24 November 2012


Gossip will cease only with the release of Nehru’s private papers
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Jawaharlal Nehru didn’t have sex with Edwina Mountbatten, according to her daughter, Pamela Hicks. They were surrounded by too many people, says Louis Mountbatten’s ADC, Freddie Burnaby-Atkins. One wonders whether it would have made any difference to anyone if the affair had been consummated. The true story is locked up in the Nehru papers. But supplementary evidence draws attention to two aspects of Mountbatten’s conduct. First, he accommodated his wife’s serial infidelities. Second, his attitude to Nehru was marked by the utmost calculation.

Mountbatten and his wife made an extraordinarily dazzling couple whom their biographers have treated very gently. She was immensely rich from her Jewish grandfather. He was a royal prince, handsome, charming and extremely ambitious. Their sexual exploits were at one time the talk of London’s Mayfair society. Mountbatten is believed to have said once, “Edwina and I spent all our married lives getting into other people’s beds.” There were persistent rumours that the beds did not necessarily belong to people of the opposite sex. Even within their family, the phrase “to do a Dickie” was used for some spectacular piece of showmanship. Perhaps “doing a Dickie” had a wider connotation, reflecting the virtuosity of both husband and wife.

Although Nehru’s biographer says Mountbatten “bewitched” him, the courtship was entirely on Mountbatten’s side — at least to start with. Long before Nehru became prime minister, Mountbatten recognized him as “one of the most important political figures in the world” whom he ought to get to know in his own personal interest. Nehru may not even have been aware of Mountbatten’s existence except in very general terms in January 1944 when he was writing The Discovery of India in Ahmadnagar Fort. But Mountbatten, who was visiting Bombay at the time, was acutely aware of the prisoner’s importance and proximity, and wanted to meet him. It didn’t happen only because the viceroy’s permission was necessary, and Mountbatten’s powerful instinct for survival told him that an application might not go down too well with Lord Wavell.

Life inside the Iron Dome

Why President Obama shouldn't accept Israel's policy of defensiveness and despair.


As I write, the ceasefire in Gaza has held for going on two days. Every day is likely to bring a new provocation which will test the willingness of both sides to keep their arms sheathed; the most recent is the killing of a Gazan protestor by Israeli soldiers at a border crossing. For the moment, though, we can be thankful that Israel's security cabinet agreed, by what appears to be a hairsbreadth, to accept the ceasefire terms fashioned in Cairo and pressed on them very hard by President Barack Obama.

Usually the act of contemplating the might-have-been requires a leap of speculation -- but not in this case. Part of the horror of watching the drama of the last week was the sense of an almost mechanical, and thus helpless, re-playing of past events. As in Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Israel would follow up an extensive air assault with a ground operation designed to destroy Hamas's fighting capacity as well as the infrastructure of the state and the economy. Many innocent civilians would die, though of course the definition of "innocent" and "civilian" would be hotly disputed. Israel would be condemned for wanton destruction, and further isolated in world opinion. The United States would stand by its ally, and earn the further hatred of Arab peoples.

The importance of Obama's Asian pivot

By Nayan Chanda
Nov 24, 2012

As President Barack Obama ended his whirlwind media-saturated trip to Southeast Asia, skeptics wonder if the much-discussed American 'pivot to Asia' is not just a show. The fact that he had to spend a good part of his limited time with the media answering questions about Gaza demonstrated the inescapable pull of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Then, there is the worry about America`s high deficit and inevitable cut in defence spending. What can the US, with its dwindling power, do in Asia to balance a rising China, critics ask. The limits of America's power were indeed visible despite the pomp and ceremony of the presidential visit. But for all the obvious constraints faced by the US in reasserting its presence, it would be a mistake to treat the Obama policy as empty.

Right from 2009, the Obama administration has tried to refocus American attention away from Iraq and Afghanistan to the populous and fast growing Asia Pacific. After a long review of its policy options, the US decided to repair the damage to its stature caused in part by its neglect of the region. It concluded that denouncing regimes friendly to China without any carrots was counterproductive.

