30 December 2012

Asia Adrift

Jaswant Singh

Jaswant Singh is the only person to have served as India’s finance minister (1996, 2002-2004), foreign minister (1998-2004), and defense minister (2000-2001). While in office, he launched the first free-trade agreement (with Sri Lanka) in South Asia’s history, initiated India’s most daring diplomatic opening to Pakistan, revitalized relations with the US, and reoriented the Indian military, abandoning its Soviet-inspired doctrines and weaponry for close ties with the West. His most recent book is Jinnah: India – Partition – Independence.

22 December 2012

NEW DELHI – The year 2012 began with festering Chinese sovereignty claims in the South and East China Seas, but also with hope that a code of conduct brokered by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would enable them to be resolved peacefully. The year is ending, however, with those hopes dashed and ASEAN more divided than it has ever been. Indeed, a handful of its members now seem eager to subordinate their national interests – and the interests of ASEAN – to those of China.

China’s increasing assertiveness in staking its claims contributed to the landslide victory of the defense-minded Liberal Democrats in Japan, and to the conservative Park Geun-hye’s election as South Korea’s first-ever female president. Rising regional tensions also provided the backdrop to US President Barack Obama’s trip to Southeast Asia shortly after his re-election.

Obama announced the United States’ strategic “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region in January 2012, and a whirlwind of activity there – from Australia to Indonesia to India – marked America’s security diplomacy throughout the year. In Japan, too, worries about Chinese assertiveness have become so powerful that a government that showed considerable hostility to the US-Japan alliance when it came to power three years ago had, by November, begun to trumpet the alliance’s mutual-defense commitments as it confronted China’s claim to the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands.

The security concerns that have animated this diplomacy are forging a broad coalition, bringing in not only the region’s democracies, but also countries like Vietnam, which is embroiled in its own territorial dispute with China that centers on maritime oil exploration. Even India, which has been cautious about deepening its security ties with the US, has now embraced the idea of regional mutual defense – not only with America, but also with Japan and other East Asian countries.

This new emphasis on regional security is not confined to governments. Popular support for the creation of a pan-Asian security structure can be found not only in the election outcomes in Japan and South Korea, but also in the ecstatic crowds that greeted Obama in Myanmar (Burma) during his recent tour. Ordinary Burmese well understand that their country’s democratic transition is the direct result of its recoil from China’s excessive demands on its natural resources.

Leaner, Meaner Marines

Even with a Taftian foreign policy and a defensive grand strategy, America will still need forces that can act overseas. Our New Model Defense Department will rely on the Marine Corps to provide them. 

Situations where we send in the Marines will resemble President Jefferson’s war with the Barbary pirates. Unless we are directly attacked, we will avoid wars with other states, because their most likely outcome will be the spread of statelessness—watch Libya. Instead we will find ourselves up against Fourth Generation, non-state opponents in situations where government has lost its grip. 

Some of these enemies, including pirates, will attack Americans, and we will be forced to respond. Our response will not be to conquer other countries and attempt to turn them into Switzerland. Most often, the Marines will carry out raids, which will last hours or days, occasionally weeks. They will have two purposes: punish those who harbor our attackers and shift the local balance of power against our enemies. To non-state entities, the local balance counts for more than their relationship with the United States. If they know the price of attacking us will be to see their local enemies triumph over them, they may leave us alone. 

Thus, just as we will still need a strong Navy, we will also require a capable Marine Corps. The question is how to get it within a modest defense budget. As with the Navy, the answer begins with adopting the old Prussian reserve system. Today’s Marine Corps has three active divisions and one reserve. The new Marine Corps will have one active division and two reserve. But those reserve divisions will be just as capable as their active-duty counterpart because whole battalions will go into reserve together. On recall, everyone will be doing the same jobs and working with the same people as they did on active service. 

Another major cut can come from Marine aviation. Rhetorically, its purpose is to support the Marine on the ground. In reality, high-priced aircraft do that poorly. Money can be saved by dumping most of the aircraft, including the complex V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor and transferring the Air Force’s A-10s to the Marines. The A-10 is the only American aircraft that effectively provides ground support. 

Another path to savings is to have the Marine Corps follow its own doctrine. The Corps has an advantage over other services in having adopted Third Generation maneuver doctrine in the early 1990s. But it has never applied the maneuver doctrine to its force structure. Doing so would reduce spending while improving military effectiveness. 

