7 February 2013

When Security Measures Work

February 7, 2013

By Scott Stewart

On Feb. 1, a Turkish national named Ecevit Sanli walked up to the side entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara like many others had done that day. Dressed inconspicuously, he waved a manila envelope at the man inside the guard booth as he approached the entrance. The security guard had no reason to distrust the man approaching the checkpoint; the entrance is used to screen packages, and perhaps the guard assumed Sanli was dropping off a document or was a visa applicant at the wrong entrance. What the guard did not know, perhaps, is that Sanli was a person of interest to the Turkish police, who suspected that he was plotting an attack. 

The guard opened the door of the access control building -- the outermost door of the embassy compound -- to speak to Sanli, who took one step inside before detonating the explosive device that was strapped to his body. The explosion killed Sanli and the security guard, seriously wounded a journalist who was visiting the embassy and left two other local guards who were manning the entrance with minor injuries. 

The embassy's local security personnel, as designed, bore the brunt of the attack. They are hired and trained to prevent threats from penetrating the embassy's perimeter. The low casualty count of the Feb. 1 attack is a testament to the training and professionalism of the local guards and the robust, layered security measures in place at the embassy -- factors for which those responsible for the attack apparently did not sufficiently plan. 
Layers of Security

Sanli apparently had hoped to breach the outer perimeter of the compound and to detonate his device inside the embassy building. Reportedly he carried a firearm and a hand grenade, and the way he approached the access control point likewise suggests he hoped to gain entry. Had he wanted to kill Turkish citizens, he could have done so simply by hitting the visa line outside the embassy. 

India’s National Security Challenges and Priorities

February 6, 2013
By Hon'ble Finance Minister, Shri P Chidambaram 



Event: K Subrahmanyam 
Memorial Lecture 

1.I am grateful to you for inviting me to deliver the K Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture. When I first joined the Government in 1985, he was already a Secretary-level officer belonging to the hallowed Indian Administrative Service. My first interaction with him as Minister of State for Personnel left me with the impression that he was thoroughly disenchanted with the bureaucracy and the daily chores of a bureaucrat. As I watched him from a distance, I saw him move seamlessly from being a civil servant to a national security expert. Without doubt, as long as he lived, he was the most authoritative voice on matters relating to national security. He lectured and wrote extensively on national security issues and soon acquired a large following of aspiring scholars and admirers. It is to K Subrahmanyam that we owe the growing number of scholars and analysts on matters concerning national security. 

2. Until recently, we had taken a very compartmentalised view of national security. Each threat to national security was neatly fitted into one compartment. The first, of course, was a war with Pakistan. That was fitted into a compartment and was meant to be deterred, or defended, through the might of our armed forces. A war with China was, and remains, unthinkable and therefore that threat was fitted into another compartment and reserved to be dealt with through a mixture of engagement, diplomacy, trade, and positioning adequate forces along the borders. Beyond Pakistan and China, we did not perceive any external threat to our security. Other threats such as communal conflicts, terrorism, naxalism or maoist violence, drug peddling and Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) were bundled together under the label “threats to internal security” and were left to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Some threats were not acknowledged at all as threats to national security and these included energy security, food security and pandemics. K Subrahmanyam was one of the earliest to argue that we should take a more holistic view of the threats to national security. 

China’s Increasingly Good Mock Air Battles Prep Pilots for Real War

By David Axe
07 Feb 2013

For 11 days in November, the sky over the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu witnessed some of the most intensive dogfighting to ever take place in China. Jet fighters screamed overhead, twisting and turning in complex aerial maneuvers. Heavily laden bombers lumbered through the tangle of fighters, dodging enemy defenses as they lined up for bombing runs. 

The warplanes and their crews were the real deal. It featured the best of the best of the Chinese military, which with 2,700 aircraft possesses the world’s third largest aerial arsenal, after the U.S. and Russia. But the combat over the sprawling Dingxin Air Force Test and Training Base was simulated. Despite the ferocity of the maneuvers, no live weapons were fired. The mock battles of the annual “Red Sword/Blue Sword” exercise are meant to prepare the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) for the possibility of actual high-tech combat. 

In terms of authenticity, China’s pretend air battles are getting pretty close to the real thing. That improving realism, combined with Beijing’s new fighters and other hardware, has some observers in the U.S. feeling uneasy. For decades the Pentagon has counted on highly realistic aerial training to mitigate the increasing age and decreasing size of its warplane holdings. “That [training] used to be a significant advantage U.S. air forces held relative to the PLAAF,” Dave Deptula, a retired Air Force general who flew F-15 fighters, tells Danger Room. 

The Pentagon still maintains other aerial edges, with more and better fighters — including stealth models  and support planes plus decades of combat experience in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia. But with every scripted dogfight over Dingxin, the American war game advantage shrinks  and with it the overall U.S. margin of superiority. 


A PLAAF radar-warning plane on the flightline during an aerial exercise. Photo: via Globalmilitaryreview 

Myanmar: Is Chinese influence waning?

By Mohinder Pal Singh,Article No.: 2307
06/02/2013

Post 1990 saw an improvement in the strained Sino-Myanmar relations, resulting in enhancement of mutual ties on multiple fronts. Consequent to the sanctions imposed on the military regime of Myanmar after 1990 elections by USA, Canada and European countries, Myanmar’s military regime was completely isolated. In spite of a history of turbulent relations in the past, China seized the opportunity by engaging Myanmar’s Government in multiple ways and giving it much needed supply of military hardware, training and large scale investments in infrastructure and projects. China also vetoed the UN resolution against the Military Junta in 2007. Chinese indulgence towards Myanmar has been viewed by some strategic analysts as a step in making Myanmar a client state of China. However, the 2012 visit of the head of the state of Myanmar to USA and the reciprocal visit of US President indicates a loosening of the close embrace between China and Myanmar. 

Sino-Myanmar relations have historically been turbulent. At the time of getting independence in 1948, Myanmar had a sizeable Chinese population living in the central plains and engaged in private business. After the 1962 military takeover, the BSPP established ‘Burmese Way of Socialism’ under Gen Ne Win. Consequently, in 1963-64, there was a spate of economic nationalisation programmes introduced in the country which saw the closure of a large number of business houses. The apathy of the regime against private business houses resulted in the large scale exodus of Indian and Chinese origin people who were most severely affected. Some reports indicated an exodus of about 100,000 Sino-Burmese nationals, many of whom were influential businessmen in Rangoon. This impacted negatively on the relationship, but worse was to follow. 

