3 January 2013

Himalayan Plunder

The Himalayan Plunder by China began silently in 1950’s by transcending boundaries of Tibet and steamrolling occupation of Aksai Chin (38,000 square kilometers) that was part of Ladakh region of J&K acceded by Maharaja Gulab Singh to India post Partition. China’s National Highway 219 repaved recently runs now through Aksai Chin connecting Tibet with the Xinjiang region. This Chinese move was not mere territory grab but part of a larger integrated politico-military strategy that looked far into future considering long term requirements of resources, particularly energy, that would increase in gargantuan proportions, plus the security of the long supply lines. 

China appreciated long back that gas and oil pipelines could be planned in all directions and feasibility of tapping energy in the west / CAR incorporating energy based Eurasian Security Architecture existed. However, for ultimate energy security, it was necessary to get to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean by land. The latter was no easy task; it implied patience bordering banality and a long gestation period, plus the Himalayan Massif in the south. 

In Pakistan, perpetually in search of its identity, China found an easy ally. Zhou-en-Lai visiting Pakistan in early 1960s advised Ayub Khan to raise a militia to fight in the backyard of enemy India, offered arms, technologies and a grateful Pakistan ceded Shaksgam Valley (about 6,000 square kilometers of Indian Territory) to Pakistan. This was followed by China supplying nuclear technology and ring magnets to Pakistan and the ‘Higher than the Mountains, Deeper than the Ocean’ relationship took off. 

Simultaneously, China went for maximum economic and military cooperation with the Military Junta in Burma (now Myanmar) developing North-South waterways by making their waters navigable by large vessels, plus road construction and other development projects. 

China resolved her borders with all countries less India and Bhutan, which was by design. In certain areas Chinese claim lines kept extending progressively as the years went by - from 1959 claim line to more demanding one in 1963 and subsequently extending further in 1969, 1975 so forth and so on. 

Electronic Warfare: The Promise of Soft-kill

By Gp Capt Joseph Noronha 
Issue: Vol 26.2 Apr-Jun 2011 | Date : 03 Jan , 2013 

Electronic Warfare (EW) is reckoned as one of the most technologically advanced branches of warfare today. Is it really so? In a world where electronic devices have invaded practically every field of human activity, tremendous vulnerabilities have arisen that are just waiting to be exploited by conventional and irregular forces alike. Many of the capabilities of the leading exponents of airborne EW like the USA and Israel, were fashioned decades ago. They were designed for a different threat, most importantly to jam high-powered ground radars. Nowadays, they suffer from a lack of flexibility and are expensive to deploy and the threats they were intended to counter have moderated in some parts of the world. Meanwhile, new dangers are multiplying. 

The innovative tactics of insurgents and irregulars have sharply increased the variety and sources of low-tech asymmetric threats. Terrorists and jihadis have contributed to expanding the definition of hostile emitters to include low-power and low-band devices; even a commercial mobile phone cannot be ignored. 

Even the USA, the worlds foremost military power, seems to be struggling to get to grips with a future fraught with stagnant airborne EW capabilities, shrinking budgets and a proliferation of threats.

From simple command-and-control equipment to advanced electronic attack devices, everything is becoming increasingly sophisticated yet easy to obtain off-the-shelf. This makes it an expensive and time-consuming proposition to locate, analyse and counter them. 

Even the USA, the world’s foremost military power, seems to be struggling to get to grips with a future fraught with stagnant airborne EW capabilities, shrinking budgets and a proliferation of threats. Other countries that currently have far fewer EW assets are at still greater risk. 
Global Threat 

Pakistan's secret war in Baluchistan

Certain conflicts are fashionable to follow, others are not. The on-going and increasingly brutal conflict in Baluchistan falls strictly in the latter category 

Baluchi rebels lack popular support 

On 2 January 2013

Certain conflicts are fashionable to follow from the point of view of activists and commentators, others are not. The on-going and increasingly brutal conflict in Baluchistan is an example of one that is not. 

Baluchistan is the largest yet least populated region of Pakistan. It is also the poorest and least developed yet contains vast natural resources. Since the establishment of the Pakistani state in 1947, there has been a Baluchi nationalist movement seeking greater autonomy, more royalties from natural resources and, in some cases, complete independence from Pakistan. The exact size of this nationalist movement is difficult to ascertain, suffice to say it is sizeable and significant. 

Baluchi nationalists argue that revenue from the extraction of their resources is rarely invested back into developing the region. They accuse the federal government of abuse, neglect, and apathy towards their plight. They also accuse the Pakistani army of human rights abuses. The Pakistani government, in turn, accuses India and Afghanistan of arming and training Baluchi nationalists. 

The Pakistani Army, along with Iran, has led many military campaigns in the region, resulting in the killing of many dissidents and separatist militants. More recently, the Army, equipped with US-funded military hardware, has been accused of conducting a 'kill and dump' campaign. 

In the past 10 years an estimated 8000 Baluchi militants, intellectuals, and political leaders have been kidnapped and found dead, with many showing signs of torture. Furthermore, the region's Shia community is being systematically targeted by Pakistani terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Slain bodies of whole families of Baluchi Shias are routinely found on the streets. 

