28 November 2012

Army’s most critical deficiency: Good Generals?

Issue Net Edition | Date : 27 Nov , 2012 

General SHFJ Manekshaw, MC, with the citizens of Bangladesh at Khulna in 1971. 

A lot has been written about Generals in the recent past. Not because of in-house introspection or internal check but because misdeeds were exposed in the Media. Lack of internal audit is a cause for concern. I wish to draw attention not on morals, but on Professionalism. 

I have never been able to understand why no one is concerned about professionalism of Generals, the most important battle winning factor. Is it lack of interest or is the importance just not realised? Due to inaccuracies in the recording of past wars and inadequate professional analysis, we fail to draw lessons from our conflicts, with the result Generalship continues to be most mediocre, barring a few exceptions. 

Generalship is not mere planning and issue of orders. Generals must ensure optimum utilisation of available resources, achieve their aims at minimum cost, and deal with unforeseen challenges and adversities, which are inevitable. 

India has greater military advantage over China: Ex-Army Vice Chief

16 November 2012

Former Vice Chief of Staff of the Indian Army, Lt Gen S Pattabhiraman, believes that "the Chinese do not seek any territorial claims." He justified his observation by explaining how the Chinese, in spite of being in a better bargaining position, did not retain any Indian territory after the 1962 war.Initiating a discussion on 'Fifty Years after the Chinese Debacle' at ORF-Chennai on Saturday, 10 November 2012, Gen Pattabhiraman (Retd) pointed out that ironically, China has settled border disputes with all other countries except India and Bhutan, indicating a linkage in the two cases.

At the beginning of the discussion, Gen Pattabhiraman mentioned that there has been a debate in "informed circles", especially through the print media, whether, after 50 years of war, if India was ready for any confrontation with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China. He gave a very brief introduction to the classification of Eastern, Western and Middle sectors of the northern borders of India that it shares with China. He said that "we have to face the reality of disputable lands" in the borders along China. 

Gen Pattabhiraman stressed on the poor state of infrastructure in the northern part of India and said that the western sector has seen far more development in infrastructure and logistics compared to its eastern counterpart, namely, the northern part of Arunachal Pradesh, which is divided into two by the means of the Brahmaputra river and a series of valleys. He also recalled how elephants used to be the common means of transport between the northern and southern banks of Brahmaputra. 

AFSPA : Soldiers clear, but is everyone else ?

Issue Net Edition | Date : 24 Nov , 2012 

An anti-terrorist post being manned by infantry soldiers in Doda District, J&K 

With Kashmir Valley on the boil, the prolific public debate on the ‘Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act’ (AFSPA) has taken on an unusual stridency. But a debate which is swayed by emotion, prejudice or cultivated ignorance, instead of resting upon a bed-rock of factual realities, becomes an exercise in mere sophistry. 

Before we re-examine what AFSPA is all about, a word about the Indian soldier (means all members of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force). 

Helicopters in Special Operations

Issue Vol. 27.4 Oct-Dec 2012 | Date : 26 Nov , 2012 

By definition, Special Operations are those that are executed independently or in conjunction with conventional military operations with the aim to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does not exist or might affect the overall strategic outcome. Special Operations, more often than not, exploit the advantage of speed, surprise and violence of action against an unsuspecting target and are typically carried out with limited numbers of highly motivated personnel painstakingly trained to operate in hostile environment, improvise beyond copy-book drills, be self-reliant and use unconventional combat skills and equipment to achieve objectives. As far as counter terrorism operations are concerned, helicopters are in constant use to airlift para-military and police forces to locate or relocate in response to changing situations. A real Special Operation involving the use of helicopters would thus be one where a border or Line of Control is violated deliberately in pursuit of a strategic or operational objective. 

Lest We Forget

On the fourth anniversary of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, there are still many unfinished tasks arising from the strikes to which attention needs to be drawn 