One source of savings derives from the way maneuver warfare reshapes logistics. In Second Generation attrition warfare, the assumption is that all units are engaging the enemy almost all the time. That requires each combat unit to have an extensive logistics train. In maneuver warfare, the operative assumption is that most units are in reserve, waiting to maneuver. Logistics support is funneled to the few units in contact with the enemy. The overall logistics train shrinks dramatically as the “tooth to tail” ratio rises. 

Air Power against the Maoists

Issue Vol. 27.4 Oct-Dec 2012 | Date : 30 Dec , 2012 

Employment of air power to search and destroy targets has been carried out on a very large scale in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US forces. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) can remain airborne for long periods, carry out surveillance and send real-time intelligence back to control centres located in distant parts of the world. The UCAVs are then used in the attack mode to destroy the identified targets. On many occasions, despite the technical prowess that the US possesses, innocent civilians including women and children have been among the casualties leading to human rights organisations condemning such incidents. In the Indian scenario also similar mistakes can occur if air power is utilised to target Naxals or Maoists. It should be remembered that the level of technology at which Indian forces operate, is far below that of the US military. Hence the possibility of error is greater. Any killing of innocents will help boost the Naxal propaganda while attracting adverse reaction both from within the country and outside. 

Attack Helicopters in the Kashmir Valley 

Based on the success achieved by armed helicopters in the Kargil War, in the year 2000, a decision was taken to employ helicopter gunships of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the battle against militants and terrorists who had infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley. Two Mi-35 attack helicopters were moved to a Forward Area Refuelling and Rearming Point (FARRP) for this mission. After detailed briefings on the ground situation and extensive deliberations between the IAF and HQ, Northern Command of the Indian Army, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were formulated to ensure that offensive missions could be accomplished without collateral damage as the militants usually operated from or near inhabited areas. An Indian Army officer with thorough knowledge of the local terrain and the behaviour pattern of the militants was also carried onboard as part of the attack helicopter crew. However, as the officer could not be accommodated in the cockpit, there was no alternative but to position him in the passenger cabin, though it was, operationally, not the best arrangement. 

Towards Better Ties: But nothing to show forward movement

Issue Courtesy: Uday India | Date : 30 Dec , 2012 

The Interior Minister of Pakistan, Mr Rehman Malik meeting the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi 

The road to Indo-Pakistan detente taken in the recent past has seen pleasant surprises keeping the peace process chugging along. The bilateral talk between the two countries last week to operationalise a liberal visa system they had agreed upon in September was a recent milestone. But it has also had its potholes of attempted sabotage. The latest on the negative side was a controversial statement by the Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik wherein he equated the demolition of Babri Masjid to the 26/11 Mumbai attack, much to the chagrin of Indian establishment. If Delhi and Islamabad staring at the tantalizing possibility for a rare virtuous circle in their bilateral relations is an indication of the opportunities that lie ahead on the bilateral front, the unsavoury remarks made by the visiting dignitary are a reminder of the enormous challenges still remaining. 

Without that basic commitment no amount of talks would help. A dialogue cannot lead to the resolution of issue unless there is a suitable political ambience. 

Indeed, there have been incidents in the past too when the people have played cheerleaders with little to celebrate in the aftermath. Meetings were initiated on a high note only to turn sour, such as the Agra Summit. Krishna-Qureshi meeting and many others. Indo Pakistan ties plummeted post-Mumbai attacks and are today the top of agenda between the two. Add to this, other innumerable jinx factors whereby the trajectory of Indo-Pak ties has always stumbled due to unresolved issues and notorious adventurism by Pak-based terrorists aided by sections of Pakistani establishment. In fact, New Delhi twice broke off talks with Islamabad, after the 2001 attack on Parliament and then after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, only to realise that it could not keep its head turned away from a neighbour indefinitely. At the same time, however, leaders on both sides have walked the extra mile to resume dialogue and there has been a concerted effort to give economic content to ties—unprecedented economic steps have been taken opening new vistas of cooperation and creating more confidence building measures in terms of increased economic linkages. But amidst the prospectus of trade liberalization in between the neighbours, terrorism remains an Achilles heel. 

Know your protester

Dharminder Kumar : Sun Dec 30 2012

Passing through Minnesota in the US in 2006, Chetan Katoch, a Fulbright fellow at Iowa University, saw in a small town one man standing by the road holding a placard which said, “Bring Our Soldiers Back.” The sight of this lone anti-Iraq war protester flashed him back to another small town, his own—Mandi in Himachal Pradesh—where he was a leader of a communist student organisation in his college. He remembered his own protests at Mandi which were mostly chakka jams. They needed days of coaxing fellow students, long huddles to plan disruptions and years of romancing the revolution. “And here was one man who needed no revolution, no Marx and no crowds to register his protest; he just owned a placard.” That day, Katoch left Minnesota holding high a mental placard of his own. 

