13 December 2012

Is Boko Haram More Dangerous Than Ever?

December 13, 2012

By Scott Stewart

On Nov. 25, Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group from northern Nigeria, attacked a church in Jaji, Kaduna state, using two suicide bombers during the church's weekly religious service. The first bomb detonated in a vehicle driven into the church, and the second detonated approximately 10 minutes later, when a crowd of first responders gathered at the scene. About 30 people were killed in the attacks; the second blast caused the majority of the deaths. The incident was particularly symbolic because Jaji is the home of Nigeria's Armed Forces Command and Staff College, and many of the churchgoers were senior military officers. 

In the wake of the Jaji attacks, media reports quoted human rights groups saying that Boko Haram has killed more people in 2012 than ever before. The group has killed roughly 770 people this year, leading many to conclude that Boko Haram has become more dangerous. 

However, it is important to look beyond the sheer number of fatalities when drawing such conclusions about a group like Boko Haram. Indeed, a less cursory look at the group reveals that while 2012 has been a particularly deadly year, the Nigerian government has curtailed the group's capabilities. In terms of operational planning, the group has been limited to simple attacks against soft targets in or near its core territory. In other words, Boko Haram remains deadly, but it is actually less capable than it used to be, relegating the group to a limited, regional threat unless this dynamic is somehow altered. 
Boko Haram's Rise



1. If NaMo, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had been well-advised, instead of raising the issue of Sir Creek, he would have raised the insensitive timing of the official visit of Mr. Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister of Pakistan, to India at the invitation of Shri Shushil Kumar Shinde, our Home Minister. His visit is scheduled to take place from December 14,2012,a day after the 11th anniversary of the attack on the Indian Parliament by Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorists on December 13,2001. This is not only an insult to the memory of the security forces personnel who were killed during the attack, but a reminder of the embarrassing fact that 40 years after Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) started using sponsored-terrorism against India, we are still without an effective answer to it. 

2.One can't have an objection to Mr.Malik being invited to India to launch the new visa liberalisation measures, but this was not the time to do so. ISI officers will see in the timing of the visit a confirmation of their belief that India does not have the will to fight their use of terrorism against us. 

3.Pakistan will try to project that with the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), and its seeming pursuit of the trial against the main Pakistan-based conspirators of the 26/11 terrorist strikes, the terrorism chapter in Indo-Pakistan relations is about to be over and a new chapter can begin. 

4. It is important to make it clear to Mr.Malik and other Pakistani leaders as well as to the international community that our battle against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism will continue so long as Pakistan does not act against all terrorists operating from sanctuaries in Pakistan and does not wind up the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. 

Maldives: Some Unknown Facts about GMR’s Mission

Paper No. 5325 Dated13-Dec-2012 
By Rajeev Sharma 

The controversy regarding GMR and its airport project in Maldives having gone sour has created waves in the Indian media. However not much is known about the financial and legal details in this regard. Here is a broad brush picture giving an account of the hitherto unknown facts. 

The assessment on the progress of operating and developing the airport together with the Maldives government started on August 25, 2010. The bid documents and other related papers were checked, revised and relevant persons in the Public Enterprises Monitoring and Evaluation Board ((PEMEB) of the Ministry of Finance were interviewed. 

As an announcement made by Investment Maldives in December 2008 seeking a party to operate Male International Airport failed to garner any attention from the public, a financial advisory agreement seeking professional advice on airport privatization was signed with International Finance Corporation, a World Bank affiliate, started on July 28, 2010. The purpose of this agreement was to seek a partner to buy 49% of shares of the state-run Maldives Airport Company Limited (MACL) or a party to develop the airport together with MACL under private-public partnership for the GoM for a decided period, under a competitive bidding process. 