Influenced by the Cultural Revolution in China, the Chinese population in Rangoon started wearing red ‘Mao badges’. This was in contravention to local regulation, but the young Chinese resisted when ordered to remove them. As a result anti-Chinese riots broke out in Rangoon on 26 June 1967 which led to deterioration in Sino–Burmese relations. According to some eye witnesses the police did not interfere in the looting and arson crimes till the Chinese embassy was attacked by some locals. This incident was followed by withdrawal of ambassadors by both the nations and also the expulsion of Xinhua (New China News Agency) correspondents from Rangoon. Beijing immediately suspended its aid programme to Burma which had started in 1960 under the Friendship Treaty.

Obama Declares Global Cyberwar

By Stephen Lendman
February 06, 2013 

Theme: Police State & Civil Rights, US NATO War Agenda

Throughout his tenure, Obama governed lawlessly for the monied interests that own him. He’s waged no-holds-barred war on humanity. 

Strategy includes homeland tyranny, fear-mongering, saber rattling, hot wars, proxy ones, drone ones, domestic political ones, geopolitical ones, financial ones, anti-populist ones, sanctions, subversion, sabotage, targeted assassinations, mass murder, cyberwar, and more. 

In May 2009, Obama prioritized cybersecurity. He called cyber-threats “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” 

“America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” 

He ordered a top-to-bottom review. A Cyberspace Policy Review report followed. He waged cyberwar on Iran. He did so cooperatively with Israel. 

In spring 2010, Iranian intelligence discovered Stuxnet malware contamination. The computer virus infected its Bushehr nuclear facility. At the time, operations were halted indefinitely. 

Israel was blamed. Washington was involved. Had the facility gone online infected, Iran’s entire electrical power grid could have been shut down. 

A more destructive virus called Flame malware is known. Internet security experts say it’s 20 times more harmful than Stuxnet. Iran’s military-industrial complex is targeted. So is its nuclear program. Maximum disruption is planned. 

Obama supports draconian cybersecurity bills. Passage threatens constitutional freedoms. 

Memo Cites Legal Basis for Killing U.S. Citizens in Al Qaeda


February 5, 2013 
By CHARLIE SAVAGE and SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON :Obama administration lawyers have asserted that it would be lawful to kill a United States citizen if “an informed, high-level official” of the government decided that the target was a ranking figure in Al Qaeda who posed “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States” and if his capture was not feasible, according to a 16-page document made public on Monday. 

The unsigned and undated Justice Department “white paper,” obtained by NBC News, is the most detailed analysis yet to come into public view regarding the Obama legal team’s views about the lawfulness of killing, without a trial, an American citizen who executive branch officials decide is an operational leader of Al Qaeda or one of its allies. 

The paper is not the classified memorandum in which the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel signed off on the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico and who died in an American drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. But its legal analysis citing a national right to self-defense as well as the laws of war closely tracks the rationale in that document, as described to The New York Times in October 2011 by people who had read it. 

The memo appears to be a briefing paper that was derived from the real legal memorandum in late 2011 and provided to some members of Congress. It does not discuss any specific target and emphasizes that it does not go into the specific thresholds of evidence that are deemed sufficient. 

It adopts an elastic definition of an “imminent” threat, saying it is not necessary for a specific attack to be in process when a target is found if the target is generally engaged in terrorist activities aimed at the United States. And it asserts that courts should not play a role in reviewing or restraining such decisions. 

The white paper states that “judicial enforcement of such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force.” 

The Myth of “Saudi America”

By Raymond T. Pierrehumbert
Feb. 6, 2013

Straight talk from geologists about our new era of oil abundance. 

An oil drill drilling into the Bakken formation

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images 

Like swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, every December some 20,000 geoscientists flock to San Francisco for the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Slate readers have already heard about a presentation with a particularly eye-catching title, but for me some of the most thought-provoking news came in a prestigious all-Union session with the rather dry heading “Fossil Fuel Production, Economic Growth, and Climate Change.” This session dealt, in a hard-headed, geological, show-me-the-numbers way, with the claim that we are at the brink of a new era of oil and natural gas abundance. 


The popularity of the abundance narrative waxes and wanes, and its current ascendance comes primarily on the heels of a report by Leonardo Maugeri, a former oil-industry chief and currently a fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center. When his cornucopian fantasy came out, I smelled a rat (or at least a not-too-deeply buried fish). But the International Energy Agency jumped on the bandwagon with breathless, and equally fishy, forecasts of the coming “Saudi America.” Most of the media swallowed the story hook, line, and sinker, with even the usually sober Economist rising to the bait. 

Ten questions about the future of counterinsurgency and stabilization ops (I)

By Thomas E. Ricks
February 6, 2013


By Major Tom Mcilwaine, Queen's Royal Hussars 

Best Defense guest columnist 

There appears to be a growing sense that the era of COIN that began on 9/11 is drawing to a close. The chief prophets of the philosophy are, for various reasons ranging from the personal to the professional, no longer quite the force they once were, or are not needed quite as urgently by politicians who have accepted the drawdown from Afghanistan as the end of the era of nation-building through COIN. Nations are growing tired of seemingly endless wars that rumble on, without a positive conclusion. There is a belief that we, the West, cannot afford to fight these campaigns anymore, not in an age of austerity and fiscal cliffs, which seems to be the one thing on which economic commenters and treasury secretaries across the political spectrum and across the West can agree. Perhaps more interestingly there is also a growing belief that we can opt out of fighting such wars in the future. The trend in staff colleges around the world is to return to the proper business of soldiering -- major combat operations. This trend is bolstered by a belief that our skills in this area have atrophied over the last decade or so of constant patrolling in the deserts, towns, and mountains of obscure foreign countries of which we never really knew much about, or cared much for. 

