8 February 2013

Hydro Power Projects Race to Tap the Potential of Brahmaputra River

By Brig (retd) Vinod Anand (Senior Fellow, VIF)


For past many years while China has been in the news for its efforts in exploiting the vast hydro power potential of Yarlung Tsangpo River of Tibet Autonomous Region India has also been attempting to tap the potential of this river known as Brahmaputra in India. 

Recent reports indicate that China has approved the construction of three new hydropower dams on the middle reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo. Work on an older 510 MW hydro project in Zangmu in Tibet had commenced way back in 2010. The capacity of the two new projects coming up at Dagu and Jiacha would be 640 MW and 320 MW respectively while the capacity of the third new dam at Jiexu is yet to be confirmed. These projects have been planned to be completed in China’s 12th Five Year Plan period i.e. 2011-2017. China has, as usual, given the assurances that these are run of the river projects and in no way affect the downstream flows. In addition China has also built at least six smaller projects on tributaries of Tsangpo which again according to the Chinese would not affect waters flowing into India. 

Earlier assertions by China that it has no plans to construct a massive dam at the Great Bend on Tsangpo (at Metog) to divert waters to the arid North have been met with a certain degree of skepticism in India. The proposed project has the potential of providing 38 gigawatts of energy. Chinese engineers have been claiming that technical difficulties in construction of the dam can be overcome. In fact, Yan Zhiyong, the general manager of China Hydropower Engineering Consulting Group stated in May 2010 that "The major technical constraints on damming the Yarlung Tsampo have been overcome." 

According to a well known Chinese science forum, the Great Bend was the ultimate hope for water resource exploitation because it could generate energy equivalent to 100m tonnes of crude coal, or all the oil and gas in the South China Sea. Zhang Boting, the Deputy General Secretary of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering has claimed that such a project will benefit the project by marked reduction in carbon footprints. 

While upper riparian states have an upper hand in controlling the water flows to the downstream states and therefore the lower riparian states usually raise objections to any damming activity upstream it was rather surprising when China raised objections to India’s Siang Upper hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh.

 
Siang is the largest river of Brahamputra river system which originates from Chema Yungdung glacier near Kubi in Tibet. While in Tibet it is known as Tsangpo, and flows in West – East direction, it takes a turn in south direction before entering the Indian territory in Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The river then flows in North – South direction, passes through Upper Siang and East Siang districts of Arunachal Pradesh and is known as Siang River. Further down, the Siang is known as the Brahmaputra. 

UAVs: Dilemmas in the application of air power

By Air Commodore KB Menon, Issue Vol. 28.1 Jan-Mar 2013
08 Feb , 2013 


Various Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Pictured are (front to back, left to right) RQ-11A Raven, Evolution, Dragon Eye, NASA FLIC, Arcturus T-15, Skylark, Tern, RQ-2B Pioneer, and Neptune. 

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is not new and dates back to World War II, when the Germans used a remotely controlled 2300-lb flying bomb steered by a pilot from a mother ship. Since then, UAVs have come a long way and today, a pilot or operator on the ground is able to observe and target a moving vehicle in Pakistan from the other side of the world. The technology has matured and UAVs are proliferating both in number and application. 

After World War II, there was little development in UAV technology and most remotely piloted vehicles were used as manoeuvring targets for training pilots in air combat. The Vietnam War saw the USAF use the Firefly, a small long-range experimental drone for reconnaissance missions but subsequent development was deemed as not ‘cost effective’ and scrapped. Development of UAVs received an impetus when the Israeli Air Force employed the Pioneer drone during the war in Lebanon in 1982. 

Development of UAVs received an impetus when the Israeli Air Force employed the Pioneer drone in Lebanon in 1982… 

The US version of the Pioneer was pushed into action during Operation Desert Storm in February 1990, when helicopters onboard the US Navy battleship, USS Wisconsin, used as airborne spotters for directing gunfire, were replaced by the Pioneer UAV. In one instance, while USS Wisconsin was engaging ground targets on Faybala Island off Kuwait, the pilot of the drone was instructed to fly low over the Iraqi trench line so that the soldiers would know that they were being targeted. The troops heard the distinctive buzz of the Pioneer UAV and realising that they would come under fire, waved white flags to surrender. In this widely publicised incident, this group of Iraqi Republican Guards became the first humans to surrender to a drone. 