As the nation observes the fourth anniversary of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, there are still many unfinished tasks arising from the strikes to which attention needs to be drawn. These are the following: 
  • The Government of Pakistan is yet to complete the prosecution and trial of the seven masterminds of the strikes. They have been arrested, but the trial against them before an anti-terrorism tribunal of Rawalpindi is being repeatedly adjourned under some pretext or the other, thereby making a mockery of the trial. 
  • Pakistan has not taken any action against the officers of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who had helped the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in carrying out the strikes. We find ourselves without any diplomatic or covert action options to force the Pakistani State to act against them. This dramatically illustrates our powerlessness in the face of the continued sponsorship of terroism by Pakistan against Indian citizens in Indian territory. 
  • Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the LET and its political wing Jamaat-ud-Dawa, continues to be a free man. Pakistan has repeatedly rejected all the evidence produced by us against him. 
  • The anti-India terrorist infrastructure of the LET in Pakistani territory continues to function unimpaired. The Pakistani State is not prepared to act against it. By our continued reluctance to revive our covert action capability, we have denied ourselves the means of acting against it covertly and effectively. 
  • We have not yet been able to reconstruct the conspiracy in our territory completely. We have not been able to identify the Indian Muslims who might have acted as the accomplices of the LET in the planning and execution of the strikes and arrest them. We have not been able to interrogate thoroughly David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana of the Chicago cell of the LET and establish the identities of their contacts in India who helped them in the collection of operational intelligence for being passed on to the LET in Pakistan. It is inconceivable that Headley, who repeatedly visited India at the instance of the LET and the ISI, had no contacts in India on whose help he relied. The sleeper cells in the Indian Muslim community which helped Headley and Rana remain unidentified and unneutralised. 
  • We have not yet been able to establish how Headley and Rana repeatedly managed to evade detection by the Indian intelligence and immigration during their visits to India before the strikes. 
  • The quality of our investigation has not improved despite our setting up the National investigation Agency (NIA) after the strikes. This would be evident from the poorly detected cases that have taken place after 26/11. 
  • The exercise to set up a National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC) has got stuck up without any forward movement due to political mishandling by the Government of India. 
  • We have failed to mobilise and persuade the relatives of the foreigners killed to act legally against the ISI in the courts of their countries. 
  • We have failed to take follow-up action against our TV channels and TV journalists on whom strictures were passed by the Supreme Court while confirming the death sentence on Ajmal Kasab. These strictures related to their irresponsible live coverage of the strikes, which complicated the tasks of the security forces. The channels and the journalists have succeeded in creating a wall of silence around their sins of commission and omission. It is as if the TV journos are a law unto themselves and not subject to any scrutiny or even public debate on the judicial strictures. 
Unless these tasks are completed, we can never talk of closure in respect of the terrorist strikes. 
  • Will the closure ever come? I have my doubts unless the voters decide to teach all concerned a lesson during the forthcoming elections and continue to keep the spotlight on the irresponsible and unprofessional coverage by the TV journos. 

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.


12 October 2012

Transcript of the address delivered by Stephen Cohen

The book, “Shooting for a Century - A Hundred Years of India-Pakistan Conflict,” largely builds on the apprehension of the present situation getting worse and lasting over a hundred years. The assumption, however, of the conflict spanning a century does not appear to be the worst conceivable future. The worst possible outcome would be a catastrophic collapse of Pakistan, having a spill-over effect to India. While another disaster would be a violent outbreak between the two; leading to a Nuclear War. These two alternate futures are worse than the present crisis. Evidently, normalisation is desirable (as, a peace process is unimaginable) but its process should be rational. The three futures that everyone prophesise but are unlikely to happen are - a continued stability between Indo-Pak relations, a catastrophic collapse of Pakistan and subsequent influx of refugees into India which may disturb its social cohesiveness. Lastly, military conflict being escalated to a point where nuclear weapons are used. 

With the ongoing crisis, there is a possibility of upscale. This assertion is reached by looking at the nature of current Indo-Pakistan relations. The three dominant attributes of it are: One, the nature of ordinary disputes (i.e. Siachen, water, trade, travel, transit, etc). Depite these disputes being highly negotiable, the countries have failed to bilaterally negotiate on these issues despite 65 years of independence. The one successful attempt was in the case of the Indus Water Treaty, which was an apolitical dispute and was solved by external factors. 

The factory that made Kasab

It is futile to look for closure in the of death of a lone terrorist when the infrastructure that made him is intact 

In his book, The Man who laughs, Victor Hugo introduced the hideous vocation of Comprachicos—the child buyers. This tribe bought or kidnapped infants, and then deliberately mutilated them. They would break their spines, joints of the limbs; slit their eyelids and an assortment of other disfigurements to create human monsters that were sold to kings to serve as mountebanks. This deliberate mutilation of the body and mind was also practised in China, where children were dwarfed—much like bonsai—by putting them inside Ming vases for years, deforming and stunting their growth to serve as court jesters. But in recent times, this gruesome model has been refined to create an army of foot soldiers of which the recently hanged Ajmal Kasab was but one example. 

In 2010, the Pakistani film-maker Sharmeen Obaid won an Emmy award for her remarkable film, The Children of Taliban, which documents the five-step methodology of the extremist organization’s assembly line to create suicide bombers. Step one begins with targeting poor rural families from whom children are taken away with promises of food and education to training schools hundreds of miles away. 

The second step is intense indoctrination based on a corrupted interpretation of the Quran with a complete blackout of all other information. The third step is to make these children hate the world and their own existence by meting out inhuman treatment like frequent beatings, being fed twice a day on bread and water and being kept as virtual prisoners. 

Then, There Was None

It’s a fallacy for the govt to assume that by hanging kasab, it showed its resolve to fight terrorism. 