No Settlement In Damascus

January 2, 2013 

The Danger of a Negotiated PeaceBilal Y. Saab and Andrew J. Tabler
BILAL Y. SAAB is executive director and head of research and public affairs at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) North America. ANDREW J. TABLER is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries the empty shell of a cluster bomb. (Courtesy Reuters) 

In recent weeks, the argument that a decisive Syrian rebel victory would not necessarily be a good thing has gained ground in U.S. foreign policy circles. A negotiated settlement between Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and the rebels, the argument goes, would be preferable. Such an ending would have a better chance of stanching the violence and preventing outright sectarian war between the mostly Sunni rebels -- hungry for revenge against the Alawites -- and the rest of the country. 

Yet after almost two years of bloodletting by the Syrian government, there is little chance that splitting the difference between the factions would end the conflict. Even worse, a negotiated outcome would perpetuate Assad's favorite strategy -- honed over decades -- of using the threat of sectarian war to make his adversaries in the international community wary of getting involved. Instead, the end of the Assad regime should be decisive and complete. 

Of course, there are those who disagree. For one, Glenn Robinson, an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, has argued that the Syrian rebels, if they win, will seek revenge and embrace neither democracy nor liberalism. Arguing along the same lines, Madhav Joshi, a senior researcher at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and David Mason, a professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, have suggested that a decisive military victory in a civil war is dangerous. The victorious side, they say, is likely to try to exclude the other from government (and enforce that exclusion through its military dominance) rather than to try to co-opt the former rival's supporters by including them. 

China’s Maritime Surveillance Fleet Adds Muscle

By J. Michael Cole 
January 3, 2013 
As China continues to harden its stance on territorial disputes, a recent report notes that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has transferred 11 decommissioned warships, including two destroyers, to the country’s maritime surveillance agency. 

After undergoing renovation, the vessels—which include the two Type 051 (Luda I-class) guided-missile destroyers (DDG) Nanning and Nanjing, as well as surveillance ships, tugs and icebreakers—were transferred to the China Marine Surveillance (CMS) agency to “alleviate the insufficiency of vessels used to protect maritime interests.” The two 3,250-tonne destroyers, which can travel at a maximum speed of 32 knots, are to split their time between the East China Sea, the scene of a mounting dispute with Japan and Taiwan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, and the South China Sea, where China has overlapping territorial claims with a number of countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines. Prior to their decommissioning last year, the two 30-plus-year-old DDGs were armed with 130mm guns with a range of 29km, as well as anti-ship missiles. 

China’s Ministry of National Defense and the CMS have yet to comment on the transfer. 

However, Yu Zhirong of the Research Centre for Chinese Marine Development, wrote in the Xinhua News Agency-linked International Herald Leader that the capabilities of the CMS had been “greatly strengthened” and that the civilian agency’s capacity to execute missions was “sharply improved, providing a fundamental guarantee for completing the currently arduous task to protect maritime interests.” 

Since 2000 a total of 13 new vessels have joined the CMS fleets. These have aimed for greater displacement, ostensibly in recognition of the somewhat larger vessels operated by the Japanese Coast Guard. The current (12th) five-year plan calls for the addition of 36 new marine surveillance ships in the 600-, 1,000- and 1,500-tonne category by 2015. 

4 Threat Matrix: US begins downsizing the Afghan National Security Forces

Written by CJ Radin on January 2, 2013 12:39 PM to 4 Threat Matrix 

Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/01/us_begins_downsizing_the_afgha.php 

Afghan National Army Air Force C-27 transport aircraft 

The US has begun the process of downsizing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). A case in point: 

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the US military's decision to scrap all 16 planes in a fleet of C-27 transport aircraft bought for the Afghan National Army Air Force. Over the last few years, the US spent $600 million on the purchase of these aircraft for the provision of logistics support to the ANSF. However, most of the aircraft have since been grounded due to a lack of maintenance. According to Stars and Stripes

Alenia Aermacchi North America, a unit of Italian defense conglomerate Finmeccanica SpA, failed to meet the requirements of their contract to maintain the fleet, according to an email from U.S. Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick, who was quoted in the Journal. 

Can America Be Fixed?

The New Crisis of DemocracyFareed Zakaria

FAREED ZAKARIA is the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, Editor-at-Large of Time, and the author of The Post-American World. Follow him on Twitter @FareedZakaria.

We built that: President Barack Obama visiting the Hoover Dam, October 2, 2012. (Kevin Lamarque / Courtesy Reuters) 

In November, the American electorate, deeply unhappy with Washington and its political gridlock, voted to maintain precisely the same distribution of power -- returning President Barack Obama for a second term and restoring a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives. With at least the electoral uncertainty out of the way, attention quickly turned to how the country's lawmakers would address the immediate crisis known as the fiscal cliff -- the impending end-of-year tax increases and government spending cuts mandated by earlier legislation. 

As the United States continues its slow but steady recovery from the depths of the financial crisis, nobody actually wants a massive austerity package to shock the economy back into recession, and so the odds have always been high that the game of budgetary chicken will stop short of disaster. Looming past the cliff, however, is a deep chasm that poses a much greater challenge -- the retooling of the country's economy, society, and government necessary for the United States to perform effectively in the twenty-first century. The focus in Washington now is on taxing and cutting; it should be on reforming and investing. The United States needs serious change in its fiscal, entitlement, infrastructure, immigration, and education policies, among others. And yet a polarized and often paralyzed Washington has pushed dealing with these problems off into the future, which will only make them more difficult and expensive to solve. 