'Optimal employment of sophisticated equipment needs high quality manpower'

By Ramananda Sengupta

 08 Feb , 2013 

LCA Tejas 

Group Captain Balakrishna Menon, VM, was commissioned in the old General Duties branch of the Indian Air Force (now known as the Flying Branch) in 1967 as a fighter pilot. He flew Hunters and all variants of the MiG 21 fighter aircraft used by the IAF across the country, before a stint at the Flying Instructor School and a two year posting with an IAF Training Team on deputation to the Iraqi Air Force at Tikrit. He commanded a MiG 21 Bis Squadron (No.15 Squadron), and a flying station at Jaisalmer. 

An MSc in Defence Studies, he has also served as a staff officer to the Chief Of Air Staff at Air Headquarters, New Delhi, and as a staff officer at Training Command. he was commended by the Chief of Air Staff, IAF in 1984, and awarded the Vayu Sena Medal in 1988. After retiring in 1994, he lives in Bangalore and dabbles in military history and Linux software. 

In an exclusive interview with Ramananda Sengupta, he elaborates on the challenges facing the IAF today, and asserts that air shows like Aero India 2013 are important platforms for inspiring and motivating the younger generation to take an interest in defence matters. 

…delays in development of the LCA have meant that as on date we have no LCAs in service while the MiG 21 fleet is on its way out. 

As a fighter pilot with years of experience, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Indian Air Force today? 

U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress,

By Brig TS Gill, Issue Vol. 28.1 Jan-Mar 2013 |
08 Feb , 2013 


Modernisation of the Aviation Arm 

IAF Cheeta at Leh 

As perceived by strategists, future wars are going to be short and intense. This fact is well accepted by military commanders as well. The Corps today has to match up with number of specialised roles in the Tactical Battle Area (TBA). So the flexibility and swift action at all levels will be of great importance to shape the battlefield. Induction of the Advanced Light-utility Helicopters (ALH) is already underway. These helicopters will be of great importance to the field formation commanders. The first squadron of ALH was inducted into Army Aviation in 2002. From then onwards the induction of these helicopters has been a continuous process. However, the medium and heavy-lift helicopters which form the core of the tactical lift capability continue to be with Air Force. 

Army aviation is a very crucial component of army for both war and peacetime operations. Keeping in mind our diverse terrain i.e. mountains, jungles and vast patches of desert, it is important for the field formation commanders to exploit the vertical dimensions of the battlefield to the maximum to have total control over the battlefield. During peacetime it can play a very vital role from the point of homeland security and disaster relief. 

There is no doubt that Army Aviation is going to play an enhanced role in the future… 

Hence it becomes very important for the political leaders and military commanders to look at this arm with more sincerity and urgency so that this arm can shape itself well enough to give it flexibility and mobility whenever required. 

The New Emerging Global Economic Order: Taking the U.S.-India Example

Robert D. Hormats
January 28, 2013


Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs

Agra, India

As prepared for delivery

Thank you for that wonderful greeting. I am honored to accept your invitation to participate in the Partnership 2013 Summit. For me this is an excellent opportunity to learn from so many distinguished women and men from across India and from around the world. To be back in Agra, against the backdrop of one of the great works of art and love of mankind, the Taj Mahal, is a distinct and profound pleasure. I am always happy to be in India. On Saturday, I fulfilled a long held wish, when I was able to witness Republic Day in all of its splendor. It is a remarkable event that I will long remember.

I first came to India as a young man. I traveled the Grand Trunk Road and discovered for myself “incredible India” – long before that term became a common one. My month-long journey on buses and trains – and sometimes on top of buses and trains – was one I have never forgotten. I saw up close and in action this country’s vibrant democracy, and rich, diverse, creative society. I was left with a deep and enduring affection for both India’s people and its indomitable spirit.

It is common knowledge that we are in the midst of an historic realignment in the locus of economic growth and demographics globally. Emerging economies in South and East Asia in particular are making, and are projected to continue to make, historical gains. Some in the developed world may find this threatening. I view the growing regional linkages and rapid economic growth in Asia as an opportunity to expand the economic pie and create additional growth for all.

A New Silk Road linking Central and South Asia as well as an Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor linking the rapidly expanding economies of South and Southeast Asia would help unlock and expand markets for global goods and services. 

I will speak more about regional economic integration on Wednesday, in Delhi. But today I want to focus on the role industrialized countries and emerging economies can play together in the rapidly changing global economic order. 