Notwithstanding the wishes of senior commanders, who make much of the fact that the we in Western militaries must not simply press the reset button and dump our experiences of the last decade, it seems probable that the need to train for "old school" major combat operations will probably lead to this happening in practice -- because people train to be good at what they are going to be assessed on, which in the near future is going to be old fashioned warfighting, however it is currently described. And at the moment we lack experience in this area. A personal example illustrates this. I will take command of a cavalry squadron in September; I have not been employed on tanks since 2005 and the sum total of my armored experience amounts to a little less than two months. If you were my regimental commander, in a post-Afghan conflict world, would you be more worried about training me to do my core skills -- armored warfare -- or ensuring I retained more esoteric knowledge that is no longer in vogue -- COIN? 

Making Offsets Work for India

By Robert S Metzger, Issue Vol. 28.1 Jan-Mar 2013
07 Feb , 2013 


Rafale 

Foreign companies invest a great deal in capital and management attention to form Joint Ventures and other business relationships with India partners so that they can be part of the aerospace and defence manufacturing industry sought through the offset programmes. The MOD should enable the DOMW to review business plans and other venture particulars, including ownership and planned product lines or services, in order to “pre-qualify” firms as an “India Offset Partner” (IOP). Receipt of such prequalification would assist new ventures to promote the future availability of their goods and services to OEMs who need to identify IOPs to include in their formal offset proposals. Once a venture receives recognition of the validity of its offset proposition (IOP status, eligible supplies and services), it would benefit the MOD to announce this publicly. 

The Government of India (GOI) is to be commended for the progress that it has made in improving its defence acquisition process and for the revision announced in August 2012 to its Offset Guidelines. These actions should facilitate robust international competition for India’s military and internal security needs as also encourage creation of industrial partnerships to satisfy offset requirements. The GOI has earned credit for positive steps in each of the following areas: 
  • The experience of many foreign companies in attempting to establish joint ventures with India partners too often is one of slow frustration… 
  • The Offset Guidelines now express their purposes and provide the clarity which industrial suppliers need for their planning and business decisions. 
  • Creation of the Defence Offset Management Wing (DOMW) responds to calls for increased resources for the bureaucracy charged with offset contract administration 
  • A liberalized period of performance for offset contracts and for banking of credits facilitates long-term joint venture initiatives. 
  • Multipliers incentivize use of India’s small, medium and micro-businesses and may encourage transfer of critical technologies. 
The August 2012 changes to the Offset Guidelines, along with continuous improvement to the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), show that the GOI has been working steadily to align its acquisition regime and offset program to international “best practices.” 

Preparing for a visitor from Paris


February 7, 2013 
By Vaiju Naravane 

President Hollande is very different from the ebullient Sarkozy, who was much admired in India, but as Mali has shown, he can take firm decisions in his own quiet way 

French President Francois Hollande, accompanied by his journalist-partner Valerie Trierweiler, several senior ministers and an impressive business delegation arrives in New Delhi on February 14, Valentine’s Day, for a two-day state visit that will take him to the Capital and Mumbai. 

India’s decision to depart from protocol and accord France this rare honour (there has been no reciprocal state visit by the Indian Prime Minister since President Nicolas Sarkozy’s last state visit in 2008) underscores the importance New Delhi attaches to its relationship with Paris, which has become a major strategic partner. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the guest of honour at the Bastille Day ceremonies in 2009, but that was a short working visit. 

Range of issues 

During his two-day trip, Mr. Hollande will be accorded all state honours, including an official banquet at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He will hold talks with Dr. Singh and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. In Mumbai, he will address a CEOs Forum meeting. Since the exact composition of his delegation has yet to be finalised, few details are trickling out about his visit except that there is likely to be an accent on accrued exchanges in higher education, research and the environment, alongside discussions on international and regional issues, particularly Afghanistan. France recently played host to a round of talks between the Afghan government’s representatives and the Taliban, and New Delhi would be keen to learn more about the road map post-2014 when foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan. 

Pirates attack Indian ship, four killed


February 6, 2013
By PTI 

Four persons, including two soldiers, were killed when a ship belonging to an Indian company was attacked by pirates in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta. 

The four persons killed, included two soldiers, a retired naval officer and the pilot of the tugboat which ran into an ambush on Tuesday after setting sail from Warri in Delta State to Port Harcourt in Rivers State. 

A gun battle between men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and pirates in Bayelsa State ensued during the ambush. 

The ship belongs to Sterling Global Services Limited, a venture of an Indian-based company called the Sandesara Group. 

“The military men escorting Sterling Global Oil Resources Limited tugboat ran into an ambush mounted by suspected sea pirates along the Angiama-Etelibiri waterways of Sagbama Local Government area of Bayelsa state,” Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesman for the Joint Task Force (JTF), a military unit that polices the region against piracy, told PTI. 

Mr. Nwachukwu said two soldiers were killed but failed to confirm the death of the retired soldier and the ship captain and said three pirates were also wounded by soldiers who returned fire. One inmate of the ship was also missing while two other soldiers sustained serious injuries during the shootout that followed, he said. 

Nwachukwu could not give any reason for the attack because the boat and the escorting vessels were empty. According to him, the military has sent five gunboats to nab the pirates and security has been heightened in Bayelsa state where the incident took place. 

Two months ago, five Indians were abducted by heavily armed pirates who attacked the vessel, Medallion Marine, in which they were travelling about 60 kilometres off the coast of oil rich Niger Delta and commercial capital, Lagos. They were released after a month. 

GREEN DEVELOPMENT

By Chandrashekhar Dasgupta


Innovative technology can help protect the environment 

A methane gas extraction plant in Lake Kivu 

The impressive growth rates achieved by India, China and many other Asian countries in the last two decades have inspired great hopes as well as fears. On the one hand, they have opened up the very real prospect that Asia will finally succeed in freeing itself from the shackles of mass poverty within the next few decades. A few Asian states have already achieved this status and, by the latter half of this century, virtually all Asian countries will hopefully be able to provide their citizens with the basic requirements of food, shelter, healthcare and education. There may still be destitute individuals but, for the first time in the long history of these countries, mass poverty will cease to exist. 

On the other hand, fears have been expressed that Asia’s headlong economic expansion may lead to critical global shortages of natural resources such as petroleum and natural gas. There are also apprehensions that rapid economic development may cause massive pollution, leading to an environmental disaster. We need to answer two questions. Are we running out of energy and other natural resources? Is there an inherent conflict between development and the environment? 