The hanging of Ajmal Kasab (it’s actually ‘Kasaab’, butcher in his native tongue) has closed one chapter on the sordid saga of the attacks on Mumbai four years ago. For the families of the victims of those ghastly attacks, the execution has provided some relief. Many have said they are now prepared to move on, some even want to spread the message of peace. It also bears reiterating that for the families that carry the wounds of 26/11, the hanging of Kasab carries an important message. But it is a fallacy for India’s government to assume that this shows their resolve to act tough against terror. And did we really use Kasab to our complete advantage? Pakistan’s establishment is still in denial and has disowned Kasab, as they had disowned their dead soldiers in the Kargil conflict as also in the earlier wars. 

Kasab was a small cog in the wheel. The true masterminds of the 26/11 massacre are still at large in Pakistan, where they enjoy state patronage. These range from Hafiz Saeed, the founder and chief mentor of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), who continues to spout venom against India at public gatherings without censor, and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT’s chief military commander, who has the dubious distinction of having fathered a child during his current jail tenure! Kasab knew these men—as David Headley and others have already stated—and he would have also known Sajid Mir, the plotter of the 26/11 attacks, as well as the ISI’s Major Samir, both still at large. Clearly, the complicity of the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies was considerable, but its hawks are unrepentant on their terror tryst. We failed to exploit Kasab’s knowledge of these men. Televised interviews, with the international media in attendance, of Kasab identifying his handlers, would have done wonders for India’s case against Pakistan. 

India-U.S. Security Relations, and More from CRS

November 26th, 2012 by Steven Aftergood

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

India’s Feckless Elite

by Sadanand Dhume 

Its political class may not be up to the task of leading India toward prosperity. 

Just the other day, it seemed as if India could hardly put a foot wrong. Annual economic growth averaged above eight percent between 2003 and ’08, and the country was one of the world’s few major economies to escape more or less unscathed from the global financial crisis. In November 2010, President Barack Obama made the longest foreign visit of his presidency to India. There, in a rousing address to Parliament, Obama declared that “India has emerged,” and pledged to back New Delhi’s quest for a permanent seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council. By then, authors and analysts had already churned out a small rainforest worth of books and articles asserting that the 21st century belonged to Asia’s two giants, China and India. 

Two years later, India’s rise looks a lot less certain. Economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 5.5 percent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, and few independent analysts expected it to top six percent in the rest of the year. For a country still at an early stage of development—in dollar terms, the average Indian earns about as much as the average Chinese did in 2004—this augurs ill. Most economists believe that India needs to grow by more than seven percent annually merely to keep pace with the 13 million new entrants into the job market each year. (China’s growth rate, even after declining from its former torrid pace, is eight percent.) Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Centre for Policy Research, in New Delhi, says India is “flirting with social catastrophe.” 

India’s Foreign-Policy Fog

by Michael Kugelman 

Propelled by economic success and a sense of its own exceptionalism, India stands poised to create a new role for itself on the world stage. But Indians do not agree on what that role should be. 

It’s no easy task navigating through heavy fog in the dead of night. But on one memorable occasion in New Delhi, my driver wasn’t going to be stopped. It was 3 a.m. as we careened out of Indira Gandhi International Airport and onto the highway leading to my downtown hotel. The fog was so thick that our headlights barely illuminated the vehicles in front of us. Yet my driver kept plowing ahead, even though he wasn’t very sure where he was going. 

India’s foreign policy is on the same kind of path. The country is moving away from the nonalignment doctrine it followed during the Cold War, but it doesn’t know what should take its place. The contours of a new worldview are emerging, but remnants of the old one linger, reflecting an uncertainty about India’s proper role abroad that is tied to the country’s complicated situation at home. 

The Non-Unitary Model And Deterrence Stability In South Asia

Stimson Center
November 13, 2012 

Pakistan and India compete sharply in Kashmir and, now, in Afghanistan.1 Each believes with varying intensity and evidence that the other projects agents of violence to subvert its domestic order. India cites the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 and on the Lok Sabha in New Delhi in 2001; Pakistan alleges that India abets the insurgency in Balochistan. These causes of insecurity stimulate conventional military preparations and an unregulated build-up of fissile material stockpiles, nuclear weapons, and delivery vehicles. 

In this environment, the objective of strengthening deterrence stability is highly advisable. The ideal goal of inducing these states to abandon their nuclear arsenals and join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states is impractical, even if the US and others cannot publicly abandon it due to global considerations. The priority now should be preventing war between India and Pakistan which could too easily escalate to nuclear exchanges. Indeed, deterrence stability is a better framework for conceptualizing and redressing the nuclear challenge in South Asia than is focusing on preventing “loose nukes” and nuclear terrorism. The threat of India-Pakistan war is more immediate than that of nuclear terrorism. In any case, deterrence stability would reduce the risks of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons. Moreover, India and Pakistan would be more inclined to engage in dialogue and Confidence-Building Measures framed around deterrence stability than they are when the agenda seems to reflect other US priorities such as countering nuclear terrorism or strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. 