Katoch, 32, who teaches English at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College in Delhi, has a thought for those who have been baffled, irritated or amused by placards at India Gate asking for beheading and castration of rapists. “You read the slogan on the placard but miss the placard itself—the fact that most of us had a placard of his or her own. It’s rare for so many people to gather without one common ideology, platform, politics or schedule.” He says the extreme emotional reaction underlines the fact that the protest has not been processed through a particular ideology. 

Katoch is right, and wrong. 

The culture of protest has changed so suddenly in India that well-heeled, English-speaking people making public display of disaffection with government confuse analysts as well as administrators. They aren’t rebels and no revolution burns in their hearts. Unlike the protesters of yesterday, they are not against the system, but want a stronger one. 

Yet, they aren’t as individual as they seem. The protesting youth are the post-reform, post-liberalisation generation which has tasted speed and efficiency in the private sector and demands them from the government too. Manmohan Singh’s policies have spawned a whole generation of citizens who want from the government what it promised by liberalisation—speed and efficiency. “You cannot accuse a schoolgirl of an intent to maim or murder just for raising a slogan and dismiss the protest as proto-fascist. You must get used to seeing protests without overarching ideas,” Katoch says. 

The older culture of protest which required not only a bleeding heart but also the right academic and political credentials is changing in the cities. Katoch says it is hard for the old protesting classes to accept that people could get agitated on specific issues for specific remedies without getting romantic and philosophical about it. “It’s a straight issue: rapes have increased and government isn’t doing enough. All the obfuscation of the real issue is by those who can’t place the crowd in an ideological frame. People expected schoolgirls to come with nuanced academic positions on justice, masculinity and patriarchy. They wanted the protesters to come with the whole shebang—Voltaire, Sartre, Che, not to mention Gloria Steinem. And where is Pete Seeger, and Faiz’s songs of revolution?” 

‘Arab Spring’ of India

Meghnad Desai : Sun Dec 30 2012, 

In Tunisia it began with the insult to a street trader. Is India witnessing an ‘Arab Spring’ in its political and social life? The anger and protest which have engulfed the cities are an expression of a new generation which sees politics very differently from their elders who are hidebound in their perceptions. Like the student movements of US, UK and France which swept a lot of old politics aside in the sixties, this is the first expression of the ‘baby boom’—a ‘demographic dividend’ if you wish. Indian politics had begun to shift towards a younger generation during Rajiv Gandhi’s brief years. With his untimely death, it had a geriatric setback. Now, this is the new dawn. 

Unlike Anna Hazare’s pastiche of Gandhian politics, this movement is expressing sentiments which have never had a political expression in modern India in ways which are unique. It is not that rape is unusual, sadly not. The majority of rapes are by a man known to the victim; patriarchy is not just a concept in India, it is a daily reality. Yet this particular episode has exposed all the myriad structural faults in Indian public life. 

A gang rape is horrible enough but along with it the woman and her companion were physically beaten to within an inch of their lives. They were not in a night club or bar; no standard excuses were available to shift the blame on to the woman. They were in a bus. Women in Delhi and across India take the casual grope, touch or lewd remark in their stride. But in this bus which pretended to be ferrying passengers to their destination they were subjected to inhuman degradation. Every woman could imagine herself in the place of the brave woman who was nearly destroyed. But not the political classes. 

India’s political classes showed their incomprehension in their stock responses. Of course they do not know what it is to be unsafe in public transport.They swan about in their tax payer financed cars with lalbattis; they consume an inordinate amount of security resources for their protection. Not one politician has as yet renounced either their lalbattis or their security cover. And yet they are afraid to meet the crowd in person. Barack Obama can visit the school where the kids were killed; David Cameron can meet crowds in Trafalgar Square but not our netas. They invite a few to meet them in the safety of their homes and even that after some days. No single political leader has addressed the crowds in person. (Even Kejriwal took several days before climbing on the bandwagon.) The PM’s TV appearance was brief and botched by clumsy editing. The Minister of State at Home Ministry asked for safety assurance for Rahul Gandhi from the demonstrators! 

India may be a vibrant democracy but its leaders are crippled with a fear of their people. They fear assassination; not just the top ones but even the least important ones cower behind Black Cats. The youth on the march cannot trust anyone in a position of power and no wonder when the leaders are so fearful that they will not confront them in person. 