Studies show that the political divisions in Washington are at their worst since the years following the Civil War. Twice in the last three years, the world's leading power -- with the largest economy, the global reserve currency, and a dominant leadership role in all international institutions -- has come close to committing economic suicide. The American economy remains extremely dynamic. But one has to wonder whether the U.S. political system is capable of making the changes that will ensure continued success in a world of greater global competition and technological change. Is the current predicament, in other words, really a crisis of democracy? 

Pitfalls of an Aging China

January 2, 2013 

FRENCH PHILOSOPHER Auguste Comte probably tried to cram too much into his pithy but seductive maxim when he said that “demography is destiny.” Even so, demographic forces can be relentless in shaping future prospects of nations and therefore can offer powerful clues about national possibilities for future prosperity and geopolitical power. 

It is well-known that China’s population is aging. Less well-known and rarely examined is what this demographic shift might mean for the future of Asia’s largest and most rapidly rising power. A graying China will not necessarily be a China of economic stagnation and social turmoil. But understood in the context of the country’s current path of development, China’s aging demographics could be the single most important factor preventing the “Asian century” from being a Chinese-dominated one. 

Despite its economic dynamism, East Asia is aging rapidly. Most attention is focused on Japan, considered the “grandfather” of the region. But in terms of ramifications for the future power balance, much more attention should be paid to China. Currently it has a population of 1.35 billion, but this number is expected to begin shrinking slowly by around 2030. 

More important is the ratio of working-age people to those over sixty-five, considered aging or formal retirees. In the 1980s, the proportion of the working-age population (fifteen to sixty-four years old) was more than 73 percent of the overall population. Currently at about 68 percent, the working-age population is expected to decline to about 65 percent in 2020 and 60 percent in 2035. 

The significance of these numbers becomes apparent when we compare the proportion of working-age people with formal retirees. When China began its market reforms in 1979, there were about seven working-age persons to every retirement-age one. Today, the ratio is about 5.5 to 1. Current projections suggest that by 2035 there will be fewer than 2.5 working persons for every retiree. 

In the neighbourhood, it’s 'India fading'

Published: January 3, 2013
Suhasini Haidar 

NET LOSS: India has taken steps to invest in projects in geographically smaller neighbours. But the effort has not paid off. Photo: R.K. Radhakrishnan 

Moral consistency in New Delhi’s actions, and not money or muscle power, can counter Chinese and U.S. inroads into the region 

Within 48 hours of taking back control of Male airport from the Indian consortium GMR, Maldivian Defence Minister Mohammed Nazim had touched down in Beijing. The timing of the trip was probably coincidental, but the signal to India was unambiguous. As Col. Nazim and the Chinese Defence Minister, Gen Liang Guanglie, signed a military agreement, with China offering $3 million and more in free defence aid, the message that Maldives is looking far beyond India for its defence needs rang out. The year 2012 also saw the Maldives reach out to the United States, which has been keen to set up a base (to occupy the one vacated by the United Kingdom in 1976) on the southern atoll of Gan. 

The rights and wrongs of the GMR deal will be argued in courts and at the negotiating table for some time to come. Yet, the fact that the Indian government tried to intercede, even threaten the Maldivian government, and failed, is an indicator of the loss in India’s influence in this island nation. The image of India, a $3 trillion economy, attempting unsuccessfully to flex its muscles with an island nation which has a GDP of just $2 billion should cause even more discomfort. 

In fact, India’s waning influence was visible in February 2012, when former President Nasheed was ousted by President Waheed. India was informed only after the fact, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was disastrously advised to immediately endorse the new government. When India finally raised concerns over the coup and the crackdown on protesters, and sent a special envoy to Male, the envoy landed more than 24 hours after U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, who had flown half way around the world to show Washington’s interest in events. Those days of indecision have cost the Indian government dearly. Since then, the U.S. has kept up its voice for democracy and free elections as a way of staying engaged, while managing to discuss the possibility of taking over the base in Gan Island. China, which stayed out of the political situation, has engaged with the new government strategically and economically to the tune of millions of dollars in deals. 

How to improve ties with ASEAN

Focus on Buddhist sites can help
by G. Parthasarathy 

THE recently concluded Indo-ASEAN Summit in New Delhi marked the most notable success of Indian foreign policy over the past two decades. Sadly, no recognition is being accorded to the visionary role of former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, who realised the crucial importance of greater economic cooperation and integration of a liberalised Indian economy with the dynamic economies of Japan, South Korea and India's South-East Asian neighbours, who are all now members of the ASEAN regional grouping. ASEAN is set to become an Economic Community by 2015. 

Narasimha Rao's visionary policies have been carried forward imaginatively by successor governments, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh. It has also to be acknowledged that Narasimha Rao's efforts were successful largely because of the recognition of Singapore's elder statesman, Lee Kwan Yew, and his successor, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, that an economically vibrant India would have an important role in the maintenance of peace and security in ASEAN's neighbourhood, extending from the Indian Ocean to the shores of the South China Sea.

India's growing economic ties with ASEAN after a 20-year-dialogue partnership and 10 years of annual summits have fashioned a new architecture of dialogue and cooperation across what is now defined as the "Indo-Pacific" region, extending India's strategic profile beyond the Indian Ocean and across the South China Sea. India's dialogue with ASEAN is now not limited to annual summits. There are now annual meetings between the Defence Ministers of ASEAN on the one hand and its partners like China, Japan, South Korea and India, on the other. Moreover, ASEAN is today the driving force behind the East Asian summit, which brings together its 10 members with the US, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. 

