1 December 2012

Impact of Article 370

By Col Tej Kumar Tikoo
Issue Book Excerpt: Kashmir: Its Aborigines and their Exodus | Date : 01 Dec , 2012

Troops patrol in Kashmir

The Article 370 was clearly meant to be a temporary provision included in the Constitution to cater for the specific requirements of the troubled times immediately after India’s independence and the state’s accession to India. It was meant to remain in operation during the existence of the State’s Constituent Assembly.

Click to buy: Kashmir: Its Aborigines and their Exodus

As time passed, the vested interests within Jammu and Kashmir and the compulsions of various political parties outside the state to appease their vote banks ensured its retention. No thought was spared by the votaries of ‘the retention of Article 370’ for the enormous potential this would have to wreak havoc on the unity and integrity of the country. It is the only state in India which has a constitution of its own.

As no outsider can settle in the state and own any property there, the politically well-connected people stand to gain enormously. It is these influential people who make the rules, decide the price and determine the buyer, since any competition from an outsider is completely ruled out.

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On the Lam in Lebanon
Mitchell Prothero • Vice

The Syrian civil war crosses into Lebanon.

The idyllic orchard explodes into war. Three rocket-propelled grenades fly toward the border post. A dozen automatic rifles and machine guns release a rain of ammunition; muzzle flashes light up the darkening sky.

"We do this every few days," Hussein laughs. "But so do they," he adds while pointing toward Assad's troops.

How Israel Lost Europe

How Benjamin Netanyahu lost friends and Mahmoud Abbas influenced people.

BERLIN — There was never much doubt that the U.N. General Assembly would overwhelmingly vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of nonmember state on Nov. 29. The big surprise of the event was that a number of key Western European countries did not join the United States and vote against the resolution. The Czech Republic was the only European country to vote against the upgrade, and shockingly, the normally staunchly pro-Israeli governments of Germany and Britain decided to abstain. Does this mean that Israel has lost Europe?

Germany's surprising decision, in the eleventh hour, to shift from opposing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's bid to abstaining on it was reportedly tied to the question of Israel's ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank -- a recent source of contention in European capitals. Germany appears to have taken this opportunity to address the conflict on the world stage.

The Tale of the Kidnapped Princeling

How critical can the powerful be of the truly powerful in modern China?

Two years ago, on June 4 -- the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre and the most sensitive date in the Chinese political calendar -- Ji Pomin received a text message from a high-placed friend: It said that former president Jiang Zemin had been taken to a military hospital in a critical condition. Ji fired off a coded message to hundreds of people in his address book to seek confirmation, asking: "The Supreme Old Master ascended to heaven?" Many of Ji's politically connected friends forwarded the text to their friends, who misinterpreted the cryptic question as a statement. By June 6, overseas Chinese websites were reporting that former president Jiang Zemin was dead.

In established democracies, a false rumor about the health of an ageing Ronald Reagan or a Margaret Thatcher would be promptly debunked and have little bearing on the workings of government. In China's powerful but brittle dictatorship, built on almost invisible lines of patronage, the false reports of Jiang's death immediately became a major matter of national security. Chinese officialdom is extremely paranoid about anyone releasing unauthorized information about the leaders. The 67-year-old Ji, a princeling -- a term that refers to the sons and daughters of high ranking leaders -- had long disliked Jiang for clinging on to power after his retirement, which he felt hurt China's ability to institute a system of laws. And when security agents kidnapped him three days later, his fears were vindicated. But that Ji was able to survive the kidnapping unscathed, and even criticize Jiang with near impunity, shows how the party state still protects its own.

Hainan’s New Maritime Regulations: A Preliminary Analysis

By M. Taylor Fravel December 1, 2012 
Hainan’s People’s Congress recently approved new regulations for the management of public order for coastal and border defense. Part of the regulations authorizes public security units to inspect, detain or expel foreign ships illegally entering waters under Hainan’s jurisdiction. As a result, initial reporting and analysis indicated that the regulations may provide a basis for China to challenge freedom of navigation in the vast disputed waters of the South China Sea.

As the full-text of the regulations have not been published, such conclusions are, at the very least, premature. Moreover, based on information that is currently available, the regulations will likely focus on the activities of foreign ships and personnel within Hainan’s 12 nautical mile territorial seas and along Hainan’s coast, including its islands. The basis for this conclusion is analysis of a partial summary of the regulations that Xinhua published.

The regulations govern the activities of Hainan’s public security border defense units (gong'an bianfang jiguan). This refers to China’s public security border defense troops, which are part of the People's Armed Police but fall under the Ministry of Public Security and include the Maritime Police (haijing, also referred to as China’s Coast Guard). These public security units are tasked with maintaining public order in China's border and coastal areas, including port security and immigration. However, they are not responsible for maintaining law and order within China's Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) or any maritime zone beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial sea. The China Marine Surveillance force under the State Oceanic Administration holds the primary responsibility for these duties along with the Maritime Safety Administration and Fisheries Law Enforcement Command.

No Spy Software Scandal Here, Army Claims

By Noah Shachtman

Military analysts look at the Distributed Common Ground System – Army, the service’s core intelligence suite. Photo: U.S. Army.

It had all the trappings of a classic Pentagon scandal: an Army report, mysteriously ordered destroyed; billions of dollars’ worth of military gear; fuming Congressmen; maligned generals; screaming headlines. But the Army has just concluded that this whole flap over competing intelligence systems was the result of a bureaucratic screw-up, not malicious wrongdoing.

Yes, that report was strangely squashed, writes Army staff director Lt. Gen. Gen. William Troy in a review obtained by Danger Room. The move wasn’t “attributable to anyone attempting to improperly advance” his own agenda, Troy says.