The incident has exposed the rottenness at the heart of India’s political system.There are judicial delays amounting to denial of justice; police hostility or mere absence when women need them; there are laws galore but they are never implemented. Far from protecting women, politicians, in many dozens, are implicated in rape cases, though rest assured they will all escape justice. In Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana, in the last few months, women have been murdered or have committed suicide or lost their fathers defending their honour—in which the counterparty has been a Minister. 

The political system is adept at fighting its internal battle as was shown in the farce about the Quota Bill. If there is a special parliamentary session, it will be wasted in not allowing any time for discussion lest the Women’s Representation Bill gets passed. 

The people are there to serve the politicians by voting for them every five years. How dare they demand the right to be safe? That is the politicians’ privilege.

The Delhi rape: Why we need to move beyond protest

December 29, 2012

The current wave of protest in Delhi [ Images ], like almost every public dialogue in India [ Images ], has a tendency to invariably degenerate into a clash of personalities that usurps centerstage and relegates the issue at hand to the backburner, warns Vivek Gumaste 

Mass histrionics like the volley of indignant rage that burst out onto the streets of Delhi in the form of violence in response to the inhuman rape of a 23-year-old female student is polemics at its worst; a rhetorical high decibel vituperative that makes for sensational television cameos and screams to be splashed across the front page of newspapers, but one that does precious little to provide a lasting solution to an intractable problem; a scathing knee-jerk indictment of gubernatorial indifference and negligence sans the insight that the government, though definitely culpable to a great degree, is not the sum total of the panacea that is warranted to reign in this human depravity.

Agreed, the government needs to be more sensitive to the needs of women. And the government can certainly be more proactive to ensure security to women at all times and in all locations by continuous monitoring of public places and imposing stringent laws that guarantee their safety on public conveyances. However, it would be naïve and unrealistic to believe that the government wields a magic wand and can make rapes disappear with the utterance of an 'abracadabra'. 

The public protests that appear at the outset to be a government-centric outburst is in reality a much wider castigation: a jibe at the male for his boorishness and outright criminal behaviour; a telling statement about the lack of refinement in our society as a whole. 

Rape represents a broad failure of human society; the ultimate fear in the spectrum of a wide range of insecurity that Indian women encounter in daily life from the seemingly harmless unwelcome nudge encountered on the bus ride to work to the uncouth audacious catcalls from across the street. 

The current wave of protest, like almost every public dialogue in India, has a tendency to invariably degenerate into a clash of personalities that usurps centerstage and relegates the issue at hand to the backburner. Let us stop the cantankerous bickering between the public and the government, the public and the police, and the Union government and state functionaries to conceive a comprehensive united effort that will result in tangible results. 

While stringent punition is certainly a component of deterrence, the focus of anti-rape measures must be preventive. 

Challenges for Global Governance in 2013

Authors: Michael Fullilove, Executive Director, Lowy Institute for International Policy Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations Jiemian Yang, President, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies Igor Yurgens, Chairman, Institute of Contemporary Development 

December 27, 2012 

Editor's note: This roundup is a feature of the Council of Councils initiative, gathering opinions from global experts on major international developments. 

From the Iran nuclear crisis to global economic woes, the upcoming year will pose steady challenges to international bodies seized with maintaining peace and prosperity. Experts from four leading think tanks weigh the issues. 

Michael Fullilove, of Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy, says China must assume "the responsibilities incumbent on a global power" but China's vision of "stepping up" will not be the same as that of the United States. 

In addition to the crisis in Syria and Iran's progression toward nuclear capabilities, CFR President Richard N. Haass identifies trade, cybersecurity, and climate change as major governance tests. 

The Shanghai Institutes for International Studies' Jiemian Yang says governance priorities are strengthening existing institutions, forging consensus between state and non-state actors, and harnessing regional efforts in areas like trade into common global action. 

Similarly, INSOR's Igor Yurgens identifies three issues—the continuing turmoil in the Middle East, environmental concerns, and the growing wealth gap—that will have serious implications for global governance. 

Michael Fullilove, Executive Director, Lowy Institute for International Policy

The world's greatest global governance challenge is to establish shared responsibility for the most intractable problems of our post-unipolar world. Much of the world chafed against the United States' enormous relative power in the first decade after the end of the Cold War. Many enjoyed its grievous overreach in the following decade. But now, more capitals need to assume the role of "responsible stakeholders" that was urged on Beijing by Robert Zoellick in 2005

China serves as the most pressing example of a country that must embrace its growing power in the international arena. Beijing has been more active in its dealings with the international community in many positive ways. Yet, it has so far demurred from assuming the responsibilities incumbent on a global power, and nurturing the international system it hopes to help to lead. 