In October, 2009, senior State Department official Kurt Campbelltravelled to isolated Burma, meeting both military leaders and Aung San Suu Kyi. In a series of quiet meetings, the foundations were laid for slowly reforming Burma with concurrent lifting of sanctions. Meanwhile, the military junta, as revealed in their secret study brought to light by journalist Bertil Lintner, had concluded on its own that having China as a diplomatic ally and economic patron threatened the country's independence. Improving relations with the US by introducing political reform would be a recommended course.

How to Handle Hamas

The Perils of Ignoring Gaza's Leadership
By Daniel Byman

Israel's operation in Gaza is meant to compel Hamas to stop shooting rockets into Israel and to better police its territory. But with Hamas unable to bend to Israeli pressure, and Israel unable to escalate or back off, it will be up to outside states to end the fighting.

Rather than continuing to isolate Hamas, a better approach would be to hold them responsible for governing Gaza.

The biggest obstacle to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not the Palestinians' demand that Jewish settlements in the West Bank be dismantled, the barrier separating much of the West Bank from Israel, or the recent rightward shift of the Israeli body politic. It is the emergence of Hamas as the de facto government of the Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians reside.

Hamas has regularly attacked Israel with rockets from Gaza or allowed others to do so. It poses a strong and growing political threat to the more moderate Palestinian Authority, which is led by President Mahmoud Abbas and his technocratic prime minister, Salam Fayyad, and which governs the West Bank and used to run Gaza, too. Whereas PA leaders see negotiations with Israel and institution building as the best way to ultimately gain statehood, Hamas seeks to undermine the peace process. Many Hamas members have not reconciled themselves to the Jewish state's existence. Hamas' leaders also fear that Hamas would reap none of the benefits of a peace deal and that in the event of one, the PA would score political points at their expense. Hamas has shown repeatedly that it can bring talks to a painful end by castigating moderate Palestinians and turning to violence.

Israel dominates the new Middle East

By Fareed Zakaria, Published: November 22

As missiles and rockets exploded in Israel and Gaza, television news was dominated by the tragic violence, and we were warned that the battle between Israel and the Palestinians might spread because we are in a new and much more dangerous Middle East. Islamists are in power, democracies will listen to their people. In fact, as the relatively quick cease-fire between the parties shows, there is a very low likelihood of a broader regional conflict. It’s true that we’re in a new Middle East, but it’s one in which Israel has become the region’s superpower.

In a thorough 2010 study, “The Arab-Israeli Military Balance,” Anthony Cordesman and Aram Nerguizian document how over the past decade Israel has outstripped its neighbors in every dimension of warfare. The authors attribute this to Israel’s “combination of national expenditures, massive external funding, national industrial capacity and effective strategy and force planning.” Israel’s military expenditures in 2009 were about $10 billion, which is three times Egypt’s military spending and larger than the combined defense expenditures of all its neighbors — Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. (This advantage is helped by the fact that Israel receives $3 billion in military assistance from Washington.)

But money doesn’t begin to describe Israel’s real advantages, which are in the quality and effectiveness of its military, in terms of both weapons and people. Despite being dwarfed by the Arab population, Israel’s army plus its high-quality reservists vastly outnumber those of the Arab nations. Its weapons are far more sophisticated, often a generation ahead of those used by its adversaries. Israel’s technology advantage has profound implications on the modern battlefield.

Why was there war in Gaza?

Charles Krauthammer

By Charles Krauthammer,

Why was there an Israel-Gaza war in the first place? Resistance to the occupation, say Hamas and many in the international media.

What occupation? Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza. It dismantled every settlement, withdrew every soldier, evacuated every Jew, leaving nothing and no one behind. Except for the greenhouses in which the settlers had grown fruit and flowers for export. These were left intact to help Gaza’s economy — only to be trashed when the Palestinians took over.
The death of Twinkies

Israel then declared its border with Gaza to be an international frontier, meaning that it renounced any claim to the territory and considered it an independent entity.