So, scandal over? Not quite, says one of the congressmen at the heart of the affair.

“The issue is by no means over,” says Joe Kasper, the spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter.

The imbroglio centers around a system called Palantir, which teases out connections from giant mounds of data, and visualizes those links in ways that even knuckle-draggers can understand. With its slick interface and its ability to find hidden relationships, Palantir has attracted a cult of fanboys in the military and intelligence communities not unlike the one Apple has amassed in the consumer gadget world.

For the First Time, Obama Official Sketches Out End to War on Terror

By Spencer Ackerman

Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson, left, testifies to a Senate panel, Dec. 2010. Johnson gave a speech on Friday laying out what an end to the war on terrorism might look like. Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr

Neither the George W. Bush nor Barack Obama White House ever laid out a vision for what an end to the war on terrorism would actually look like. But as Obama prepares for his second term in office, one of his top defense officials is arguing that there is an end in sight, and laying out conditions for when the U.S. will reach it.

“On the present course, there will come a tipping point,” Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, told the Oxford Union in the U.K. on Friday, “a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al-Qaida as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed.” At that point, “our efforts should no longer be considered an armed conflict.”

Johnson’s description of the endgame raises more questions than answers. But under his formulation, the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which the Obama administration has cited as the foundation of its wartime powers, would expire. That would mean any detainee at Guantanamo Bay who hasn’t been charged with a crime would be free to go, although Johnson says that wouldn’t necessarily happen immediately. It would also raise questions about whether the U.S. would possess residual legal authorities for its lethal drone program — which Johnson defended to the BBC on Thursday — including the legal basis for any “postwar” drone strike the CIA might perform.

The Politics of Barack Obama’s Second Term

Dr. Monika Chansoria
E-Mail- cedex@live.com

Though the verdict of the US Presidential elections is out, the political gridlock continues. While Barack Obama has been re-elected as President of the United States for a second and final term in office, the Democrats remain in control of the Senate, and the Republicans control the House of Representatives giving them the power to curb the President’s legislative ambitions ranging from taxes to immigration reform.

All future policy formulation and implementation face a tough road ahead, given the current placements within the US Congress. For an instance, passing legislations is likely to be caught in a quagmire as the Obama administration does not command adequate congressional support for initiatives which could be termed as pioneering.

In the foreign policy domain, there is an ongoing debate whether the Obama presidency has a global strategy in place. Recession and a banking debt crisis has enveloped a major share of the globe, European integration is under question, and domestically, an export-dependent China is facing the challenge of its products being no longer competitive internationally owing to rising costs of labour and land.

Though Obama’s win in the Electoral College was sizeable, the US Presidential polls have shown that the American electorate remains deeply polarized and that domestic realities and pressures are likely to limit Obama’s foreign policy decision-making. The narrow margin in the popular vote will prove to be a key determinant of his governance amidst constraints. Washington cannot afford to continue intervention in countries, as it tries to pull out of two rather strenuous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration is confronted with the most pressing question whether unrelenting war is sustainable and beneficial in the long-term strategic sense? Are political arrangements backed by economic and military aid suitable alternatives or a preferred course?

Navy Preps Killer Drone for First Carrier Launch

By David Axe

While China conducts, and celebrates, the first jet takeoffs and landings on its new aircraft carrier Liaoning, the U.S. Navy is aiming to do even better. In a parallel series of tests this week, the sailing branch has taken huge steps towards deploying the first carrier-based robotic warplane.

The biggest milestone will be the X-47B’s first at-sea takeoff, slated for sometime next year. In the meantime, the Navy and drone-builder Northrop Grumman are practicing steering the pilotless warplane around a carrier deck and launching it using a steam-powered catapult — standard equipment on all 10 of the Navy’s full-size flattops.

These are significant advances in their own right — and necessary to prepare the fleet for the first carrier takeoff.

On Monday sailors used a crane to lift one of the two X-47B prototypes aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, while the 1,100-foot-long flattop was docked in Norfolk, Virginia. ”The moment the aircraft set down on Truman’s deck was the moment it officially met the fleet,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy’s X-47B program manager.

The batwing X-47B, which had its first flight in California in February, is performing a series of deckhandling tests aboard Truman. Operators use a handheld controller to steer the 62-foot-wide drone warplane around the vessel’s crowded flight deck, hoping to prove the robot can safely share the ship with F/A-18 fighters, E-2 radar planes, helicopters and other manned aircraft. “It’s the first time we’ve had real operators driving real UAVs around,” Engdahl tells Danger Room.

Truman is the first carrier to host an X-47B. Northrop and the Navy have developed a suite of operator consoles, radio links and software — the latter totaling 3.5 million lines of code — that can be installed on any of the Nimitz-class carriers. All the Navy’s east coast carriers have gotten some or all of the modifications. The west coast and Pacific carriers could be next.

Bringing Down the Muslim Brotherhood

An Islamist power grab has given Egypt's secular opposition an opening to shape their country's political future.

Egypt's Tahrir Square is once again making headlines all over the world. Protesters have filled Cairo's downtown to the brim twice in the past week -- just as they did last year, during the heady 18-day revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. This time around, however, the square was packed with Egyptians opposed to a power grab by the country's Islamist movements.

The message was clear: There are movers and shakers on the Egyptian political scene, and they are not Islamists. At long last, Egypt's non-Islamist opposition has a chance to get in the driver's seat -- building a powerful political machine of their own and changing the direction of their country.

How did it come to this?

