2 February 2013

‘A White Rocket Rose From the Water’

First person: defence 

From under the ocean the SLBM emerged and with a low rumble shot into the sky. It arced on to blast an ‘enemy city’

On January 27, a balmy Sunday, when all of India was soaking in the last of an extended weekend, somewhere in the Bay of Bengal, some 200 scientists, working in small teams on a flotilla of ships, coordinated their expertise to launch a missile in complete secrecy. After they reported an elated success at 1:40 pm, India announced for the first time the possession of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). This completes the acquisition of the nuclear triad: the ability to launch nuclear missiles from land, air and sea. Plus, India robustly reinforces its credible nuclear deterrence and joins the US, Russia, France and China in having the capacity to launch a missile from under the sea. The SLBM, codenamed B-05, was fired from an underwater platform, a submerged pontoon of sorts, simulating a launch from a submarine. 

I was witness to overjoyed scientists dancing like frenzied teenagers on the ship deck. I and cameraman Alphonse Raj were the only media team allowed to witness the historic launch. There had always been speculation that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been testing such missiles for some time now, but questions on the topic were always met with suitable denials. Possibly for subterfuge, the project was variously known at various times as Sagarika, K-15 and Dhanush. DRDO revealed that Sunday’s launch was the 14th consecutively successful test of this missile system and that its scientists have been at work on this for more than a decade. “Launching a missile from below the sea has its own complications,” says V.K. Saraswat, missile scientist and scientific advisor to the defence minister. “The rocket has to be propelled through salt water, then through air and then, after going up into space, it has to strike a faraway target on the earth’s surface.” None of the technologies required for this is available off the shelf; painstaking research & development was the only solution. No wonder the scientists were exploding with joy. 

Things These Friends Do:The New Normals

By Zafar Choudhary 
February 2, 2013

Going by Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh’s arguably valid parameter of judgement, the current level of relations between India and Pakistan is though tense but back to normal. Jaipur Literature Festival, Justice Verma’s report and whether Modi should be BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate replacing ‘aggressive patriotism’ in the news channel studio spaces is also an indicator of normalcy. Further evidence of normalcy between India and Pakistan comes from the resumption of bus and truck services across Line of Control between Poonch and Rawalakote. However, a peep into bilateral depth would suggest that normalcy is still far from reality and even a thought of it is as fragile as a bubble. 


In backdrop of tension on the Line of Control that erupted after beheading of an Indian soldier in first week of January, when the security discourse overtook the political discourse, Gen Bikram Singh, in an on the go remark, drove home a basic fact often ignored in context of India-Pakistan peace process. He said, ‘the level of normalcy between India and Pakistan has to be seen in relation to the situation on the Line of Control’. The LoC is less than 25 percent of entire boundary of 2064 miles dividing the two countries but the fact that it runs through Jammu and Kashmir assumes centrality to any model of stability India and Pakistan work at. With a history of diplomatic, political and security ups and downs behind them, it was a LoC skirmish that recently brought the South-Asian giants once again back to the brink, sadly, at a time when they looked heavily invested in repairing their relations. In the immediate fallout the foreign offices in New Delhi and Islamabad called the respective envoys to issue stern demarches. Pakistani hockey players playing for Indian team were sent back from Mumbai in the middle of pre-game trial session. Visit to India of two leading Pakistani theatre groups called off. The biggest fallout was on the LoC itself. Emerging since 2005 as a ‘Line of Cooperation and Peace’ between India and Pakistan, the LoC suddenly returned to its traditional symbolism of ‘Line of Conflict’; gates were shut on the Cross-LoC travel and trade, the biggest ever confidence building measure between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. India put on hold full operationalisation of new visa regime. The leader of Opposition in the Parliament asked for ‘ten heads of Pakistani soldiers’ to avenge beheading. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh summed up the political sentiment on January 14 when he said, ‘after this barbaric act, there can’t be business as usual with Pakistan’. The much awaited MFN and new trade regime, seen as an alternative route to sustainable stability between two countries, has fallen into state of uncertainty. All this happened barely two weeks after India and Pakistan played cricket together in New Delhi, the first bilateral series in five years signalling best of relations. Those who lack the strategic depth as that of Gen Bikram Singh think of bilateral cricket series as barometer of India-Pakistan normalcy. It was at the LoC –one breach, the proverbial one gunshot and then the cyclic retaliations –where the normalcy castle collapsed. 

Media Censorship in China

By Isabella Bennett, Program Coordinator, International Institutions and Global Governance
January 24, 2013 


The Chinese government has long tried to keep a tight rein on traditional and new media to prevent any challenges to its political authority. Watchdog groups say that this has often entailed strict media controls using monitoring systems, shutting down publications or websites, and jailing dissident journalists and bloggers/activists. China's censorship of its media again grabbed headlines in early January 2013 when Southern Weekly, a liberal-leaning paper based in Guangzhou, staged a week-long confrontation with the government after local propaganda authorities rewrote a front-page pro-reform editorial.

Google's battle with the Chinese government over Internet censorship in China and the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo have also drawn increased international attention to media censorship in the country. At the same time, the country's burgeoning economy has allowed for greater diversity in China's media coverage, and experts say the growing Chinese demand for information is testing the regime's control over the media. 

What is the official media policy in China? 

As China becomes a major player in the global economy, authorities in Beijing are trying to balance the need for more information with their goal of controlling content and maintaining power. CFR Senior Fellow Elizabeth C. Economy says the Chinese government is in a state of "schizophrenia" about media policy as it "goes back and forth, testing the line, knowing they need press freedom--and the information it provides--but worried about opening the door to the type of freedoms that could lead to the regime's downfall." 

China's constitution affords its citizens freedom of speech and press, but Chinese law includes media regulations with vague language that authorities use to claim stories endanger the country by sharing state secrets. In April 2010, the Chinese government revised its existing Law on Guarding State Secrets to tighten its control over information flows (WSJ). The amendment extended requirements to Internet companies and telecommunications operators to cooperate with Chinese authorities in investigations into leaks of state secrets. But as many observers note, the definition of state secrets in China remains vague and thus could be used to censor any information the authorities deem as harmful to their political or economic interests. "In the new law, the definition of state secrets remains as sweeping as the original law and still fails to comply with international human rights standards," says the nongovernmental advocacy group Human Rights in China. 