In return, the GoM was required to pay USD $15,000 to IFC on the day of signing the agreement. USD $ 15,000 was to be paid from the moment IFC starts work and USD $ 20,000 was to be paid upon submission of transaction structure report. Further, another USD $ 15,000 was required if IFC’s service period exceeded 12 months. Once the project was awarded, the bid winner too was required to pay IFC the higher amount between 1% of the project and USD $ 750,000. 

In defence of lobbying

By Nitin Pai on 13th December 2012 in Public Policy

The lobbying industry must be allowed to function transparently within the ambit of the law. 

This is an unedited draft of today’s column in Business Standard. 

A famous Indian politician was searching for an issue that could energise his party cadre and move the masses. An group of businessmen produced a report on “making India self-contained in her supply” of a particular commodity. It had arguments on the rationale on consumption of the commodity, why it was necessary and why the poor needed it more than the rich. One of the politician’s close associates forwarded the report to the party leadership across the country while his personal secretary echoed the report’s arguments in an op-ed article the subsequent week. 

The politician embraced the cause and triggered off a historic agitation, the basis of which, partly at least, was the output of corporate lobbying. The politician was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the industry group was FICCI and the commodity common salt. The historic event in question, of course, is the Salt Satyagraha (see this post for details). It would be hazardous to suggest that a FICCI monograph singularly triggered off Gandhi’s famous march to Dandi. It would, however, be equally hazardous to discount the importance of lobbying on national politics then, as indeed in contemporary times. 

The current debate over corporate lobbying conflates two separate issues: one, the legitimate persuasion of politicians on the merits of a certain policy measures and two, the illegal activity of bribing them in pursuit of this goal. The latter is wrong. The former is necessary. We might be in the throes of moral panic, but we should not mix up the two. 

In Cyber Warfare, Education is Our Most Powerful Weapon

Posted: 12/12/2012

If you've seen recent headlines about cyber attacks, you've had to consider some troubling questions: How real is the threat? How serious are the consequences? How prepared are we? 
In a recent speech, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta described a dire scenario--a "cyber Pearl Harbor". He outlined what would happen if a coordinated cyber attack derailed trains filled with lethal chemicals, shut down air traffic control screens while thousands of planes were in the air, and brought our financial trading systems to a standstill. In the blink of an eye, the world would become a bleak place.

Unfortunately, scenarios like these are backed up by the facts. And we're not as prepared as we should be.

A clear and present danger.

Cyber warfare isn't just a future threat; it's happening right now. On August 21st, the Huffington Post Fact of the Day highlighted a 680 percent increase in cyber security breaches against the federal government in the last six years. A recent, blatant attack by the Chinese on sensitive Google networks--which followed other attacks on the New York Stock Exchange and the Pentagon--has led to escalating concern about our cyber security. Concern isn't the only thing that's growing: In fiscal 2011 alone, Washington spent $13 billion to protect information technology from attack. And this number doesn't include the amount spent in the defense budget to increase digital warfare capacity.

Israeli Cyber-War, Hackers and the “Fire Next Time”

DECEMBER 11, 2012

God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time! 

–African-American spiritual

Over the past few years, my blogging and freelance journalism has exposed Israeli national security secrets. I’ve revealed that Israel’s intelligence services along with those of Ukraine and Jordan conspired to kidnap a Gazan and bring him to prison in Israel, where he languishes without trial two years later. My reporting was the original basis of a 30-minute BBC radio documentary. Ireceived top-secret FBI wiretap transcripts of conversations among Israeli diplomatic personnel undertaking a campaign facilitating war against Iran. I’ve exposed the identity of Jewish terrorists while they were under gag order and publication of their name was illegal inside Israel. 

For all this, I’ve come under attack from the pro-Israel far right within Israel. Some of these attacks have involved computer hacking. I presume these are “script-kiddies” rather than government sponsored agents, but that line can be thinly demarcated. As you will also see, the line between a computer professional working for a multi-national corporation and a hacker can be very thin as well. 