Obama’s second term may strengthen India-US strategic ties 
Kanwal Sibal

What impact will President Barack Obama’s re-election have on the United States of America’s strategic ties with India? It needs recalling that the US defines its strategic partnership with India very broadly, not limiting it only to hard security issues. Cooperation in the priority areas of energy, agriculture, science and technology, education, health and information technology is viewed as generating the building blocks of the strategic partnership. The US’s stated objective is to build Indian capacities in various sectors so that India’s role in global affairs can be enhanced. The thrust of US policy in Obama’s second term should remain this. 

Work on large parts of the ambitious India-US bilateral agenda remains unfinished. India’s nuclear liability legislation continues to hinder nuclear energy cooperation. The US spokesperson has identified this issue for a solution after Obama’s win. In agriculture, issues pertaining to genetically modified crops remain unsettled; in education, legislation allowing foreign universities to play a greater role in India has not yet been enacted. 

With regard to obtaining easier access to US high technologies, including dual use technologies, with the loosening of export controls, Indian expectations haven’t been fully met. The hike in visa fees and denial of visas to Indian service providers are adversely affecting our information technology sector. We have moved on allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, but significant reforms in the financial and labour sectors sought by the US are awaited. Obama, who had commented critically some months ago on the reforms slow-down in India, is likely to return to the theme, particularly as his focus on economic issues in his second term might become sharper in order to bolster flagging US economic growth. 

Great summarizing FT article on "global food security" risk

FT article on "global food security" risk http://t.co/h2EMHtZk

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Notice the equatorially-centric band? Remind you of another map? 

Starts by calling farmers "the canaries in the mine when it comes to climate change." Brilliant. 

What affects farmers affects the global food supply and causes the price rises that hit middle class wallets and increases the risk of hunger for the world's poor. 

CC isn't the "only culprit" when it comes to good security. 


November 07, 2011

Speaking today at DARPA’s “Colloquium on Future Directions in Cyber Security,” DARPA Director, Regina E. Dugan, reinforced that the advent of the Internet more than 40 years ago created both tremendous opportunities and risks. 

“DARPA’s role in the creation of the internet means we were party to the intense opportunities it created and share in the intense responsibility of protecting it. Our responsibility is to acknowledge and prepare to protect the Nation in this new environment,” said Dugan. “We need more and better options. We will not prevail by throwing bodies or buildings at the challenges of cyberspace. Our assessment argues that we are capability limited, both offensively and defensively. We need to fix that.” 

Since 2009, DARPA has steadily increased its cyber research efforts. The Agency’s budget submission for fiscal year 2012 increased cyber research funding by $88M, from $120M to $208M. Over the next five years, the Agency plans to grow its top line budget investment in cyber research from 8 percent to 12 percent. 

“We are shifting our investments to activities that promise more convergence with the threat and that recognize the needs of the Department of Defense,” explained Dugan. “Malicious cyber attacks are not merely an existential threat to our bits and bytes; they are a real threat to our physical systems, including our military systems. To this end, in the coming years we will focus an increasing portion of our cyber research on the investigation of offensive capabilities to address military-specific needs.” 

Hatching cyberwar: Pentagon incubator will manage weapons

Defense Department file photo 

By Dawn Lim November 26, 2012 

This story has been updated to clarify points about the role of the lab. 

The Pentagon’s research wing is setting up a technology incubator for Defense-funded developers to stitch together computer code to automate offensive cyber operations. 

The Arlington, Va.-based experimental lab, called the Collaborative Research Space, will function as the test grounds for Plan X, a four-year funding drive to build a system to “control a cyber battlespace in real-time,” a newly-released contract document on the initiative reveals. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants onsite developers to build algorithms and combine code that could make it easier for planners to implement more proactive security measures and launch malware campaigns against adversaries. According to the document, DARPA seeks to build "an end-to-end system that enables the military to understand, plan, and manage cyberwarfare in real-time" and an "open platform architecture for integration with government and industry technologies." 

Plan X, also called “foundational cyberwarfare,” signals an increasingly aggressive turn in the Defense Department’s approach to addressing threats to its networks. The laboratory, a designated Collateral Secret area, is described as a collaborative space for contractors and the military. “DARPA intends to arrange program interaction with a variety of users from DoD and other government agencies, including onsite military personnel who will be testing and using the Plan X system on a daily basis,” contract databases indicate. 

Pentagon to bolster networks and cyberattack capabilities with ‘Plan X’

An aerial view of t, ... ] // Defense Department file photo 

By Dawn Lim August 21, 2012

The Pentagon is seeking technology to coordinate and bolster cyberattack capabilities through a funding experiment called “Plan X,” contract documents indicate. 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency envisions new tools that will lay the foundation for launching malware and other computer espionage tools against foreign networks. “The objective of the Plan X program is to create revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning, and managing cyberwarfare in real-time, large-scale, and dynamic network environments,” reads a special notice posted August. 20. 

The technology DARPA seeks is part of a larger shift at the Pentagon towards openly supporting the infrastructure for offensive strategies. 