In effect, Israel had created the first Palestinian state ever, something never granted by fellow Muslims — neither the Ottoman Turks nor the Egyptians who brutally occupied Gaza for two decades before being driven out by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel-Gaza ceasefire takes hold, but will cyber-war relent?

by Will Dalton, 23 November, 2012
2012 has witnessed new levels of cyber-warfare, with groups and governments using covert virtual operations to dent the campaigns of their foes. Even without the context of on-the-ground conflict, political tension has given birth to viruses like Flame, Mahdi and Shamoon, which have ravaged the IT infrastructure of organisations across the world. So when actual gunfire broke out between Israel and Gaza this month, it is little surprise the cyber-wars went into overdrive.

As always, conflict is at its most desperate and tragic on the ground, but the increasingly sophisticated battles taking place in the cyber-sphere are unmistakably growing in importance. Israel’s air strikes on the Gaza Strip have spawned a tidal wave of online attacks against its major organisations, putting crucial operations like governance, policing and military co-ordination under threat.

Cyberwar poses dilemma for US defence exporters

Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post
Friday, 23 November 2012

In the spring of 2010, a sheik in the government of Qatar began talks with the US consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton about developing a plan to build a cyber-operations center.

He feared Iran's growing ability to attack its regional foes in cyberspace and wanted Qatar to have the means to respond.

Several months later, officials from Booz Allen and partner firms met at the company's sprawling campus in Tysons Corner, Va. to review the proposed plan. They were scheduled to take it to Doha, the capital of the wealthy Persian Gulf state.

That was when J. Michael McConnell, a senior vice president at Booz Allen and former director of national intelligence in the George W. Bush administration, learned that Qatar wanted U.S. personnel at the keyboards of its proposed cyber-center, potentially to carry out attacks on regional adversaries.

The Cult of Massoud

How Afghanistan’s Che Guevara still haunts Hamid Karzai. BY JAMES VERINI | NOVEMBER 23, 2012 
KABUL — The first sign of officialdom you see when you drive from the Kabul airport parking lot is a government billboard looming above a traffic jam. It's the size of a highway billboard in the United States, but closer to the ground, so that you can make out every nuance of the faces on it. Those faces belong to, on the right of the coat of arms of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai, and on the left, slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, dead some 11 years. With Karzai, you note those tired eyes and that child's chin, unaided by a trimmed gray beard. Massoud comes off vastly more dashing. He appears to be in conference with the heavens: The eyes smolder from within, the strong chin and bushy goatee angle out like a divining rod. A pakol, the traditional hat of the Hindu Kush, sits like a column capital on his head.

Afghanistan's national hero has started a craze on the streets of Kabul

The Cult
Afghanistan's national hero has started a craze on the streets of Kabul.
NOVEMBER 23, 2012
Afghan leaders have for years sought a means through which to unify a country made up of a patchwork of different ethnic groups and tribal rivalries. The means they've settled on: Ahmad Shah Massoud. Since his death at the hands of an al Qaeda bomb in September 2001, a cult of personality has formed around Massoud, whose mythology was built up through fighting against both the Soviets and the Taliban. This elevation of Massoud to the status of national hero has come about both organically and at the encouragement of officials, who seek both to claim a bit of Massoud's popularity for themselves and to provide a larger-than-life figure that Afghans can rally around. Whether or not Massoud -- who fought bravely, but whose personal feuds often devastated the lives of thousands of unwilling civilians -- fits the bill is not yet clear. In the meantime, Massoud, whose face now covers cars, billboards, posters and carpets across Afghanistan, has become an absentee rival for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who now must operate in the shadow of a legend. Writing in Foreign Policy, James Verini argues that the combination of a complex legacy and posthumous star power means Massoud has become "the Che Guevara of Central Asia."

Sex and the Modern Soldier

Just how bad is the military's woman problem?
NOVEMBER 14, 2012

As I write this, the Petraeus saga, which morphed first into the Petraeus-Broadwell saga, and then into the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley saga, followed closely by the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen saga, is morphing into Phase 5, or maybe it's Phase 6. Who can keep track? By now, I believe, it's the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen-Evil Twin Natalie-Shirtless FBI Agent-Eric Cantor-Classified Documents story.