My website was brought down a few years ago by a Denial of Service (DOS) attack. Paypal once temporarily suspended access to my account. A company security representative told me an Israeli hacker was attempting to break into it. 

Last August, I published an Israeli government war plan outlining some of the military weapons systems to be used and the targets of an attack on Iran. It was meant as a sort of sales pitch to persuade reluctant ministers to support an Israeli assault. I was interviewed by BBC World Service (audio) and the story was picked up by Der Spiegel and other news outlets. 

It’s no accident that three weeks later an Israeli hacker exploited a WordPress security weakness and took down my website. The hack happened in early September, as I was moving my site to a new host in order to provide more and better security. Ironically, this exposed my site to precisely the sort of hacking attack I’d hoped to avoid. 

Tikun Olam home page defaced after hack attack

Dreamhost, which was to be my new host, had a One-Click installation which was designed to ease the transfer of WordPress websites to their server. Little did I know there was a security vulnerability that would allow an Israeli hacker to penetrate and take down my site. 

I made the mistake of beginning, but not completing the installation. This allowed him to login to my site, create his own account, and hijack the main page, which took the site down for most of those attempting to visit. The rest saw a “proudly” waving Israeli flag with the message: “I Stand for Israel” emblazoned across the screen. In addition to thousands of readers finding my site down, there were substantial financial damages in restoring the site and moving it to a far more expensive host with superior security. 

Hacking the Next War


Today we live in a world linked by “cyberspace”, a word created in the 1980s but only ten years in common use. It stands for the completely man-made substrate we all share intimately on our smart phones, tablets and desktops, and that pervades the operations of banks, airlines, electrical grids and even manufacturing plants. It stretches under and into all the relatively instantaneous (and profitable) communication, cooperation and coordination that sustain our modern quality of life. So much modern wealth now relies on cyberspace that, increasingly, groups and nations are beginning to fight in it and over it as well. 

A new variant of warfare has emerged through cyberspace, one that is formally undeclared, long-term and widely variable in its tempo and day-to-day effects. Who wins, loses or merely stays the course will be determined more by the effectiveness of the means of disruption and resilience of critical national systems than by the outright “kinetic” destruction of discrete targets by military forces. This environment advantages those who have best prepared their systems to gain surreptitious control of everything from access points to knowledge stocks to economic or other resource flows in their opponents’ critical civilian and military systems, while simultaneously denying the same control to their known or unknown adversaries. This form of human struggle is “cybered conflict”, meaning the struggles inside cyber systems that routinely spill out of deeply embedded, globally connected networks to harm the rest of the society. Cybered threats are now so penetrating of heretofore well-defined and defended borders and strategic buffers (such as oceans) that we may have to look far back through history—well past the Peace of Westphalia—to the highly uncertain times of vulnerable ancient or medieval city-states to find appropriate analogies for what we face today. 

IDF to Double Unit 8200 Cyber-War Manpower

OCTOBER 23, 2012

The Israel’s Channel 2 reports (Hebrew) that the IDF intends to double the manpower of its Unit 8200, which is charged with waging cyber-war on Israel’s enemies. It plays a role akin to the NSA here in the U.S. and was responsible for creating Stuxnet, Flame and the other cyber-viruses which have decimated Iran’s nuclear and oil facilities. 

This is further confirmation of a growing trend that includes the Pentagon’s announcement that it would undertake a five-year $100-million program to fund the latest cyber-weapons in America’s war on its cyber-enemies. This calls for a major ramp-up among U.S. defense contractors who will also be recruiting talent from U.S. grad schools to help develop the Stuxnets and drone technology of the future. This will enable presidents like Barack Obama to continue telling the world that they adhere to international law regarding counter-terror policy, all the while thumbing their noses at it. 