What China’s Missile Intercept Test Means

By Li Bin 
February 4, 2013 


China recently carried out its second missile intercept test, which U.S. observers may be tempted to interpret as a sign that Beijing is planning to build its own national missile defense system. But before jumping to conclusions, the nature, purpose, and consequences of that test need to be carefully analyzed. 

A January 28 news report from Xinhua News Agency said that “China again carried out a land-based mid-course missile interception test within its territory Sunday.” But the Chinese version of the same statement includes an extra, important word: “China carried out a land-based mid-course missile interception technology test. As a result of the omission, the test may be misunderstood as involving a system meant for deployment. 

It is true that China’s economic capacity has been growing very quickly in recent years, allowing Beijing to do much more than it could before in developing its military strength. Still, there is ample reason to doubt that Beijing has made a decision to develop a national missile defense system. 
The crucial use of the word technology means that China was trying to assess capabilities. In this case, Beijing was likely trying to better understand current U.S. capabilities and how its own compare. 
Testing a Technology Rather Than a System 
China’s first missile intercept test took place on January 11, 2010, and the English version of the statement marking that effort was an accurate translation of the Chinese: “China conducted a test on ground-based mid-course missile interception technology within its territory on Monday” (emphasis added). China’s two tests thus far have focused on developing and understanding missile intercept technology rather than assessing performance of a deployable missile defense system. 

The core technology the United States uses in its missile defense is a kinetic energy technology called “hit to kill” that aims to launch interceptors to collide with incoming missiles. China apparently used this kind of technology in both of its missile intercept tests to date. 
In an intercept test of hit-to-kill technology, the chance of success depends primarily on how the interceptor performs as it homes in on missiles. In a real battle environment, a number of additional factors contribute to the success or failure of the intercept, including the ability of the interceptor to identify the right targets. 

Westward Ho!

February 8, 2013
BY YUN SUN


As America pivots east, China marches in the other direction. 

In November, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Burma, and the first to visit Cambodia. As part of his administration's pivot to Asia, Obama has ratcheted up his diplomacy with the region. Besides Southeast Asia, which is moving closer to the United States at the cost of its relationship with China, Obama has also re-emphasized his security relationship with China's rival Japan. But as the United States pivots out of the Middle East and Afghanistan and into East Asia, Beijing is debating a pivot of its own: a grand strategic proposal to shift its attention from East Asia and rebalance its geographical priority westward to Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. 

The strategy, called "Marching West," was recently articulated by Wang Jisi, dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University and one of China's most important strategic thinkers, in an October article in the Global Times newspaper. The proposal has passed the stage of academic research, and the front-runners of Beijing's foreign-policy apparatus have been mobilized to study feasibility, implementation, and potential reactions. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China's most prominent think tank, will be holding an internal conference to study Marching West, according to a Beijing-based scholar. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing is quietly investigating Marching West, according to several people who spoke with U.S. officials about the strategy. 

The End of the Latin American Left

BY ALVARO VARGAS LLOSA
FEBRUARY 7, 2013 


Will Hugo Chávez's revolution die with him? 

The exact condition of Hugo Chávez continues to be a Churchillian riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The Venezuelan president, who won his third reelection last October and has been hospitalized in Cuba for many weeks with cancer, missed his own inauguration in January. In his absence, Vice President Nicolás Maduro, Chávez's hand-picked successor, has been left in charge of the government indefinitely. But Maduro is no Chávez, lacking both the charisma and the power base of Venezuela's mercurial leader. And it's not just a problem for the chattering classes in Caracas: The question haunting the Latin American hard left, which Chávez has dominated in the last decade, is who will take his place. 

In explaining the rise of the political left in Latin America over the past decade, Chávez's persona looms large. Politicians like Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Chávez for laying the groundwork toward a renewed form of populism, Latin America's version of socialism. Chávez's illness has only served to highlight that debt. "The issue of the health of brother Chávez is a problem and a worry not just of Venezuela, but of all the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist people," Morales said in January, speaking from behind a podium reading, "We Are All Chávez." But Chávez's charisma and ruthless political genius fail to explain why he has been able to achieve such regional clout. Through a canny use of petrodollars, subsidies to political allies, and well-timed investments, Chávez has underwritten his Bolivarian revolution with cash -- and lots of it. But that effective constellation of money and charisma has now come out of alignment, leaving a power vacuum that will be difficult for Chávez's political heirs across the hemisphere to fill. 