India has consciously taken a low key posture in ASEAN forums, stressing the need for ASEAN to be the driving force for consensual efforts to build peace, security and progress across the entire Indo-Pacific region, thus linking security in the Indian and Eastern Pacific regions. Interestingly, the Vision Statement issued at the New Delhi Summit alludes to ASEAN appreciation for "India's role in peace and stability". India, in turn, recognises "ASEAN's centrality" in "economic structures and institutions currently emerging in the region". Whether ASEAN can retain its traditional unity in dealing with external challenges, in the face of an assertive and domineering China, however, remains to be seen.

The Indian economy: a rough 2012 but tougher 2013

December 25th, 2012 
Author: Pravakar Sahoo, IEG

In economic terms, 2012 has been a remarkable year for the Indian economy.

The year started in the shadow of the policy reversal on FDI in multi-brand ownership, followed by a working budget without major policy reforms and concrete steps to control fiscal deficit, subsidies and tapering growth. Instead of bringing clarity and policy direction to private investment, which had been slowing since early 2011, the 2011–12 budget proposed to amend the 1961 income tax law so as to retrospectively tax overseas transactions of Indian assets, thereby creating fear in foreign investors and uncertainty in mergers and acquisitions activity. The lack of government political will to carry out reforms, the slowdown in growth owing to the looming European crisis and tight monetary policy, policy reversals, and the downgrading of the Indian economic outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ by major rating agencies, has all led to continued downward pressure on the investment climate. Both domestic and foreign investment, which was already on the downturn in 2011, has further declined in 2012. The Indian economy, which is driven by the service sector, private enterprise and domestic demand, is expected to face its lowest growth in ten years.

The first two quarters of 2012 followed the downward trend of 2011 with a growth rate of 5.5 and 5.3 per cent respectively. Although the Indian economy slowed across the board in 2012, some worrying trends include a slowdown in the manufacturing and mining sectors, both of which are labour intensive sectors and crucial for the growth of other sectors. Also worrying was a widening trade gap and poor investment. Apart from domestic demand and private investment, export growth declined sharply in first two quarters of 2012. While a slow recovery of the world economy is partly responsible for this downward trajectory, India’s export growth remains one of the lowest amongst emerging economies. This is despite the fact that the rupee depreciated by nearly 25 per cent in 2012.

India’s growth undershoots: is this a new normal?

January 2nd, 2013 

Author: Ashima Goyal, IGIDR

At first glance India did very poorly in 2012. Growth dipped to 5.3 per cent; inflation remained high; and protests against corruption prevented parliament from functioning, leading to policy and legislative paralysis.

But it was also a year of undershooting, of performance seriously below potential. Since it is easy to slip into habitual doubt there was a rash of analysis on why this trend is the new normal. Undershooting, however, implies a reversion to fundamentals — and a better future performance.

Inflation was due to multiple cost shocks sustained in 2011 due to delayed rains, global liquidity driving up oil prices despite lower global net demand and capital outflows and a depreciation of the rupee due to euro zone problems. Sustained high food inflation since 2007, and its spill-over into general inflation, is forcing some action to improve productivity and marketing in agriculture. This is a thorny issue because here, as in labour laws, the states are involved. But a promising strategy would be for the central government to pass enabling legislation to kick start competition and convergence among the states. If one does well the others will not want to be left behind. FDI in retail will function as an agent of change. As the numbers of those who gain from better market integration rise, so will pressures to relax restrictions, setting in motion a virtuous cycle. Renewed vigour on reform shows that action is possible even in a minority coalition.

As supply-side action from the government and an output gap softens inflation, the Reserve Bank of India has room to reduce interest rates to levels that will encourage investment and consumer durable spending, but also give a positive return to savers. This is timely because five years have passed since peak investment rates. So overcapacity built during the boom years of the mid-2000s may have dissipated sufficiently to make room for a new round of investment. The global export slowdown is a risk, but diversification of the export basket is a promising strategy that has worked for India in the past.

Rough Cut

Nearly all the world's diamonds -- legal or not -- pass through this one Indian city. 


SURAT, India — The Gujarat Mail is just another red-eye train. Twelve powder-blue passenger cars crisscrossing, like so many hundreds of others, India's northwestern breadbasket through the dark of night. At five minutes past two, the Mail begins its four-hour journey, lumbering south from Surat to Mumbai. Inside, the third-class cabins are equal parts scurrying roaches and dangling unwashed feet; fading monsoon rains that bleed through the iron-barred windows grant only fleeting mercies. A few hundred unwilling insomniacs are sandwiched together, helplessly sweating on filthy vinyl benches as the shrieking of the rails splinters dreams along every gentle bend. In this part of the world, it's an utterly unexceptional journey. 

Aside from the $25 million or so in freshly polished diamonds on board, that is. 

The grungy wagons are filled with dozens of diamond mules, each man secretly carrying tens of thousands of dollars of stones inside custom-made tank tops with hidden stomach pouches. 

Everyone sleeps with one eye open. Despite their attempts at traveling incognito, the nervous paces of the conductor -- and the fact that the doors are bolted from the outside for the entirety of the trip -- belie the false sense of ease. Altogether, the mules on this sweltering, tense train trip shuttle almost every single diamond sold in the world today. 

