or the FBI to question him about his relationship with Paula and bring it to the notice of the Congressional committees. They seemed to have assumed that it was purely a relationship between a biographer and the object of her study and that there was nothing personal about it.

13. It was only after he started functioning as the Director that the FBI realised that there was more than met the eye in his relationship with Paula and started checking his E-mails. The personal nature of the relationship then came to notice.

14. The case brings out continuing deficiencies in the functioning of the counter-intelligence divisions of the CIA and the FBI. The Congressional Oversight Committees may now revisit the checks that were made before he was confirmed in order to see how the personal nature of the relationship was missed by both the CIA and the FBI.

15. The FBI will also go deeper into the background of Paula to determine whether she has had any illegitimate contacts with foreign intelligence agencies, how long she was having a personal relationship with Petraeus and whether there could have been any breach of security.

16. Despite the unfortunate circumstances of his resignation, Petraeus will go down in history as an outstanding Army officer and counter-insurgency expert.However, he headed the CIA hardly for 13 months and did not have the time to impart his stamp on the organisation.

17. Before him, another outstanding military officer---Admiral Stansfield Turner of the Navy---had headed the CIA under President Jimmy Carter. His tenure proved controversial because of his packing senior staff positions in the CIA with his confidantes from the US Navy. This caused demoralisation in the CIA and had a negative impact on the CIA.

18. It was reported that keeping this in view, Mr.Obama's aides advised Petraeus, at the time of his appointment, to resist the temptation to pack the senior posts in the CIA with his Army buddies. He had to rely on senior career professionals of the CIA and he took time to get to know them.

19. Between 9/11 and September2011, for nearly a decade, the CIA's focus was turned to improving its HUMINT and covert action capabilities required for security and counter-terrorism related tasks. The time, efforts and resources required for improving its area expertise were not forthcoming.

20. Petraeus was required to re-focus the CIA's HUMINT and covert action attention on acquiring area expertise in respect of countries such as North Korea, China, Iran and the Arab countries. A new operational strategy for this purpose was required. Before he could formulate and implement such a strategy, his personal affection for and relationship with Paula brought him down. He failed to distinguish himself in Libya and Syria and he was unable to impart his stamp to the operations of the CIA. He will not be remembered as a great intelligence officer. ( 11-11-12)

American Dreams, Indian Realities

By Colin Geraghty
November 9, 2012

After years of “estrangement,” the United States and India have transformed their relationship at a breathtaking pace since 1998, and grown it into a wide-ranging strategic partnership. The speed and scope of these changes initially led to highly positive reviews of India and its potential contributions to American interests by U.S. commentators, gushing with praise for this “natural ally.” Yet more recently, as substantive accomplishments have failed to materialize, some in the U.S. have begun criticizing India for what they claim is New Delhi’s failure to “step up to the plate.”

Such a situation, however, was highly predictable, given India’s strategic posture and foreign policy behavior, which favor norm-setting over burden-sharing.

While India is without doubt an attractive candidate for enhanced maritime cooperation and closer partnership in the Indian Ocean and beyond, it is necessary to better evaluate its rapport to the ocean that bears its name. It is crucial that the United States undertake this reassessment in order to increase its chances of establishing a productive, substantive relationship over time with a country whose cooperation Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has described as a “linchpin” of the redeployment and reconfiguration of U.S. power throughout the Asia-Pacific.

India’s engagement with the Indian Ocean region

India’s location along the Indian Ocean littoral inevitably leads New Delhi to view the Indian Ocean region differently from Washington. India’s gradual emergence and increased reliance on international commerce compound these divergences: its deepening engagement in the Indian Ocean region inevitably gives the area greater prominence in India’s foreign policy considerations.

As it emerges as the resident power of the region, India does not want to be perceived as harboring hegemonic enterprises. It rejects any perception of the Indian Ocean region that would reduce it to a highway, as well as any attempt to equate it with an arena for great power competition. Instead, Indian officials argue for a unified Indian Ocean region, with India at its center.

Seizing on the opportunity offered by the “de-hyphenated policy” pursued by the Bush administration on the one hand, and India’s economic rise on the other, Indian officials are now looking to redefine the Indian Ocean as India’s core strategic environment. As New Delhi emerges on the global stage and seeks recognition from other powers in its own right, expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean region is not merely a response to increased commercial dependence on maritime routes, but part of an effort to change emerging India’s identity, to break free of the South Asian confines and redefine India within a larger, more dynamic setting.

As a result, India’s overriding concern has been and will continue to be to prevent any polarization of the Indian Ocean region. This includes resisting overtures from external actors that risk introducing security dilemmas into a region hitherto devoid of such dynamics. India now engages in bilateral maneuvers with all the major powers in the region, a shift that further cements its own standing as the resident power in the Indian Ocean while rejecting any hegemonic intent. India has begun organizing annual naval exercises with France (VARUNA, since 2002), the United States (MALABAR, first in 1992 and again regularly since 2002), Russia (INDRA, since 2003) and the United Kingdom (KONKAN, since 2004).

At the same time, India has made a clear decision to remove any multilateral exercises involving external powers out of the Indian Ocean region, in the wake of the fall-out of the “Quadrilateral” initiative, to avoid exposing it to the security dilemmas China’s inevitable reaction would foster. Although India has resumed multilateral naval exercises with the U.S. and Japan in recent years, such exercises now take place in the Sea of Japan, far from the Indian Ocean – indeed, they are referred to today as the multilateral element of MALABAR exercises, while the strictly bilateral part continues to play out in the Indian Ocean.

In short, India seeks to cooperate with all, align with none, and assert its ability to prevent certain strategies liable to polarize the Indian Ocean or introduce security dilemmas in a region viewed as increasingly vital to India’s growth. Neither highway nor arena for great-power competition, India seeks to preserve the Indian Ocean region, by establishing itself as the resident power, capable of maintaining regional balances by expanding its own presence.

Although India is uncomfortable with China’s growing footprint in the Indian Ocean, it has no intention of jeopardizing its delicate relationship with China, or precipitating their ties into irreversibly and overtly hostile territory. The two countries will thus continue to engage in subterranean maneuvering, jostling for position, while seeking to manage tensions at the surface and avoid having them transform into overall confrontation. For one thing, India’s culture of non-alignment and obsession with “strategic autonomy” preclude it from entering into any alliance or exclusive partnership aimed at another country. Furthermore, China possesses sufficient leverage in South Asia to prevent New Delhi from implementing any policy that goes too far in targeting China. Though India may attempt to fashion for itself a new international identity through its engagement in the Indian Ocean region, it cannot wish away the realities of its challenging continental geography.