Several Latin American leaders would like to succeed him, but no one meets the necessary conditions: Cuba's blessing, a fat wallet, a country that carries enough demographic, political and economic weight, potent charisma, a willingness to take almost limitless risks, and sufficient autocratic control to allow him or her to devote major time to permanent revolution away from home. 

The Other Resource Curse

BY MICHAEL LEVI
FEBRUARY 7, 2013 


Moving away from fossil fuels could be devastating for some of the world's poorest countries. 

For as long as people have talked about moving beyond fossil fuels, another tantalizing prospect has hovered over the horizon: the decline of resource-rich authoritarian countries and the rogue nonstate actors that depend on them. A world of reduced demand for coal, oil, and gas is a world in which Iran, Russia, and various al Qaeda supporters are significantly weakened. That would certainly qualify as good news. 

But visiting Mozambique last week, I was reminded that not all of the losers from lower fossil-fuel demand will be the traditional bad guys. Mozambique's economy has tripled in size in the decade since the end of the country's 15-year-long civil war, but GDP per capita remains barely over $1,000 a head -- and highly concentrated among relatively wealthy elites. Leaders in Maputo, the capital, relied on international aid for 40 percent of the national budget last year. 

But an end is in sight: Massive coal deposits and offshore natural gas are poised to end Mozambique's aid dependence and rapidly increase economic output. The most bullish projections are far from assured -- Mozambique suffers from a lack of skilled labor, regulatory capacity, and essential infrastructure. But perhaps the biggest unknown is demand for what the country hopes to sell. If the world were to sharply reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, appetite for Mozambique's exports would decline or vanish, likely leaving the country in considerably worse shape. 

Significant Cyber Events

By James Andrew Lewis
Feb 6, 2013


A list of significant cyber events since 2006. 

Last modified on February 6, 2013. 
Programs 

Topics 




Twitter Devolutions

BY MARC LYNCH
FEBRUARY 7, 2013 


How social media is hurting the Arab Spring. 

Tahrir Square launched a thousand dissertations on how social media drove the frenetic mobilization of the Arab Spring. Egyptian activists may rage at the notion that the revolution was driven by technology rather than by their determined efforts, but there's a good case to be made that social media did matter -- at least a bit -- in shaping the uprisings across the Arab world. But the celebratory narrative about social media needs to be tempered by the reality of the struggles that have befallen most of these countries in transition. Whether or not Twitter made the Arab revolutions, is it now helping to kill them? 

Don't get me wrong -- I love Twitter (that's me at @abuaardvark). I rely on it for information and the unfiltered opinions of hundreds of Arab citizens every day, and I've written often about how new media forms affect politics -- for good or for ill. The relentless spread of Internet access and social media use represents a genuine structural transformation in how political information flows in the Arab world, and it is only becoming more powerful as millions more Arab citizens come online. But if we take seriously social media's role in the revolutions, how can we avoid asking tough questions about how it might have affected their aftermath? 

It's easy to understand why so many people saw "Facebook revolutions" and "Twitter revolutions" during the Iranian uprising of 2009 and the Arab uprisings of 2011. The outsized role of online activists, the reliance of many outsiders on Twitter for instant updates, and the undeniable immediacy of online information proved irresistible to academics and journalists alike. Casual observers felt an unprecedented connection with the activists they followed on Twitter. Meanwhile, academics had a multitude of good reasons to believe that new media forms were enabling radically new forms of political organization and communication that just had to matter. And it did! The effects of social media in facilitating opposition organization and shaping the coverage of protests in the mainstream media may have been at the margins. But much of politics is often waged in those margins. 

Can Social Media Disarm Syria’s Chemical Arsenal?

Feb 8, 2013
By Eli Lake

When a bombing knocked out top Assad officials, Western intelligence agencies scrambled to find those left holding the deadly stash. Their tools: Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and more. 



If you are a Syrian military officer in charge of some nasty chemical weapons, you’ve probably been friended or Skyped by the U.S. government. The message is simple: think twice before using or selling that mustard gas you are guarding. 

A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his weapon in the Saif al-Dawlah neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, in January. Social media are being used to investigate the country’s chemical arsenal. (Andoni Lubaki/AP) 

On July 18, when a suicide bomber struck a meeting of Syria’s security cabinet, killing the defense minister and President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law, it was a major victory for Syria’s opposition. But it was also a cause for serious alarm at the Pentagon. 