Such concerns are not new. The 1950s and 1960s saw high growth rates in postwar Europe and Japan. This led to mounting apprehensions in the 1960s of an emerging scarcity of resources. The group of eminent personalities constituting the Club of Rome famously warned that the planet was running out of resources and that an economic crisis might be expected in the 1970s. The dire forecast proved to be groundless. The global economy has continued to grow. Technology provided the key to the solution, unlocking new resources for the economy. 

Freedom without a centre

By Pratap Bhanu Mehta 
Feb 07 2013


The liberal centre has no political voice as parties mistakenly do not see its potential 

India daily abridges its right to be called a liberal democracy. There is a virtual contagion of attacks on art and free speech. How are we to understand this? How do we square this intolerance with the astonishing energy, creativity and contention that we are also seeing unleashed at different levels of society? Are we on the path to greater intolerance or do the underlying trends tell a different story? 

At a moment when art is being targeted, film stars are not safe, 15-year-old girls are being asked to pay a horrendous social price for creating a rock band and political dissent is being suppressed, the future of free expression looks very bleak indeed. But it is important to diagnose this malaise correctly. Rather than assume that it portends a more intolerant society, it could be the case that society is actually getting more tolerant. It is the state and the political structures that do not understand these profound changes. 

Mark Twain once said that Americans have the most perfect right to freedom of speech, but also the good sense never to use it. The deep truth in his remark was that often free speech seems easy to defend when the underlying mechanisms of social control are strong: speech seems safe when its limits are not tested too much. We often underestimate the degree to which even in the most liberal of democracies, freedom of speech seems safe because its limits are not tested. In the US, for example, a panoply of self-restraints does not push the limits of free expression as much as you might expect: it is, for example, a very taciturn culture when it comes to religion. So the fact that India is experiencing more contention around free speech could be a sign that inhibiting social restraints are finally beginning to wear off. This is largely a good thing, but it will generate the appearance of more conflict. 

Threats to the freedom of expression come largely from three sources. In some states like West Bengal, there is outright political thuggery: criticise the leader and pay the price. Many states have milder versions of this phenomenon. In some states, sedition laws have been used to quell dissent. The second threat comes from patriarchy. The crisis of patriarchy is finding its most potent expression on the ground of speech. From hoodlums targeting girls in pubs in Mangalore to muftis finding a teenage rock band a threat to civilisation, the concerted effort is to inhibit freedom for women. This trend is disconcerting, but again, it takes place against the backdrop of momentous social change, where women are participating more, and on their own terms. The third threat comes from the vicious cycle of competitive offence-mongering that still remains a tempting axis of mobilisation in our society. A secularism that emphasised parity between groups rather than individual freedoms was bound to generate this escalating dynamic, where you test the state on how much it protects your group. But even this attempt to consolidate group identities through a politics of competitive hurt takes place against a backdrop where identities are becoming more fluid and open. Indeed, groups are attempting to impose the yoke of community, precisely because the actual power to control is diminishing. It is more a sign of desperation than a harbinger of community power. This is why so many seeking community salvation in feigning hurt seem increasingly unrepresentative. 

Hot election tip from India


February 7, 2013
By Robin Jeffrey 

The Hindu VOTING DAY: Fancy technologies alone don't win elections. 

Voters can be swung by using a combination of motivated workers and small technology 

In a world where elections and information and communication technologies (ICT) lead to big theories about the future of democracy, India is teaching it some important lessons. 

From President Obama’s successful campaign to Narendra Modi’s sumptuous holograms in the Gujarat elections in December, there’s speculation that democratic politics are now changed utterly. There’s a sense that technology will win elections, just as some soldiers want to believe drones will win wars. 

“Cyber-utopians” see the “flash mobs” of the Arab Spring and their precursors as heralding a new birth of human freedom. High tech will make you free. 

In 2008, the Obama campaign was sleek and technical; but it was even more finely turned in 2012. “At every rally,” Mark Danner wrote in The New York Review of Books, the crowd was told to “get out your cell phones” and text “Obama.” That action put each sender’s details into the campaign database. The aim was to enlist these enthusiasts as the cell-soldiers of a movement. 

The virtual Modi campaign 

The Modi campaign in Gujarat earned notoriety for its use of “big tech” — spectacular demonstrations aiming to impress voters with the achievements of the government. The grand gesture was on November 18 when Modi gave a speech in Gandhinagar that was transmitted as holograms into venues in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat. A larger-than-life, virtual Modi spoke to spell-bound audiences in five places simultaneously. 

What To Make of India’s Nuclear Forces

By Rory Medcalf 

February 7, 2013 

Amid naval jostling in the East China Sea and nuclear rumbles on the Korean Peninsula, it is easy to miss a missile making a splash in the Indian Ocean. 

Security watchers are understandably focused on North Asia at the moment, where it is hard to tell if the next headline won't be about a North Korean nuclear test or, even worse, an exchange of fire between Chinese and Japanese ships. Yet India has recently sent a signal that it cannot be ignored as part of the increasingly complicated strategic equation across Indo-Pacific Asia. 

The widely-known facts are few and simple. On January 27, the day after Indian Republic Day, India conducted a test flight for a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). 

Most reports suggest the missile had a range of 700 to 750 km. 

But what is important is that India is working towards the ability to launch a nuclear weapon from a submarine. In theory, this would give New Delhi a second-strike capability — the confidence in being able to shoot back effectively after sustaining a nuclear attack. Submarines are often considered the ultimate second-strike platform because they're hard to find and hard to target, notwithstanding the potential for rail- and road-mobile launchers to achieve something similar. 

To be sure, India has a long way to go before it can be confident in deterring, say, China with a fleet of nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarines, or SSBNs. For now, its sole SSBN, is basically a technology demonstrator. It's not clear if the INS Arihant, notionally launched in 2009, will ever really conduct deterrent patrols. 

Indian tech czar leaves Obama for university top job


By Chidanand Rajghatta
Feb 7, 2013, 

WASHINGTON: President Obama's geek-in-chief, an Indian-American whose academic pedigree spans institutions from IIT to MIT, is stepping down from a high profile post in the administration to head Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), which also hosts the world's top ranked school for computer studies.