The diamonds come to Surat, the world's fourth fastest-growing city, to get cut and polished inside the microfactories within countless rows of crumbling, whitewashed concrete office buildings. Of Surat's 5 million residents, an estimated 500,000 deal, polish, or move stones. The gems are flown, freighted, and trucked in from Africa, Central Asia, and other mining hot spots to take advantage of India's cheap labor and no-questions-asked atmosphere. In Antwerp, Belgium, which for 500 years served as the world's diamond headquarters, old money, rigorous documentation, and high security epitomized the business. But nearly 6,000 miles away in Surat, I discovered legitimate merchandise mingling openly with undocumented diamonds in a trading free-for-all. Indeed, so-called conflict diamonds -- illicitly mined stones that fund conflicts in the world's war zones -- are for sale by everyone from small-time street hustlers to the Indian government itself. And the entire system is protected by an intricate familial society of brokers and middlemen that operates almost exclusively on the black market. 

Pak strategy: Deny India nuclear victory

The guardians of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal are trained to keep secrets. Here are excerpts in two parts from a conjectural essay by Michael Krepon based on a limited public record, inferences and 20 years of visiting Pakistan and following its nuclear programme

The growth of Pakistan's nuclear stockpile is commensurate with a targeting objective to exact overwhelming damage sufficient to prevent India from recovering as a functioning society. 

Pakistan's relations with two of its neighbours - India and Afghanistan - are strained, and a third border, with Iran, marks the Sunni-Shia divide within Islam. Domestic social services are in decline. Governance is widely conceded to be poor at both the national and provincial level. Many extremist groups have found shelter in Pakistan. Some fight the military, others have colluded with it. Over the past five years, Pakistan ranks second (only to Iraq) in the incidence of mass-casualty deaths due to sectarian and politically-inspired domestic violence.

Amidst these indicators of national decline - and in the face of concerted efforts by the US and other nations to prevent Pakistan from crossing key production thresholds -- Pakistan now possesses a considerable and growing nuclear arsenal, which is publicly estimated to include perhaps 90-110 weapons. It is hard to identify another governmental or military enterprise in contemporary Pakistan that has been more successful in identifying goals and implementing them than Pakistan's nuclear weapon-related programmes. Most Pakistanis who bemoan the problems they face in everyday life feel pride in the accomplishments of testing and producing nuclear weapons. They begrudge governmental corruption and incompetence, but not money spent on the Bomb. 

Start of N-pursuit

Pakistan's serious pursuit of nuclear weapons began with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who famously declared in 1965 -- well before taking charge of the country and the programme -- that his compatriots would "eat grass" and suffer other deprivations in order to possess nuclear weapons. This priority became more focussed after the 1971 war with India that resulted in Pakistan's grave humiliation, vivisection, and Bhutto's ascendancy as President, and subsequently, as Prime Minister. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, a powerful political figure who became President of Pakistan from 1988 to 1993, provided continuity of oversight over the nuclear programme after Bhutto's demise and during a period of revolving Prime Ministers. As with other nuclear programmes in other countries, "first generation" scientists in defense establishments also played key roles in nuclear development programmes, most notably Munir Khan and Samar Mubarakmand of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission and A.Q. Khan of the Khan Research Laboratories. 

The Real Challenges for the New SecDef

Jan. 02, 2013
Department of Defense 
One of the most pressing problems facing the incoming secretary of defense, no matter who it ends up being, is posed by our denouement in Afghanistan

For reasons explained by Paul Sperry in an excellent 30 December op-ed in the New York Post, extricating ourselves from this quagmire is now taking on dangerous overtones, and the need to leave may be approaching at warp speed. 

The implications for the nature of the American withdrawal may be ominous, but they should not be unexpected. It is now virtually certain that managing a coherent withdrawal will present a major challenge for the incoming defense secretary. 

President Obama’s 2009 surge strategy for what he and Democrats liked to portray as the “good war” in Afghanistan was premised upon the assumption that the US could quickly build up and train large Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), including army and police forces. 

Obama and the Pentagon sold this counterinsurgency strategy to the American people by promising a surge in American forces would quickly weaken the Taliban. The emasculation of the Taliban would permit a rapid expansion of the Afghan security zones controlled by the Kabul government, while the rapid build up of the ANSF would stabilize and grow these zones even further, and thereby set the stage for a quick exit of U.S. combat forces beginning 18 months from the date of the surge. 

Despite its central premise of quickly building up an effective ANSF, the surge-based counterinsurgency plan produced by the Afghan theater commander General Stanley McChrystal did not provide a realistic analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing Afghan army and police forces. Yet these forces were the foundation for the both the expansion and the promised sequence of developments that would enable our quick withdrawal. 

Can Pakistan find a way?

December 31st, 2012 
Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Last October, the Taliban shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai for her advocacy of female education encouraged friends of Pakistan around the world to hope that at least this shocking act might prove a turning point against extremism in Pakistan.

It also brought forth broad condemnation in Pakistan and sparked large rallies in support of Malala and her fight for female education.

These expectations were clearly too high. The dogged nature of the problem of domestic terrorism in Pakistan, it is true, will not be turned around by a single incident: it requires a long, sustained campaign and the emplacement of conditions that suck its lifeblood dry.