Ways forward: enhancing India’s contribution to U.S. interests in the Indian Ocean region and beyond

The implications for an American “Indo-Pacific” thrust are clear. Rather than attempt to corral India into supporting a U.S.-promoted concept, American policymakers should focus on identifying economic incentives for India to strengthen its ties with an Indo-Pacific region, and develop a separate thrust in its foreign policy to that end. This implies that the U.S. clearly articulate what such a region would resemble, whether it would encompass the Indian Ocean region and the Asia-Pacific as a whole, simply refer to the region stretching from the Northeastern Indian Ocean to the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, or just represent an attempt to integrate India further into an Asian architecture conducive to U.S. interests.

At the same time, the U.S. has to adapt to the reality that India will refuse any initiative that risks jeopardizing the delicate balance it seeks to preserve in the Indian Ocean region, and forego any dreams of a broad naval partnership with India. Frustrations will continue over India’s unwillingness to act more decisively as an enforcer of maritime security, even as it benefits increasingly from a stable maritime environment and professes its (sincere) attachment to freedom of navigation and open sea lines of communication. Such paradoxes or tensions will remain a defining feature of India’s external stance for the next 10-15 years, if not beyond.

U.S. policymakers will have to recognize that ultimately, the rate of progress depends on Indian willingness to go along with U.S. initiatives. Until India develops a proactive, strategic vision to guide its foreign policy, it will continue to proceed in the ad-hoc fashion it has adopted to date. This should not deter Washington from further engaging India, as strengthening bilateral ties and perhaps more importantly making interactions between the two nations more routine, and to a certain extent banal even, will be essential if U.S. interests are to be served by India’s rise. This requires patience and a more realistic understanding of India’s worldview and priorities. Seeking to draw India into any U.S.-conceived order may backfire, not only because India must manage its relationship with China but because it is also determined to stake out an independent path to global power status.

The Indian Ocean region, where the U.S. and India have shared concerns but divergent interests in closer cooperation, offers a good example of the need to reassess U.S. expectations to favor the emergence of an ultimately more productive partnership. The United States cannot conclude too swiftly that broad interests automatically lead to common calculations, and must be mindful that India views events in the region through its own frame of reference.

At the same time, India will also have to recognize that it needs to recalibrate its own attitude towards the U.S., and not demand that America “prove” its commitment to India or judge its attitude on every issue as a test on the matter. Major initiatives that redefine the relationship, such as the civil nuclear deal, will no longer be part of the equation; the Indo-American strategic partnership will now be advanced, deepened and strengthened through incremental progress, something both countries must realize and accept. The rapid transformations of the past ten years must now give way to normal exchanges, converting the excitement of the past few years into a sentiment of routine – but not of complacency. Sustained efforts will be required, from the U.S. and from India, to understand each other, overcome frustrations and embrace limited opportunities to collaborate in order to breed more comfort and familiarity over time.

Colin Geraghty is Adjunct Junior Fellow at American Security Project (ASP) and the author, most recently, of ASP’s report, “India in the Indian Ocean Region – Re-calibrating U.S. Expectations

The Current Talibani Assault on the Pakistani Nation

P. K. Upadhyay

November 12, 2012

Pakistan’s seemingly uncontrollable slide into a sectarian nightmare appears to have gained further momentum. The militant Deobandi Islamists have now launched a clear campaign to cow down sections of the media that have so far been standing up to them, and such other sources of potent social and political resistance as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). What is very worrying is that in this phase of Deobandi onslaught the Army is clearly abandoning its earlier pretense of readiness to take the Islamic zealots head on and sections of the establishment seem more willing now to be just silent accomplices.

A number of leading Pakistani journalists have come out openly with complaints of being threatened by the Deobandi oriented Tehriq-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and, more sinisterly, of the Pakistani establishment doing nothing to protect them against the onslaught from the former. Journalists Hamid Mir, Javed Chaudhary, Mohammad Maalik, Iftikhar Alam, and others have openly alleged to have been threatened by TTP through calls on their land-lines and cell phones as well as through e-mails. To their despair, the government agencies have chosen not to take any action on their complaints despite their having provided call/mail details to them. Hamid Mir even alleges that in this latest attempt to intimidate the media into silence or submission, the TTP and the official agencies (an euphemism for ISI) seem to be acting in tandem. Hamid Mir further contends that on October 5, the Crisis Management Cell of the Ministry of Interior itself had informed various federal and provincial security agencies that Hakimullah Mehsud has sent instructions to TTP units in the rest of the country to stop operations against the Pakistan Army and, instead, start targeting the media. TTP spokesman Ehshamullah Ehsan and the TTP’s spokesman in Swat Sirajuddin have clearly told targeted journalists that anybody who supports the government would be treated as opposing the Taliban and would be liquidated. In this regard any support or sympathy for the 14-year old victim of Taliban cruelty, Malala Yusufzai, has been taken as an anti-religion conspiracy and threatened with dire consequences.

It is not just the journalists who are the targets of the latest Talibani onslaught. Socio-political groups like the MQM are also sought to be targeted, since MQM and its leader Altaf Hussein have taken a strong and active stand against Islamic radicals of the TTP variety over the Malala incident. The MQM had earlier announced its plans to hold a referendum across Pakistan to let the people choose between a Pakistan as per Jinnah’s vision or a Talibanised Pakistan. Though the proposed referendum was postponed ostensibly because of the IDEAS 2012 Defence Exhibition in Karachi, MQM cadres did take to streets after the shooting of Malala Yusufzai to protest against religious extremism.

The Taliban did not take it lying down and their spokesman in Karachi, Umar Farooq, a former Jamaat-e-Islami functionary, declared “We are a group of Islamic warriors fighting against infidels” and that “Karachi is our base and we will target anyone our leader Hakimullah Mehsud tells us to”. TTP’s surrogate body of madrassas in Karachi, Wifaqul Madaris, has on its part warned MQM, whose cadres are predominantly Barelvi, to desist from prying into the functioning and affairs of its affiliates. Many MQM cadres had been alleging that an overwhelming number of inmates of these madrassas were Pashtun and Afghans and some of them were being trained in the handling IEDs of inside the seminaries.

Karachi is an ethnic tinderbox and sectarianism makes it even more explosive. Perhaps, a pointer to things to come in Karachi is the bombing of the Rangers Headquarters by a truck-bomb on November 7. Such attacks have been the hallmark of Taliban attacks in Islamabad and Kabul in the past and, therefore, it was hardly any surprise that Mullah Fazalullah’s faction of the TTP eventually claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban threat in Karachi cannot be minimized. According to Sindh Police and CID, the Taliban have been involved in 131 bank robberies out of a total of 134 in Karachi since 2008. The Police claims to have arrested 721 Taliban cadres in the city and busted 143 gangs. The Taliban have retaliated by bombing and attacking policemen who are leading operations against them. Right now the Taliban seem to be concentrating in uprooting the Awami National Party from the Pashtun areas of Karachi and have targeted many local ANP leaders and cadres.