As part of Plan X, DARPA is looking to fund research to develop tools to scan and analyze the flow of information in networks to give military planners greater visibility and situational awareness for planning “cyber operations” against enemy systems, according to the notice. The agency also wants to build agile architecture that monitors damage in “dynamic, contested, and hostile network environments” and can adaptively defend against attacks and perform “weapon deployment.” 

While this program is explicitly not funding vulnerability analysis or “cyberweapon generation” -- the creation of malware -- the technology developed under Plan X plausibly supports their deployment. DARPA wants technology that allows operations to be orchestrated in the same way as “the auto-pilot function in modern aircraft.” If a system can be programed to automatically repeat a certain offensive or defensive maneuver, this functionality could scale security efforts. 

Military cyber range moves from laboratory to deployment

By Dawn Lim November 12, 2012 

A test range for Defense personnel to hone computer attack capabilities is slated to receive a multimillion dollar boost as the system transitions from the Pentagon research wing’s laboratories into deployment. 

The platform, created under a program called the National Cyber Range, is providing infrastructure for the Pentagon to advance its drive to develop more offensive tools that will hunt down intruders and thwart computer attacks. Defense intends to award $80 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. for five years to support operations at the facility, contract databases indicate

The range, housed in a “specially architected sensitive compartmented information facility with appropriate security protocols,” is equipped with custom-configured government and Lockheed Martin-owned hardware and software, federal databases reveal. The test lab, a mini-model of the public Internet and other institutional networks, “provides for the modeling of cyber attacks,” a special notice reveals. 

The lab will allow the Defense Department to test and evaluate the impact of cyber attacks. The notice, in a signal that the range could plausibly serve as a launchpad for offensive campaigns, notes that it will support efforts to “simultaneously execute parallel events at multiple security levels (unclassified through Top Secret) as required.” 

Why We Need A Cyber Doctrine Now

Published: November 27, 2012 

We've heard national security leaders at the highest levels say it repeatedly: we are not prepared for cyber war.

Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, made it clear when he rated America's readiness for addressing a catastrophic cyber attack "three on a scale of ten." Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has discussed the imminent threats of a breach that "shuts down part of the nation's infrastructure in such a fashion that it results in a loss of life." And Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has often been quoted saying that a large-scale attack on our critical infrastructure could wreak havoc on a scale "equivalent to Pearl Harbor." 

Hyping one threat to hide another

Parminder Jeet Singh 

The U.S. and dominant global Internet companies fear regulation because it will adversely affect their control over the communication realm 

A lot of global attention right now is focussed on the World Conference on International Telecommunications of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which will get under way in Dubai next week. This meeting is taking up a review of International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). When the ITRs were last reviewed in 1988, the Internet was not commonplace and, therefore, did not find mention. In 2012, it is difficult to think of global communication without the Internet. The key question today is whether the remit of the ITU should extend to the Internet or not, and if indeed it should, to what parts and aspects of the Internet, and in what manner. 

One summary view, quite popular in many quarters, is that with the Internet taking over global communication systems, there is no role for the ITU anymore. Unlike traditional telecommunication — largely, telephony — global Internet traffic is mediated entirely through commercial arrangements among private players with almost no involvement of a regulator. Free market proponents, having greatly dominated the discourse so far, hold that the free market has fully triumphed, and delivered, in relation to the Internet. This model should not be disturbed. There is, therefore, no need for any kind of regulation of the Internet. 

Identifying Cyber-Attackers to Require High-Tech Sleuthing Skills

December 2012 

By Emilio Iasiello 

The White House released in May 2011 the first “International Strategy for Cyberspace.” This policy document promotes the U.S. vision for the future of the Internet and the nation’s role in shaping that plan.

A key objective of this strategy is implementing a policy of deterrence that unequivocally states the government’s intention to use “all necessary means to respond to hostile cyber-activity that threatens U.S., allied, or partner interests.”

Deterrence relies on the ability to identify an attacker and demonstrate an effective means to dissuade further hostile activity. Currently, attribution remains a difficult endeavor as the anonymity afforded by the Internet often frustrates efforts to link actors with events. The attribution problem hinders the application of countermeasures, preemptive actions and mitigation strategies that minimize or neutralize threats before they are deployed.

Technical analysis attribution is insufficient to support a deterrence strategy alone. Rather, attribution must embody a fusion of technical, behavioral and cognitive analysis to achieve a higher rate of actor identification.

Islamist Groups: Parties and Factions

Islamist groups in the Arab world are diverse in their political agendas, goals, and activities and thus defy simple categorization. But several trends and common denominators have emerged in the early twenty-first century. 

In 2012, the Arab world has more than fifty Islamist or pro-Islamist parties. Almost half have been formed over the past decade. The groups are both new and old. The largest dates back to 1928; at least ten were formed only in 2011. Some parties have wide experience and deep social networks; others are starting from scratch. 

The positions of several parties have evolved over time or because of political realities. But very few parties could be described as moderate. Most are conservative to ultraconservative in their social agendas. The vast majority of Islamist parties want Sharia law to be an essential part of the new order, but they diverge widely on how strictly or how quickly to implement it. 