Army Manual Highlights Role of “Inform and Influence Activities”

February 1st, 2013
By Steven Aftergood 

The use of information-related tools to support military operations and to help shape their outcome is discussed in a newly updated Army manual on what are now called “Inform and Influence Activities.” 

Inform and influence activities (or IIA) refers to “the integration of designated information-related capabilities in order to synchronize themes, messages, and actions with operations to inform United States and global audiences, influence foreign audiences, and affect adversary and enemy decisionmaking.” 

In some circumstances, the manual says, information operations can play a decisive role. 

“Activities occurring in, through, or by means of the information environment have a consequential effect on an operational environment and can impact military operations and outcomes. Therefore, commanders and their staffs must understand their operational environments completely. This understanding includes the information environment and the potential impacts it can have on current and planned military operations.” 

But the effectiveness of such activities is naturally limited by the realities of the military engagement. 

“Soldiers’ actions powerfully influence the credibility of IIA. Visible actions coordinated with carefully chosen, credible words influence audiences more than uncoordinated or contradictory actions and words. All audiences–local and regional as well as adversary and enemy–compare the friendly force’s message with its actions. Consistency contributes to the success of friendly operations by building trust and credibility. Conversely, if actions and messages are inconsistent, friendly forces lose credibility. Loss of credibility makes land forces vulnerable to enemy and adversary information or countermessaging and places Army forces at a disadvantage.” 

“Aligning information-related capabilities with the overall operation ensures that messages are consistent with the forces’ actions to amplify the credibility of those messages. It is paramount that inform and influence efforts complement not contradict. Failing to do so jeopardizes credibility.” 

Neighbours leave India high and dry for its water supply

By Brahma Chellaney 
January 31, 2013

The National, February 1, 2013 India shares its water generously with downstream neighbours, but China takes a different approach. The result is a water problem India must deal on a high priority. 

Of all the natural resources on which the world depends, the supply and demand situation is most critical for water. There are replacements for oil, but no substitute for water, which is essential to produce virtually all the goods in the marketplace. 

Asia, not Africa, is the world’s driest continent. The gap between demand and supply is growing in China, India, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia. 

This raises a question: can Asia remain the locomotive of the global economy if it cannot mitigate its water crisis? 

India faces greater water distress than China. China’s population is not even 10 per cent larger than India’s, but its internally renewable water resources (estimated at 2,813 billion cubic metres per year) are almost twice as large as India’s. In aggregate water availability, including inflows (which are sizeable in India’s case), China has virtually 50 per cent more resources than India. 

In 1960, India signed a treaty setting aside 80 per cent of the Indus-system waters for downstream Pakistan, in the most generous water-sharing pact in modern history. And its 1996 Ganges treaty with Bangladesh guarantees minimum cross-border flows in the dry season – a new principle in international water law. That treaty divides the flows of the Ganges almost equally between the two countries. And now India is under pressure to reserve about half of the Teesta River’s water for Bangladesh. 

India irked as China gets Pakistan's strategic Gwadar port

By Indrani Bagchi, 
Feb 2, 2013,

In this February 6, 2007 file photo, a Pakistani soldier of Pakistan's paramilitary force is silhouetted at the newly built Gwadar port, 700 kilometers (435 miles) from Karachi, Pakistan. China is poised to take over operational control of Gwadar port, a strategic, deep-water port on Pakistan's southwestern coast that could serve as a vital economic hub for Beijing and potentially a key military outpost. (AP photo)

NEW DELHI: Pakistan's cabinet formally agreed to hand over the operation of its strategically located Gwadar port to China on Wednesday. This puts in place China's famed "string of pearls" strategy which may have significant implications for India. 

On Wednesday, the Pakistan cabinet, in one of its last decisions, transferred the operations responsibility of the Gwadar port from Singapore's PSA (Port of Singapore Authority) International to China's Overseas Port Holdings. This had been agreed some time ago as PSA International and Pakistani navy fell out over land transfers, security issues and lack of infrastructure. PSA had asked to withdraw from the contract and Pakistan had agreed. 

In 2011, the Pakistani defence minister had announced in Beijing that Islamabad would transfer ownership to a Chinese company. China had demurred then, but despite the worsening security situation in Balochistan, the Chinese have apparently agreed to take it over. 

China has already encountered opposition from Baloch people, who have objected to the Chinese taking over their traditional lands. And as the transition in Afghanistan draws near, that region, specially Quetta, which apparently houses top Taliban leaders, is likely to see more violence. 

New Delhi: We Have a Problem

By James Parker
February 2, 2013 

India’s twin deficits – the current account and the government budget – continue to weigh upon and complicate policymaking in the country. A series of recent measures shows New Delhi trying to maneuver in the straitjacket created by this position, but other looming problems promise that the year ahead will be difficult. 

On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut the country’s benchmark lending rate by 0.25%, or 25 basis points, while also lowering the Reserve Ratio (funds which banks have to keep on deposit at the central bank) by 25 basis points. 

India’s growth has been falling consistently in recent quarters. As Pacific Money covered in November, Indian economic policy faced a difficult dilemma, with high inflation discouraging the kind of rate cuts necessary to combat falling growth. 

The RBI’s governor Duvvuri Subbarao explained the bank’s moves very clearly while also hedging strongly against the possibility of future easing. 

The current account deficit, which drags on GDP growth by exporting demand abroad, was also targeted by two more measures focused on gold. Gold, whose value has soared over recent years because of quantitative easing and related inflation fears, makes up a significant portion of India’s current account deficit. India is traditionally the largest customer for gold, importing $56 billion of it last year. 

Hence, the Indian government raised the tax on imported gold by 50% last week. In order to plug a potential loophole involving gold alloys, a further tax increase on Dore (an alloy of Gold and Silver) saw rates rise from 2% to 5%. Whether or not these anti-gold import measures bite, the current account deficit in general is set to become a key constraint on any further easing. 