The Islamic radicals not only want to assert their supremacy in the strong pockets of remaining anti-Deobandi radical sentiments in the country (Taliban and their Deobandi cohorts already dominate FATA, north Baluchistan and parts of Punjab), but they also seek to cow-down the inconvenient media and further push their influence in the rest of the country by espousing such emotive Islamist causes as anti-Americanism, the West’s perceived assault on Islamic culture and education. According to knowledgeable Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed, in the post-Osama bin-Laden period, the Al-Qaeda/Taliban want to exploit the clerical consensus that already exists in Pakistan on the issue of education, particularly that of girls. The Taliban though contend that they are not against girls’ education, but to secular education in general, and that Malala was punished for eulogizing secular education and she and her father were in contact with US diplomats as also Jewish film makers (a clear allusion to the makers of the Innocence of Muslims).

The Pakistani state, particularly the Army, is either incapable of, or more likely unwilling to, confront the Taliban over this latest upsurge in their activities. No less a person than President Asif Ali Zardari has been reduced to merely wringing his hands in despair in public over the weakness of the state to go after the attackers of Malala Yusufzai. He admitted to a delegation of the South Asia Free Media Association (October 21) that he could do nothing to avenge the near fatal attack on Malala as Pakistan was not ready for the extremist blow-back if North Waziristan were attacked. He indicated that there were three reasons for this: Pakistani political parties were not united over the implications of the attack on Malala; the extremists ready to join hands with Al-Qaeda/Taliban were too strong and widespread to risk challenging by going after North Waziri Taliban; and Pakistan was in a different situation today than in 2009 at the time of the launch of the Swat operations.

While Zardari appeared to be at pains in putting the direct blame for the state’s inaction on politicians and the lack of political consensus, others were quick to underline the Army’s reluctance to intensify its conflict with Islamic radicals due to an unholy nexus that seems to exist between the two. Hamid Mir alleged that some Generals had entered into secret deals with Taliban factions to either secure the release of captured Pakistani servicemen or for preventing Army units from being targeted. Apparently, these deals have been cemented by transferring large amounts of money to Taliban commanders. In other instances, the spirit of camaraderie between the two sides emerges under the influence of GHQ’s propensity to treat Taliban factions –the Good Taliban” – as its ‘strategic assets’. Apparently, it is Hamid Gul who controls the GHQ’s mind-set, even though Kayani is the commander in uniform. The assassination of Major General Faisal Alvi of the SSG in Islamabad (November 2008) is once again reverberating in the Pakistani press, as he was killed after he had written to Kayani against two of his senior generals for their complicity with the Taliban and their conspiracy to have him sacked for his refusal to play along. Many Pakistani observers had pointed out that the weapons used in Alvi’s assassination and the clinical manner of the attack suggested it to be an inside job by sections of the Army rather than a terrorist attack by Taliban or their local supporters. It is worth noting that soon after Zardari’s statement to journalists, in separate statements Jamiat-ul Ulema-e-Islam’s Maulana Fazl-ur Rehman and Jamaat-e-Islami’s Munawwar Hassan warned the Army against going after the Taliban in North Waziristan.

The Pakistan Army is the only national institution that is still intact and retains its cohesiveness and, therefore, it was expected to protect Pakistan from internal and external threats. Any hopes of Pakistan pulling out of the present sectarian crisis required the Army to not only keep the Islamic zealots under check, but also to support and protect the winds of moderation. However, the Pakistan Army is neither willing to play this role any more, nor seems to have any faith left in its own capabilities. It appears to be readying itself into throwing the towel down. It also does not seem to have the nation behind it as in the past. It is not only President Zardari who is implicitly criticizing the Army, but the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary is also emphasizing the judiciary’s constitutional predominance over all other institutions, including the Army. This attack has forced Kayani to advise all and sundry, including the judiciary, that assuming more than one’s own due role would set “us back”. This open polemics between the various pillars of the Pakistani state, including the Army, is a new phenomenon in Pakistan and does not augur well for the country’s fight against Islamic sectarianism and radicalism and for upholding moderation.

This has implications for India as well. While it may not be possible to hold back on contacts with Pakistan’s establishment of the day, India needs to wait and watch how far the Taliban’s Deobandi/Wahabi/Salafi influence would grow and if, at all, when and to what extant the Pakistani establishment is going to strike back.

‘The better it gets between India and Pak, the better Afghanistan’s chances’

Sandeep Singh :

Mon Nov 12 2012, 01:27 hrs


Visiting Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who met business leaders in Mumbai and invited them to invest in his country, discusses his objectives and hopes with Sandeep Singh

What has prompted you to roll out the red carpet to Indian investors?

Indian businesses have been shy. The Chinese arrived in Afghanistan much ahead of India. Keeping in mind the traditions between India and Afghanistan for centuries, Indian businesses should have been the first to come. Now my purpose in visiting (Mumbai) was to encourage Indian businesses and to inform them of the pursuits in Afghanistan and to tell them that they should not be shy, that they should come, do all they can to benefit and to bring us also the profits of their business.

You used the word “shy”, but is it not security concerns that are holding them back?

No business has been hampered or slowed down by lack of security. Businesses that came to Afghanistan from 2001 have not suffered but gained. So security-related incidents or the lack of security in parts of the country, because of terrorism and all that, is not affecting business. There will not be security (issues) affecting Indian businesses in Afghanistan. Even if there are instances of that — life is prone to incidents and accidents — Indian businesses should not shy away from it. Come to Afghanistan and profit...

With US troops set to be withdrawn in 2014, what kind of security system will be put in place in Afghanistan?

The country’s institutions are being built up and they need time to settle down into an institutional framework. Numbers alone will not give you the strength, it is the training and the institutional framework and the very fact of it having been established for a long time that will deliver. Afghanistan’s police and army in the past were almost completely destroyed in terms of being institutions; (rebuilding) has worked very well. The work on police began very late, in 2008-09, but still in terms of numbers we have sufficient and in terms of training we need many more years to get established. By 2014, we will be better than today but not be ideal. We will not be ideal even by 2024. It will take us a lot of time to have an established system and we must wait for that and work for that.

You have a transit and trade agreement with Pakistan; India is not part of it. With India and Pakistan’s economic relations improving, do you think should India be included?

It will be very good for us. We very much want India included in the agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was not possible because of the difficulties between India and Pakistan but now that there is an environment for overall improvement of relations, this is the best day for Afghanistan. The better it gets between India and Pakistan in all aspects of life, the better Afghanistan’s chances are of a better economy, a more prosperous country, more peace and stability for all of us. We have seen improvement; we hope for a lot more. And we are actually praying for it.

Playing or praying?

Praying. We can play as well at the right time, but right now we are praying for it.

From 2014, what will Kabul’s approach towards China and Pakistan be?

China was the first to come and invest in 2005 in copper mines and then they also took part of our oil and gas resources. Pakistan, as a neighbour, has a lot to gain from the enterprise in Afghanistan. They will come to participate in Afghanistan’s businesses and gain from it but Pakistan’s presence as our neighbour and its interest in Afghanistan must not be a deterrent to Indian businesses in Afghanistan. Chinese presence in Afghanistan must not be a negative for Indian business. Business is free for all and good for all. 