There is, it seems, no strong national or bipartisan consensus yet on how to deal with domestic terrorism; nor are there any signs that extremism, justified by religion or ideology, is abating. The violence continues. Last month, many people were killed and injured in Karachi, Rawalpindi and other cities when extremists attacked Shiite religious processions. Two weeks ago, the equally shocking murder of five health workers on an internationally supported polio vaccination campaign, revealed yet again how vulnerable civil society is to the culture of terrorism.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the military are accused of covertly supporting extremist networks in Pakistan for use in proxy wars in India and Afghanistan, and the military establishment is not fully accountable to the government or the public. Yet many lives, including those of thousands on Pakistani soldiers, have been lost in trying to push back the frontiers of terrorism. The Pakistani army has more than 140,000 troops engaged in operations against the militants along the Afghan border. Some 35,000 Pakistanis, including up to 7,000 soldiers, have died in the fighting since 2001. Dozens of Inter Service Intelligence men have died — notwithstanding the intelligence organisation’s collaboration with terrorist groups.

Afghanistan’s IED Complex: Inside the Taliban Bombmaking Industry

Jan. 02, 2013

TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

Dust kicks off the ground during an operation by US Army soldiers attached to the 2nd platoon, C-Coy. 1-23 Infantry after charges are fired by for safe detonation of IED's on Sept. 23, 2012 in Panjwai district, Afghanistan. 

“I am here in Kandahar on a short vacation,” says the young man, about 27, who we will call Mullah Kalam. His beard is trimmed neat; he is wearing a black leather jacket and a striped beige turban. Kalam has been a student for five years at a religious seminary across the border in Chaman, in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Two years into his studies, as U.S. President Barack Obama ordered a surge of 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, much of it focused in the south, Kalam’s family of 11 left their home in Panjwai district, about 40km from the city of Kandahar, to settle in Chaman. 

But Kalam’s “short vacations” home, at least twice every year, are no innocent excursions. Panjwai is considered one of the most heavily mined areas in the country. The Taliban have been known to place homemade bombs and booby-traps everywhere—on dirt roads, pomegranate trees, and vegetable fields—and have forced a curfew on locals between 8pm and 8am. Besides Kalam’s religious studies, he has been spending time with “Pakistani explosive experts,” he says. Putting that training to work, he has helped orchestrate about 20 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks. 

The U.S. troop surge and the increasing reach of the Afghan security forces have weakened the Taliban as a fighting force in recent years. But the Taliban, known for their tactical flexibility, has turned more and more to IEDs. These are easy to make, largely from fertilizer and simple materials that are easy to transport across the porous border with Pakistan. 

The U.S, government has spent more than $21 billion since 2006 in tackling the IEDs, which it considers a strategic weapon that will remain “an enduring threat.” Marred with questions of inefficiency and mismanagement, the effort is led by JIEDDO, Joint IED Defeat Organization. The group has focused heavily on fielding technologies to address the problem in a three-prongedstrategy: “attack the network, defeat the device, train the force.” But the numbers on the ground suggest it has been a difficult, largely losing fight—and one that is increasingly asymmetric in terms of economic cost. 

While in Iraq, use of IEDs plummeted after reaching a peak of 23,000 attacks in 2007, the trend in Afghanistan seems to be only heading upwards. The Pentagon is reporting an 80% increase in IED incidents over the past two years here. In 2012 alone, there have been nearly 15,000 IED incidents, causing about 1,900 U.S. casualties. Overall, more than 60% of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan are caused by IEDs. While the weapon will continue to take a heavy toll on the U.S. troops until their planned withdrawal in 2014, the larger victim will remain Afghan forces, who are ill-equipped and more prone to fall victim in mined areas. IEDs are responsible for about 85% of casualties in Afghan army and police forces. 

Pakistan’s bleak outlook lightened by the game-changer with India

December 30th, 2012 

Authors: Mohsin Khan and Shuja Nawaz, Atlantic Council

With a general parliamentary election likely to be held early in the year, and changes to the leadership of the army and judiciary due by the end of the year, Pakistan faces some daunting challenges as it enters 2013.

The new government will need to set the economy on track and attract sufficient external financing to avoid a potential balance-of-payments and currency crisis.

The political transition and the required economic reforms will not be easy tasks. They will be set against the backdrop of rising civil unrest inside the country; a continuing insurgency in the western provinces; the rise of radical Islamic fundamentalism; and a hard-to-disguise series of battles between the civil government and the military on the one hand, and the judiciary and both the government and the military on the other. The Supreme Court dismissed one prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, in 2012 and barely avoided sending home his successor, Raja Pervez Ashraf, on the basis of a long-awaited and contentious letter to Swiss authorities that would allow them to reopen bribery charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. Yet, for the vast majority of the population, the threat of crime, unemployment, terrorism, political corruption and drugs is of greater concern than the political machinations currently going on in Pakistan.

The economic picture in Pakistan has remained quite grim since 2008. A growth rate hovering around 3 per cent, inflation running in double digits, fiscal deficits averaging 6–7 per cent of GDP and growing external imbalances all point to a bleak situation. The past year has generally followed this pattern with severe energy shortages and financing constraints forcing the manufacturing sector to operate at only 50–60 per cent of capacity. These constraints, compounded by political uncertainties and a deteriorating security situation, have caused both domestic and foreign investment to fall significantly, creating a scenario of low growth in future years, when 7–8 per cent growth per year is needed to provide jobs for the steadily growing population.