The White House and Carnegie Mellon both announced on Tuesday that Subra Suresh, 56, is quitting as Director of National Science Foundation to move to Pittsburgh to become the 9th President of the century-old institution founded by Andrew Carnegie, a contemporary of Jamshedji Tata.

The move caught both Washington and academic circles by surprise because Suresh had served only three years of a six-year term at NSF, and the heading the NSF, with its $7 billion budget, is considered one of the top jobs in the administration in the science and engineering field.

But CMU, which has a billion dollar endowment, is no less prestigious in the academic sphere. Year after year, it has been named the world's best institution for computer science studies, counting among its alumni half dozen Nobel Laureates, including John Nash, the mathematician who was subject of the Hollywood movie "A Beautiful Mind".

It has also produced eminent gearheads such as Vinod Khosla and Andy Bechtolsheim, who co-founded Sun Microsystems. Even the fictional Dr Vaseekaran in Rajnikant's Robot opus was affiliated to CMU.

Among its real-life Indian alumni: rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who earned a degree in public policy at CMU's Heinz College, associated with secretary of state John Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz. The Dean of Heinz College, Ramayya Krishnan, is also an IIT Madras alumnus like Subra Suresh, pointing to Indian educators now breaking to the top in US academia.

Military gears up for budget cut

By Rahul Singh,
February 07, 2013 


At a time when India’s national security is under scrutiny, defence minister AK Antony on Wednesday said the country will be forced to cut down on military spending in 2013-14 due to a bleak economic outlook. His statements were echoed by finance minister P Chidambaram. 

The announcement 

comes not long after the nation was outraged over the killing of two Indian soldiers. One of them was beheaded by Pakistani troops inside Indian territory along the Line of Control on January 8.

Antony said the armed forces had been asked to prioritise their requirements against the backdrop of a cut in allocation for defence in the forthcoming budget. The minister, however, emphasised that the operational readiness of the armed forces would not be compromised. 

“We are in the process of prioritising military purchases. The service chiefs will take a call on what is critical for operational preparedness… We want more money, but we are not insulated from the global recession,” Antony said shortly after inaugurating Aero India 2013 India’s biggest aerospace show outside Bangalore. 

Chidambaram, who was speaking in Delhi, obliquely admitted that a cut in defence expenditure is likely in the forthcoming budget. 

“We must give more money for defence, but then we must have the money,” Chidambaram said. "So the R10,000 crore, which is reportedly being cut... you will know what is being cut only when the budget is presented… If it is cut for this year, it is cut; you cannot do anything about it. That money you cannot have. Can it be provided next year? We can, provided we can grow at a higher rate and we have more money." 

This is the first time in recent years that the armed forces are facing such a financial crunch. Last year, the finance ministry turned down the military’s demand for an additional outlay of R45,000 crore over and above the defence outlay of R1.93 lakh crore for 2012-13. This was followed by the budget being cut by R10,000 crore. 

India vs. China vs. Egypt *

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
February 5, 2013

NEW DELHI 

It’s hard to escape a visit to India without someone asking you to compare it to China. This visit was no exception, but I think it’s more revealing to widen the aperture and compare India, China and Egypt. India has a weak central government but a really strong civil society, bubbling with elections and associations at every level. China has a muscular central government but a weak civil society, yet one that is clearly straining to express itself more. Egypt, alas, has a weak government and a very weak civil society, one that was suppressed for 50 years, denied real elections and, therefore, is easy prey to have its revolution diverted by the one group that could organize, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the one free space, the mosque. But there is one thing all three have in common: gigantic youth bulges under the age of 30, increasingly connected by technology but very unevenly educated. 

My view: Of these three, the one that will thrive the most in the 21st century will be the one that is most successful at converting its youth bulge into a “demographic dividend” that keeps paying off every decade, as opposed to a “demographic bomb” that keeps going off every decade. That will be the society that provides more of its youth with the education, jobs and voice they seek to realize their full potential. 

This race is about “who can enable and inspire more of its youth to help build broad societal prosperity,” argues Dov Seidman, the author of “How” and C.E.O. of LRN, which has an operating center in India. “And that’s all about leaders, parents and teachers creating environments where young people can be on a quest, not just for a job, but for a career for a better life that doesn’t just surpass but far surpasses their parents.” Countries that fail to do that will have a youth bulge that is not only unemployed, but unemployable, he argued. “They will be disconnected in a connected world, despairing as they watch others build and realize their potential and curiosity.” 

If your country has either a strong government or a strong civil society, it has the ability to rise to this challenge. If it has neither, it will have real problems, which is why Egypt is struggling. China leads in providing its youth bulge with education, infrastructure and jobs, but lags in unleashing freedom and curiosity. India is the most intriguing case if it can get its governance and corruption under control. The quest for upward mobility here, especially among women and girls, is palpable. I took part in the graduation ceremony for The Energy and Resources Institute last week. Of 12 awards for the top students, 11 went to women. 

Pakistan faces many crises

By TV Rajeswar

07 Feb 2013

Common man is the real sufferer

Pakistan is engulfed in a series of crises both on the external and internal fronts. Taking up the external crisis to begin with, Pakistan's jawans carried out a series of attacks in the Mendhar region of Poonch across the LoC which led to a serious situation across the border. In particular, the beheading of Indian Lance Naik Hemraj and mutilation of his body were serious violations of human rights and rules of war. This led to an uproar in India, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to warn Pakistan that it should not treat the matter lightly and there could not be business as usual.