On Nov. 22, President Mohamed Morsi issued a constitutional decree that turned Egypt's balance of power on its head. Two of the declaration's six articles may ostensibly address the demands of Egyptians: One orders a retrial of those implicated in the killing of protesters during the revolution, and another sacks the prosecutor general -- a remnant of Mubarak's regime. Both actions, however, only served to sugarcoat the rest of the articles, which effectively transform the president into an omnipotent leader.

Heroes of Retreat, Revisited

We love to celebrate heroic crusaders for human rights. But what about the dictator who decides to surrender his powers?

What makes a hero? I've found myself thinking about that a lot lately. Humans seem to have a great hunger for heroes; demand always exceeds the supply. Which is logical enough, when you consider that heroes, by their very definition, are supposed to be exceptional. What's that great line from The Incredibles again? "When everyone's super, no one will be."

Every age complains about its lack of heroes, but once you start looking, it turns out that they are indeed around. Right now, netizens are enthusing over a chance photo that shows a New York City cop making a present of new boots to a homeless man. That the photo went viral almost instantly attests to our need to latch on to people who seem to embody the highest values. (Or just take a look at CNN's popular Heroes program, a celebration of ordinary people who do good deeds.)


Benghazi shows the limits of inteligence-by-committee.

The firestorm surrounding the story that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told on Sunday morning talk shows five days after the attack on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi has drawn wildly different reactions around Washington. Bad data? Innocent mistake? Political deception? From the president's staunch defense of Rice to John McCain's repeated attacks, different people see different things. But, as a former CIA analyst, I've taken a separate lesson from the episode: The office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), created to facilitate interagency analysis and operations, has become a serious bureaucratic obstacle.

For a long time, the CIA ruled the intelligence cycle of collection, aggregation, analysis, and dissemination. But in 2004, the 9/11 Commission recommended the United States unify the intelligence community. Thus, the DNI was born. Today, according to its website, the DNI "serves as the head of the Intelligence Community, overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to national security." But, however noble and sensible the intent, the DNI has done very little to remedy the coordination issues -- and Benghazi is a perfect example.

Hedging Bets: Washington’s Pivot to India

In November 2010, President Obama visited India for three days. In addition to meeting with top Indian business leaders and announcing deals between the two countries worth more than $10 billion, the president declared on several occasions that the US and India’s would be the “defining partnership of the twenty-first century.” Afterward, Obama flew straight to Jakarta without any plans to visit Pakistan, officially the US’s major non-NATO ally in the region. 
No president, except Jimmy Carter, had done such a thing before. The US has traditionally seen its India and Pakistan policies as being deeply linked, and except for Richard Nixon’s brief “tilt” in 1971, the US has been cautious of elevating one neighbor over the other. Despite India’s non-aligned status and pro-Soviet posture during the Cold War, Washington has tried to ensure that its relationship with Pakistan would not disadvantage India. 

Obama’s visit, however, illustrated that this era of evenhandedness was now over. With India’s economic rise, fears of Chinese hegemony, and the unraveling relationship with Pakistan, the US is now pursuing what previously would have been regarded as an asymmetrical foreign policy agenda in South Asia. As part of its new Asia-Pacific strategy, the US is committed to strengthening India in all major sectors of national development, with the hope of making it a global power and a bulwark against Chinese influence in Asia. Meanwhile, Washington is looking for a minimalist relationship with Pakistan, focused almost exclusively on security concerns. 

26/11: Trial and Errors

Sanchita Bhattacharya
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management 

The fourth anniversary of the November 26, 2008 (26/11), carnage has been marked by the hanging of Mohammed Ajmal Mohammad Amir Kasab alias Abu Mujahid, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist who survived the attack. Kasab was hanged to death at the Yerawada Prison in Pune (Maharashtra) at 07:30 hrs on November 21, 2012, with the final proceedings kept secret under “Operation-X”. 

Kasab was arrested on November 26, 2008, the first day of the attack – which lasted almost 62 hours – and was lodged in the Arthur Road Prison in Pune. The trial in the case begun on April 25, 2009. While he was convicted and given capital punishment by the trial court on May 6, 2010, two Indian co-accused, Fahim Harshad Mohammad Yusuf and Sababuddin Shaikh, accused of providing logistic support for attacks, were acquitted. The sentence was upheld by the Bombay High Court on February 21, 2011. The Supreme Court of India subsequently upheld the sentence on August 29, 2012. Kasab then filed a mercy petition to President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. On October 16, 2012, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs recommended the rejection of Kasab's mercy petition and forwarded the same to President. The Presidential order was passed on November 5, 2012, and, after due process in the Courts, November 21, 2012, was fixed for the execution. Kasab was then transferred to the Yerawada Prison. 

26/11 was a defining event because of the enormity of the attack. 166 people – including civilians and Police/Security Forces personnel as well as 26 foreign national – were killed in the operation. Significantly, this is the first attack in which the investigations and further trails have led to the execution of a Pakistani terrorist on Indian soil. 

Why Can't India Feed Its People?

By Mehul Srivastava on November 21, 2012 

It was 1958, my father was still a child, and India was running out of food. That year’s wheat crop had slumped by 15 percent, the rice harvest by 12 percent, and prices in the markets were soaring. Far from his village in eastern India, ships loaded with wheat were steaming toward the country, part of Dwight Eisenhower’s plan to sell surplus grains, tobacco, and dairy products to friendly countries. All India Radio gave daily updates on the convoys, and the army barricaded ports in Mumbai and Kolkata against the hungry crowds. 