Many parties claim to support “democracy” or “pluralism,” but their positions often fall seriously short of real democratic values. For many of them, democracy means participation in multiparty elections and coexistence with other religious minorities, but the parties often fall short of those goals on specific issues such as minority rights, gender issues, and the extent of civil liberties. 

Many parties have emerged from rigid ideologies or strict interpretations of Islamic law, but frequently there are gross inconsistencies between tough party platforms and the toned-down comments of senior officials in interviews. Members often have disparate opinions. Party websites and programs describe lofty democratic goals—such as on women’s rights—that are not reflected in practice. Many parties limit their advocacy on women’s rights to the reform of personal status law, which affects family issues such as the right to divorce, child custody, and inheritance. 

Islam: The Democracy Dilemma

The long-standing debate about Islam and democracy has reached a stunning turning point. Since the Arab uprisings began in late 2010, political Islam and democracy have become increasingly interdependent. The debate over whether they are compatible is now virtually obsolete. Neither can now survive without the other. 

In countries undergoing transitions, the only way for Islamists to maintain their legitimacy now is through elections. Their own political culture may still not be democratic. But they are now defined by the new political landscape and have been forced, in turn, to redefine themselves, much as the Roman Catholic Church ended up accepting democratic institutions even as its own practices remained oligarchic. 

At the same time, there will be no institutionalization of democracy for Arab countries in transition without including mainstream Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Ennahda in Tunisia, or Islah in Yemen. The so-called Arab Spring cleared the way for the Islamists. And even if many Islamists do not share the democratic culture of the demonstrators, the Islamists have to take into account the new playing field the demonstrations created. 

The debate over Islam and democracy used to be a chicken-and-egg issue: which came first? Democracy has certainly not been at the core of Islamist ideology. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has historically been strictly centralized and obedient to a supreme leader who rules for life. And Islam has certainly not been factored into promotion of secular democracy. Indeed, skeptics have long argued that the two forces were allegoric or even anathema to each other. 

The Middle East: They’ve Arrived

The Islamists are not only coming. In several countries, they’ve already arrived. Others are primed to take prominent roles down the road. Altogether, Islamist movements are today the most dynamic political force across the Arab world—and they may well be for the next decade or longer. 

Their rise to power happened quite abruptly. Within a single year, a rippling wave of uprisings opened political space for Muslim movements that had struggled for decades—in one case, almost a century—just to get in the door. Many of their leaders had spent their careers simply trying to stay out of jail. 

But by 2012, more than fifty Islamist parties or movements had mobilized tens of millions of supporters in a dozen Arab countries. They won the right to form governments in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. Others looked set to do well in Yemen and Libya—and potentially in Syria too. Those six countries alone account for more than half of the Arab world’s 300 million people. 

None of the Islamists were ready to rule, however. Most were as surprised as the ruling autocrats at the speed and breadth of the uprisings. The Islamists joined in initially to avoid being excluded or marginalized. They have been scrambling ever since to develop practical plans to govern. None had specific blueprints. 

“It’s been an extreme crash course for us,” Muslim Brotherhood foreign policy adviser Essam al Haddad told The Wall Street Journal a month after Egypt’s 2012 parliamentary election. “Remember, for 60 years we were working underground and now we’ve come out into the light and are staring directly into the sun. We’re all blinking and rubbing our eyes, like the Chilean miners. To adapt to this takes time, and we don’t have time.” 

Political Islam's Adaptive Radiation

Scott Helfstein 
November 26, 2012

The cascading riots that spread across the Middle East and North Africa took many experts and policymakers by surprise. The riots in Libya would probably have faded into history, but the recent election cycle put them under a microscope. Much of the attention to date has focused on the decisions about security resources in the days leading up the attack and the subsequent White House response. These are important issues, but we must move beyond the retrospective assessment and consider implications for Middle East policy going forward. 

The events of the Arab Spring that began in late 2010 captured global attention as thousands of Muslims across the Middle East and North Africa took to the streets at great personal risk to condemn corrupt dictators and poor governance. The early days were exciting and hopeful. A rising generation of Muslims armed with courage and vision, aided by technology, brought major changes in countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. 

Eighteen months later, the United States stood in disbelief as mobs stormed embassies and burned flags. As riots spread to 30 countries and political candidates struggled to respond or provide an explanation, many people found themselves asking how a movement that had started from such hopeful and empowering origins turned so hostile to the West so quickly. 

The riots and unrest throughout the region began after the release of an anti-Islamic film that portrayed the Prophet Mohammad in a manner that infuriated the Muslim populace. To be sure, the film is in poor taste, but arguing that the film was the cause of the riots is a bit like saying that World War I was caused by the Black Hand’s assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Much like assassination, the film is a proximate event; the underlying cause is a far more complex shift in the larger geopolitical landscape. 