The Channel 2 story, in typically patriotic fashion, calls those recruited to Unit 8200 computer geniuses (“if you’re a computer genius, this is the place for you!”). It even calls this field of endeavor “sexy.” There seems no recognition that what these sexy geniuses will be increasingly called to do is not only sabotage enemy infrastructure, but also cause death and devastation on a massive scale. As I’ve written, it’s only a matter of time before someone pushes a Send button and unleashes code that derails a train, causes an explosion in a power plant, or poisons a water supply. Even Leon Panetta warned of this eventuality. Only of course, he warned of someone doing it to us, rather than us doing it to someone else. We all know that the things you accuse your opponent of wishing to do to you are the same things you’d do to him given half a chance. 

How does the IDF identify suitable candidates? If you’re a high school student taking anywhere from five to ten computer subjects you’ll receive an invitation to take a special computer exam measuring your expertise. Recruiters also scan computer-related internet forums for suitable candidates. The IDF has a network of technical high schools throughout the country which also funnel manpower into the army’s technical units, including Unit 8200. 

Contending with China’s Territory Hunger

Paper No. 5324 Dated 13-Dec-2012 

By Bhaskar Roy 

Following the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in November, the CCP’s Hong Kong based mouthpiece, the Wen Weipo wrote that China’s efforts to protect its maritime rights will continue to increase. 

In the party work report presented by outgoing CCP General Secretary, Hu Jintao, no words were minced that the emphasis was high on building military strength to retrieve what it claimed as Chinese territory, especially maritime territory. These territories included the Spratly group of islands, reefs and corals in the South China Sea, the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, and, of course, Taiwan. Hong Kong has been the traditional window for China from Mao Zedong’s time. Using a Hong Kong mouth piece was to give a warning to the countries with which China has maritime territorial disputes. 

There is a serious conflict between China and South Korea on maritime territory which is hardly reported in the media. Although Seoul is an American ally, it wants to maintain a stable relationship with China for economic reasons as well as regional stability. It is acutely aware of the threat it faces from North Korea, an ally of China and which has been bailed out by Beijing in each and every act of transgression against the South. But it is not in South Korea’s interest to react publicly against China. 

It is well known that energy security is China’s first priority. The South China Sea is assessed to hold over 23 billion barrels oil. Gas has already been explored by China. The Chinese claims, if they fructify, can put the Asia Pacific Region (APR) under China’s control. 

An aspect not discussed widely is the settlement of the country’s burgeoning population. Even Tibet and Xinjiang may not be able to contain the push as Beijing tends to ease its “one-child” policy to balance ageing population. There are some researches to suggest that China is acquiring long term mining contracts in African countries where Chinese workers can eventually settle down. The proverbial China towns. 

Social Media Intelligence

Log In, Tune In, Don’t Drop Out 

Journal Article | December 13, 2012

U.S. Government employees who serve abroad representing our nation’s interests perform a critical task that also often puts them at great personal risk. Since World War II, the State Department has had seven ambassadors murdered in the course of their duties. Serving as an ambassador is more dangerous than serving as a general officer in war time and assassination is not their only threat. In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries seized the entire US embassy in Tehran and held its occupants for 444 days. That same year Pakistani militants stormed the US embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan and burned it to the ground, killing two embassy personnel in the process. 

Sadly, other examples abound. The tragic bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 has somewhat obscured from memory the equally tragic, though less deadly, bombing of the American embassy in Beirut earlier that year. That event prompted the Inman report, which called for the creation of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Diplomatic Security Service. The DSS provides embassies with Regional Security Officers who serve as the ambassador’s primary security advisor and also controls an array of assets including local and Marine Security Guards. Clearly, in Benghazi the best efforts of these men and women were not enough to protect the consulate and its occupants given the overwhelming nature of the threat and the horribly inadequate security provided by the host nation. 

The families of the deceased, the Foreign Service and civil servants and the people of the United States deserve a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi. We should let that accounting play out in an objective and thorough fashion, but that does not preclude us from drawing preliminary findings from what happened. 