So all will exist in the same environment?

As far as business is concerned, no country should have a political approach. If some of our neighbours want to be present in Afghanistan for business, others have that right too. I don’t see any reason why politically that will discourage China from investing in Afghanistan or India or Pakistan from doing so.

What are the major areas where Indian businesses can invest?

Mineral, petroleum & gas, small & medium enterprise are important areas. They can also set up production facilities in Afghanistan that can then be taken to central Asia. The Indian consortium for iron ore in Afghanistan will invest over $10 billion when it is signed and is in the final stages. Perhaps petroleum is one area that India is interested in, therefore they applied for it and we encourage it.

Myanmar: Storm Clouds on the Horizon

Asia Report N°238 12 Nov 2012


Myanmar’s leaders continue to demonstrate that they have the political will and the vision to move the country decisively away from its authoritarian past, but the road to democracy is proving hard. President Thein Sein has declared the changes irreversible and worked to build a durable partnership with the opposition. While the process remains incomplete, political prisoners have been released, blacklists trimmed, freedom of assembly laws implemented, and media censorship abolished. But widespread ethnic violence in Rakhine State, targeting principally the Rohingya Muslim minority, has cast a dark cloud over the reform process and any further rupturing of intercommunal relations could threaten national stability. Elsewhere, social tensions are rising as more freedom allows local conflicts to resurface. A ceasefire in Kachin State remains elusive. Political leaders have conflicting views about how power should be shared under the constitution as well as after the 2015 election. Moral leadership is required now to calm tensions and new compromises will be needed if divisive confrontation is to be avoided.

The president has moved to consolidate his authority with his first cabinet reshuffle. Ministers regarded as conservative or underperforming were moved aside and many new deputy ministers appointed. There are now more technocrats in these positions, and the country has its first female minister. The president also brought his most trusted cabinet members into his office, creating a group of “super-ministers” with authority over broad areas of government – a move perhaps partially motivated by a desire to strengthen his position vis-à-vis the legislature. A dispute over a controversial ruling by the presidentially-appointed Constitutional Tribunal led to impeachment proceedings and the resignation of the tribunal members, highlighting both the power of the legislature, and the risks to a political structure in transition as new institutions test the boundaries of their authority.

The transition has been remarkable for its speed and the apparent lack of any major internal resistance, including from the military. It will inevitably face enormous challenges. The ongoing intercommunal strife in Rakhine State is of grave concern, and there is the potential for similar violence elsewhere, as nationalism and ethno-nationalism rise and old prejudices resurface. The difficulty in reaching a ceasefire in Kachin State underlines the complexity of forging a sustainable peace with ethnic armed groups. There are also rising grassroots tensions over land grabbing and abuses by local authorities, and environmental and social concerns over foreign-backed infrastructure and mining projects. In a context of rising popular expectations, serious unaddressed grievances from the past, and new-found freedom to organise and demonstrate, there is potential for the emergence of more radical and confrontational social movements. This will represent a major test for the government and security services as they seek to maintain law and order without rekindling memories of the recent authoritarian past.

A key factor in determining the success of Myanmar’s transition will be macro-political stability. In 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) will compete for seats across the country for the first time since the abortive 1990 elections. Assuming these polls are free and fair, they will herald a radical shift in the balance of power away from the old dispensation. But an NLD landslide may not be in the best interests of the party or the country, as it would risk marginalising three important constituencies: the old political elite, the ethnic political parties and the non-NLD democratic forces. If the post-2015 legislatures fail to represent the true political and ethnic diversity of the country, tensions are likely to increase and fuel instability.

The main challenge the NLD faces is not to win the election, but to promote inclusiveness and reconciliation. It has a number of options to achieve this. It could support a more proportional election system that would create more representative legislatures, by removing the current “winner-takes-all” distortion. Alternatively, it could form an alliance with other parties, particularly ethnic parties, agreeing not to compete against them in certain constituencies. Finally, it could support an interim “national unity” candidate for the post-2015 presidency. This would reassure the old guard, easing the transition to an NLD-dominated political system. Critically, this option could also build support for the constitutional change required to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to become president at a future date, a change that is unlikely prior to 2015 given the opposition of the military bloc, which has a veto over any amendment. Pursuing any of these paths will require that the NLD make sacrifices and put the national interest above party-political considerations. With a national leader of the calibre of Aung San Suu Kyi at the helm, it can certainly rise to this challenge.

Land Reform: A Critical Test for Myanmar’s Government

By Murray Hiebert, Phuong Nguyen
Nov 9, 2012

One of the byproducts of the reforms launched in Myanmar over the past 18 months has been a sharp rise in protests against land acquisitions by previous governments and their businessman friends. Parliament’s Reform and Development Monitoring Committee said in June that it had received complaints from thousands of farmers in the Magway region during a fact-finding trip in central Myanmar.

The most prominent ongoing case is that of villagers from Sarlingyi township in Myanmar’s northwestern Sagaing division. They have been protesting the loss of their land to a local copper mining company since 2011. They are demanding the return of confiscated land and/or adequate compensation, as well as an end to forced relocation and the dumping of waste in surrounding areas. Tensions between the two sides recently escalated as 10,000 villagers staged protests September 5, prompting the government to dispatch 200 security personnel to keep peace between the protesters and company officials.

Land has long been a politically and economically contentious issue in Myanmar, at least in part because more than two-thirds of the population relies directly or indirectly on agriculture. As Myanmar undergoes economic liberalization, land issues have emerged at the center of the country’s political debate and reform agenda. How these disputes are resolved matters a great deal to foreign investors, who need guarantees that they will have legally protected rights to use land over the long term even if foreigners are not allowed to own land in Myanmar.

Under the past 50 years of military rule, land was frequently taken from farmers with little or no compensation and given to cronies of the former junta. It is estimated that approximately 1.9 million acres were illegally transferred to private companies in the past 20 years, even though 70 percent of that land has never been developed and is still used for farming by the original owners.

One-third of Myanmar’s 47 million rural residents are landless laborers, while others struggle to hold onto their farms through funds borrowed from the informal market. In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, rural poverty peaked when many small-scale farmers could no longer afford to make payments on their loans and were forced to find non-agricultural employment.

Given this history, farmers have understandably become alarmed about the possibility of further land confiscations, especially as the country is expecting a sharp increase in foreign investment and development projects in the wake of its recent opening to the outside world. The government has said it intends to put farmers at the forefront of its economic reforms. However, residents in most rural areas have yet to feel the impact of the political changes, and they fear that the new land policies will not protect them from having their land taken with limited compensation by tycoons or investors with political connections.

President Thein Sein earlier this year signed two new laws—the Farmland Law and the Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land Management Law—that will serve as the legal framework for the country’s land reform. The new laws lay down several important guidelines.

First, the state remains the ultimate owner of all land. Farmers are allowed to cultivate but only in accordance with the government’s prescriptions.