World Bank wants others to learn from China

Posted By David Bosco Tuesday, November 27, 2012 

The World Bank and the Chinese government have just announced a new joint initiative designed to disseminate knowledge about China's anti-poverty and urbanization successes: 

“China has lifted 600 million people out of poverty in the last 30 years, and the demand is growing among other developing countries to learn from its remarkable progress,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “The new knowledge hub will play an important role in making China’s lessons available to the world and will further our common mission to end extreme poverty and build shared prosperity.” 

"The hub will become a new and open centre for developing countries to learn from each other,” said the Chinese Minister of Finance Xie Xuren. 

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the World Bank-China Knowledge Hub for Development signed in Beijing by Kim and the Chinese Minister of Finance Xie Xuren, the first pilot, called TRANS-FORM, will focus on urban transport. This focus was selected because of the urgent need for innovative solutions to deliver green, inclusive, and low-carbon development. 


By admin on November 26, 2012 

2012-11-26–As China’s military and economic influence has grown throughout the world, Beijing appears to have become more bold, brash and brazen in its claim to territories believed to be rich with oil and natural gas across the Asia-Pacific. The latest attempt to achieve just that is the watermark on China’s new e-passports depicting its map, which has ended up insulting and offending most of its sovereign neighbours. 

The map shows disputed islands in the South China Sea as Chinese territory. Three separate pages in the new e-passports include China’s so-called “nine-dash” map of the sea that extends hundreds of miles south from China’s Hainan Island to the equatorial waters off the coast of Borneo. The map includes the Spratly island chain, which is the subject of overlapping claims by five other countries including: 
  • Taiwan;
  • Vietnam;
  • Brunei;
  • Malaysia; and
  • The Philippines.
As if that was not enough, China’s newly launched e-passport map also shows India’s Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin — within the Ladakh region — in Jammu & Kashmir as parts of China. Japan, at the same time, is embroiled in its own dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea. All these simultaneous territorial spats have raised concerns about a potential conflict, prompting the United States to wade into the controversy. 

Extent of China’s Claimed Territorial Waters in South China Sea

Chaos in South China Sea: No Protocol or Code of Conduct

Stand-offs between Chinese vessels and the Philippine and Vietnamese navies in the South China Sea have become much more common as China increases patrols in these waters believed to hold vast reserves of oil and natural gas. There are concerns that those maritime disputes could escalate into violence. China and the Philippines had a tense maritime standoff at a shoal west of the main Philippine island of Luzon earlier this year. The United States, which has said it takes no sides in the territorial spats, considers ensuring safe maritime traffic in the waters to be in its national interest. The US has backed a call for a “code of conduct” to prevent clashes in the disputed territories. When one rewinds back to the days of the Cold War, there was a clear “code of conduct” between Eastern-Bloc and Western-Bloc ships. When they encountered each other, there was a protocol. There isn’t a code of conduct at the moment for the South China Sea, and that is problematic because it could spark an unintended conflict. 

Historic Claims

China says the explorer and fleet admiral Zheng He (1371–1433) — whose sea adventures predate those of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) — crossed the South China Sea during the Ming Dynasty and cites historical maps that long predate the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. Further, the Chinese Foreign Ministry website now states the earliest discovery of the Spratlys can be traced back 2000 years to their own Han dynasty. China maintains it has ancient claims to all of the South China Sea, despite much of it being within the exclusive economic zones of Southeast Asian neighbours. What can anyone say or do to counter ancient arguments laying claims to territories? 

Vietnam and the Philippines

1. Vietnam and the Philippines have both rejected the new e-passport’s China map as a basis for sharing oil, gas and fish in those waters.

2. Vietnam and the Philippines have officially let their displeasure be known to Beijing.

3. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry states:

a. “These actions by China have violated Vietnam’s sovereignty to the Paracel and Spratly islands as well as our rights and jurisdiction to related maritime areas in the South China Sea, or East Sea;”

b. China should “reverse their incorrect prints” on the new e-passports; and

c. “Vietnam reserves the right to carry out necessary measures suitable to Vietnamese law, international law and practices toward such passports.”

4. The Philippines Foreign Ministry states:

a. “The Philippines strongly protests the inclusion of the nine-dash lines in the e-passport as such image covers an area that is clearly part of the Philippines’ territory and maritime domain;” and

b. “The Philippines does not accept the validity of the nine-dash lines that amount to an excessive declaration of maritime space in violation of international law.”

5. Philippine diplomats accused China at this week’s ASEAN — Association of South-East Asian Nations — summit in Phnom Penh of using its influence over host Cambodia to push a formal statement saying that ASEAN did not want to “internationalise” the dispute. 

6. The Philippines, which sees its alliance with the United States as a crucial check on China’s claims — especially at a time when the United States is shifting its military focus back to Asia — protested to Cambodia and has succeeded in having that clause removed from the final statement. 

7. For India too, this is now an irritant, since it has signed agreements with the government of Vietnam to explore under-sea oil and gas deposits. China is clearly blocking this by staking territorial claim over that entire sea area. 