One such finding is that the US diplomatic presence in Libya, and the Benghazi consulate in particular, was horribly lacking in situational awareness. While there were intonations that something bad was going to happen in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, such as Sean Smith’s forum message that local nation guards appeared to be casing the consulate, there simply wasn’t sufficient signal of a threat to drown out the ubiquitous noise that comes with supporting a diplomatic presence overseas. For all its funding and assets, the vaunted American intelligence community simply cannot be everywhere at once. It does, of course, make its best effort to support intelligence consumers, the State Department among them. But even a decade into the war on terrorism, much of its collection is tied to large stove-piped programs modeled on the Cold War world and unsuited to the State Department’s needs including early warning. 

Wait A Minute—Just How Complex And Dangerous Is It?

December 12, 2012

Once made, there is a common belief that assumptions will play out as planned. This type of thinking is a form of intellectual arrogance or laziness that can lead to confusion and paralysis when those assumptions turn out to be incorrect. --Donald Rumsfeld Known and Unknown 

This was not the military organization I was expecting when I began this exercise. I recently wrote a Small Wars Journal article[1] calling for the reorganization of the Department of Defense because today’s strategic environment is more “complex” and “dangerous” than in the past. Several colleagues immediately took me to task and asked how I came to that conclusion. My initial response was that it had to be correct because the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote it in their national strategic guidance documents. Certainly they, if anyone, would know if the world were more complex and dangerous. In my mind, my colleagues’ concerns were unfounded. 

Over the next few days, however, discussions in the seminar repeatedly revolved around assumptions and the role they play in not only framing an understanding of the environment, but also how they shape any subsequent problem-solving and solution-finding. These discussions reminded me of Donald Rumsfeld’s quote regarding the surprising lack of intellectual rigor applied to assumptions and how, if inaccurate or only partially correct, they can wreak havoc on an organization, plan, or operation. One of the primary lessons learned from Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was that senior civilian and military leaders failed to challenge some of the fundamental assumptions aggressively, which ultimately proved to be inaccurate and set the U.S. on an undesirable course of action.[2] Using my colleagues’ critiques as a call to apply intellectual rigor to strategic guidance, I decided to evaluate these two critical assumptions. 

Ripe for Rivalry

Has Asia's moment of reckoning finally arrived? 

On Wednesday, North Korea successfully launched a rocket that achieved what few countries outside of the United States, China, and Russia have -- a demonstrated long-range ballistic missile launch capability. The country is now one step closer to being able to launch a nuclear bomb across the Pacific. In early December, India's top admiral seemed to suggest that his navy would protect India-Vietnam oil exploration in the South China Sea from Chinese belligerence, while China and Japan aggressively re-affirmed their "sacred" right to the disputed Senkaku island chain in the East China Sea (which the Chinese call the Diaoyu). China and the Philippines are still facing off over a shoal in the South China Sea. It's all enough to make one wonder: Is 2013 the year that conflict finally breaks out in Asia? 

It was all supposed to happen two decades ago. In 1993, a series of journal articles written by mainstream international relations scholars in the United States claimed that Asia would be "ripe for rivalry:" A combination of nationalism, power rivalries, historical animosity, arms buildups, and energy needs, they argued, would lead Asia to become the next conflict hotspot. For instance, Aaron Friedberg, an international relations scholar at Princeton, wrote, "While civil wars and ethnic strife will continue for some time to smolder along Europe's peripheries, in the long run it is Asia that seems far more likely to be the cockpit of great power conflict." Instead, the region became the engine of world growth, home to an economic boom that has lifted millions out of poverty and shaken up the global balance of power. 

India successfully tests n-capable missile

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

India Wednesday carried out a successful test of its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Agni-I missile from a military base in Odisha, an official said. 

The intermediate-range ballistic missile, which can strike a target 700 km away, was tested from a facility on Wheeler Island near Dhamra in Bhadrak district, 170 km from here.