Though initially Pakistan treated the cross border incidents casually, the Pakistani authorities soon realised that the situation was serious and that they should carry out an investigation into the incidents, including the beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj. Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan was prepared to look into all the allegations and she called for a meeting with her Indian counterpart to discuss all the issues involved. The Indian Foreign Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid, however, ruled out a meeting with the Pakistani counterpart until Pakistan restored normalcy and peace across the LoC and the situation returned to normal. Inhuman acts like beheading of soldiers seem to have found acceptance by the Pakistani Army, after it allied with fanatical jihadi groups to avenge a proxy war in Kashmir and the rest of India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is rocked internally by various problems. A Canadian born Barelvi cleric named Tahir-ul-Qadri suddenly appeared in Pakistan's capital Islamabad in the third week of January, gathering large crowds and leading big processions and all the times thundering that the Pakistan Government should resign immediately. Tahir-ul-Qadri has an interesting background. He is said to be a Sufi scholar and had lived in Saudi Arabia for many years. He is also said to have visited the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer Sherif quite a few times. In his various speeches, Tahir-ul-Qadri had threatened to unleash a mass movement to overthrow President Asif Ali Zardari and clean up national politics. Qadri demanded electoral reforms, a bar on corrupt politicians from holding office and ushering in of a caretaker government headed by an honest person ahead of the elections scheduled to take place later this year. The Government of Pakistan got alarmed and sent a 10- member delegation consisting of federal ministers and leaders of Pakistan's political parties which held discussions with Qadri and signed an agreement. 

The Evolution of Irregular War

By Max Boot
January 5, 2013 


Insurgents and Guerrillas From Akkadia to Afghanistan 

Holding down the fort: in Chilas, British India, 1898. (Getty Images / Hulton Archive). 

Pundits and the press too often treat terrorism and guerrilla tactics as something new, a departure from old-fashioned ways of war. But nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout most of our species' long and bloody slog, warfare has primarily been carried out by bands of loosely organized, ill-disciplined, and lightly armed volunteers who disdained open battle in favor of stealthy raids and ambushes: the strategies of both tribal warriors and modern guerrillas and terrorists. In fact, conventional warfare is the relatively recent invention. It was first made possible after 10,000 BC by the development of agricultural societies, which produced enough surplus wealth and population to allow for the creation of specially designed fortifications and weapons (and the professionals to operate them). The first genuine armies -- commanded by a strict hierarchy, composed of trained soldiers, disciplined with threats of punishment -- arose after 3100 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. But the process of state formation and, with it, army formation took considerably longer in most of the world. In some places, states emerged only in the past century, and their ability to carry out such basic functions as maintaining an army remains tenuous at best. Considering how long humans have been roaming the earth, the era of what we now think of as conventional conflict represents the mere blink of an eye. 

Nonetheless, since at least the days of the Greeks and the Romans, observers have belittled irregular warfare. Western soldiers and scholars have tended to view it as unmanly, even barbaric. It's not hard to see why: guerillas, in the words of the British historian John Keegan, are "cruel to the weak and cowardly in the face of the brave" -- precisely the opposite of what professional soldiers are taught to be. Many scholars have even claimed that guerrilla raids are not true warfare. 

Dispersion in the World's Largest Urban Areas

By Wendell Cox
06 Feb 2013


No decade in history has experienced such an increase in urban population as the last. From Tokyo-Yokohama, the world's largest urban area (population: 37 million) to Godegård, Sweden, which may be the smallest (population: 200), urban areas added 700 million people between 2000 and 2010. 

Nearly one in 10 of the world's new urban residents were in the fastest growing metropolitan regions (see: Definition of Terms used in "The Evolving Urban Form" Series), which added nearly 60 million residents. They ranged from a an estimated increase of more than 8.5 people in Karachi (Note 1) to 3.9 million people in Mumbai (Figure 1). The average population growth in these 10 metropolitan regions was 6 million, approximately the population of Dallas-Fort Worth or Toronto, which were fast-growers on their own in comparison to other high income world cities. 

By comparison, the largest growth over any single decade over the past half century in US metropolitan areas has been less than one half of the 6 million average: 2.43 million in New York (1920s) and 2.37 million in Los Angeles (1950s). Only Tokyo-Yokohama (1960s) and Shenzhen (1990s) have added more than 5 million people in a single decade before the last decade. 

Growth has been overwhelmingly concentrated outside the urban cores (Note 2) in these 10 fastest growing metropolitan region. Excluding Karachi (for which sufficient data is unavailable), approximately 85 percent of the growth was outside the urban cores (A 42 million increase in the suburbs and 8 million in the urban cores). 

Why China Should Do More In Afghanistan

August 01, 2012 

By Jeffrey W. Hornung 

While nations like Japan pour money into development aid, Beijing has largely stayed on the sidelines. 

The drawdown of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan after 2014 means the burden of maintaining and governing a modern state will fall on Kabul, complete with all the associated economic and political challenges. Never mind there are serious doubts the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) can meet the expected security challenges. Importantly, Kabul does not have the necessary funds to do all this. If there is any hope for sustained stability post-2014, Afghanistan is going to require foreign assistance. 

Japan recently hosted the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan where the focus was on securing $16 billion from international donors to ensure Afghanistan’s sustainable development for the remainder of the transition process and beyond. This was Japan’s second time hosting an international conference on Afghanistan assistance. It also remains the second largest donor to Afghanistan, after the United States. 

Given that many think Japan is a declining power, it is difficult not to ask why Japan is so involved in Afghanistan. 

Come to think of it, given all the talk about China’s rise, why has there not been a Beijing Conference? 

The answer is leadership. 

China, America and the WTO

By Ka Zeng 
February 7, 2013 

Growing tensions in U.S.-China trade relations generated by the rapid expansion of Chinese exports to the U.S. have led both countries to frequently resort to the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s dispute settlement mechanism (DSM). Noticeably, both Washington and Beijing seem to be more frequently using the DSM to target issues of critical concern to their respective domestic constituencies. While the U.S.’ WTO trade disputes against China tend to target Chinese industrial policy and challenge the dominance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), cases involving antidumping duties (ADs) and countervailing duties (CVDs) have taken up a disproportionate share of China’s WTO disputes against the United States. 

Since its WTO accession, China has been the target of 29 WTO disputes initiated by its trading partners, with the United States accounting for the lion’s share of these cases. The Chinese measures being challenged by the United States include semiconductors, auto parts, intellectual property rights, trading rights and distribution services for certain products, grants and loans and, more recently, wind power equipment, renewable energy, and access to resources. Many of these cases involve the Chinese government supporting domestic enterprises through tariffs, subsidies, grants, refunds, and exemptions from taxes that either provided an unfair advantage to Chinese exporters, or restricted foreign market access in China. 