“It was this very coarse, red wheat,” says Narsingh Deo Mishra, a childhood friend of my father’s and now a local politician in Auar, their home village. “We were told it was meant for American pigs,” says Mishra. “Back then, we weren’t any better than American pigs. So we ate it. We ate it all, and we begged for more.” 

My father, Dinesh, grew up during the toughest years in modern India’s history, a time of droughts and floods. At 18 he weighed about 40 kilograms (90 pounds). In a photograph taken at the time, his cheeks are sunken, his Adam’s apple is prominent, and his eyes bulge from a gaunt skull. As he grew into his teens and early adulthood, however, the Green Revolution took hold: The fields were sown with hybrid seeds and enriched with chemical fertilizers, enabling the country first to feed itself and later to sell its grain on the global markets. India is a generation removed from those “ship-to-mouth” days; fewer than 2 percent of Indians now go without two square meals a day, and far fewer still die of starvation. 

And yet, in places like Auar, malnutrition persists. The vast majority of Indians, especially villagers, are suspended in nutritional purgatory—they eat enough to fill their stomachs but not enough to stay healthy. In the early 1970s the number of calories the average Indian ate began rolling backward. In 1973 villagers ate just under 2,300 calories a day, according to the National Sample Survey Office, a branch of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. By 2010 that number had dropped to about 2,020, compared with the government floor of 2,400 a day to qualify for food aid. The mismatch manifests itself in some of the world’s worst health score cards: Half of all children younger than three years old in India weigh too little for their age; 8 in 10 are anemic. 

India, China to Hold Borders Talks Amid Passport Row

By Rajeev Sharma 
December 1, 2012 

India and China will have the 16th round of talks on their boundary dispute on December 3 and 4 against the backdrop of a serious passport controversy. The two Asian giants have not made much progress in their previous rounds of talks and neither side will be expecting any concrete deliverables from the upcoming round between India's National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo. 

That said the upcoming round of talks in Beijing may well be different from previous meetings as the two sides may for the first time agree to create a progress report on the boundary talks under the Special Representatives’ mechanism which started in 2003. This in itself won’t be a notable achievement as the two SRs (Menon and Dai) would be presenting the jointly devised report to their respective governments. 

Menon made a significant remark ahead of the boundary talks noting that, "We are in the process of agreeing on a framework to settle the boundary and the next step, hopefully the third stage, is to actually agree on a boundary. Right now we are at the second stage." 

China's military crossroads

Friday, Nov. 30, 2012

NEW DELHI — At a time when China's economy and society are under considerable strain and the country is embroiled in increasingly tense border disputes with its neighbors, the relatively peaceful once-in-a-decade political transition in Beijing has helped deflect attention from the underlying turbulence in the Chinese system. 

The fact is that China is at a turning point, and the next decade under the new leadership of Xi Jinping is likely to decisively shape the country's trajectory. 

Power transition without bloodshed and chaos is rare in Chinese history. From the first Shang Dynasty, political change in Chinese history has usually occurred through violent means, with force also being employed to retain power. 

Chinese analyst Xiao Han has called this the "ax gang" (fu tou bang) tradition, with the ax being the symbol of power since ancient times. But in modern times, as Mao Zedong once famously said, "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." 

The People's Republic of China — born in blood in 1949 — has pursued endless domestic witch hunts and political purges. Mao and Deng Xiaoping, between them, got rid of at least five anointed successors who were discarded abruptly or died either mysteriously or under detention. 

Guest post: Will China go to war in January 2013?

Posted By Michael Auslin 
Friday, November 30, 2012

Interesting times indeed. This is a guest post from Michael Auslin, a scholar in Asian and security studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. 

"The provincial government of Hainan Island in south China, which Beijing gives "jurisdiction" over the South China Sea, has announced that starting in January naval patrols have the right to intercept and board ships that "trespass" the Sea's waters, according to Chinese state media. They will also have the authority to force intercepted ships to change course. The South China Sea is not just disputed territory between China and five other claimant nations, but also contains some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. 

Coming just four days after China showed the world its first launch and recovery of a fighter jet from its sole aircraft carrier, and roughly four months after Beijing upgraded a small naval outpost to become a full-fledged military garrison covering the South China Sea, this news seems both logical and stunningly reckless. Already, China's expansive claims to the island territories and waters of the South China Sea have put it at odds with its neighbors and the United States over the past several years. Yet freedom of navigation has always been seen as the one red line with China's growing military strength. Beijing can threaten Taiwan, oppress Tibet, tussle with Asian neighbors over contested island territory, and build stealth fighters and carrier-killer missiles, but interfering with the world's trade and free navigation was assumed to be the one (plausible) thing that would result in intervention by the U.S. Navy to uphold international law. 

Mr. China Comes to America

For decades, every trend in manufacturing favored the developing world and worked against the United States. But new tools that greatly speed up development from idea to finished product encourage start-up companies to locate here, not in Asia. Could global trade winds finally be blowing toward America again? 

David Høgsholt 

Near the end of this year’s second presidential debate, Candy Crowley of CNN pointed out that iPads, iPhones, and other globally sought-after Apple products are all made in China. What would it take, she asked both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, to “convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?” 

I listened to this question with special interest, since I was following the debate, via hotel-room TV, from the Shenzhen manufacturing zone of southern China, where many of those same iPads and iPhones are made. For the few days before the debate, I’d been revisiting PCH International, an outsourcing company I’d first written about for this magazine in 2007, in “China Makes, the World Takes.” The company’s revenues have increased more than sevenfold since then and its workforce has grown almost as fast, despite the years of global recession. This is testament both to its own success and to the nonstop surge of outsourcing contracts to China. 