The test was carried out by the Strategic Forces Command of the Indian armed forces as part of a training exercise to ensure preparedness, director of the Integrated Test Range, M.V.K.V. Prasad, told IANS.

"The mission was successful," he said.

Scientists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which developed the missile, witnessed and supervised the test, Prasad added.

My Guru Pandit Ravi Shankar, my father and I

Shubhendra Rao 

LESSON ONE: Every single day was a learning experience — right from my first lesson in 1973 in Mysore, to the nine years of living and learning with him from 1984 onwards, to the numerous concerts I played with him. Photo: Shubhendra Rao 

Like a true teacher, he taught me not just about music but about life too 

It fills me with great sadness that I have to write this tribute today to my Guru, Pandit Ravi Shankar. With his demise, an era has come to an end. The last of the legends of that generation is no longer physically with us. But artists like Ravi Shankar never die because they will live on through their music. Millions of people across the world have been deeply influenced by this charismatic genius who was always way ahead of his time, and they will continue to be. 

I was fortunate to be born into a family where my Guru was worshipped as God. My father, the late N.R. Rama Rao, was one of his earliest disciples — from the late 1940s, when this legend himself was in his twenties. Their close bonding as guru and shishya is still spoken about in music circles as “Ram bhakt Hanuman, Ravi bhakt Rao.” 

My father, his shishya 

My father was the epitome of a perfect shishya and I grew up with lots of stories of their beautiful relationship. Father sitting behind on a bicycle with the sitar and Guruji riding the bicycle to All India Radio for his work; father listening to hours of Guruji’s practice sessions with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurnaji as he gave accompaniment on the tanpura; about the festive atmosphere that would set in weeks before Guruji arrived at my hometown, Bangalore. 

THE DIVIDED OCEANS - Towards a larger Asia-Pacific security architecture

Kanwal Sibal

The security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, which American ‘re-balancing’ towards Asia and Barack Obama’s tour of some Asian countries so early into his second presidency seek to address, are many and complex. Territorial disputes remain sharp in the region. China lays claim to Indian territory and so does Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan have border differences. China has maritime territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Taiwan is also party to these disputes, besides China itself having sovereignty claims over Taiwan. Japan and Russia have an outstanding dispute over the Kuril Islands. 

The problem of terrorism is more acute in this region than anywhere else. Pakistan, along with the border areas of Afghanistan, is a breeding ground of terrorism targeting India and Afghanistan, and creating a sense of vulnerability in Central Asia. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have seen terrorism on their soil. So has China in Xinjiang. Terrorism has afflicted Thailand and Indonesia. Nuclear proliferation is a problem in the two extremities of this region, in Iran and North Korea. At the eastern end, the threat of a military strike against Iran is real despite the position of Russia and China, while it is most unlikely against North Korea at the western end in deference to China’s opposition. 

The presence of the United States of America in the region is substantial, with its Seventh Fleet as well as military bases in Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Diego Garcia. With concerns about China’s rise in mind, the US is reinforcing its military assets in the region further. The US defence secretary has described India, a bit exaggeratedly no doubt, as a “lynchpin” of this new strategy. In any case, this shows the direction of American thinking in terms of partnering with India strategically in this region. 


Fifth Column -Dipankar Bose 

The largest Swiss bank and a major global player, UBS, has announced that it would cut 10,000 jobs (16 per cent of its workforce) worldwide by 2015 owing to a restructuring of its investment banking division. So the European recession brought about by reckless lending by its banks to private parties and German obduracy regarding austerity (cuts in wages, pensions, public spending) is now spreading to even the strongest of banks after having engulfed Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. 

For India, this is a double blow. Apart from the loss of the large European export market (14 per cent of its total exports), the colossal outstanding claims held by the European banks in India — which have grown from $42.7 billion to $150.6 billion, a direct result of financial liberalization, between the first quarter of 2005 and that of 2012 — pose a grave problem since there could be a return flow of capital. The exposures of these banks are about half of the total foreign claims on us and the non-banking private sector has been the largest recipient of such exposures. 