Second, farmers can now transfer or mortgage their land to repay their loans. This measure offers new avenues for farmers to raise credit and continue their agricultural activities.

Third, the new laws established a Central Farmland Management Body that is in charge of ensuring compliance with the new regulations and is largely independent of the judicial system. This body can transfer or revoke the right to work farmland, and provide land evaluation for various purposes. It operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and has subsidiaries extending from the region/state to village levels.

According to land activists and experts, the new land laws contain several fundamental weaknesses. Drafted largely behind closed doors, they were submitted to the parliament in mid-2011 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, and passed through the legislature in March 2012 after several rounds of amendments. The laws are not conducive to promoting commercial farming, which is a first step to addressing rural poverty and bringing Myanmar back into the ranks of major exporters of agricultural products along with neighboring India, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Under the new laws, farmers still lack land tenure security and are subject to the government’s crop prescriptions and production quotas. In contrast, in Vietnam the granting of more clearly defined land use rights in the 1980s was critical to boosting farm productivity and transforming the country into one of the world’s top exporters of rice, coffee, pepper, and cashews in less than two decades.

Influential government and parliamentary officials have recognized the need to conduct land reforms in a more inclusive and sustainable fashion. President Thein Sein said in a televised speech June 19 that Myanmar needs to have coherent land use and management policies in order to improve rural living conditions and ensure food security and job creation for the population outside of major cities. The president singled out uncertainty about land use rights and land speculation as two major hurdles that need to be addressed.

Significant land reform has major implications for Myanmar. It will determine the role of farmers in the country’s reform process and lay the foundation for new relations between the government and the rural poor. The current government has a window of opportunity to tap the country’s rich agricultural resources and work with farmers to deliver the much-needed dividends of democracy in vast areas of the country. The sprouting of new democratic institutions has allowed farmers to voice their concerns through local representatives and public protests within limits.

A coherent legal framework for land use is necessary to attract and build confidence among foreign investors. While a number of local businesses have agreed to return land concessions to farmers along with financial compensation, resolving land disputes through protests and large-scale demonstrations is not a viable solution in the long run. The government should instead put in place transparent guidelines regarding land compensation and gradually transfer authority to resolve land disputes to the judicial system.

Foreign governments and aid agencies can play a useful role in helping Myanmar figure out how to address land disputes. Fellow ASEAN countries in which the state owns the land, such as Vietnam, can provide examples of dos and don’ts for how they resolved differences over land rights. Foreign donors like the United States and the international financial institutions can also offer models for how land disputes were resolved and legal systems were developed in other parts of the world.

The current government’s handling of land disputes will set a precedent for how future Myanmar administrations are likely to address the legacies of cronyism, abuse, and lawlessness dating back to the former military regime. Besides devising a working legal framework for the future, the government needs to address issues of land claims predating the Thein Sein government in a manner deemed fair by the public. The extent to which legislators and officials are able to address land reforms and tackle land disputes will be one of the most important tests for the reformist government and President Thein Sein.

(This Commentary originally appeared in the November 8, 2012, issue of Southeast Asia from the Corner of 18th & K Streets.)

Murray Hiebert is deputy director and senior fellow of the Chair for Southeast Asia Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Phuong Nguyen is a researcher with the CSIS Chair for Southeast Asia Studies.



1. In his first foreign visit after being re-elected, President Barack Obama will be in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand from November 17 to 20, 2012. His visit to Cambodia is to attend the East Asia summit. The brief visits to Myanmar and Thailand will be bilateral.

2. He will be in Yangon (Rangoon) where Aung San SuuKyi lives for a few hours on November 19,2012. He will have talks with President TheinSein also at Yangon and not in the capital. He will be accompanied by Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, for whom this will be the second visit to Myanmar.

3. The proposed visit has been projected in warm terms both by the US and Myanmar.A spokesman for President TheinSein said on November 9: "His visit is warmly welcomed. It will strengthen the resolve of TheinSein to move forward with reforms.Obama's visit shows concrete support for the democratisation process of President U TheinSein, Daw Aung San SuuKyi, Members of Parliament and the Myanmar people.President TheinSein fully believes that the trip of President Obama will push the momentum of the process of democratic reform."

4. The proposed visit underlines the US confidence in the stability of the Government of President TheinSein and its belief that there is no opposition in the senior levels of the Myanmar Armed Forces to the policy of political and economic reforms and opening-up to the West undertaken by Mr.TheinSein and his c-operation with SuuKyi.

5.While there has been no comment so far from the Chinese Foreign Office, Qin Guangrong, Secretary of the Communist Party of China in Yunnan, who is presently attending the 18th Congress of the CPC in Beijing, said that China saw no threat to its interests from Mr.Obama's visit. He added: "We understand and support the wish of the Myanmar authorities wanting to open up and become part of the world."

6.Mr.Obama's proposed visit will be coming less than a month after a new spell of violence between the native Buddhists of the Rakhine (Arakan) State and the Rohingya Muslims, who are projected by the Myanmar authorities as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, not entitled to full citizenship rights.

7. The violence, which led to over 80 fatalities and added to the number of internally displaced persons living in camps, was triggered by the opposition of the Buddhists to a proposal to permit the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to open a permanent office in Yangon to monitor the human rights of the Rohingya Muslims and the distribution of humanitarian relief to the internally displaced refugees from both the communities living in camps in the Rakhine State.

8. While the violence has since subsided, a Commission appointed by the Government of President TheinSein to enquire into an earlier spell of deadly violence in June has not been able to make much progress in its enquiry due to non-cooperation from the Buddhists.

9. US officials dealing with the visit have maintained a discreet silence on the recent violence in the Rakhine State and sought to project the visit as meant to encourage the TheinSein Government to keep moving on the democratic path.However, there will be expectations from the Muslims of the ASEAN region, who nurse feelings of solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims, that Mr.Obama will exercise pressure on President TheinSein as well as Aung San SuuKyi to pay attention to the human rights of the Rohingya Muslims and grant them full citizenship rights.

10. The Buddhists are watching the visit with apprehension that President TheinSein and SuuKyi may soften their opposition to the grant of citizenship rights to the Rohingya Muslims under pressure from Mr.Obama. Any impression of a US pressure in this regard during Mr.Obama's visit could trigger off fresh violence in the Rakhine State weakening the ability of the TheinSein Government to restore law and order and to re-settle the displaced persons in their home villages.

11.Non-Governmental human rights organisations such as the Amnesty International have expressed their misgivings over the wisdom of Mr.Obama's decision to visit Myanmar at this delicate time. They are worried it could prove counter-productive.

12.In a report on the situation in the Rakhine State due for release on November 12, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) has been quoted by the media as saying as follows:

"The flare-up in Rakhine State represents a deeply disturbing backward step from Myanmar's reforms.This is a time when political leaders must rise to the challenge of shaping public opinion rather than just following it. A failure to do so will be to the detriment of the country.There is a threat of rising identity politics in Myanmar as reforms give new found freedoms to interest groups.The situation needs decisive moral leadership... by both President TheinSein and Aung San SuuKyi to prevent it spreading and contribute towards long-term solutions." The ICG urged the Government to ensure camps for the displaced do not become a precursor to the "segregation" of Rakhine and Rohingya.