By the time you read this, the saga will have morphed into Phase 11 or 12, and it will no doubt have been revealed that Anthony Weiner was Jill Kelley's college roommate before a series of harassing phone calls from a Lockheed Martin executive led him to take up residence instead in one of those fancy hotel rooms favored by disgraced Gen. Kip Ward. Prince Harry and the Waffle House guy will probably also turn out to be involved.


American soldiers marrying Iraqi women and the romances of US generals reveal the ties that bind love and war,writes
Abhijit Bhattacharyya

War brings about celebration for the victor, despair for the vanquished, frustration for the retreating troops and rejuvenation for the advancing troops. However, it appears that these conventional situations have not affected the commanders of the army of the United States of America. How else can one define the profound role non-combatant women have played in spoiling the reputations of at least two top US generals? Interestingly, there seems to be a common factor between American soldiers and their generals. They seem to be equally adept at handling love affairs as well as fighting in hostile terrain. If one were to turn the pages of history, one would find that the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, had warned during the Iraq war in 2003 that “We are in for a long, hard test of wills and we have to be prepared to meet that.” Within hours, however, what may have gone unnoticed was the news of a serious breach of discipline within the ranks of the army in a zone of conflict.

How To Stop Sexual Assault in the Ranks

By Rachel NatelsonNov. 23, 2012

Air Force photo / Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt

Air Force women Trisha Loede, left, of the 39th Air Base Wing, hugs Ann Mitchell of the 39th Force Support Squadron, following a "dirty dash" at Incirlik air base in Turkey earlier this year as part of Women's History Month.

In the wake of the recent release of the Air Force investigation into sexual misconduct by Basic Military Training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base, Congress is likely to address the issue of military sexual violence through provisions in the pending National Defense Authorization Act.

With proposals ranging from creating military Special Victims Units, to reserving case-disposition authority for high-ranking officers, to strengthening penalties for offenders, legislators have vowed to get tough on crime against women in uniform.

World War II pigeon message stumps U.K.’s decoders

AP This b/w photo released by the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, shows the skeletal remains of a pigeon discovered in the chimney of a house in southern England which carried a mysterious, long-forgotten message from World War II.

TOPICSunrest, conflicts and war

Britain’s top code-breakers have been stumped by a secret code found on the leg of a dead pigeon with a message from World War II attached to it.

The remains of the bird were found in a chimney in Surrey and experts at the intelligence agency GCHQ have been struggling to decipher the message since they were provided with it a few weeks ago.

The Great Oil Fallacy

John Quiggin|
November 19, 2012
Flickr/TimSackton.Among the unchallenged verities of U.S. politics, the most universally accepted is that of the crucial strategic and economic significance of oil, and particularly Middle Eastern oil. On the right, the need for oil is seen as justifying an expanded and assertive military posture, as well as the removal of restrictions on domestic drilling. On the left, U.S. foreign-policy is seen through the prism of “War for Oil,” while the specter of Peak Oil threatens to bring the whole system down in ruins.

The prosaic reality is that oil is a commodity much like any other. As with every major commodity, oil markets have some special features that affect supply, demand and prices. But oil is no more special or critical than coal, gas or metals—let alone food.

Let’s start with some numbers. The United States currently uses about nineteen million barrels a day, of which about eleven are imported, mostly from within the Western Hemisphere. Imports from the Persian Gulf supply about 15 percent of total U.S. oil demand, a share that has declined over time.

Two lessons from 1962

Published on Deccan Chronicle (http://www.deccanchronicle.com)

In October-Nove­m­ber 1962, the world witnessed two crises unfold and how, in each case, one side managed to control the escalation and de-escalation, while the other side grossly underestimated the opponent’s response. In 1962, the Soviet Union, having a very limited capability to strike mainland US with nuclear weapons, decided to base nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in Cuba. The Soviet Union underestimated the Ame-rican response. At about the same time, Chinese claims to Indian territory led to a major miscalculation by India, that the Chinese would not attack India, so an ill-prepared, ill-equipped Indian Army was ordered to send small groups of soldiers, dressed in summer clothes to occupy the disputed high mountain areas, where freezing winter cold greeted the troops. 