In public, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned what was left of the regime’s leadership to protect the state’s large stockpile of chemical weapons. Privately, the U.S. intelligence community began to worry that the Syrian officials known to have the ability to authorize the use of that arsenal were now dead or gravely injured. 

A scramble then ensued: who were the midlevel officers in charge of the Syrian Air Force and Army units that controlled the stocks of sarin and mustard gas the Assad regime had been compiling for decades? And who was now running the Scud missiles and bombers that would be deployed to use these chemical weapons? According to current and retired U.S. and Western intelligence and defense officials, U.S. analysts began to hunt for email addresses, Twitter handles, Facebook accounts, phone numbers, and Skype contacts for those midlevel Syrian officers. The information was then used to deliver a pointed message: the U.S. government knows who you are, and there will be consequences if you use or transfer chemical weapons. 

Silicon China

By Clyde Prestowitz 
February 7, 2013 


America prides itself on technological and innovation leadership and subconsciously assumes it will always be number one because such leadership is uniquely American. 

Well, maybe America should guess again, according to a survey by KPMG Consulting. The global questionnaire of 668 top executives worldwide concluded that China will surpass Silicon Valley in high-tech innovation by 2016. That means that in three years we'll be saying goodbye Google, goodbye Facebook, goodbye Apple and hello Huawei, hello Baidu, and hello names you've never heard of. 

I'm always a bit skeptical of these kinds of surveys, particularly because there is always a kind of favor the underdog sentiment that expresses itself in responses to the questionnaire. America and Silicon Valley have been on top so long and have bragged about being on top so long that there is a longing in much of the world to see them knocked down a peg or two. Still, I don't think Silicon Valley is going to blow away in the next three years. 

Nevertheless, the weakness of the United States is that it constantly underestimates the efforts and capabilities of its competitors. This means there will be surprises because China is making tremendous efforts and has tremendous talents. Over the past twenty years, its investment in R&D has doubled from .73 percent of GDP to 1.77 percent and the plan is to reach the European level of 2.5 percent by 2020. Just in the past decade, the volume of Chinese investment in R&D has grown by more than 600 percent, according to Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Professor Marc Laperrouza of the Evian Group at IMD, HEC, the University of Lausanne, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. As a result, they say, China will soon go from being the world's biggest factory to being its biggest laboratory. 

The Friend Zone

BY JEFFREY LEWIS

FEBRUARY 7, 2013 

No, Mr. President, it's not OK if our allies get nuclear weapons. 

Barry O. is going to talk about nuclear weapons again. Someone sober up the Nobel Peace Prize committee. 

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference -- think of it as Davos for people who love armored formations -- Vice President Joe Biden indicated that the president would use the forthcoming State of the Union address to advance "a comprehensive nuclear agenda to strengthen the nonproliferation regime, reduce global stockpiles, and secure nuclear materials." 

The trope of Joe Biden indulging in all manner of low-class pleasures is now firmly established thanks to the tireless efforts of the Onion. I couldn't read that passage of his speech without imagining Biden riling up the crowd before some especially awful hair metal band takes the stage: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME BARACK OBAMA? I CAN'T HEAR YOU! 

Obama will say all the right things, of course. He'll probably declare victory on his campaign promise to secure all vulnerable fissile material during his first term. He may call on the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. If he's feeling it, he may threaten to take negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material out of the deadlocked Conference on Disarmament. Finally, he might also say a few words about the administration's increasingly poorly named 90-day Nuclear Posture Review Implementation Study, which the administration started in the summer of 2011. 

Slowest growth in decade forecast

By JAYANTA ROY CHOWDHURY 
07 Feb 2013
The bad news and the great news 


New Delhi, Feb. 7: India’s economic slowdown is a lot worse than what everyone has projected until now. 

The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) today forecast that the economy would grow by a tepid 5 per cent in the ongoing 2012-13 financial year  the slowest in a decade  deepening concerns about the economic drift that set in about 18 months ago. 

The stuttering economy will put greater pressure on the UPA government to adopt tougher and more unpopular decisions to step up the pace of reforms and slash subsidies. The economy had grown 6.2 per cent in 2011-12. 

Nine days ago, the RBI had trimmed its baseline projection of GDP growth in the current year to 5.5 per cent from 5.8 per cent made earlier. Most forecasters have been projecting a growth of 5.5 per cent. 