13. Mr.Obama's tricky visit is coming at a time when sections of the Rakhine Buddhists are demanding a policy of separate development for the Buddhists andRohingya Muslims, with separate educational institutions, hostels and buses for RohingyaMuslim students. ( 12-11-12)

Hu Jintao to step down as military chief, making Xi Jinping most powerful

China's new leader in waiting, Xi Jinping will have a surprise head-start to emerge as the most influential leader, as outgoing President Hu Jintao has reportedly decided to step down from all posts including the all-powerful post of the military chief.

Xi, 59, currently the Vice President is expected to be formally nominated as the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party at the end of the ongoing 18th Communist Party Congress on its last day on November 14.

Scorching speculation, Hu has decided to formally relinquish his position as military chief at the end of the party Congress, Hong Kong-based 'South China Morning Post' quoted officials as saying.

Hu's decision to opt for complete retirement has surprised many analysts as he was expected to keep the top job of the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, especially in the backdrop of recent reshuffling of military top brass which was packed with officials who worked closely with him.

Vice Premier, Li Keqiang, 57 regarded as successor to Premier Wen Jiabao is also Hu's protege.

The Central Military Commission overseas all aspects of 2.3 million strong military. Xi is currently its Vice Chairman.

Turning 70 next month, Hu technically will be stepping down as Party Chief and as President after the Congress on November 14.

But the formal transfer of power was expected to take place early next year.

Hu's complete departure from Party and Military is watched closely in India as he is widely regarded as one of post Mao Zedong Chinese leaders who rebalanced ties with India bringing an element of "strategic equilibrium" to otherwise pro-Pakistan Chinese foreign policy.

He is credited to have reset Sino-Indian ties, repairing the damage caused by the 1962 border war and improved ties. Barring the problem of stapled visa to residents of Jammu and Kashmir in 2009, which China stopped after vociferous objections from New Delhi, a number of initiatives including agreement to prevent tensions at disputed borders provided a positive momentum to bilateral ties.

During the tenure of Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao, Sino-Indian trade touched an all time high of USD 73.90 billion last year.

Indian officials expect continuity of the policy as Xi and Li, who also the post-Kargil war Chinese leaders, are part of the process to improve Sino-Indian ties, even though they have not visited India in recent times.

Hu's departure will mark the first clean transfer of power the Communist Party has seen in two decades.

This gives a head-start for Xi, unlike Hu when he was chosen as President 10 years ago as his predecessor, Jiang Zemin retained the post of Head of the Military for about two years after retirement, broadly retaining his influence over the Party and the Military, which unlike elsewhere in the world are part of the state structure in China.

Jiang, reportedly heading the Shanghai faction of the Communist Party also played a major role in the new leadership selection currently underway at the Party Congress.

Xi was regarded as his protege as he previously headed the Shanghai Party unit before becoming Vice President 10 years ago.

When he is formally declared as Hu's successor, Xi will get the posts of General Secretary of the Party, President of the country and Chairman of the Military Commission, the Post said.

He could take over power formally early next year, as Hu, Wen and other top leaders are set to retire by the end of the year in what appears to be an orderly and smooth transition of power after the removal of hard-line Maoist leader Bo Xilai and purging of the party of his supporters.

Bo, 62 is currently awaiting his trial for a host of charges including sex, sleaze and covering up the role of his wife, Gu Kailai in the murder of a Briton, Neil Heywood who was reportedly British secret service MI6 agent.

Gu has been awarded a suspended death sentence.

Hu's decision to quit from all posts looks as an attempt to retain his clean image, as Jiang's decision to cling on to power through back door even after retirement had become immensely unpopular and fuelled fierce criticism both inside and outside the party, the newspaper said.

Many accused Jiang of jeopardising leadership succession plans envisaged by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and upstaging Hu, who Deng anointed to succeed Jiang.

Hu is said to be keenly aware of the high stakes in his decision on whether to retain the post as Chairman of the Military Commission, it said.

Image conscious Hu last week hit headlines with his speech at the inaugural day of the Party Congress warning leaders and cadre of how corruption which has become endemic among rank and file would result in the fall of both China and the Party.

"For whatever reasons Hu chooses to relinquish his power, it would be an important incremental step that helps set a new precedent pointing to smooth transfer of power," Chen Ziming, a Beijing-based political observer told the daily.

"This is definitely Hu's boldest push for political reform, which has been stuck in an impasse during his tenure," he said.

Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based historian said there is little doubt that Hu's departure would be good news for incoming leaders.

"The full retirement of Hu and other leaders will help strengthen the scope for their successors to run the country the way they intend," he said.

US-China-India: A critical strategic triangle

By C Uday Bhaskar

Two major national elections – that in the USA and China - have been the focus of considerable attention in recent weeks and their outcome have a very abiding relevance for India and the region.

For India, both the US and China remain critical interlocutors and as per macro economic projections, these three countries will form a distinctive strategic triangle of the largest single state economies by about 2030– which is the equivalent of the near future. Currently the GDP of these three nations is as follows; US –under US $17 trillion; China – below $7 trn; and India below $2 trn. A Goldman Sachs estimate projects that by 2030, the line-up would be as follows: China – $25.6 trn; USA – $22.8 trn; and India – $6.68 trn.

However in end 2012, the domestic mood in these three countries is one of considerable apprehension about the future. Grave economic, fiscal and governance challenges confront the leadership in Washington DC, Beijing and Delhi with the attendant socio-political discontent that augurs ill for the next election.

Equitable and inclusive socio-economic growth has eluded all these three societies and this has been aggravated by the global economic slowdown which is still taking it toll in the relatively insulated European Union. For the USA, the immediate priority is to deal with a looming 'fiscal-cliff' which will come into effect on January 1, 2013. Unless some radical legislative consensus is arrived at, current US law mandates that hefty tax increases and certain spending cuts will become mandatory to progressively reduce the huge budget deficit.

President Barack Obama and the US Congress will be tested for their political perspicacity and the integrity of the decisions taken will have a bearing on the credibility and vitality of the USA as the world's leading power. Experts aver that the scale of the public debt the USA has now accumulated - US$ 11. 4 trillion (October 2012 ) which is almost 72 percent of total US GDP - is just too colossal to handle. The oppressive strait-jacket situation that now obtains is that the event - the inevitability of the 'fiscal-cliff' cannot be allowed to happen for the consequences would push the USA into a disastrous tail-spin with no macro-tools for redress ; and on the other hand – the problem is so big that it cannot be tackled with the current orientation of the US political establishment, the vested corporate interests and the life-style choices of the American citizen.