The Indian government had earlier disregarded a 1960 written document (Exercise “Lal Qila”) by Lt. Gen. S.P.P. Thorat, which had warned of the Chinese threat by 1962. A similar warning in 1959 by the then Army Chief Gen. Thim-maya was also disregarded. As the Americans and Soviets got involved in the 1962 crisis, the well-prepared Chinese, led by war veteran Chairman Mao, seized the opportunity to “teach India a lesson”. On October 20, 1962, the Chi-nese launched a massive attack across the disputed 4,000 km Sino-India border and inflicted on India its only military defeat since Independence in 1947. On October 22, 1962, the US announced the Cuban bl­ockade, secure in the kn­o­wledge that they had an overwhelming nuclear and maritime superiority over the USSR — three of the fo­ur Soviet conventional submarines on patrol off Cuba were forced to surface by the American Navy. The Soviets backed down and the crisis was over on November 20, 1962, forcing the USSR to build a global Soviet Navy and strategic deterrence capability over the next 20 years during which the USSR eventually disintegrated in 1991. The Chinese, who had almost reached the plains of Assam, declared a unilateral ceasefire on Nov-ember 21, 1962, and also announced their intention to withdraw to the positions they held before hostilities broke out on Octo-ber 20, 1962. The reason for this was the overstretched Chinese logistics chain in the winter months and the strong possibility of US military intervention, as India had approached the West for urgent help. 

DRDO press release of today's successful anti-ballistic missile test


Friday, Nov 23, 2012

The Interceptor Missile AAD launched by the Scientists of DRDO from Wheeler’s Island, Odisha successfully destroyed the incoming Ballistic Missile at an altitude of 15 Kms. The interception took place at 12.52hrs. The target missile, a modified version of Prithvi, mimicking the enemy’s ballistic missile, was launched from Launch Complex III, Chandipur.

Ten truths about the 1962 War

Issue Net Edition | Date : 23 Nov , 2012

Mules carrying ammunition over a mountain pass during 1962 War

Here are some truths about the 1962 China’s War which are not often mentioned in history books or Reports from the Government.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive.

1. The precise location of the border

In the Army HQ in Delhi as well as locally in the NEFA, nobody was really sure where exactly the border (the famous McMahon Line) was. It is the reason why the famous Henderson-Brooks report has been kept out of the eyes of the Indian public for fifty years. Till the fateful day of October 20, 1962, the Army bosses in Delhi were unable to tell the local commanders where the border in Tawang sector precisely was?

Jihadist Cells and "IED" Capabilities in Europe: Assessing the Present and Future Threat to the West

Authored by Dr. Jeffrey M. Bale.
Added November 14, 2012
Type: Monograph
176 Pages
Download Format: PDF

Brief Synopsis

The first of two interrelated security threats is multifaceted inasmuch as it stems from a complex combination of religious, political, historical, cultural, social, and economic motivational factors caused by the growing predilection for carrying out mass casualty terrorist attacks inside the territories of “infidel” Western countries by clandestine operational cells that are inspired by, and sometimes linked to, various jihadist networks with a global agenda. The second threat is more narrowly technical: the widespread fabrication of increasingly sophisticated and destructive improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by those very same jihadist groups. These devices, if properly constructed, are capable of causing extensive human casualties and significant amounts of physical destruction within the radius of their respective blasts. These dual intersecting threats within the recent European context are examined in an effort to assess what they might portend for the future, including within the U.S. homeland.

India’s Defence Relations: Imperatives of Balancing

E-Mail- rkbhonsle@gmail.com

Wooed by the world after decades of neglect, India is faced with a major dilemma in structuring defence relations given the strategic landscape in which the country is placed today. China’s aggressive posturing in East and South East Asia and US shift to Asia Pacific with a curious admixture of global and regional balancing defines the challenge for countries in the region to choose between the two main poles in a multi-polar global order. This has come about even as India’s North West including Af-Pak and West Asia are in a flux where state and non state actors are engaged in fratricidal conflicts which are slow burning with occasional flash points as seen in Gaza recently. This state is unlikely to change in the near future.