Hainan’s New Maritime Regulations: A Preliminary Analysis

By M. Taylor Fravel 
December 1, 2012 

Hainan’s People’s Congress recently approved new regulations for the management of public order for coastal and border defense. Part of the regulations authorizes public security units to inspect, detain or expel foreign ships illegally entering waters under Hainan’s jurisdiction. As a result, initial reporting and analysis indicated that the regulations may provide a basis for China to challenge freedom of navigation in the vast disputed waters of the South China Sea. 

As the full-text of the regulations have not been published, such conclusions are, at the very least, premature. Moreover, based on information that is currently available, the regulations will likely focus on the activities of foreign ships and personnel within Hainan’s 12 nautical mile territorial seas and along Hainan’s coast, including its islands. The basis for this conclusion is analysis of a partial summary of the regulations that Xinhua published. 

The regulations govern the activities of Hainan’s public security border defense units (gong'an bianfang jiguan). This refers to China’s public security border defense troops, which are part of the People's Armed Police but fall under the Ministry of Public Security and include the Maritime Police (haijing, also referred to as China’s Coast Guard). These public security units are tasked with maintaining public order in China's border and coastal areas, including port security and immigration. However, they are not responsible for maintaining law and order within China's Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) or any maritime zone beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial sea. The China Marine Surveillance force under the State Oceanic Administration holds the primary responsibility for these duties along with the Maritime Safety Administration and Fisheries Law Enforcement Command. 

Russia and China Close to SU-35 Deal…Again

By Trefor Moss 
November 30, 2012 
Amidst all the fanfare surrounding China’s increasingly impressive roster of homemade aircraft, Beijing has doggedly maintained its pursuit of Russia’s best military plane, the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet. Reports this week suggest that this persistence may finally have paid off, and that a deal with the Russians is now close to being sealed. 

The deal’s revival reveals much about the motivations of Beijing and Moscow. Both sides had good reason to give up on the whole idea after the agreement first ran into trouble earlier this year. Landing indigenously developed J-15s on an aircraft carrier, or testing new stealth fighters – these are kind of the boosterish headlines that China’s leadership enjoys, as they feed into the narrative of China as an up-and-coming power with the capability to leap technological hurdles. Buying off-the-shelf planes from Russia does the exact opposite: It is an admission that China still has limitations, and that is still a playing catch-up. 

As for the Russians, the thought of their prize fighter jet being stripped down, copied and mass-produced with nothing more than a thin coat of Chinese paint looked like it would be too much for Moscow to stomach, as it refused to sell Beijing small numbers of the aircraft. 

Ultimately, however, self-interest seems to prevailed on both sides, with China supposedly agreeing to acquire 24 Su-35s – not as many as the Russians wanted, but just about enough to make the sale worthwhile. 

Trade with China at a high

But economics and politics collide
by Harsh V. Pant 

Once again, Sino-Indian ties present a strange spectacle. On the one hand, India and China have signed 11 agreements entailing investment of over $ 5 billion during the second India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in New Delhi, while on the other India had to protest vigorously China’s newly revised passports that show disputed territory near their shared border as part of China and respond by issuing Chinese citizens visas embossed with New Delhi’s own maps. 

For a long time, the idea that economic ties will lead to a maturing of political ties was a mantra that serious policy-makers in New Delhi were willing to consider. But clearly the argument was a specious one and anyone with even an iota of understanding of global politics would have known that this trade-leads-to-peace thesis rarely works. 

There are multiple levels – diplomatic, economic, cultural — at which China and India are engaging each other. Sino-Indian economic ties are at an all-time high with annual bilateral trade expected to reach around $100 billion over the next three years. Yet despite that pretence of a sustained engagement, suspicions of each other are at an all-time high with the two states sharing one of the world’s most heavily militarised border areas. 

Alarmed by China’s reiteration of its claims over the whole of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, India is expanding its military deployments in its north-eastern region. If China has deployed around 300,000 troops across the Tibetan plateau, India is responding by raising its military deployment from 120,000 to 180,000 along with two Sukhoi 30 fighter squadrons in the region. And the issue is not merely about the border and Tibet anymore. Today, New Delhi and Beijing both view themselves as rising powers and as a consequence, their interests and capabilities are rubbing off against each other, not merely in Asia but in various other parts of the world as well. 

Extrication Negotiations

The United States is ready to start talking to the Taliban about a peace deal again. But nothing's going to happen without Pakistan. 

Earlier this week, I talked to Salahuddin Rabbani, head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council. Rabbani was in Washington to brief administration officials on talks he had just held in Islamabad with Pakistani leaders. Rabbani had asked the Pakistanis to release four senior Taliban officials whom they had imprisoned, apparently for the crime of holding peace talks without Islamabad's approval. Security officials had released one of them, as well as nine lower-level figures. Afterwards, Gen. Ashraf Kayani, Pakistani's military chief of staff and ultimate authority on national security issues, had flown to Kabul to conduct further talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Rabbani told me that he was "cautiously optimistic" that the Pakistanis had decided to stop obstructing negotiations. 

If this is as meaningful as Rabbani hopes, it would be very welcome news for President Barack Obama, who is ardently hoping to leave behind the messes he inherited in the Islamic world in order to get on with the forward-looking business of pivoting to Asia, promoting climate change, signing free-trade agreements, and so on. He has already completed Phase One of this act of strategic extrication by removing American troops from Asia. Phase Two will be completed by the end of 2014, when American and NATO troops will end their combat mission in Afghanistan. Obama and his team are now deciding just how quickly those troops should leave, and how many should be left behind in order to train and support Afghan forces and to carry out counterterrorism missions. No matter what the outcome of that debate, Obama's hopes may rest on Pakistan's calculations -- and the Taliban's. 