An incubatory space

By Sunil Khilnani
February 1, 2013

The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy

The famously Argumentative Indian has today become the cynical Indian cynical about politicians, policy, public life and even about the Constitutional order itself. The problem is not a begrudging citizenry, but the harsh reality that every government gets the cynicism it deserves.

But what do we do to redress this corrosive condition  one that threatens not just the credibility of our governance but the idea of India itself? As we collectively yearn for the great leaders who can wave away disillusion and re-enchant our political imagination, it is easy to lose sight of a subtler truth: that great democracies are built and sustained not just by great leaders, but by steady, painstaking work in a quieter tranche a tranche where urgent social problems are researched with rigour, where the word ‘debate’ signifies something more than a barrage of pre-rehearsed TV sound bites, where policy ideas are tested and refined on the basis of hard-won evidence, with an eye to the greater common good.

Without such incubatory spaces for independent inquiry, our political ideas will remain as wishful, our political realities as arid, our responses to a concerned citizenry as hollow, as they are today. It could not be more right that India’s respected newspaper of national record, published by the great house of Kasturi & Sons, has chosen this moment to create The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy. It will support with full intellectual freedom investigations into our changing society and politics and from its home in the south it will place its findings in the public sphere, for scrutiny and debate, and to improve our public policy choices and outcomes.

The work of The Hindu Centre must speak not only to government: but to academics and the media, to the corporate world and to activists, to the establishment and to the disaffected: and above all, to us as citizens. For we are past the time when Government, in its arrogance, could credibly believe that it knows best. But we need also to move beyond the current modish contempt for government, to be found among many corporate leaders, as also the condescension of intellectuals. These circles of mutual disdain damage the prospects for effective policy.

India needs solar power

By Anuradha Dutt 

01 Feb 2013

Continued use of fossil fuels to generate electricity adds to global warming trends 

Last week, the Supreme Court came down hard on anti-dam campaigners while observing that power projects  even nuclear power plants are opposed while all citizens want power. 

The court dismissed the petition filed against Vishnugad-Pipalkoti hydro-electric project on the Alaknanda river. The proposed scheme entails diverting 80.507 hectares of forest area. Matu Jan Sangathan challenged it on the grounds that it lacked cumulative impact assessment. However, the apex court, which has upheld the cause of conserving Aravallis and its green remnants, sided with the Government on the dam issue. This has dismayed green activists, who have since long been campaigning against the systematic assault on the Himayalan eco-system, with mountains perforated with tunnels, rivers diverted from their natural course and trees felled for development purposes. 

In another case in the Supreme Court, relating to Tehri dam petitioners ND Jayal, Shekhar Singh and another, have highlighted the inadequate rehabilitation of thousands of displaced families even though the Uttarakhand Government's projected earnings from power generation is a minimum of `1,000 crore, a recurring income. 

The earlier State Government in its affidavit averred that Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd had not provided the requisite funds for rehabilitation. The court in November 2011 ordered the company to part with `102.99 crore for the purpose, a sum considered meagre. Environmental constraints were bulldozed so as to clear the project. 

Economist and conservationist Bharat Jhunjhunwala, fighting a case to save the ancient Dhari Devi shrine, overlooking the Alakananda from submergence by a hydropower project, is especially worried about the Ganga's survival. 

He states that policy makers need to strike a balance between the imperatives of power generation, conservation of biodiversity and the cultural values of the free-flowing Ganga. So, whether it is on grounds of ecology and heritage or for humanitarian reasons, hydropower projects are extremely hazardous. Continuing use of fossil fuels such as coal to generate electricity via thermal plants accelerates global warming. Use of other fossil fuels — petrol, diesel and natural gas  also alarmingly enhances pollution load. 

Of Information Wars and Journalistic Ethos

February 1, 2013

We followed the failed attack of a GRENADIER Battalion on Khalubar and come across bodies of Indian troops mutilated with their ears, noses and genitals grotesquely severed and stuffed into their mouths while their stomachs had been cut open and their intestine pulled out.
-A Commanding Officer of a Gurkha Battalion on 03 Jun 1999 attack after capturing Khalubar in the Kargil conflict.

It is not merely an act of propaganda to sully the image of the armed forces, it is a deliberate campaign to demoralise the commanders and troops who brave all adversities to manage the complex social system on the LoC. What years of Pakistani psychological campaign could not achieve, ISI achieved it through an Indian pen.

Public diplomacy initiatives and the use of information as a vital tool of psychological war have always retained supremacy in the affairs of nations. Information Warfare (IW), as the perennial and most potent tool available to nations, is gaining its due prominence in today’s intense IW environment.

When nations have hostile relations swinging somewhere between war and peace, as in the case of India and its neighbours, this assumes greater significance. When you are not firing live ammunition at each other, you are focusing all energies to undermine the defence preparedness of the potential adversary. The most critical target is to attack the morale of its forces.

It is here that media, which is forever in quest of stories, is the omnipotent force multiplier in serving (or not serving) the national interest. The recent bout of reporting by some revered journalists and media houses on the beheading of an Indian soldier on the line of control, seen in this light, signal a Pakistan victory in the psychological domain.

Let us explain.

Pak complaints to UNMOGIP, a defunct arrangement, make for the basis of the story

India, Pak came close to N-confrontation 5 times

By Shyam Bhatia

02 Feb 2013

India and Pakistan came dangerously close to a nuclear confrontation on at least five occasions in the past 20 years, according to a visiting Pakistani nuclear physicist, defence analyst and editor of a new book “Confronting the Bomb: Indian and Pakistani Scientists Speak Out.” 
In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy said the most serious confrontation was at the time of the 1999 Kargil war when Pakistan launched a covert operation hoping that its soldiers would ascend the mountains and cut India’s supply routes. Tensions were high and nuclear weapons were readied for use. 

“According to Bruce Ridel, former Special Adviser to the US President who was present when President Bill Clinton met Nawaz Sharif in the White House, Nawaz replied in the negative when Clinton asked him if he knew what his army was doing.” 

Other occasions 

Hoodbhoy said the first of the nuclear dramas started more than a decade earlier - during Operation Brass Tacks in 1987 - just when Pakistan acquired the bomb and sent a message to India: Don’t get closer. 