Prospects for the Global Economy in 2013

Authors: A. Michael Spence, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations Robert Kahn, Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics Mark Thoma, Fellow, The Century Foundation Yukon Huang, Senior Associate, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody's Analytics 

December 27, 2012 

Moody's Chief Economist Mark Zandi cites three reasons to be bullish about the U.S. economy: a housing revival, the end of deleveraging, and a healthy corporate sector that will be ready to invest in 2013. CFR's A. Michael Spence also thinks that 2013 augurs better for the world economy, but cautions that lagging employment and income inequality will hamper a robust recovery. 

In contrast, CFR's Robert A. Kahn cautions that Europe's debt crisis is far from being solved and that without growth, "we are likely to see Europe again at the brink." The Century Foundation's Mark Thoma believes that a reevaluation of monetary policy in the United States, and possibly the Bank of England, could help lower the European Central Bank's guard against inflation in the coming months. 

Carnegie's Yukon Huang predicts that even as the currency war between China and the United States recedes, the battle over foreign investment and technology transfer policies will continue to escalate in the coming months. 

A. Michael Spence, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

The economic outlook for the United States in 2013 is marginally brighter. The economy is adapting structurally, albeit slowly, to an altered and more sustainable growth pattern. The deleveraging process is further along, which, in turn, has spurred domestic demand. A divided Congress appears to be serious about reducing debt and long-term non-debt liabilities, and may come together around a credible stabilization path that will reassure business, reduce uncertainty, and boost investment. However, disruptive technology, global market forces, the education gap, and skills deficit mean that long-term unemployment will remain a problem. Looser monetary policy, designed to buy time for politicians to enact needed policy changes, may push the economy back toward the defective leveraged-growth model and delay long-overdue structural adjustments. 

Europe experienced a substantial decline in systemic downside risk in the summer of 2012 as a result of credible reform momentum in Italy and Spain, as well as conditional but strong commitment by the ECB and the eurozone core to stabilize the banking sectors and the sovereign debt markets while those reforms take effect. Political uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections may cause a setback, but the most likely outcome is negative growth and high unemployment (especially for the young), not a disorderly unwinding of the eurozone. 

Isolation from Europe wouldn't be splendid for the UK

The EU without Britain will be less free; without the EU, Britain will be irrelevant. It mustn't quit 

The Guardian, Friday 28 December 2012 

‘Can anybody really imagine they’re going to let the most profitable activities stay solely within London, and allow the City to remain the financial capital of the euro without Britain sharing the rights and duties of the EU.’ Photograph: Danny Martindale/Getty Images 

For a passionate Anglophile like me, the prospect of the UK leaving the EU is a disaster. A disaster for Europe, but also for Britain itself. In a world in which our continent is being slowly marginalised, a union without Britain would be paralysed down one side. This certainly holds for the Americans, because even though the "special relationship" may no longer exist, London isn't a European capital like any other. It also holds for a vast swath of the world from the Gulf to New Delhi, from Cairo to Singapore, for which European influence is historically identical with the British presence. And it holds for the Chinese, who are counting "economic divisions" the way Stalin once counted military ones, and for whom a Europe amputated in this way is seriously weakened.

But it's not just about Britain's global strategic presence. The EU needs the UK as a tireless advocate of the free market, and of competition with member states – France first and foremost – that have less of a market culture while remaining subject to protectionist and mercantilist temptations. And last, in a world where the values of freedom and democracy are the order of the day, for Europe even more than for the US, the absence of "the land of habeas corpus" would be an unfortunate symbol.

However, even without the UK, Europe will keep on going. Without Europe, on the other hand, the UK will be at a dead end. Since joining the EU Britain has pursued a very skilful policy towards Brussels: it has benefited from the single market, reduced its budgetary contribution without having convincingly explained why, and perfected the art of the opt-out. In terms of European policy, these are the equivalent of "warrants" on the financial markets – the chance of profiting from an opportunity without paying the full price. Why would the leaders of Britain, so famed for its tradition of common sense and empiricism, abandon a strategy that suits them so well in favour of a more ideology-based approach. How can they imagine that a UK, liberal and open to globalisation, would be to Europe what Hong Kong is to China?

The End of the EU-Russia Relationship (As You Know It)

December 28, 2012

The EU-Russia summit last week in Brussels seemed almost routine. Gas, visas, Syria, and human rights were all on an agenda that proved largely fruitless. Yet, something is different and no one seems to have noticed. Relations between the European Union and its biggest neighbor are changing fundamentally. 