Karzai established the High Peace Council two years ago, with the goal of reaching out to current and former militant leaders. He appointed Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former jihadi leader and president of Afghanistan, as its first chairman. In September 2011, at a time when elements of the Taliban had begun talking to to American envoys in Germany and Qatar, Rabbani was assassinated by a suicide bomber, presumably dispatched by hard-line elements seeking to sabotage the nascent talks. This past April, Karzai chose Rabbani's 41-year-old son, Salahuddin, then serving as ambassador to Turkey, to replace his father. Salahuddin, a bespectacled, soft-spoken, Westernized figure, is new to this brutal game; when we met at his hotel in Washington, he asked if I was the same James Traub who had taught his class at Columbia's School of International Public Affairs in 2008. (I was.) 

Rabbani and his colleagues have had informal contacts with a range of current and former Taliban figures, and he says that he is convinced that most want to stop fighting. "The reports we have are that the Taliban leadership is now discussing the logic of continuing the military campaign," he says. Once the United States and Afghanistan signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement last May pledging a long-term U.S. role, including an ongoing military presence, Rabbani says, the Taliban concluded that they could no longer wait for the end of 2014 and then march on Kabul. Of course, that may be over-optimistic. The fighting in Afghanistan shows no signs of abating. Mullah Omar, the leader of the so-called Quetta Shura, may not bless such talks. Hardline or rogue factions, like the Haqqanis, may undermine any effort at negotiations. But it's a proposition that has to be tested. And this requires U.S. and, of course, Pakistani support. 

Meanwhile, White House policy on Afghanistan has given far more emphasis to winning battlefield victories in order to force the Taliban to negotiate from a position of weakness than to ending hostilities through negotiations. U.S. talks with the Taliban ended last March when the Taliban walked out, claiming that Washington kept changing its position. U.S. diplomats, working with officials in Qatar, have tried to work out a deal to release five militants from Guantanamo in exchange for an American soldier believed to be held in Pakistan. U.S. officials made a new offer in June, and they are still waiting to hear a response from the Taliban. One figure involved with administration policy in the region says that, since the U.S. election, White House officials seem to have embraced the need for a political end-game. This may in turn effect the ongoing negotiations with the Taliban. American diplomats, says this figure, "may actually take yes for an answer." Rabbani says that he received unequivocal support for his efforts from American officials. 

The real wild card is Islamabad. In 2010, Pakistani forces arrested Mullah Baradar, the Taliban's second-in-command, who had begun exploring talks with Afghans. That sent an unmistakable message: Negotiations will go forward only on Pakistan's terms. Pakistani intelligence still has deep ties with the Afghan Taliban, and wants to ensure that the country retains its influence in any reconfigured Afghanistan. Pakistan has a long history of pulling out the rug from negotiations, and this could prove to be yet another feint, designed to buy time until the battlefield odds became more favorable to the Taliban. But maybe it's not. The Taliban has become almost as dire a menace to Pakistan as it is to Afghanistan; and Kayani is said to have recognized that the country's economy is in disastrous condition. Warming relations with India may also have blunted Pakistani paranoia about Indian ambitions in Central Asia. 

Rabbani said that Pakistan has promised to release Mullah Baradar and the other two detainees; he is now waiting to see if they make good. Pakistani officials also vowed to sign a joint statement asking the United Nations to remove several key figures from a list of terrorists, and to permit them to travel outside the country for talks. Preliminary discussions might then take place in Doha. Any eventual deal would almost certainly involve a power-sharing arrangement which could give the Taliban political control over portions of the country's south and east, as well as impunity for the militants. That would be ugly -- especially for any woman in Taliban-dominated regions -- but it's a deal I think the United States could live with. And it would give the government in Kabul the time and breathing space to slowly extend its authority and -- who knows? -- maybe even deepen its legitimacy. 

And if it all falls apart? A senior U.S. government official I spoke to insisted that Afghanistan is making a transition, however haltingly, towards economic self-sufficiency, while the Afghan Army's "capacity to fight and defend their country seems increasingly provable." Though he hopes for an Afghan-led peace deal, he says, the country should remain "politically intact" even without one. But American optimism on Afghanistan has proved to be misplaced time and time again. The effort to bring "good governance" to Afghans in Kabul and in key provinces has largely failed -- which is one reason why the Taliban could reasonably believe that they will win in the long run. A report published over the summer by the Center for Strategic and International Studies predicts that "even under optimistic conditions, insurgents will dominate important areas in the east and south, and islands in other parts of the country." 

If that's true, then the argument for some kind of political deal which recognizes this reality is all the stronger. (The CSIS report asserts that this will never happen.) The American imperial venture in Afghanistan has largely failed. The nation-building effort has come to grief -- not because such things are inherently impossible, but because habits and institutions develop over generations, not months. Afghan reality has proved to be far more refractory than America's military and civilian planners ever understood. It has been a very expensive, and very painful, learning process. 

James Traub is a fellow of the Center on International Cooperation. "Terms of Engagement," his column for ForeignPolicy.com, runs weekly.

Barack Obama’s foreign-policy goal in his second term: to avoid costly entanglements

The Obama doctrine 
Dec 1st 2012

BY CYNICAL tradition “abroad” is where American presidents go to seek a legacy, after their domestic agendas have stalled. This is especially true of second-term presidents. As they lose momentum at home, the temptation is to head overseas in search of crises that only American clout can resolve. 