The picture in Beijing is differently bleak. Currently the top Chinese leadership represented by the new team – Xi Jinping and Li Kaoqing - have to address growing disenchantment among their billion plus citizens, of whom half as many have become vocal netizens who give vent to their frustration through cyberspace and social media. In the wake of a series of high-profile corruption scandals, the disparity between the rich and the poor has visibly come into the open in a society that prizes opaque compliance from its people.

The 1989 Tiananmen experience is the socio-political 'fiscal-cliff' equivalent that Beijing has to avoid – at any cost. That the amber lights are flashing in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) apex is evident in the fine-print of the Hu Jintao speech at the November 8th transition. President Hu in a very uncharacteristic manner cautioned his colleagues : ""We cannot take the old road of seclusion and stagnation, nor can we take the 'wicked way' of changing our banner."

The Hu Jintao speech has elicited enormous comment within China and among China watchers outside the country. Will Xi Jinping – who represents the fifth generation CCP leadership adapt to a more progressive path to deal with China's complex socio-economic challenges? The global economic slowdown and the consumption depression in the USA and EU has adversely impacted China's hyper-export profile. A large component of China's phenomenal 10 percent plus GDP growth rate of the last 15 years has been enabled by its export profile. This in turn led to China's GDP quadrupling during the Hu Jintao decade.

The improvement of socio-economic indicators for a billion Chinese and hence their societal stability was pegged to the 10 percent plus GDP growth and this is now shrinking. The first half of 2012 registered below 8 percent and while this an impressive figure when compared globally (or for that matter India ) , Beijing is worried. What are the policy paths available to the Xi-Li combine ?

A return to the conservative Maoist ideology – which has many supporters in the CCP will lead to one kid of Chinese orientation in relation to its principal interlocutors – USA, Japan and India. The Hu Jintao reference to the strategic imperative for China to become a credible maritime power has already led to a flurry of interpretations in the USA and Japan.

UPA 2 which has an effective political life of about a year from now will have to deal with an Obama team and a Xi-Li combine that has these complex challenges to address in their respective domestic context. In the interim the intractable strategic and security basket that includes Af-Pak 2014, Iran, Syria and the East Asian island disputes amongst others will continue to simmer.

Obama, Xi (or Li) and Manmohan Singh will have their first meeting as part of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia in mid November. Can they agree that a major global structural review is called for to ensure that their triangular relationship is harmonized with the opportunities of this century?

DF-41: China’s answer to the US BMD efforts

By Arjun Subramaniam

November 12, 2012

China had recently test fired the mobile, MIRV capable DF-41 missile which is reported to have a range of 14000 km. This missile adds to the existing ICBM inventory of the Second Artillery, which already operates the older DF-5A and the more mobile DF-31, DF-31A. Among the existing three variants the DF-31 with a range of 7200 to 8000 km can reach only till Alaska with a single warhead. The other two have the range to deliver a single warhead on any part of the US mainland. The DF-31A is reported to be MIRV capable and can be armed with three warheads, but this will compromise the range of the missile, making it incapable of reaching the US mainland. To date, China has the capability of delivering a single warhead per missile on the US mainland. However, it is concerned about a new threat that degrades its deterrence capability—the US missile defence initiatives which continue to improve technologically and expand spatially. And the recent testing of the DF-41 which is capable of delivering 10 warheads over a distance of 14000 km is an effort towards improving the Chinese deterrence capability. China is actively working to balance the equation with the United States to maintain deterrence.

China is estimated to possess 30 to 40 ICBMs1 that have the range to reach the US mainland. In the event of a US first strike, the surviving missiles when launched could be intercepted by the US missile defence systems thus degrading China’s retaliatory capability. Nevertheless, the US Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) technology has not fully matured and various technical analyses of the US BMD systems tell us that it will be ineffective against saturation attacks and those that come with countermeasures and Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs). It is well known that China has the technology to develop and deploy MIRVs and countermeasures to penetrate defences. In light of this, many analysts believe that China will continue to maintain a minimum deterrence policy and a smaller force structure while improving only the survivability and effectiveness of its delivery mechanisms. On the other hand, considering the improving US missiles defences, it is possible that, in future, China will be forced to go for a vertical increase in its nuclear force (warheads and missiles). The recent testing of the DF-41 is an indication of the Chinese efforts towards this end. But to further explore this possibility it is essential to study the present US missile defence efforts and the future progress in US missile defence technology and the possible options for China to counter these efforts.

US Missile Defence Efforts

The United States has begun to forward deploy its missile defence component to protect the US mainland from missile attacks. Recent reports state that it will deploy an X-band radar in southern Japan as part of its missile defence plans. Japan already has one X-band radar deployed at Shariki base in Tsugaru City, in the far north of the main island of Honshu.2 The United States would also deploy floating Sea Based X-band (SBX) radar in the Pacific (may be in the North Pacific) for mid-course defence against InterContinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). A GBR-Prototype (GBR-P) X-band radar is located at Kwajalein Atoll in the Southern Pacific.3 An upgraded AN/FPS-115 radar (UHF) is deployed at Beale Air Force Base, California which is supported by an upgraded radar at Flyingdales, UK and Thule, Greenland.4 Added to this, the United States along with Japan has also deployed some Aegis SM-3 equipped ships near Chinese waters. These Aegis systems have S-band primary radar and X-band engagement radars and are capable of intercepting ballistic missiles of all range with unitary and separating warheads in its terminal phase, except ICBMs. Apart from providing terminal defence against Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM) and mid-course defence against MRBMs and IRBMs, these systems can detect and track ICBMs and transmit necessary target details and trajectory information to other systems in the BMD architecture for mid-course interception of ICBMs. In addition to these sensors the United States has deployed space based tracking and surveillance systems which consist of two satellites (technology demonstrators) that scan for targets in the infra-red and visible regions of the spectrum. These space based sensors can detect missiles in their boost phase when they emit high intensity short-wave IR radiations and can transmit information to other sensors and fire control systems.

These multiple arrays of sensors, which are netted together with the Fire Control System (FCS), and at places overlap in coverage, indicate that the detection, tracking and to some extent Decoy-Warhead (DW) discrimination capability of the United States is highly advanced, particularly for the crucial mid-course phase. All US radar sensors, except early warning radars AN/FPS-132 (UHF), Cobra Dane radars (L band) and the SPY-1 radar (S-band), operate in the X-band region, which helps in obtaining high resolution target details, thus enabling the discrimination of decoys and other missile debris from actual warheads. However, an attacker could employ both Infrared (IR) and radar signature countermeasures. Hence, for better Decoy-Warhead (DW) discrimination, the early warning and tracking systems should include optical sensors as well. The space tracking and surveillance system, which is in the demonstration phase, would be improved and expanded in future enabling it to perform better tracking as well as DW discrimination in the optical region thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the BMD systems. The forward positioning of the ground based sensors along with the space based systems would provide more reaction time for the fire control system. The improvement in the DW discrimination and the early initiation of the interception process will enable the employment of Shoot-Look-Shoot method, which would reduce the number of interceptors required and also lessen the burden for the terminal defence systems.