In a period of economic distress, however, there are some bright spots that give a degree of optimism for 2013 and beyond. First, the steady rise in the size of the middle class and in consumer spending, particularly on durables such as automobiles, motorcycles and mobile phones, suggests that official GDP figures have not captured the full picture of a large and growing informal economy in Pakistan. Second, workers’ remittances from abroad, which in 2012 will amount to US$13–14 billion, have fuelled consumer spending at home and checked the widening of external imbalances. And third, the government’s bold step of opening up trade talks with India, when it announced that it will grant its neighbour most favoured nation status by the end of 2012, could well be a game changer for the future economic development of Pakistan.

Take a leaf out of the mighty dragon’s book

Author: Claude Arpi 

The new rulers of China have been quick and unambiguous in acknowledging the spread of corruption in Government. In India, the UPA regime remains in denial mode even after being hit by many huge scams 

Everyone knows that in terms of infrastructure development, China is today far in advance compared to India. Most observers will say that it is due to the authoritarian nature of the regime in Beijing: Decisions are taken and implemented, and that is it. India has the excuse of being the ‘largest democracy in the world’, with its pluses, but also with its impediments and negative collaterals. 

There is another field in which Beijing is more serious than Delhi: It is corruption awareness. I am not talking about combating the plague, but simply being aware of it and not brushing it under the carpet, as it is done in India where the Government does not even acknowledge that thousands of rich Indian have accounts in Switzerland and other tax paradises. 

Not many in India may have heard of Wang Qishan, one of China’s seven new bosses. The official ‘profile’ of this member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party’s Politburo says: “He can do it”. Xinhua website commented, “Wang Qishan took up a challenging new mission last month to lead China’s top discipline watchdog [known as the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection], amid rising calls for crackdown on corruption”. It added: “Simply more than a month into his new role, Wang has demonstrated the same style that previously won his fame as a troubleshooter in the economic field: Tough, resolute and confident in front of difficulties.” 

Can you imagine a senior Cabinet Minister of India, responsible for tackling corruption at the highest level of the Indian State? Unfortunately for India, the senior politicians are mostly in denial mode: There is no 2G Spectrum scam, no Coalgate affair, etc. It is only an invention of the journalists (or the CAG), they say! 

At the end of November, soon after his election, Mr Wang told a symposium: “Ethics of the Party determines its survival or demise... In the fight against corruption, we must convince the public that we are making more and more concrete efforts and delivering more and more powerful blows.” Is it because the disease in a terminal stage than China takes more seriously this critical issue? 

One of the blows suggested by Mr Wang is to recommend the 19th-century classic on the French revolution (The Old Regime and the Revolution) written by the French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville. 

Is This Any Way to Treat Your Banker?

China recoils in horror at America's fiscal dysfunction. 

SHANGHAI — At the last possible instant, the White House and Congress reached a compromise that prevented the United States from falling off the "fiscal cliff" -- or, as we in China have been calling it, caizheng xuanya. 

By raising taxes on households that make more than $450,000 a year, the negotiations will save middle-class families from tax increases and also will likely prevent the United States from going into another recession. China can relax -- for now. Given how deeply the Chinese and U.S. economies are intertwined -- in 2012, the United States imported more than $350 billion of goods from China while exporting just under $90 billion -- a U.S. recession would hurt China's labor force. China's exports to the United States grew at 9.4 percent from 2010 to 2011 and at a similar speed in 2012; if that number slows significantly or becomes negative, it would undercut China's economic prospects and even impair China's social stability. 

Why hasn't the United States been able to keep its financial house in order? The United States is the richest country in the world, but since 2009, the U.S. government has spent at least $1 trillion more than it took in. In its first term, the Obama administration aspired to solve all of its country's problems at once: addressing the financial crisis by bailing out businesses and stimulating the markets, wrapping up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and reforming social security and health care. But the weak economy sent the U.S. federal debt soaring from roughly $10 trillion to $16.4 trillion in just four years. Real reform of the U.S. entitlement system has yet to happen. And the fiscal cliff deal merely locked in George W. Bush's unsustainable tax cuts for most Americans. All this has Chinese elites worried. 

A Better Year: 2013 Forecast for Asian Economies

By Anthony Fensom 
January 3, 2013 

Leadership changes in China, Japan and South Korea along with the United States have marked another tumultuous year for the Asia-Pacific region. With 2013, the Year of the Water Snake in Chinese mythology, around the corner, what might be in store for the region’s economy? 

According to “feng shui experts” quoted by Malaysia’s top-selling daily The Star, the snake year that commences in February will be a favorable one for industries related to “water, wood and metal elements,” including education, finance and insurance, media and metal and mineral-related businesses. 

Not so lucky will be those in construction, property and telecommunications, according to the experts. 

For branding purposes, blue is seen as the most favorable color as it represents the water element, while red and yellow are out since they stand for fire and earth, respectively. 

Unfortunately the prediction spells bad news for Australia’s red-colored ruling Labor Party led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who will face off against the blue Liberal/National Party coalition led by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in a general election this year.

Elsewhere in the region, elections are also due in Cambodia, Malaysia, Mongolia and the Philippines, where the predictions of the feng shui experts will also be tested. 

Economic growth upturn 

Asia will be keenly anticipating a better year ahead after a tough 2012, in which economic growth plunged during the first half of the year to its lowest rate since the 2008 global financial crisis. 