At the outset of his second term, Barack Obama seems to be planning the opposite approach. Mr Obama and his team believe that his outstanding task is to secure a domestic legacy. Their fear is that foreign entanglements may threaten that goal. It may help that he secured something of a global legacy on the day he was elected four years ago amid worldwide adulation, peaking with a Nobel peace prize awarded after less than a year in office, essentially for not being George W. Bush. 

On the 2012 campaign trail, Mr Obama earned some of his warmest applause when he vowed to bring troops back from Afghanistan, ending more than a decade of war-fighting that has cost thousands of American lives and more than a trillion dollars. Time for nation-building “right here at home”, he constantly declared, to cheers. In a newspaper essay on November 23rd Mr Obama’s former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, rammed the point home. Democrats need to make America globally competitive, wrote Mr Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago. Whether it means fixing failing schools, potholed roads, snail-like internet networks or a broken immigration system, the second-term mission must be to “come home and rebuild America”. 

Hillary Clinton's Remarks at FP's 'Transformational Trends' Forum

The secretary of state delivers a speech on the future of U.S. foreign policy during a conference sponsored by the Foreign Policy Group and the State Department's Policy Planning Staff at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. 


Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the unfortunate and counterproductive resolution at the United Nations General Assembly that just passed, because it places further obstacles in the path to peace. We have been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable, independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel. 

And I see my longtime friend and colleague, Ehud Barak, here, and I know he would agree with that, as both the most decorated soldier in Israeli history and a distinguished public servant. I'll have more to say about this later, but I did want to begin by recognizing the challenge that this will surely present. 

I want to add my words of welcome to all of you. I want to thank Admiral McRaven for being here. It's wonderful that you are here, Bill. We very much appreciate your participation. Foreign Minister Sikorski, a good friend and colleague, who himself is a top global thinker - well deserved because of the careful, comprehensive views he's developed over many years of hard work about issues as fundamental as freedom. 

Quagmire on the Potomac

The Pentagon is a hot mess of known unknowns. 

Amidst the many uncertainties and machinations in the negotiations in Washington on the "fiscal cliff," a few things are beginning to emerge as certain. Among them: the defense budget will be going down. Another is that none of the parties to the negotiations is seeking the kind of change that the Pentagon must undergo to survive effectively, even prosper, under significantly reduced budgets. 

The new, post-election reality of a declining Department of Defense (DOD) budget was signaled by a conglomeration of mainstream think tank pundits, Capitol Hill staffers from both political parties, industry and executive branch defense specialists, and retired military officers put together by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments: They opined on not whether the defense budget was about to decline significantly but on how to do it. (Some of them had some pretty horrible ideas; more on that later.) The new reality of less money for DOD was also made clear in a provocative summary of five different think tanks reports at Foreign Policy by Gordon Adams. 

Why Your Intuition About Cyber Warfare is Probably Wrong

Journal Article | November 29, 2012 

Since the dawn of time, when one caveman first struck another, humans have relied on a natural understanding of their physical environment to conduct warfare. We have an inborn ability to understand the laws of the physical world. In order to shoot an artillery round farther, just add more powder; to provide cover for protection against bullets, hide behind a rock. A private might accidentally shoot the wrong target, but the potential damage is limited by the maximum range of his or her rifle. The laws of physics, however, are counterintuitive in cyberspace. In cyberspace, our understanding of the “laws of physics” is turned on its head. Weapons can be reproduced instantly, “bullets” travel at near the speed of light, destroyed targets can be brought back from the dead, and a seventeen year old can command an army. As human beings we are at a distinct disadvantage when thinking intuitively about cyber warfare. In this article we study where our intuition fails us in cyber warfare and suggest alternate ways to think about the conduct of cyber war that account for the vast differences between the kinetic and the non-kinetic fight. A correct understanding and appreciation of these differences and common misconceptions is absolutely necessary to conduct cyber warfare and to integrate cyber effects into the kinetic battlefield. To ground this work we need to define the term “cyber.” There is significant and evolving debate regarding the precise definition of cyber. For purposes of this article we define cyber as a spectrum of cyberspace operations including Computer Network Attack (CNA), Computer Network Exploitation (CNE), and Computer Network Defense (CND). 

The Attacker has the Advantage over the Defender 

In classic military doctrine, the defender has a distinct advantage over the attacker. In today’s model of cyber security, defenders build layers of defenses to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical assets. Security professionals pour millions of dollars into such defenses, but with only limited success. A Maginot Line strategy rarely works in cyberspace because attackers need only find a single flaw to launch a successful attack. Perfect defense is impossible; the astronomic complexity of the software and hardware woven into our information systems and networks is beyond human comprehension. As an example, the Windows XP operating system alone has more than 45 million lines of computer code, creating an immense attack surface. Many aspects of computer security cannot be solved by computers, such as determining the exact operation of a piece of untrusted software. Attackers however, can probe these complex systems to find a flaw and are frequently successful. Hardware and software monocultures, such as widespread use of a single operating system or web browser, amplify the impact of these discoveries by facilitating widespread compromise. Against a determined adversary, many security experts believe we cannot keep our computers secure, compromise is simply a function of time and dedicated resources. Common defenses, such as antivirus systems are reaching the end of their usefulness and cannot be relied upon for effective defense. Even air-gapped networks, not directly connected to the Internet, have proven vulnerable to mobile malicious code. Recent research indicates that defenders must field 1,000 times the resources (money, people, time, compute power, etc.) to reach parity with attackers in cyberspace; this is not a winning proposition for the defender. 