The CSO’s note indicates that there are big worries in almost all segments of the economy: 

Agriculture growth is projected to tumble to 1.8 per cent from 3.6 per cent in the previous year. 

Manufacturing will trundle along at 1.9 per cent (2.7 per cent last year). 

The services sector won’t see the sort of robust growth it has shown in earlier years. 

The CSO dices up the services sector into three segments: financing, insurance, real estate and business services are projected to grow at 8.6 per cent against 11.7 per cent last year. Trade, hotels, transport and communication will see growth slow to 5.2 per cent from 7 per cent a year ago. Only community, social and personal services will grow faster at 6.8 per cent versus 6 per cent a year ago. 

Finance minister P. Chidambaram will be able to use the CSO forecast in his attempt to quell demands from Congress colleagues and UPA coalition’s allies for a populist budget later this month. They contend that it would be politically suicidal to anger voters ahead of next year’s general elections. 

Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan

By Joel Brinkley
07 Feb 2013


More than half of Afghanistan’s population is under twenty-five, which shouldn’t be surprising since the average life span there is forty-nine. But the United States Agency for International Development looked at this group and decided it needed help because, it said, these young people are “disenfranchised, unskilled, uneducated, neglected—and most susceptible to joining the insurgency.” So the agency chartered a three-year, $50 million program intended to train members of this generation to become productive members of Afghan society. Two years into it, the agency’s inspector general had a look at the work thus far and found “little evidence that the project has made progress toward” its goals.

The full report offered a darker picture than this euphemistic summary, documenting a near-total failure. It also showed that USAID had handed the project over to a contractor and then paid little attention. Unfortunately, the same can be said for almost every foreign-aid project undertaken in Afghanistan since the war began eleven years ago.

In a recent quarterly report, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said that, when security for aid workers is figured in, the total amount of nonmilitary funds Washington has appropriated since 2002 “is approximately $100 billion”—more than the US has ever spent to rebuild a country. That estimate came out in July. Since then, Congress has appropriated another $16.5 billion for “reconstruction.” And all of that has not bought the United States or the Afghans a single sustainable institution or program.

What has all that spending accomplished? “The short answer is not so much,” said Masood Farivar, a senior Afghan journalist. Or, as the International Crisis Group put it, “despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security.”

Pak. policy makers do some soul searching on Kashmir


February 7, 2013
Anita Joshua 

Two days after Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed nationwide, Pakistan’s Kashmir policy came in for considerable criticism from various politicians and foreign policy wonks with some admitting to a fatigue in the nation’s diplomacy. 

There was near unanimity on ‘The Kashmir Issue’  organised by the Foreign Office-backed Institute of Strategic Studies  about the harm done to the policy by former President Pervez Musharraf, particularly the Kargil War and the decision to look for a solution outside the U.N. resolutions. 

According to Khurram Dastgir Khan of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)  a party that has several Kashmiri-origin people in its leadership  Pakistan’s diplomacy seems to have developed fatigue on Kashmir. “There is no fresh thinking.” And, after the 9/11 attacks and the attack on Indian Parliament, Kashmir has not found much sympathy within the international community which “seems tired of us when we mention Kashmir”. Saying his party favoured improving relations with India, Mr. Dastgir said all outstanding issues ought to be addressed simultaneously. 

Further, the best way to get the international community to engage with the issue would be by highlighting the ‘human rights violations’ by India — be it the abuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA); the misuse of the Public Safety Act; censorship in the Valley or the mass graves. 

Second class citizens 

Awami National Party’s Haji Adeel set the cat among the pigeons by asking why anyone would want to merge with Pakistan when fundamentalists are killing people with impunity; people of Balochistan want to break away and industries are shifting to Bangladesh. 

“What about Hindus and Buddhists of Jammu & Kashmir? Would they want to come to a country where they would be second class citizens as the Constitution does not allow non-Muslims to become the President or Prime Minister,” he asked. 

4-nation gas pipeline plan gets fresh push

New Delhi, February 7

Tribune News Service 
  • Cabinet nod to special purpose vehicle to speed up
  • Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India project 
Aiming to speed up implementation of the ambitious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline, the Union Cabinet today approved the setting up of a special purpose vehicle to build the 1,680-km pipeline that terminates at Fazilka in Punjab.

Aiming to speed up implementation of the ambitious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline, the Union Cabinet today approved the setting up of a special purpose vehicle to build the 1,680-km pipeline that terminates at Fazilka in Punjab.