The International Monetary Fund anticipates the region will “remain the global growth leader,” expanding over two percentage points faster than the world average in 2013, although downside risks remain in the Eurozone crisis and U.S. budgetary negotiations. 

The IMF expects Asia’s growth to expand to 6 percent in 2013, a modest improvement on the previous year, aided by strengthening external demand and accommodative policy stances. 

China’s Maritime Surveillance Fleet Adds Muscle

By J. Michael Cole 
January 3, 2013 

As China continues to harden its stance on territorial disputes, a recent report notes that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has transferred 11 decommissioned warships, including two destroyers, to the country’s maritime surveillance agency. 

After undergoing renovation, the vessels—which include the two Type 051 (Luda I-class) guided-missile destroyers (DDG) Nanning and Nanjing, as well as surveillance ships, tugs and icebreakers—were transferred to the China Marine Surveillance (CMS) agency to “alleviate the insufficiency of vessels used to protect maritime interests.” The two 3,250-tonne destroyers, which can travel at a maximum speed of 32 knots, are to split their time between the East China Sea, the scene of a mounting dispute with Japan and Taiwan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, and the South China Sea, where China has overlapping territorial claims with a number of countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines. Prior to their decommissioning last year, the two 30-plus-year-old DDGs were armed with 130mm guns with a range of 29km, as well as anti-ship missiles. 

China’s Ministry of National Defense and the CMS have yet to comment on the transfer. 

However, Yu Zhirong of the Research Centre for Chinese Marine Development, wrote in the Xinhua News Agency-linked International Herald Leader that the capabilities of the CMS had been “greatly strengthened” and that the civilian agency’s capacity to execute missions was “sharply improved, providing a fundamental guarantee for completing the currently arduous task to protect maritime interests.” 

In 2013, the great global unraveling

By Mark Leonard 
December 30, 2012 

The disparate prospects of each continent have little in common. To the extent that they can be linked by a single theme in 2013, however, it is the idea of the unraveling of the global economy and the political integration that supported it. After two decades of globalization, this year will see each of the big political theaters re-erecting barriers and focusing more on domestic repairs than on global expansion. The unraveling has its roots in longer-term trends, but it is set to step up in the next year. 

There has been a remarkable stabilization within the euro zone since European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s intervention in the summer of 2012. But even as the euro zone integrates, the politics and economics of the wider European Union are likely to diverge. In practice, the measures toward an integrated banking union, increased parliamentary accountability and more incentives for reform could go hand in hand with the de facto economic and political disintegration of the EU. Economically, as Sebastian Dullien argues in a paper, “Why the euro crisis threatens the EU single market,” there is a significant risk of a gradual unraveling of the EU’s single-market system. A full euro zone breakup would shatter the euro, while a great leap toward political union could see shrinkage of the single market, as countries such as the United Kingdom withdraw from the heart of Europe. 

Even muddling through the crisis seems likely to diminish the depth of the single market. In recent months, banks in the euro zone have withdrawn from trans-border business. Even poorly-managed German companies are paying significantly less interest on capital than well-managed Spanish companies. These new barriers between euro zone members will lead to a renewed focus on domestic markets. For Europe, this means less competition, less growth and higher prices for consumers. 

The Pied Piper of the Insurgency

By Mark ThompsonJan. 02, 2013
General David Petraeus in Iraq, 2007. 

Fred Kaplan’s new book, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, dissects the past decade of American-waged battle to see how it has worked out. It assays the U.S. military‘s successes and failures, along with the squabbling over whether or not counter-insurgency, as championed by Petraeus, is the way to go. 

Kaplan has the reportorial chops for the job. Now the military-affairs columnist at Slate, the online magazine, he authored The Wizard of Armageddon, about the Pentagon‘s nuclear-war priesthood, 30 years ago. Battleland conducted this email chat with Kaplan over the New Year’s weekend: 

What is the bottom line in The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War? 

It’s the story of a small group of intellectual officers, most of them from West Point’s Social Science Department, who conspired (they called themselves a “cabal” or a “mafia”) to revolutionize the Army from within. Like most revolutions, the ideas hardened into dogma, and so the story devolves into tragedy–or, to put it another way, Afghanistan. 


How big of a change was it, really? How complete is this change? 

The idea was to transform the U.S. military, especially the Army, from a Cold War garrison establishment that saw war as strictly large-battlefield, tank-on-tank conflict, to an expeditionary force engaged in “irregular warfare” or “counterinsurgency campaigns.” 

The Army did go through a cultural change; it is more a “learning” organization than before; its concept of war, and how to think about it and prepare for it, is more flexible. And it succeeded, tactically anyway, in Iraq. 

But when the officers tried to apply the principles to Afghanistan, it was a disaster, and everyone knew it. President Obama, who had accepted the ideas as a short-term experiment, backed away explicitly. So the ideas are still enshrined in Army doctrine, but it’s not at all clear how enduring they will be. 

Isn’t the nation tired of manpower-intensive counter-insurgency campaigns? 

Absolutely. Nobody, not even David Petraeus, thinks we’ll get involved in another Iraq or Afghanistan anytime soon. 

One of his proteges, Colonel John Nagl, even said that counterinsurgency works best in a place like post-World War II Malaya — “on a peninsula against a visibly obvious ethnic minority, before CNN is invented.”