Figure 1: In cyber warfare, adversary tactics evolve on a daily basis, unlike the notional Krasnovian Army formerly used in training exercises. (Image Source: Krasnovia.com

The Pentagon is tweaking the cyber capabilities it wants from the services

Posted By John Reed 
November 30, 2012

In a move that may increase funding and organizational reshuffling of the U.S. military's cyber forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense are set to tell the U.S. armed services what roles they are expected to fulfill in supporting cyber operations in the coming decade. 

In April, U.S. Cyber Command gave each of the armed services a list of cyber capabilities that it needed them to develop to conduct operations around the world. Now, Pentagon's brass are updating that list to account for cyber challenges that may emerge later in the decade. 

Cyber Command's order told the services, "These are the capabilities we need you to provide -- capabilities in support of regional combatant commands, capabilities in terms of areas of expertise that the Air Force might have, that the Army might have," Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, the Air Force's chief information officer, said during a meeting with reporters at the Pentagon today. 

Cyber Command is now refining those instructions "given the threat, given the national imperative" to defend the U.S. from crippling cyber attack, added Basla. "We are looking at this through a couple of lenses -- defense of the nation and support to our regional combatant commanders." 

To this end, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and OSD are deciding what cyber capabilities the individual services will need to bring to the table between fiscal years 2014 and 2020. Once that happens -- as early as next week -- they will tell the service to plan accordingly, accordingly to Basla. (Keep in mind that the individual services provide cyber fighting forces to U.S. Cyber Command in the same way they provide traditional forces for the regional combatant commands.) 

Cyberwar on the High Seas

Navy prepares to wage cyber warfare at sea 

November 30, 2012 5:00 am 

The U.S. Navy is preparing to wage cyber warfare attacks against enemies during conflicts and must avoid strategic surprise from a future cyber attack on its networks, according to a strategy report made public Wednesday night. 

“The opening salvos of the next war will likely occur in cyberspace and the Navy must be ready,” the report said. “We must organize, train, and resource a credible workforce of cyber professionals and develop forward-leaning, interoperable, and resilient cyberspace capabilities to successfully counter and defeat a determined adversary in cyberspace.” 

The report, “Navy Cyber Power 2020,” outlines the Navy’s plans to defend against cyber attacks and to conduct cyber warfare and other operations in future conflicts. 

Threat of cyber attack comes from nations, terrorists, and hackers. Among the threats are jamming of communications of weapons systems and aircraft; denial of network communications; disruptive internal penetrations of computer networks; and attacks on critical infrastructure, according to the report. 

Computer networks and the information they provide are key advantages that “enabled the Navy to act with speed, agility, and precision in a broad spectrum of operations ranging from humanitarian assistance to major combat operations,” the report said. 

However, these advantages could become vulnerabilities if the Navy is prevented from fighting effectively due to cyber attacks. 

Military Command from World War II to Today

by Thomas E. Ricks Reviewed by Gian P. Gentile | Released: October 30, 2012

“. . . highly readable but flawed . . .” 

In his groundbreaking 1976 book The Face of Battle, eminent historian John Keegan argued that the history of battle should focus on more than the generals and their decisions. 

Keegan had grown weary of military histories explaining the outcome of battles and wars singularly on what generals decided. Instead, Keegan emphasized the complexity of battle, its chaos, and most importantly the role contingent factors played in the outcome of battles and wars. 

Keegan’s book helped popularize what would become known as the “new military history” that sought to explain and understand warfare not solely through the eyes of the general, but from myriad other military, social, cultural, and political factors. 

Tom Ricks’s new book The Generals regresses from Keegan and takes us back to a less complicated form of military storytelling in which wars’ outcomes were determined solely by the performance of army commanders. 

The main argument to the book is simple: Relieve American army generals in war for poor performance and victory will be more attainable. Mr. Ricks surrounds this argument with a template based on General George C. Marshall’s method of general officer management in World War II. 

Marshall chose the best and the brightest generals for senior command, but when they failed in the field in places like Normandy in the summer of 1944, he relieved them quickly and replaced them with someone else. The beauty of the Marshall method, as author Ricks describes it, derived from second-chance opportunities—even though generals were often relieved in World War II, their dismissals were not career ending. 


A specific South Asian phenomenon 
politics and play 

Speaking during her recent trip to India, Aung San Suu Kyi was asked what she thought of the Burmese military. She was opposed to military rule, and to arbitrary action by men in uniform, but not, she said, against the army itself. How could she be, when the Burmese army was founded by her father, Aung San? She hoped the military would return to the principles laid down by her father. The Burmese army should work for the nation, not against its peoples. 

Hearing Suu Kyi speak in praise of her father, I was reminded of a morning I once spent in the waiting room of the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi. This was in January 1989. After more than a decade of army rule in Pakistan, elections had recently been held, and Benazir Bhutto had been chosen prime minister. 

I knew I would have to wait an hour or more for my visa interview, so had taken a book along. However, the security staff asked me to leave the book at the gate itself. So, while waiting for my appointment, I made do with the printed materials lying about the room. These were some magazines in Urdu and some pamphlets in English. 

Congo urgently needs U.S. help

By Ben Affleck, 
Published: November 30 

Affleck is an actor, writer, director and the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, a U.S.-based advocacy organization. 

Last week, a heavily armed rebel militia, M23, took control of the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the economic center and capital of the country’s North Kivu province. Unfortunately, to those of us who work in eastern Congo, the only surprise in this turn of events was how little attention it received. 

Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote in The Post about the bloodiest war since World War II and its continued toll on the Congolese people. From 1998 to 2003, eight African nations fought on Congolese soil, killing millions, forcing tens of thousands of children to become soldiers and, in some areas of Congo, subjecting as many as two of every three women to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Violence continued long after combatants agreed on a cease-fire. With regional war looming once again, it is time for the United States to act.