The Europeans, of course, are focused on their own crisis and the restructuring that's necessary to pull the continent back from the brink. Beyond their own union, they are mostly looking across the Mediterranean toward the Middle East and North Africa. 

The Eastern Partnership between the EU and Russia's six former Soviet neighbors is, frankly, languishing, and Ukraine is what the Russians call a "suitcase without a handle. " In other words, it can neither be carried forward, nor abandoned. 

But it is Russia itself that is Europe's biggest disappointment. 

Until last fall, Europeans believed that then president Dmitry Medvedev was taking Russia in the direction they themselves desired and in the fashion they preferred by promoting modernization through gradually introducing the rule of law, encouraging innovation, and opening up more to the West. Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted Medvedev to succeed so badly that she publicly called him a candidate in Russia's presidential elections in 2012 before Vladimir Putin had a chance to announce his final decision.

After Putin announced his plan to reassume control, the political mood in Europe began to sour. Europeans were briefly encouraged by the sudden rise in Russian protests last winter, but this was quickly lost when the Kremlin cracked down on protestors, opponents, and foreign-funded NGOs. Merkel has turned openly critical of Moscow and this week's Economist placed Putin right in the middle of hell in the unholy company of Kim Jong Un, Bashar al-Assad, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

Business is running and gas is flowing, but Russia's behavior is unacceptable in Europe. 

Something fundamental has changed on the Russian side, too. Putin believes Europe-and the West more broadly-is in decline, and wants to reposition Russia vis-à-vis the main centers of power in the twenty-first century. Moscow's "European choice" proclaimed by Putin himself in the German parliament in 2001 has been replaced with a focus on Russia's near neighborhood. 

Guest Post by Robert Kozloski: Naval SOF: How Much and at What Cost?

December 2012 

As military operations in Afghanistan wind down and pressure to reduce defense spending heats up, policy makers and military leaders must carefully assess how to effectively posture the US military for the challenges of the 21st century. Part of this assessment must include identifying the right mix of general purpose forces and special operations forces. 

Given the potential demands for traditional capabilities during the so called “Naval Century”, striking an affordable and sustainable balance between the two-forces must be of particular concern for the Naval Services. A recent CSBA report on strategic choices for the DoD identified Special Operations Forces as one of the four “crown jewels” that should be protected in light of forthcoming austerity measures while reducing the size of the Marine Corps and the number of Navy surface ships. 

Over the past several months, two reports from the Congressional Research Service began to scratch the surface on this complex issue. First, Andrew Feickert identified that the increasing demand and expanding role of special operations forces will push up against its self-imposed force endstrength limits, intended to maintain the high-quality of personnel within the SOF community. This creates a greater demand for special operations “enablers” from the conventional forces. This shift will have to occur at the same time reducing the endstrength of the Army and Marine Corps is taking place. 

Similarly, naval expert Ronald O’Rourke raised concerns for the Navy in his report, Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress. Specifically, O’Rourke identified two significant issues for Congress: 
To what degree can or should Navy IW and CT activities be used to reduce the burden on other services for conducting such activities? 
Is the Navy striking an appropriate balance between IW and CT activities and other Navy concerns, such as preparing for a potential future challenge from improved Chinese maritime military forces? 

The issue of what role and to what extent the Navy should play in the traditional Army-centric mission space of special operations is being scrutinized by respected national security journalists as well. Veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus raised the question, “Navy Special Forces units: How many are needed?” Pincus questions the Navy’s motivation for the increased attention given to the IW and CT missions, asking: “Is the Navy’s increased interest in irregular warfare and counterterrorism “partly motivated” by concerns about remaining relevant, or by a desire to secure some of the growing funding for Special Forces units, or both?” That question is extremely shortsighted and unfortunately, Pincus’ treatment of the subject fails to address a critical issue – the capabilities provided by the original “soldiers from the sea”, the US Marine Corps. 

Athens - the EU capital city without a mosque

By Mark Lowen BBC News, Athens 

Some 300,000 Muslims are said to live in Athens 

At Friday prayers and across Athens, Muslims gather in underground, cramped prayer rooms. 

The makeshift facilities are illegal but this huge community faces no other option. Athens, a metropolis on the edge of the Muslim world, is one of the few EU capitals without a mosque. 

Since Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832, no government has allowed a mosque to be built in the city. It was seen by many as "un-Greek" - out of place in a country in which much more than 90% of the population are Orthodox Christians. 