“General Sundarji was in charge on the Indian side. He was a man who was gung ho about putting Pakistan in its right place. Here was a man who was terribly in love with nuclear weapons and used to say India doesn’t need more than five nuclear weapons - for Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad.” 

Hoodbhoy said when tensions peaked over Kashmir in 1990 and there was an exodus of Kashmiri refugees into Pakistan, Islamabad again moved its nuclear weapons from Kahuta to the Chaklala air force base on to F16s. “That’s when the Americans are said to have known about it and conveyed a message to the Indians to back off.” 

India’s Growing Ties with Bangladesh

By Sanjay Kumar
February 1, 2013 

While India’s relationship with its western neighbor Pakistan has been faltering despite concerted efforts, on the eastern front a new bonhomie is forming with Bangladesh. 

The recent signing of a new extradition treaty and visa regime between India and Bangladesh, signed by Indian home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, marks a major shift in their relationship. India has long demanded an extradition treaty with Bangladesh, which was not forthcoming due to an adversarial relationship with the previous regime in Dhaka. 

With the treaty, New Delhi has gained a way to clamp down on insurgency in the northeastern region of the country, long a hotbed for separatist and insurgent groups who mostly operate from Bangladesh and other neighboring countries. 

It is believed that senior leaders from the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other underground groups are hiding in Bangladesh. The new treaty will allow India to deport them. 

Bangladesh also stands to benefit, with India pledging to track down the two convicted killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who are believed to be hiding in India. 

Likewise, the new liberalized visa regime is a boon for Bangladesh. According to the Times of India, the new regime allows for the provision of multiple entry tourist and medical visas valid up to a year, five-year business visas, and other categories. 

Mao and Now: Evolution in the Art of Insurgency

By Mehar Omar Khan
February 1, 2013

Throughout most of the 20th century, Mao’s thoughts on organization of a guerilla-cum-insurgent struggle have enjoyed a pride of place in academic discourse on this subject. If insurgency is all about standing up against the forces of status quo – the debate about right and wrong insurgencies not being germane to this piece – the art has evolved in a big way during the last decade of the 20th and first of the 21th century. 

I believe insurgency has evolved in five seminal ways. One, the distinction between Maoist stages has blurred and the insurgent movements now progress in (often concentric) circles instead of moving along a linear path. Second, the central role of a demagogic leader (like Mao, or even Lenin) has waned and people have tended to guide their own destinies. Third, the storm of insurgency is now brewed in the politico-social hothouses of reasonably affluent urban communities instead of the disaffected slums and the alienated countryside. Fourth, insurgencies are spearheaded by tech-savvy facebookers and tweeters instead of Mao’s peasants and even Trotsky’s factory workers. And lastly, increasingly, the insurgents have a globalist outlook instead of Mao’s paranoid jingoism. 

Here is a brief explanation of these changes. 

One: Stages to Simultaneity 

Maoist thought and precedent on insurgency is replete with mentions of graduations, stages, and linear progression. Mao and his comrades considered it natural to work slowly and patiently on winning popular support and on mobilization of a meaningfully large segment of the populace before moving on to arming and training party cadres, and gathering force like a storm. 

This was perhaps essential in his time and environment. He operated in 1940s. Back then, computers were weighed in tons, and men and merchandise still travelled in boats across China. Spreading the word was not easy. He also operated amongst a people who, for millennia, had thought they had nothing to do with the world outside the Middle Kingdom and who therefore were not easily inflamed by the revolutionary spirit. Lastly, Mao’s was a peasant society tied to their home and hearth and their farms. They were averse to, and afraid of, leaving their place and pedestal. 

Pak inducts China into Balochistan to counter India

By B Raman.
February 01, 2013

The Pakistani authorities are hoping that the Chinese agreement to take over the operation of the Gwadar port could act as a deterrent to India  whom they suspect of helping the Baloch freedom-fighters, notes B Raman.

Despite its continuing concerns over the freedom struggle of the Balochs which shows no signs of letting up, China, which originally constructed the languishing commercial port of Gwadar on the Mekran Coast of Balochistan, is reported to have agreed in principle to take over the responsibility for the operation of the port. 

The 40-year-old contract awarded by the Pakistan government in 2007 to Singapore’s PSA international for the operation of the port has been a non-starter due to disputes between the Pakistan Navy and the PSA International over the free transfer of land to the PSA international for the construction of warehouses for containers and other infrastructure facilities. The failure of the Pakistani authorities to improve the road and rail connectivity of the port as promised in the contract has also been a factor. 

The Pakistan government agreed to the request of the PSA International to withdraw from the contract. Islamabad has now approved in principle the signing of a contract with the Chinese Overseas Port Holdings giving it the responsibility for operating the port. 

The problems created over the transfer of land for the PSA International indicated a lack of enthusiasm in the Pakistan Navy for the operation of the port by a Singapore company and its preference for handing it over to the Chinese company. 

In the eyes of the Pakistan Navy, the Chinese taking over the responsibility for the operation of the port will have two advantages: firstly, the Chinese, with their reputation for the timely construction of projects, will be able to get the languishing operations revived quickly; and secondly, it could prove to be the first step towards China agreeing to a Pakistani request for upgrading the port into a naval base, available for joint use by the Pakistani and Chinese navies. 

The volatility of Gas, Geo-Politics and the Greater Middle East. An Interview with Major Agha H. Amin

By christoflehmann
February 1, 2013 

Major Agha H. Amin is a retired Pakistani military officer and the author of various books, including ”Development of Taliban Factions in Afghanistan”, ”Taliban War in Afghanistan” and ”History of Pakistan Army”. He studied at the Forman Christian College and at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kalkul. Agha H. Amin has been working as Assistant Editor of Defense Journal, Executive Editor at the Globe, and as Editor of the Journal of Afghanistan Studies. He is an active member of the Think Tank ORBAT and the Alexandrian Defense Group and he is working as security management consultant. Agha H. Amin has been working as consultant on various oil, gas and energy projects in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the TAPI pipeline, CASA 100, the Uzbekistan Afghanistan Pakistan line and the Turkmenistan Mazar Sharif line. He is an expert on national and regional security, energy security and geo-political issues. The following is the full text of an interview by Christof Lehmann with Major Agha H. Amin from 30 January 2013. 