Washington's focus on Chinese industrial policy and the Chinese government’s continued support for domestic enterprises needs to be viewed against Beijing’s continued heavy involvement in the economy. Indeed, while economic reforms and WTO entry have streghtened the influence of free markets in China, the Chinese government has increased its reliance on industrial policy during the past decade. The 2008 global financial crisis, which led to a substantial contraction in China’s export markets, further reinforced the role of government stimulus spending, especially stimulus spending in the state sector, in ensuring the country’s sustained growth. As a liberal international economic institution, it is no surprise that the U.S. is using the WTO to target China’s state-centric model of development. 

China and Venezuela: Equity Oil and Political Risk


February 6, 2013 
Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 3 
February 1, 2013 12:05 PM Age: 5 days 
By: Matt Ferchen


This Oil Probably Isn't Bound for China 

Referring to the evolving political crisis in Venezuela, a Shanghai Academy of Social Science scholar, Zhang Jiazhe, recently remarked, if Hugo Chavez dies, “the diplomatic effect on China won’t be large because China-U.S. competition is in Asia not Latin America. Economically, China-Venezuela relations are based on oil and weapons sales” (Huanqiu Shibao, January 6). Back in 2006 Beijing University Professor Zha Daojiong, however, sounded a more skeptical note when he wrote “The search for overseas oil supplies has led Beijing to pursue close diplomatic ties with Iran, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela all countries that pursue questionable domestic policies and…foreign policies” [1]. These two different Chinese foreign policy perspectives highlight an ongoing debate and not only inside of China about how Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) pursuit of global energy supplies was or was not leading China into unwanted and unhealthy foreign entanglements. 

The logic of Chinese SOE energy investments in all these “questionable” countries is straightforward: China needs more energy than it can produce domestically and its SOEs are “going out” to help supply domestic demand. In Sudan and Iran, however, Chinese national oil companies’ (NOCs) investments exposed Beijing diplomatically to internationally controversial political regimes. Chinese state-to-state energy ties to such “pariah states”, including more recent examples in Libya and Burma, have mostly been based in the Middle East, Africa or closer to China in Central and Southeast Asia [2]. The geographic focus, however, has now for the first time shifted to China’s presence in the Western Hemisphere as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’ health crisis evolves into a broader political crisis not only for Venezuela but for his regional allies and potentially for China. Today, it is in Venezuela that another Chinese state firm, this time the China Development Bank (CDB) has led China into another potential foreign policy quagmire. 

China and Central Asia in 2013


February 6, 2013 
Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 2 
January 18, 2013
By: Raffaello Pantucci, Alexandros Petersen


China's Gateway to Central Asia,
Khorgos 

In the last two years, China has emerged as the most consequential outside actor in Central Asia. As we have described in other writings, China’s ascension to this role has been largely inadvertent [1]. It has more to do with the region’s contemporary circumstances and China’s overall economic momentum than a concerted effort emanating from the Zhongnanhai. The implications for United States and NATO policy are nevertheless profound. Not only have the geopolitics of Eurasia shifted in ways little understood in Washington and Brussels, but the socio-political and physical undergirding of the post-Soviet space from Aktobe to Kandahar is being transformed. 

Official Chinese policy in Central Asia is quiet and cautious, focused on developing the region as an economic partner with its western province Xinjiang whilst also looking beyond at what China characterizes as the “Eurasian Land Bridge…connecting east Asia and west Europe” (Xinhua, September 4, 2012). Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are active throughout the region on major infrastructure projects, but it is not clear how much they are being directed as part of some grand strategy as opposed to focusing on obvious profitable opportunities. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the main multilateral vehicle for Chinese regional efforts and reassuring engagement is a powerfully symbolic, but institutionally empty actor. Many smaller Chinese actors ranging from shuttle traders to small-time entrepreneurs to schoolteachers and students posted to Confucius Institutes throughout the region are the gradual vanguard of possible long-term Chinese investment and influence. 

The Taiwan Linchpin

By Daniel Twining
01 Feb 2013


An old ally is key to the U.S. position in Asia

Has america’s alliance with Taiwan, one of its oldest in Asia, become a strategic liability, a relic of a bygone era that no longer advances American interests? The obvious answer would seem to be no. First, there is the legacy of the relationship. American and free Chinese forces fought together in World War II. Taiwan was America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” during the Cold War. More recently, democratic Taiwan has become a model of political liberalization in a Chinese society. It boasts a high-tech economy that is intimately intertwined with those of America and its Asian partners; the United States is the largest foreign investor there. Taiwan is a key strongpoint in the United States’ offshore network of allies in maritime Asia. And not insignificantly, Taiwan is a reliable friend to America at a time when President Obama’s “pivot” to Asia is a reminder of the Chinese challenge to U.S. primacy — and the imperative of maintaining in Asia a balance of power that favors freedom. 

It is surprising, then, that an active debate is now underway in Washington over whether Taiwan is a spoiler, rather than a partner, in U.S. strategy towards the world’s emerging center of wealth and power. The core of this argument assumes that relations between the United States and mainland China will define the 21st century — and that they should not be held hostage to the legacy of the civil war between Chinese nationalists and communists in the 1940s. Why should Washington risk its relationship with the rising superpower of 1.3 billion people over its ties to a small island nation of only 23 million given the high military and economic stakes for the United States of a conflicted relationship with Beijing? These arguments assume that Taiwan, as a senior U.S. military official once indelicately phrased it, is “the turd in the punchbowl” of U.S.-China relations.

But arguments to let Taiwan go get strategy backwards. First, cutting off an old U.S. ally at a time of rising tensions with an assertive China might do less to appease Beijing than to encourage its hopes to bully the United States into a further retreat from its commitments in East Asia. Second, it would transform the calculus of vital American allies like Japan and South Korea, who might plausibly wonder whether the U.S. commitment to their security was equally flexible. Third, it would upend the calculations of new U.S. partners like India and Vietnam, whose leaders have made a bet on U.S. staying power and the associated benefits of strengthening relations with America as a hedge against China. Fourth, such preemptive surrender would reinforce what remains more a psychological than a material reality of China emerging as a global superpower of America’s standing — which it is not and may never be. Finally, it would resurrect the ghosts of Munich and Yalta, where great powers decided the fate of lesser nations without reference to those nations’ interests — or the human consequences of offering them up to satisfy the appetites of predatory great powers. 