The other vital area which needs refinement is interception technology. The kinetic kill vehicle of the mid-course interceptor uses a dual band (visual and IR) optical terminal seeker5 to home in on to the warhead. To increase the accuracy as well as terminal target discrimination efficiency, which would improve the Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP) of the interceptor, a dual seeker (optical and high frequency Imaging Radar) might be used in the future. A higher SSKP would further reduce the number of interceptors required. Improvement to the burn-rate performance of the rocket motor, which would increase the average speed, and upgrading of control systems with better onboard software and attitude controls could be expected in future. All these improvements and fine tuning will complicate the Chinese efforts to maintain credible deterrence.

US BMD vs. Chinese Nuclear Force

A Chinese ICBM attack on the US mainland could be launched from two directions; either, over the North Pole (Circumpolar trajectory) or, over the extreme fringes of the Northern Pacific.6 Along both these directions, the missiles have to pass through the engagement envelope of the interceptors based in Alaska and, depending on the target area, over California too. The US BMD sensors (ground based X-band radars and Aegis ships) in and around Japan would detect and track any Chinese ICBM launch during the boost phase. It has been reported that AN/SPY-1 radars have tracked ballistic missiles at ranges in excess of 1000 km7 and the THAAD GBR (AN/TPY-2) X-band radar may be used as forward based sensors to alert the SM-3 systems when a threat missile launch has been detected.8 However, the altitude (boost phase) at which the missile would be detected depends on the distance of the launch point from the radar (due to Earth’s curvature and line of sight issues). If the missile is launched from areas closer to the shore, within the engagement envelope of the SM-3 missile, it is possible that the ICBM will be intercepted in the boost phase itself (To perform boost phase interception, interceptor speed might require improvement, minor changes in the guidance software might also be required, and the target missile with the presence of booster stages will also present a large target for the X-band radar.)

Over the next 10 to 15 years, the US military wants to equip Aegis ships with a much larger, faster interceptor that the United States is developing cooperatively with Japan. Estimates suggest that the interceptor's speed will be high enough—in principle—to allow it to intercept missiles with intercontinental range.9 Therefore, there is a high probability that the missiles would be launched from deep inland China and in the circum polar trajectory to avoid the Aegis system. Operating from deep inland would also increase the survivability of the missile units from US air strikes. To penetrate an effective BMD system, the Chinese missile should employ appropriate counter measures (decoy with IR and radar countermeasures, Manoeuvrable Re-entry Vehicle (MARV) and MIRV). However, with the gradually increasing capability of the US Decoy-Warhead discrimination capability, the countermeasures would gradually continue to become less effective. China does not enjoy the option of launching its land based ICBM in depressed or lofted trajectories to overwhelm the defences, as it would reduce the range of the missile, thus preventing them from reaching the US mainland.

Currently, China has deployed two ICBMs: the silo based older DF-5A and the solid fuelled and more mobile DF-31A. China had earlier tested the longer range, road mobile DF-41 with a range of 14000 km. While the DF- 5A and the DF-31A are reportedly single warhead10 missiles, the DF-41 will be a MIRVed (10 warheads)11 missile. At present, there are an estimated 30 to 40 ICBMs that have the range to reach the United States and, each being a unitary warhead missile, the total number of warheads would be 30 to 40. Assuming a SSKP of 0.30 per cent for the interceptors based in Alaska and California, it would require four interceptors for a single warhead. Hence the total requirement would be of 120 to 160 interceptors. But once the MIRV (10 warhead) capable DF-41 becomes operational, the number of warheads for this missile force would be a multiple of 10, thus quadrupling the number of interceptors required. This will get more complicated if the Chinese deploy decoys and countermeasures which would further increase required interceptor numbers. However, as discussed earlier, the improving sensor capability for Decoy-Warhead discrimination and the interceptor efficiency might reduce the number of interceptors required, negating the Chinese efforts to some extent.

The other measure the Chinese could undertake to counter US efforts would be to strengthen their undersea deterrence. Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) are a little difficult for missile defence systems to counter compared to land based missiles. A submarine could fire its SLBM in a depressed trajectory confusing the tracking systems and reducing the reaction time for the BMD system to respond. China’s SSBN fleet is in a nascent stage with all nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) (Xia and Jin) tied up at ports with zero patrols so far due to various technological problems. Once these problems are overcome and the boomers (Jin class) are operationalised, it will ensure better deterrence. Considering that four Jin class SSBNs will be deployed, with each housing 16 JL-2 missiles, it makes a total of 64 missiles and warheads (if armed with a single warhead). The JL-2 can also be MIRVed (three warheads (60, 90 or 120 kt)12 ), multiplying the total number of warheads to 192. However, an effective Chinese under sea deterrence, given the various problems (technology, crew training and experience), does not appear possible at least in the near future.

The US efforts to improve and expand its BMD system would degrade Chinese nuclear retaliatory capability thus making China’s nuclear deterrence less effective. This would force Beijing to initiate efforts to go for a qualitative and quantitative improvement of its nuclear force by increasing and improving its nuclear force structure by deploying more ballistic missiles with MIRV and MARV capability and penetration aids. China’s emphasis on the land based deterrent component is evident from the recent testing of the MIRV capable DF-41. This missile offers sufficient range to target any part of the US mainland and is also MIRV capable, which will be more effective in penetrating the missile defence shield being deployed by the United States. The deployment of the DF-41 will result in a vertical increase in the nuclear force operated by China. Nevertheless, the minimum deterrence doctrine might not change, with the aim remaining the same, i.e. to operate a necessary force capable of delivering at least a few warheads on the US mainland.

1. Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Chinese nuclear forces, 2011,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2011 vol. 67 no. 6, pp. 81-87, available at http://bos.sagepub.com/content/67/6/81.full.
2. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/279412/us-station-second-x-band.html
3. Edited by Duncan Lennox, Ground based mid-course defence (GMD) segment, Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems, Issue 55, 2011.
4. Ibid
5. Ibid
6. This is due to geography i.e. the location of the two countries.
7. See Note 3
8. Ibid
9. David Wright and Lisbeth Gronlund, “Technical flaws in the Obama missile defense plan” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 23 September 2012, available at http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/op-eds/technical-flaws-the-obama-missile-defense-plan.
10. Though there were some reports of the DF-31A being MIRVed, there is no confirmation yet. Jane’s Strategic System Issue 55 reports that, if DF-31A is MIRVed (3 warheads), its range will reduce to 10,000 km from 14000 km. The DF-5A reportedly still remains operational as a single warhead missile.
11. “PLA test-fired multiple warhead ICBM in July: Jane's Defence Weekly,” WantChinaTimes.com, 22 August 2012, available at http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20120822000138&cid=1101.
12. See Note 3

Arjun Subramanian P is pursuing his Masters in East Asian Studies, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi. He is also associated with the Center for Air Power Studies, New Delhi.