CL. Not long ago we were discussing the situation in Syria, and the fact that the root cause for the attempted subversion of Syria is the 10 billion USD PARS gas pipeline project from Iran, via Iraq and Syria to the Easter Mediterranean Coast, the most important factors being the political leverage Iran would acquire if it, together with Russia provided more than 40 % of the gas consumed in the EU over the coming 100 – 120 years, a US and a US and UK attempt to sabotage the further integration of the continental European and Russian national economies and energy sectors. Both high ranking members of the Workers Party Turkey and retired Turkish military officers accuse the AKP government of Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan of being involved in the implementation of the Greater Middle East Project, developed by the RAND Corporation for the US Defense Department in 1996. This plan includes the ”balkanization” of Turkey into smaller states. We discussed a possible plan to establish a NATO Corridor from Turkey to India. In our discussion you said: ”I would like to add to them that the establishment of the Kurdistan part of the corridor would significantly change the security dynamics of the Russian South Stream gas pipeline which is part of the causes for the war on Syria.” Could you please brief us on the most important factors with regard to the security dynamics of the Russian South Stream gas pipeline ? 

AHA. The strategic idea of NATO, is aiming at securing the northern borders of Israel against Hezbollah and the southern borders against Hamas; to eliminate the Russian naval base in the eastern Mediterranean, Syrian city of Tartous. NATO is planning to create a western strategic corridor to maintain energy-security in the case that oil supplies through the Strait of Hormuz are disrupted because of a war with Iran or otherwise. 

Generals of Rawalpindi keep fingers crossed

By G Parthasarathy 

01 Feb 2013

Despite the many challenges that have come its way, the Asif Ali Zardari Government in Pakistan is set to complete its full term. But neither the Army nor its sympathisers are rejoicing, for obvious reasons 

President Asif Ali Zardari appears set to go down in Pakistan’s history as the first head of a democratically elected Government which will complete its full term, without having been destabilised, dismissed, or ousted by a military coup. President Zardari has been under constant siege from his hawkish Army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, and the mercurial Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhury. The Chief Justice bears a deep grudge against the President, because of the latter’s disinclination to restore him to office after he was summarily sacked by President Musharraf in 2007. 

The empathy between the Chief Justice and General Kayani goes back to the day when as Director General (ISI), then Lt General Kayani was the only Army officer close to Musharraf, who did not harangue the Chief Justice, when Musharraf summoned and summarily sacked him in 2007. Moreover, while pretending to be a champion of democratic freedom, Iftikhar Chaudhury had the dubious distinction of being amongst the first judges to sanctify the military coup by General Musharraf in October 1999. He was then Chief Justice of the Baluchistan High Court. While haranguing the elected Government and seeking the arrest of two Prime Ministers, the Chief Justice has been rather wary in dealing with serving Army officers. His decision to order the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf came even as he looked the other way at allegations of kickbacks and illegal cash transfers in shady property deals by his son Arsalan Iftikhar. Moreover, General Kayani himself has a tainted reputation, even within the ranks of the Army, because of serious allegations against his brother of corruption and irregularities in the transit of Nato supplies. 

President Zardari’s troubles were compounded by the mysterious return to Pakistan of Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Barelvi cleric who controls a vast network of charities, running hundreds of schools, colleges, libraries and medical facilities, primarily in the populous Army-dominated, Punjab Province. A majority of Pakistanis are Barelvis and constitute a powerful, though leaderless, and disorganised vote bank. While Mr Qadri supported the 1999 coup by General Musharraf and was elected to Parliament, he soon found that he was marginalised because of the close links the military had with Wahhabi-oriented groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which periodically target and kill Barelvis and Shias. He obtained political asylum in Canada, leading many to allege that, with his strong views against terrorism, he enjoyed the backing of the CIA and the West. 

The Long Shadow of Chemical Weapons

February 02, 2013 

As recent debates swirl around nuclear weapons, chemical weapons have the potential to cause great harm espeically in Asia. 

Thus far Asia has largely evaded the chemical weapons challenge now confronting Middle Eastern and NATO countries as they contemplate how to respond to the civil war in Syria and consolidate peace and security in Libya and Iraq. For good reason, most attention has focused on the emerging nuclear weapons powers of Iran and North Korea as well as the tense relations among the existing nuclear weapons states in Asia. 

The recent angst surrounding the possible use of chemical weapons stockpiles by regime diehards in Syria, or their seizure by extremist elements among the insurgents, underscore the continued danger of chemical weapons proliferation and the need to take stronger measures to oppose it. 

Allied leaders have adopted strong declarations against Assad using chemical weapons even while they contemplate unpleasant contingency plans to secure or eliminate the material on their own. Last month President Obama said that his administration had “increased concern” that Syria would engage in the “totally unacceptable” use of chemical weapons. “If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons,” he warned, “there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.” 

Syria is widely suspected of having one of the world’s largest chemical weapons arsenals, including a range of chemical agents (from unsophisticated choking agents to advanced nerve agents), several delivery systems (such as missiles, bombs, and shells), and multiple stockpiles in which the chemical precursors can be rapidly combined to arm the weapons. These could prove very effective if used against the rebel forces, which lack any protection against chemical weapons. Additionally, the Assad regime could use them against foreign nations such as Turkey which has strongly backed the rebel forces. 

Marching Through the Monarchies

FEBRUARY 1, 2013

Two years after the Arab Spring awoke demons and democracy in the Middle East, I went to see whether changes had roiled the lands of royals.  

From public execution sites to glittering shopping malls, from desert wadis to soaring five-star hotels, the modern Middle East is a study in contrasts. This winter, I shed my hat as a political advisor and went as a tourist -- to get a bit of sun before heading back to Yale University to teach a course on Middle East politics, but also to see how the Arab Spring has touched the monarchies of the region. I had toured some of the republics -- Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia -- in 2011, and I found them in various stages of revolt against their rulers. This time, I headed to Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Jordan to hear what their people thought of their leaders and to try to get a sense of whether the kings and sultans of the Arab world still feel safe on their thrones. This is my journey. 