But as Greece has become the main entry point for migrants to the EU, its Muslim population has swelled. 

Some estimates place the number of Muslims in Athens alone at around 300,000, in a city with a population of around five million, and the clamour for an official place of prayer is growing. 

"It is a very big tragedy for us Muslims that there is no mosque here," says Syed Mohammad Jamil from the Pakistan-Hellenic Society. 

"Greece produced democracy and civilisation and the respect of religion - but they don't respect our Muslims to provide us with a regular, legal mosque." 

One of the Friday worshippers, Ashifaq Ahmad, says: "I feel somehow cut off from society. 

"When we have a celebration, there is nowhere proper for us to get together. Society is not accepting us." Barracks plan 

The flawed strategy of drone strikes

By Imran
KhanSpecial to Gulf News 
Published: 00:00 December 29, 2012 

Banishing all trappings of justice, the US is oblivious to the suffering of peace-loving civilians comprising the vast majority in Pakistan’s tribal areas 

Although 2012 saw an accelerating drawdown of the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, a grim aspect of that decade-long war — reliance on air strikes by unmanned drones — continued unabated. Indeed, those attacks were stepped up, with America’s use of drone warfare in Pakistan reaching an unprecedented height over the past year. With President Barack Obama re-elected and no longer facing the pressure of a campaign, it will now be in America’s interest — and certainly in the interest of Pakistan — to use the first year of his new term to de-escalate the violence. 

America’s drone strikes in Pakistan reflect an arrogant frame of mind that fails to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent, between the perpetrator and the afflicted and between the criminal and the aggrieved. By banishing all trappings of justice, this mindset is oblivious to the suffering of the peace-loving civilians who comprise the vast majority of those living in Pakistan’s tribal areas. 

The US drone strikes have left behind a long trail of death of innocent civilians, with no one being held accountable. These remote-controlled flying machines are programmed to decimate brutally and indiscriminately. It is shameful that a country known for its democratic values and its unparalleled commitment to human freedom should stoop so low as to kill innocent men, women and children. 

Tales of the Desert

Searching for Context for the Persian Gulf War
Eliot A. Cohen

Eliot A. Cohen is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University. From 1991 to 1993 he was Director of the Gulf War Air Power Survey, an independent study commissioned by the Secretary of the Air Force.

The Gulf War appears, in retrospect, a study in emotional extremes disproportionate to its fundamental reality. A relatively weak and isolated Third World country, whose gross national product was perhaps a third the size of the U.S. defense budget, took on the world’s only superpower, which was funded by the entire developed world and assisted by several major military powers. Having placed its forces in a hopelessly, and quite literally, exposed set of positions in the desert, Iraq lost ignominiously after five weeks of pounding by air and four days of retreat on the ground. From the vantage point of 1994, the anxieties expressed before the war in somber testimony before Congress about the risks of an American bloodbath on the battlefield, and the exuberant celebrations on Main Street after the war seem not merely excessive, but even somewhat bizarre. According to the memoirs of General Schwarzkopf, he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, wanted to use the deck of the battleship Missouri, the location of the Japanese surrender in 1945, for the Iraqi capitulation. If true, this suggests that it was not only pundits, senators and private citizens who lost their sense of perspective during the war.


Despite its overwhelming operational success, the war has left a curious unease about the way it was conceived and conducted, and how it was covered by the media. To make sense of the war at the time one relied, of course, on the press, which inundated the Persian Gulf with hundreds of journalists, ranging from professional war reporters who had spent a generation on the edge of combat to stringers from hometown newspapers eager to hear the rumble of tanks charging across the desert. Most of these journalists were frustrated by the military’s system for handling them and by a suite of briefers who looked a lot better than their questioners on television.

Two of the abler journalists have written of their war stints, and their accounts are revealing, although not always in the ways their authors might have hoped. Television correspondent Peter Arnett’s memoir devotes barely 80 pages to his experiences covering Baghdad. Most of the discussion deals not so much with the war as with himself and CNN, the television network that employed him. CNN’s self-absorption is mirrored by Arnett’s. The Gulf War was good for CNN, which reveled in having a correspondent in Baghdad on the air, even if he could not see all that much of interest or cover the Iraqis in a serious way. The network was delighted by the inadvertent commercials offered by air war planners, who confirmed the success of their attacks on the Iraqi electrical grid by watching the lights go out in Baghdad on cable television.