Apart from the credit provided to the local institutions, the exposures of the foreign banks take various forms, such as derivatives contracts, guarantees extended, credit commitments and other potential exposures. These exposures can be substantial, and can even exceed the formal claims on India. Intriguingly, the ambiguously defined category, ‘other potential exposures’, dominates the other sections. This makes India’s situation qualitatively worse than the one in late 2008 because India does not know the precise terms and conditions of the loans and their legal implications besides the sheer scale of the claims. 

Old issue 

The crisis deepens as the recession continues since the European banks could reduce their exposure to cover the losses and/or to meet commitments at home. Such return flow of capital took place after September 2008 with disastrous consequences for the economy and it will happen again. As foreigners withdraw their funds, India’s foreign exchange reserves fall and so does the rupee, increasing the inflationary pressures on the economy, thanks to India’s huge imports that far exceed exports. It is not just oil imports but also non-oil imports that matter. Of late, the latter have become substantial as the import-intensity of the manufacturing sector has grown over time, making India far more import-dependent than before. This is a structural change that has occurred in India due to globalization, and the process goes on making the nation increasingly vulnerable to what happens abroad. With retail inflation already in the double digits, additional inflation will ruin the aam admi and interest rates will rise, hitting investment and industrial output. Contrary to the claims of the exporters, a drop in the exchange rate of the rupee cannot help much. For as Europe falters while the United States of America grows slowly and China’s demand remains below expectations, it is unlikely that export earnings would grow. 
Thursday, December 13, 2012 

December 12, 2012 
First Published: 23:08 IST(12/12/2012)
Last Updated: 23:12 IST(12/12/2012) 

Scorched by the Dragon 

The recent 50th anniversary of China’s invasion of India (October 20-December 1) attracted a lot of Indian discussion. Yet the debate shied away from drawing the broader, long-term lessons. The lessons are also relevant for China’s other neighbours because 1962 helped uncover the key elements of Beijing’s war-fighting doctrine — a doctrine it brought into play in 1969 (provoking border clashes with Soviet forces), 1974 (occupying the Paracel Islands), 1979 (invading Vietnam), 1988 (seizing Johnson Reef), and 1995 (grabbing Mischief Reef). In each of those aggressions, the major 1962 elements were replicated.

As a 2010 Pentagon report citing 1962 put it, “The history of modern Chinese warfare provides numerous case studies in which China’s leaders have claimed military pre-emption as a strategically defensive act.” In fact, a 2010 essay in the influential Qiu Shi Journal — the ideological and theoretical organ of the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee — underscored the centrality of ‘offence as defence’ in Chinese policy by declaring, “Throughout the history of new China, peace in China has never been gained by giving in, only through war. Safeguarding national interests is never achieved by mere negotiations, but by war.” 

Unlike India — which still naïvely believes that it gained independence through non-violence, not because a World War-debilitated Britain could no longer hold on to its colonies — ‘new China’ was born in blood after a long civil war. It was built on blood, with Mao Zedong and fellow revolutionaries ever ready to employ force internally and externally. 

No sooner had the new China been established than it swiftly doubled its territorial size by forcibly absorbing Xinjiang and Tibet. Domestically, countless millions perished in witch-hunts, fratricidal killings and human-made disasters. In fact, Mao attacked India after his ‘Great Leap Forward’ created the worst famine in recorded world history, with the resulting damage to his credibility, according to Chinese scholar Wang Jisi, serving as a strong incentive for him to reassert his leadership through a war. 

The roots of global anti-Americanism

Revelations of Korean rapper Psy's anti-American past are emblematic of a global resentment caused by US militarism. 