Saudi Arabia 

"Here is Chop Chop Square," my Bangladeshi escort informed me, pointing to a square that was so named because it was the site of previous executions. We were exiting the museum at Masmak fort, which Ibn Saud had captured in 1902, thereby reasserting his family's control over their ancestral home of Riyadh. He went on in 1922 to conquer the Nejd, the center of the Arabian Peninsula, and in 1925 to take the Hejaz, the western coast that includes the holy cities of Mecca and Medina -- establishing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 out of these dominions. 

Ibn Saud fathered 45 sons (as well as numerous daughters), and following his death in 1953 up until today, the kings of Saudi Arabia have all been sons of Ibn Saud. 

Worrying about Burma

By Min Zin 
February 1, 2013

In my last blog post I wrote about my experience of returning to Burma (with my wife and newborn daughter) after many years away. That piece has elicited a lot of responses, mostly positive. This one might be a bit different in that respect. 

As I wrote, during our stay in Burma we paid a visit with our relatives to the ancient city of Pagan (pronounced bah-gan), the capital of the first Burman Empire founded in the eleventh century by King Anawrahta. Theravada Buddhism took root in central Burma for the first time during the Pagan era and has thrived in the country ever since. Modern-day Burma is still very much under the spell of Pagan -- both in terms of political culture and religious practice. 

Pagan, perhaps because of its many outsized personalities, established ideal models for leaders that still influence political life today. I was struck by how many people I spoke with still seem to expect the solutions to our political problems to come from great heroes (whether it's current president Thein Sein or an opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi) rather than institutions. Our leaders tend to prefer one-man (or one-woman) shows instead of people who develop the necessary political institutions (such as fully developed political parties). Ironically, of late I've found Thein Sein, an ex-general-turned-president and my former political adversary, to be more savvy in this respect. At least he's been trying to get help from technocrats. Aung San Suu Kyi, by contrast, seems to prefer the company of sycophantic gatekeepers and business cronies from the old regime. Lately the Lady appears to be increasingly arrogant and out of touch. Almost all of the intellectuals and dissidents I spoke with -- people who once went to jail with her name on their lips and were ready to die for the cause she represented -- spoke of their growing disappointment with her, while at the same time expressing frustration with the lack of viable alternatives in the opposition movement. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens are still putting all their hopes on the heroes. Burmese people still seem to look for "the good king" or the "pretender to the throne" as the panacea for all of the country's chronic ills. This does not bode well for the future of democracy, I suspect. 

Is China changing?

By C. P. Chandrasekhar
01 Feb 2013

While still at the top of the GP growth table, the Chinese economy seems to be on a long-term traverse from a trajectory with extremely high growth rates to one where growth is more moderate. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Chinese GDP growth, year-on-year, which had fallen from 8.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, to 7.6 per cent in the second and 7.4 per cent in the third quarter, had bounced back to 7.9 per cent in the last quarter of that year. But the good news may not be this sign of revival, but rather that GDP growth rates in China seem to be in long-term decline. As Chart 1 shows, growth spiked in China when the government launched a $585 billion stimulus package in response to the 2008 crisis, which drove the year-on-year quarterly growth rate from 6.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 to 12.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2010. An important source of that acceleration in GDP growth was a spike in debt-financed construction activity at the provincial level, facilitated by an easy credit policy encouraged by the government. 

The deceleration in growth began when the government decided that the rise in growth rates had gone too far. In a two step process starting in the second quarter of 2010, year-on-year quarterly growth rates have fallen from 12.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 to below 10 per cent between quarters ending September 2010 and September 2011, below 9 per cent in the subsequent two quarters and below 8 per cent in the last three quarters of 2012. China's annual rate of GDP growth of 7.8 per cent in 2012 was also among the lowest it had registered in 13 years. 

The People's Republic of Hacking

JANUARY 31, 2013 

China’s campaign of cyber attacks has reached epidemic proportions. Can anything be done to stop it? 

In an extraordinary story that has become depressingly ordinary, the New York Times reports that Chinese hackers "persistently" attacked the newspaper, "infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees." The attacks began around the time journalists were preparing a story on the massive wealth the family of China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has allegedly accumulated, but the methods, identification, and apparent objectives of the hackers have been seen before in previous attacks on defense contractors, technology companies, journalists, academics, think tanks, and NGOs. Bloomberg, which published a story on the wealth of the family of Xi Jinping, China's top leader, has also been reportedly attacked. While just one case in a sweeping cyber espionage campaign that appears endemic, the attack on the Times does highlight both the willingness of Beijing lean out and shape the narrative about China as well as the vulnerability the top leadership feels about how they are portrayed. 

As with many cases of cyber espionage, the break-in is assumed to have started with a spear-phishing email, a socially engineered message containing malware attachments or links to hostile websites. In the case of the attack on the security firm RSA in 2011, for example, an email with the subject line "2011 Recruitment Plan" was sent with an attached Excel file. Opening the file downloaded software that allowed attackers to gain control of the user's computers. They then gradually expanded their access and moved into different computers and networks. 

On the naughty step

Feb 2nd 2013
China and North Korea 

China continues to fret over its troublesome neighbour  

LIKE an indulgent parent forgiving of the most petulant of childish tantrums, China usually cuts North Korea a lot of slack. So when China on January 22nd signed on to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2087, tightening sanctions on North Korea to punish it for a rocket launch in December, its ally was surprised and outraged. Without naming China, a North Korean statement accused it of “abandoning without hesitation even elementary principles”. By the same token, the outside world saw an encouraging sign: perhaps China will at last take serious steps to rein in its pugnacious neighbour’s efforts to build a nuclear arsenal. 

That is probably too much to hope. But on North Korea, China might for a while be more aligned than recently with America, Japan and South Korea. China has insisted that its main interest is in regional stability. If so, with North Korea reacting to the UN resolution by threatening to attack South Korea and stage its third test of a nuclear bomb and by vowing never to abandon its nuclear programme, it is hard not to see the country’s regime as a threat. 
In this section

Moreover, Global Times, a Chinese newspaper owned by the Communist Party, chided North Korea for its ungrateful reaction to the efforts China had made to soften the UN resolution, and warned it that if it “engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance”. Since North Korea relies on China for fuel and food, that is a potent threat. 