Norman Schwarzkopf’s Lionization Ignores a Dark Gulf War Legacy: Untreated Vets

Dec 29, 2012

The late general and the Pentagon have never conceded, despite mounting evidence, that chemicals unleashed during the Gulf War did damage to U.S. military personnel, writes Jamie Reno. 

The nation is mourning the loss of retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who died Thursday at age 78. But in its mostly fawning coverage this week of the man dubbed Stormin’ Norman for his ferocious temper, the press is overlooking a lot. 

Three months before his retirement in 1991, Schwarzkopf told soon-to-be soldiers about the importance of protecting the nation—and the importance of dedication to the U.S. 

The New York Times called Schwarzkopf “the nation’s most acclaimed military hero” since generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. And Gen. Robert Scales Jr., who served with Schwarzkopf and wrote a book about the history of the Gulf War, told Fox News, “His epitaph should read that he was a soldier who loved soldiers.” 

But some Gulf War veterans and veteran advocates interviewed for this story assign an altogether different narrative to Schwarzkopf’s life and legacy. No one disputes the general’s military prowess, but these veterans say the question people should really be asking now is: will his passing reignite interest in why so many Gulf War veterans remain untreated? 

“Why do none of the obituaries of Schwarzkopf mention that there are still 250,000 Gulf War veterans who still urgently need treatment?” asks Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War Army scout and longtime veterans advocate who now works at Bergmann & Moore, a law firm that represents veteran-disability cases. 

Actions, Not Words

December 28, 2012 

It’s time for the Obama administration to get its act together in both the Middle East and Afghanistan. 

In the Middle East, Washington has been far too soft on both Nuri al-Maliki and Mohammed Morsi, two would-be dictators who are moving ever closer to their objective of one-man rule. And it continues to fight Bashar al Assad with little more than words, while the Syrian dictator fights his own people with mortars, bombs, missiles and air strikes. In Afghanistan, U.S. and coalition troops continue to be killed and maimed while progress in standing up a viable Afghan security force is far too slow and the elimination of cancerous corruption slower still. Meanwhile, negotiations for a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for American troops in Afghanistan, without which they cannot remain in that country any more than they have in Iraq, are moving at the slowest pace of all. 

Once again, as it did during the Iranian Green Revolution of 2009, the administration is turning a blind eye to the democrats in the street in order to “keep open lines of communication” with the tyrants in the palace. In Iraq, Maliki continues to consolidate power at the expense of the Sunnis and the Kurds. The former are already on the verge of launching a new insurrection; the latter are preparing for outright war if Baghdad continues to stifle their hopes for maximizing the benefits of their energy resources. Meanwhile, Washington says not a thing, other than to move ahead with the sale of armaments that the Kurds fear will be aimed at them. 

The situation is even worse in Egypt. Morsi and his backers in Muslim Brotherhood have been demonstrating yet again that Islamists see democratic elections as a means to an undemocratic, theocratic end. On November 22, just a day after he helped secure a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, winning exceedingly fulsome praise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular, Morsi issued a decree that prevented any court from overturning his decisions or those of the Islamist dominated assembly that was writing a new draft constitution. 

Rough Year Ahead for Central Asia

December 28, 2012 
Political risk in Central Asia for 2013 is widespread but uneven. 

Across the five post-Soviet countries, state decision-making is walled inside presidential palaces. While the heads of state range from outright dictators (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan) to façade democrats (Kyrgyzstan), institutional mechanisms for sharing and transferring power are non-existent. The strongest organized bidders for influence are rogue actors like drug cartels, provincial strongmen and scheming business elites. Environmental degradation, the propensity for natural disaster and bitter politics expose much of the population to energy and food shortages. The extraction industries dominating Central Asian economies encourage wealth concentration and exasperate nepotism and cronyism. Ethnic hostilities, Islamic insurgencies, nationalist rivalries, intraregional grievances, and spillover from the war in Afghanistan threaten to reintroduce civil conflict and the possibility of forced regime change from below. 

Or 2013 could be just another status quo year, when pockets of resistance, a spasm of street protest or days of labor unrest will fail to disrupt the metronomic rhythms: weddings and harvests, short school days and long factory hours, trips to the market and worker remittances from Russia. Central Asia has a way of stalking change but reverting to its post-Soviet norms. 

Hotspots most threatening Central Asian political stability include: 

Divided Kyrgyzstan 

Kyrgyzstan is the only working parliamentary system in the region and derives significant revenues and international interest from renting military bases to both the United States and Russia, but its weak central government is still driven by personality and the interests of a tiny business elite. Newly elected President Almazbek Atambayev has done little to make good on promises of transparency and international investors are only feeling more insecure.