In Taiwan, a self-governed island that split from China after a civil war in 1949, ruling party and opposition lawmakers alike condemned the e-passport’s map. They said it could harm the warming ties the historic rivals have enjoyed since Ma Ying-jeou became President nearly five years ago. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the cabinet-level body responsible for ties with Beijing, stated: 

a. “This is total ignorance of reality and only provokes disputes;” and

b. Taipei cannot accept the map.


1. India has responded by not just registering a strong protest with China but by also imprinting its own corrected map on visas that are issued to Chinese nationals.

2. China had earlier refused to give visas to visitors from Arunachal Pradesh in India and Sikkim, claiming that they were Chinese areas.

3. China has also started giving separate visas to visitors from the state of Jammu and Kashmir, claiming that this state is not part of India.


Curiously, the maps in China’s new e-passports do not include islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by both China and Japan.

China’s Defence

China’s foreign ministry stated:

1. The new passport was issued based on international standards;

2. “The passports’ maps with their outlines of China are not targeting a specific country;”

3. “China is willing to actively communicate with the relevant countries and promote the healthy development of Sino-foreign personnel exchanges;” and

4. “We hope the relevant countries can calmly treat it with rationality and restraint so that the normal visits by the Chinese and foreigners will not be unnecessarily interfered with.”


I. Is China being too clever by half? It is basically forcing every neighbouring nation who is a claimant of South China Sea elements to acknowledge China’s rights over that territory by stamping their new e-passport. However, it is likely that the passports will not change the reality on the ground, and will serve more as a political stunt than anything else. A stunt other countries, as India has shown, are just as capable of performing. 

II. We have just seen a major power transition in China. China’s “Long Game” is now being played by a new generation of leaders who believe they are in-charge of steering that country for the coming decade. These new leaders can act deliberately yet slowly, and slowly seek to get their way. Their assumption is that there is really not very much anyone or any country is seriously prepared to do to counter their grand designs. This is evidenced by the recent ASEAN — Association of South-East Asian Nations — summit discussions in Cambodia earlier where those territorial disputes were discussed but the summit failed to achieve a united stand on how the 10 member countries should respond to China. 

III. The map in China’s new e-passports may partly be in response to Vietnam’s passage earlier this year of a Law of the Sea. The law asserts Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands, which are claimed by both Hanoi and Beijing. 

IV. The looming series of conflicts across the Asia-Pacific may have less to do with the Chinese need to exert its right in regard to disputed territories and more to do with its need for abundant cheap energy, particularly, oil and gas. 

V. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are scheduled to meet on December 12th to discuss claims in the South China Sea and the role of China. It remains unclear if and when China will sit down with rival claimants to draft a legally binding non-aggression pact. 

What are your thoughts, observations and views? We are hosting an Expert roundtable on this issue at ATCA 24/7 on Yammer.

Pssst.... China.... it's called the "security dilemma"

Posted By Daniel W. Drezner 
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 

So China has not been shy over the past few months in expressing its territorial aspirations, going so far as to imprint them in new passports. Now on the one hand, this is a predictable reaction to the U.S. pivot from last year. On the other hand.... well, for a country that ostensibly thinks a lot about realpolitik, they sure haven't internalized the notion of cooperating under a security dilemma. Indeed, two recent stories suggest that Chinese behavior is disrupting long-held norms in the Pacific Rim. 

In the South China Morning Post, Greg Torode reports that much of ASEAN is getting fed up with Beijing

  • China is set to face mounting challenges from the grouping over the South China Sea as Cambodia's controversial year as Asean host and chair comes to an end. As difficult as it may have been, Cambodia's year may be as a good as it gets for Beijing - in the short term at least.... 
  • An announcement on Sunday from host Cambodia that Asean's leaders had formally agreed not to internationalise the issue "from now on" sparked a flood of questions. Asean-China talks would be the sole forum, spokesman Kao Kim Hourn added. 
  • Given that leaders - including US President Barack Obama and allies from Japan, the US and Australia - were converging on Phnom Penh determined to raise the need to lower South China Sea frictions, it was a remarkable agreement, and a victory for Beijing's backroom lobbying. 
  • But the consensus hailed by Cambodia lasted less than a day. The Philippine delegation, led by President Benigno Aquino, cried foul, warning there was no such deal and insisting on its rights to seek international redress if it felt that its national sovereignty was threatened. 
  • In the rhetoric of Washington, its re-engagement across Asean is part of an effort to "shape" China's rise, forcing it to conform to international norms. With considerable discretion, it has buttressed efforts among Asean countries to co-ordinate and organise diplomatic responses to Chinese challenges. 
  • While the Philippines stood up publicly this week, others were helping in the background, for example. .... 
  • Just four years ago, China had successfully kept Asean nations officially quiet on the subject. The events of the last week have shown that, despite considerable efforts, the calculations are now much more complex.