Strategic Horizons: Make North Korea Understand the Cost of Provocation

By Steven Metz
06 Feb 2013


Over the past few decades, North Korea has developed a penchant for aggression just below the threshold that would cause the United States, South Korea and other states to respond in kind. As its economy rots and one member of the Kim dynasty gives way to another, the provocations expand. They reached new peaks in March 2010 when a North Korean submarine sank a South Korean navy ship, and in November 2010 when the North Korean military shelled a South Korean island, killing two soldiers. Even more ominously, North Korea has worked strenuously to develop more powerful ballistic missiles that may, at some time in the future, be armed with nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s neighbors face the enduring possibility that desperation or miscalculation may lead the regime to strike out even more violently, either concluding that it will face wholesale economic collapse or political upheaval if does not, or through the belief that it has so cowed the United States, South Korea, Japan and China that it can commit aggression with impunity. Given this, the United States needs a careful plan for how to respond.

The appropriate response, of course, depends on the nature of the provocation, for which Pyongyang’s options include relatively low-level aggression, such as regime involvement in organized crime, the sale of missile and nuclear technology and limited attacks on South Korea; potentially more dangerous missile strikes against other nations; a large-scale conventional invasion of South Korea; and, worst of all, the use of nuclear weapons.

Continued North Korean missile launches are likely. So far the North’s ballistic missile program has been plagued with large doses of ineptness sometimes bordering on the comic. But the program is getting better, thus making it harder to distinguish a test aimed at the open sea from a strike at Japan, the United States or elsewhere. Given this, the United States should consider a policy of shooting down North Korean missiles that have left that nation's airspace. Tokyo has already indicated that it may down North Korean missiles that pass over Japanese territory. Should the United States elect to take similar steps, U.N. Security Council resolutions 1874 and 2087 would seem to provide a legal basis to do so. 

Budget Cuts A Chance for a More Efficient Military

By Terrence Murray 
January 16, 2013

The delayed negotiations over looming cuts in federal expenditures that could slash defense spending by about $600 billion have forced the Pentagon to draft contingency plans in the event Congress and the White House fail to reach a deal. 

On Jan. 10, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the military to draft cost-cutting plans so the Pentagon would be better prepared if large spending reductions are ordered. “We have no idea what the hell is going to happen,” Panetta said, according to CNN.com. 

As part of the fiscal cliff deal announced last month Congress and the White House extended the deadline to negotiate a resolution to the planned cuts, known as sequestration, to March 27. 

However, most experts agree that even if Congress makes a deal to avoid sequestration, the U.S. military will see less money in its budget. The real question is how steep the cuts are going to be. 

In a report released earlier this month, Credit Suisse Aerospace and Defense Analyst Robert Spingarn outlined a scenario of incremental cuts spread over the next decade. In the report, entitled “Sequester Still Unresolved,” Spingarn projects cuts to defense of between $15 billion and $20 billion per year for the next ten years. 

Military officials are already making predictions about how a leaner budget will change the nature of U.S. defense forces. In a recent op-ed published by AOL Defense, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said these tighter budgets would force the Air Force and other service branches to evolve. 

Future U.S. Bases in Asia Will Be at Sea

By Greg Scoblete
06 Feb 2013


As the U.S. turns its strategic eye toward the Pacific, it's facing a new set of defense challenges. One of the major ones, according to Marine Lt. General Terry Robling in an interview with AOL Defense, is sustaining a "persistent presence" despite the massive distances involved yet without the traditional land bases that could alienate key allies: 

Many of our partners in the region do not want us to be the Uncle that visited and never returned home. They want us engaged and present but not permanently based in their countries. This means that seabasing and its augmentation is a fundamental requirement. 

Another way the U.S. will resolve this potential tension is to simply not call bases "bases," as C. Raja Mohan explains: 
  • Washington is fully aware that full fledged military bases of the traditional kind generate intense political opposition in host countries and is not worth the unending political headache. 
  • The strategy, instead, is to seek ‘places’ through which the US could move its forces on a regular basis, preposition some equipment, and have pre-negotiated arrangements for relief and resupply. 
  • The US is not the only one looking for such ‘places’ to sustain its forward military presence around the world. China, whose economic and political interests in the Indian Ocean are growing, is said to be considering similar arrangements. 
  • Other major powers like Russia, France and Japan have established such facilities in the Indian Ocean littoral. 
Elsewhere in the AOL piece, author Robin Laird inadvertently highlights one of the fundamental tensions with U.S. strategy in the Pacific. First, Laird identifies that strategy as "constraining Chinese engagement in the Pacific." Naturally, the Chinese aren't going to appreciate this, so then there's the threat: 

Drone Strikes’ Risks to Get Rare Moment in the Public Eye

By ROBERT F. WORTH, MARK MAZZETTI and SCOTT SHANE
February 5, 2013 

Khaled Abdullah/Reuters 

Tribesmen on the rubble of a building destroyed on Sunday in an American drone strike against suspected militants in Shabwa Province in southeastern Yemen. 

SANA, Yemen Late last August, a 40-year-old cleric named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber stood up to deliver a speech denouncing Al Qaeda in a village mosque in far eastern Yemen. 

It was a brave gesture by a father of seven who commanded great respect in the community, and it did not go unnoticed. Two days later, three members of Al Qaeda came to the mosque in the tiny village of Khashamir after 9 p.m., saying they merely wanted to talk. Mr. Jaber agreed to meet them, bringing his cousin Waleed Abdullah, a police officer, for protection. 

As the five men stood arguing by a cluster of palm trees, a volley of remotely operated American missiles shot down from the night sky and incinerated them all, along with a camel that was tied up nearby. 

The killing of Mr. Jaber, just the kind of leader most crucial to American efforts to eradicate Al Qaeda, was a reminder of the inherent hazards of the quasi-secret campaign of targeted killings that the United States is waging against suspected militants not just in Yemen but also in Pakistan and Somalia. Individual strikes by the Predator and Reaper drones are almost never discussed publicly by Obama administration officials. But the clandestine war will receive a rare moment of public scrutiny on Thursday, when its chief architect, John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, faces a Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama’s nominee for C.I.A. director.