Now, more than ever, China might want to seem a contributor to regional peace. Its belligerence over the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands has brought relations with Japan to their worst level since 1945, with China now considering Japan’s proposal for a summit between its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and the Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping. China’s assertion of territorial claims in the South China Sea has soured relations there, too. The Philippines has been provoked into asking a UN tribunal to rule on whether part of China’s claim has a legal basis. 

Is New York Times Hacking Just the Beginning?

By Sam Schlinkert
Feb 1, 2013

Hackers in China breached the paper’s computers for months. But even the security consultant who found the culprit says the West just doesn’t get the unbridled enemy it’s facing. 

Who or what is APT-12 and why should Western companies be worried?

Hackers peer through binary data for private information by various means. (Patrick George/Getty) 

On Wednesday night, The New York Times announced it had been the target of attacks from hackers in China for the past four months. The attacks followed an investigation by Times reporter David Barboza into the personal wealth of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Times officials said the Chinese government had warned that the piece on Wen’s relatives would “have consequences,” which triggered the newspaper’s executives to ask AT&T to watch their network for unusual activity. 

The hackers were able to steal the corporate passwords of every Times employee, as well as break into the personal computers of 53 employees. 

In an interview Thursday, an executive with the computer-security company the Times hired to stop the attack says the breach reflects an alarming difference between Western and Chinese hackers. 

Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer of Alexandria, Va.-based Mandiant, says the firm has identified the group internally as APT-12 (APT stands for Advanced Persistent Threat). “The very big picture is the Chinese government conducts state activities that are not the same as the West,” he tells The Daily Beast. “They’re going after things we don’t.” 

Hackers in China Attacked The Times for Last 4 Months

January 30, 2013

A Cyberattack From China: TimesCast: Chinese hackers infiltrated The New York Times’s computer systems, getting passwords for its reporters and others. 

SAN FRANCISCO For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees. 

After surreptitiously tracking the intruders to study their movements and help erect better defenses to block them, The Times and computer security experts have expelled the attackers and kept them from breaking back in. 

The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings. 

Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times’s network. They broke into the e-mail accounts of its Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the reports on Mr. Wen’s relatives, and Jim Yardley, The Times’s South Asia bureau chief in India, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing. 

“Computer security experts found no evidence that sensitive e-mails or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied,” said Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times. 

Japan’s Demographic Disaster

February 01, 2013 
By John W. Traphagan 

Japan is faced with an unprecedented population challenge that will have social, economic, and political consequences for years to come. 

Last August, I wrote an article for The Diplomat that discussed some of the issues Japan is facing in relation to population decline. As I noted, the population has dropped for three years in a row. Recently, the Japanese government announced that the population decrease for 2012 is expected to be 212,000 a new record while the number of births is expected to have fallen by 18,000 to 1,033,000 also a record low. Projections by the Japanese government indicate that if the current trend continues, the population of Japan will decline from its current 127.5 million to 116.6 million in 2030, and 97 million in 2050. This is truly astonishing and puts Japan at the forefront of uncharted demographic territory; but it is territory that many other industrial countries also are beginning to enter as well. 

Predicting the consequences of Japan's demographic shift is difficult. And it is important to remember that these are projections; it seems to me unlikely that this trend will continue for the next century without some sort of intervening political, cultural, or economic factors that generate increased immigration or more robust fertility rates. Indeed, there have been modest very modest increases in the number of foreign residents in Japan over the past twenty years, with a little over twice the number today (2,134,151) as compared to 1990 (1,075,317). Many towns have developed international centers where opportunities are developed and supported, creating contexts for interactions between local residents and foreigners such as a monthly English dinner hosted in the town where I have done fieldwork for several years. 

New Old Libya

By Robert Draper
02 Feb 2013

Photograph by George Steinmetz 

For decades Libyans lived under a dictator who twisted their past. Now they must imagine their future.

The bronze likeness of Muammar Qaddafi’s nemesis was lying on his back in a wooden crate shrouded in the darkness of a museum warehouse. His name was Septimius Severus. Like Qaddafi, he was from what is now Libya, and for 18 years bridging the second and third centuries A.D. he ruled the Roman Empire. His birthplace, Leptis Magna—a commercial city 80 miles east of what the Phoenicians once called Oea, or present-day Tripoli—became, in every meaningful way, a second Rome. More than 1,700 years after the emperor’s death, Libya’s Italian colonizers honored him by erecting a statue of the imposing, bearded leader with a torch aloft in his right hand. They installed the statue in Tripoli’s main square (now Martyrs’ Square) in 1933—where it remained for a half century, until another Libyan ruler took umbrage. 

“The statue became the mouthpiece of the opposition, because he was the only thing Qaddafi couldn’t punish,” says Hafed Walda, a native Libyan and professor of archaeology at King’s College London. “Every day people would ask, ‘What did Septimius Severus say today?’ He became a figure of annoyance to the regime. So Qaddafi banished him to a rubbish heap. The people of Leptis Magna rescued him and brought him back home.” And that is where I found him, reposing in a wooden box amid gardening tools and discarded window frames, awaiting whatever destination the new Libya might have in store for him. 

Qaddafi correctly viewed the statue as a threat. For Septimius Severus stood as a wistful reminder of what Libya had once been: a Mediterranean region of immense cultural and economic wealth, anything but isolated from the world beyond the sea. Spreading over 1,100 miles of coastline, bracketed by highlands that recede into semiarid wadis and finally into the copper vacuum of the desert, Libya had long been a corridor for commerce and art and irrepressible social aspiration. The tri-city region of Tripolitania—Leptis Magna, Sabratah, and Oea—had once provided wheat and olives to the Romans. 

Learning the Wrong Lessons from Ike

By Alexander Joffe 
February 1, 2013 

What is the proper balance between firmness and flexibility for U.S. policymakers when dealing with Middle Eastern politics? To what extent does history offer guidelines? The Washington Post’s David Ignatius has reported that Chuck Hagel, nominated to be the next secretary of defense, has given President Obama and others copies of Eisenhower 1956, a book by David A. Nichols about the Suez Crisis of that year, and has endorsed the thirty-fourth president’s hard line against Israel. 