Last Modified: 11 Dec 2012

As long as unchecked American militarism continues, the phenomena of anti-Americanism will continue to spread and damage the ability of the US to find necessary allies in a strategically-important part of the world [EPA] 

The incongruity of it seemed to be nothing short of a betrayal. After lightheartedly dancing his way into the hearts of Americans and gaining entrance to the inner sanctum of their cherished cult of celebrity, the Korean rapper, Psy, whose song "Gangam Style" became the most watched video in the history of YouTube and made him a pop culture sensation, has been revealed to have a politically active past which places him directly at odds with the American mainstream worldview and which violently decries its most basic articles of faith

The man whom they enjoyed as an unthreatening, comically light-hearted foreigner dancing for their enjoyment was revealed to have only years earlier been a vociferous public critic of American policies and the country's role in the world. 

The True Costs of America's Empire

December 12, 2012

"Are you monitoring the construction?" asked the middle-aged man on a bike accompanied by his dog. 

"Ah, sì," I replied in my barely passable Italian. 

"Bene," he answered. Good. 

In front of us, a backhoe's guttural engine whined into action and empty dump trucks rattled along a dirt track. The shouts of men vied for attention with the metallic whirring of drills and saws ringing in the distance. Nineteen immense cranes spread across the landscape, with the foothills of Italy's Southern Alps in the background. More than 100 pieces of earthmoving equipment, 250 workers, and grids of scaffolding wrapped around what soon would be 34 new buildings. 

We were standing in front of a massive 145-acre construction site for a "little America" rising in Vicenza, an architecturally renowned Italian city and UNESCO world heritage site near Venice. This was Dal Molin, the new military base the U.S. Army has been readying for the relocation of as many as 2,000 soldiers from Germany in 2013.

Since 1955, Vicenza has also been home to another major U.S. base, Camp Ederle. They're among the more than 1,000 bases the United States uses to ring the globe (with about 4,000 more in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.). This complex of military installations, unprecedented in history, has been a major, if little noticed, aspect of U.S. power since World War II. 

During the Cold War, such bases became the foundation for a "forward strategy" meant to surround the Soviet Union and push U.S. military power as close to its borders as possible. These days, despite the absence of a superpower rival, the Pentagon has been intent on dotting the globe with scores of relatively small "lily pad" bases, while continuing to build and maintain some large bases like Dal Molin. 

Strategic Horizons: U.S. Must Change Its Thinking on Conflict in Asia

By Steven Metz, on 12 Dec 2012

In early 2012, as large-scale U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ended and the conflict with al-Qaida took on a different shape, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued new strategic guidance to redefine America's defense priorities (.pdf). One of the most important ideas in the document was a renewed emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. This was, in part, a recognition that the United States needed greater strategic focus in order to cut defense costs. But it also reflected the fact that the Asia-Pacific region is home not only to the world’s most rapidly growing economies but also to its most rapidly growing militaries. It therefore combines great importance and great danger.

Since the strategic guidance was issued, the defense community has been adding analytical meat to its bones, fleshing out the meaning of "rebalancing" to the Pacific. This involves identifying the sources and locations of potential conflicts that might involve the United States. Once this is done, the U.S. military can begin developing the forces, configuration and concepts it might need to successfully engage those conflicts. Thinking of this sort is important but, as it has unfolded, the process has been dangerously narrow, concentrating heavily, almost exclusively, on China. There are good reasons for this. Beijing continues to use its growing economic power to fund a massive military transformation, shifting from a large but relatively unsophisticated ground-based force to one with advanced technology, naval power and an expanding power-projection capability. 

More importantly, the U.S. Department of Defense has noted (.pdf) that "China’s long-term, comprehensive military modernization is improving the [People's Liberation Army’s] capacity to conduct high-intensity, regional military operations, including anti-access and area denial (A2AD) operations." Phrased differently, China is beginning to field systems that might make it immune to military strikes from the United States. This, strategists believe, would make it difficult or impossible to deter Chinese aggression.