It appears that Hagel sees Eisenhower’s demand that Israel leave the Sinai Peninsula, which it captured in a one-hundred-hour campaign in late October and November of 1956, as an explicit model for future relations, where American demands for Israeli withdrawals will be acceded to, if Israel knows what’s good for it. But 1956 was about more than Israel in the Sinai. These offer more useful lessons for policymakers. 

The brief and ill-conceived campaign of Israel, Britain and France to capture Sinai and the Suez Canal grew in part out of American policy failures. Since the late 1940s, America’s primary goals in the region were to halt the spread of Communism and Soviet influence, maintain the flow of oil from friendly regimes, and to manage the Arab-Israeli relationship. By the end of that decade the oil still flowed, but the rest was in tatters. 

At every turn, the United States waddled into Arab and Muslim politics it did not understand and failed to take Israeli concerns seriously. It also thought that spending vast amounts of money on economic development would westernize Arab thinking and generate gratitude, and that military aid to Arab nationalist regimes would ensure stability. 

Picking up where the Truman administration had left off, in 1953 and 1954 the Eisenhower administration proposed a variety of regional water-development plans. These failed, in part because no Arab state wanted to show “weakness” by agreeing to deals that involved Israel. Meanwhile, Egypt’s economic warfare against Israel, including closure of the Suez Canal and Straits of Tiran, went unchallenged by the United States, which was courting Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser. 

Drone Home

By Lev Grossman 
Feb. 01, 2013 

A few months ago I borrowed a drone from a company called Parrot. Officially the drone is called an AR.Drone 2.0, but for simplicity's sake, we're just going to call it the Parrot. The Parrot went on sale last May and retails for about $300. 

It's a quadcopter, meaning it's a miniature helicopter with four rotors; basically it looks like a giant four-leaf clover designed by Darth Vader. It's noisy and a bit fussy: it spits error messages at you from a comprehensive menu of them, and it recovers from catastrophes slowly and sulkily. (Pro tip: quadcopters mix poorly with greenery.) But when it's on its best behavior, the Parrot is a little marvel. You control it with an app on your smart phone, to which it feeds real-time video in return. Mashing the Take Off button causes it to leap up to waist height and hover there, stock still, in the manner of Harry Potter's broomstick. It's so firmly autostabilized that on a hot day small children will gather under it to get the cool downwash from its rotors. 

It's a toy, the robotic equivalent of a house pet. But just as cats and dogs are related to tigers and wolves, the Parrot is recognizably genetically related to some very efficient killers. 

Flying a drone, even just a Parrot, makes you realize what a radically new and deeply strange technology drones are. A drone isn't just a tool; when you use it you see and act through it you inhabit it. It expands the reach of your body and senses in much the same way that the Internet expands your mind. The Net extends our virtual presence; drones extend our physical presence. They are, along with smart phones and 3-D printing, one of a handful of genuinely transformative technologies to emerge in the past 10 years. 

Criminals and Terrorists Can Fly Drones Too

By Marc Goodman
Jan. 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Justice / REUTERS

A scale model of a U.S. Navy F-86 Sabre fighter plane, similar to a device constructed by Massachusetts resident Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, who was accused of plotting attacks on the U.S. Pentagon and Capitol by using a remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives. The pictured aircraft, from a photo released by the U.S. Justice Department, is not the device constructed by the defendant. 

Americans know their government uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, on military and intelligence missions from surveillance to assassination. But drones are no longer the sole domain of the military, and just as with many new technologies, they can easily fall into the wrong hands. 

Robotic machines including drones, which are basically robots that fly are already policing international borders, exploring deep-sea shipwrecks, repairing undersea cables and vacuuming living rooms. Robots fly, roll, swim and walk. Some carry guns and bombs. Others have superhuman strength, endurance and sensory perception. A future in which they commit crimes may yet seem like the realm of science fiction, but it is closer than you think. Criminal organizations are early adopters of technology, and some have already used UAVs and other forms of robotics to violate the law while reducing their risk of arrest and apprehension. 

In Latin America, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been collaborating with narcocartels to create remote-controlled drug-smuggling submarines capable of transporting 1,800 kilos of cocaine more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) without refueling. In 2011, an al-Qaeda affiliate named Rezwan Ferdaus planned to launch an attack on the Pentagon and Capitol buildings using a remote-controlled drone aircraft laden with explosives until the FBI intercepted the plot. And just last year, criminals piloted a $600 remote-controlled quadcopter over a Brazilian prison fence to deliver cell phones to the incarcerated, as was also done in a 2009 attempt involving a drone to deliver drugs to prisoners in the U.K. A 50-ft. (15 m) electric fence may keep criminals in, but won’t keep a UAV drone out. 

Missile Defense’s Real Enemy: Math

By Harry Kazianis 
February 2, 2013 

Stretching back several decades, the concept of missile defense has been hotly debated. Some well reasoned scholars argue that the United States and other countries need such defenses incase deterrence breaks down or an irrational actor gets their finger on the nuclear trigger. Others argue that missile defenses are a waste of money given that they are easily defeated, and defensive technology will always stay behind the curve never ready for primetime. 

Both sides have logical arguments. For the record, I am an advocate of missile defense under certain conditions. With various nations all over the planet purchasing or developing ballistic and cruise weapons, defenses against such weaponry are vital especially for the American navy in the form of Aegis missile defenses. When it comes to missile defense in nuclear matters- I have some shall we say, complex views. For regimes such as Iran, North Korea and others when sometimes rationality is not their strongest suit missile defense all the way. When it comes to nations with larger missile arsenals such as China or Russia, I am not sold yet. 

There is however one thing you can't argue against, simple math. 

Case in point, take a look at a recent book chapter by Dr. Toshi Yoshihara in Chinese Aerospace Power (a really good book, China defense geeks I am talking to you  it's a classic  get your credit card out) from our friends over at the Chinese Maritime Studies Institute.