Tapi Ltd, the Dubai-based SPV, would undertake the feasibility study and design work for the pipeline, hunt for a consortium leader to build the $ 9 billion project, operate it, arrange for finances and work to ensure safe delivery of gas. 

At the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the SPV was given the go-ahead and permitted Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) to join it as India's representative.

It was announced officially that TAPI Ltd initially requires $ 20 million contribution, with each of the four participating countries funding $ 5 million. GAIL being a Navratna Company, is empowered to make an investment of this level for India.

TAPI Ltd is being formed for the project as multinational corporations are unwilling to participate in the project without a share in Turkmenistan's rich gas fields. The project had got stuck since India was not agreeable to the suggestion by the other three that each country build the pipeline on its own and operate it.

The Island Fight Nobody Wants

By Robert Keatley ,The National Interest

February 7, 2013 

Probably nothing could be more damaging to the economies and general tranquility of China and Japan and the region than hostilities between them. Yet, spurred by intense and persistent nationalism, the two nations have been drifting toward at least sporadic confrontation with a mindless determination that sometimes belies rational judgment. The immediate cause: rival claims to own eight rocky isles, largely ignored for centuries but now thought to be surrounded by extensive oil and gas reserves deep beneath the sea. 


Fortunately, the chances of intentional war are exceedingly slim. The two countries are headed by intelligent men who know full well what the costs of combat would be. And both sides realize that serious fighting could not possibly settle the ownership issue or create the peaceful international atmosphere the two nations must have for economic growth and domestic stability. In fact, both have made conciliatory gestures; most recently, Tokyo sent the leader of a member party of its ruling coalition for serious but relatively informal talks which produced hints that a summit meeting may ensue. To date, however, a way out of the dilemma is not obvious and the possibility that some accidental gunfire could get out of control remains high. 

The uninhabited East China Sea islands in question, called the Diaoyus by China and the Senkakus by Japan, are located some two hundred miles off the Chinese coast north of Taiwan. Japan has claimed ownership since 1895 and, unlike Taiwan and other islands acquired in that year, did not turn them over to the then recognized Nationalist government of China when World War II ended. (Separately, the current Taiwan government also claims them.) To complicate matters and increase the dangers involved, Washington remains officially neutral on the sovereignty question but for the time being considers them territory it is obliged to defend under the U.S.-Japan mutual-security treaty. 

South Korea’s Youth: Fearless or Bored?

By Joel Brinkley 

North Korea’s threat has dominated life in the South for two generations. But South Korea’s youth now dismiss that threat and say the US footprint should shrink. 

What has all that spending accomplished? “The short answer is not so much,” said Masood Farivar, a senior Afghan journalist. Or, as the International Crisis Group put it, “despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security.” 

So, has the United States utterly wasted more than $100 billion? Karl Eikenberry, former US ambassador and military commander in Afghanistan, notes that the state has more roads and schools than ever before. More people in Kabul have electricity. “There have been impressive gains in education and health,” Eikenberry said. “Transportation in Afghanistan is better than at any time in history.” 

All of that is true, although these gains were achieved starting from “an extremely low base,” as the World Bank put it. In fact, when the United States invaded in 2001, the nation was destitute, its population almost totally illiterate, and Kabul, its capital, largely a collection of mud huts. By almost any measure, Afghanistan was—and may still be—the most primitive nation on earth. 

After all the money spent, still today, the CIA says, Afghanistan has the world’s highest infant mortality rate; one hundred and twenty-two of every thousand children die before they reach age one. UNICEF reports that fifty-nine percent of the nation’s children grow up “stunted” for lack of nutrition during the early years of life. That’s the world’s second-worst rate, behind Ethiopia. And even after more than a decade of intensive development aid from not only the United States but dozens of other nations, Afghanistan still ranks near the bottom on per capita income, literacy, life expectancy, electricity usage, Internet penetration, and on the World Bank’s broad Human Development Index. 

Fighting al Qaeda in the Post-bin Laden Era

By Aki Peritz
February 5, 2013


Aki Peritz is the senior policy advisor for national security at Third Way. 

It's welcome news to hear French and Malian troops have almost fully liberated northern Mali from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, and the other jihadists who turned much of the country into a neo-Taliban state. Let's take this opportunity to reflect on how to wage war against al Qaeda in the post-Osama bin Laden era. 

1. Let our allies shoulder the security burden. For more than a decade, the United States has led the world's efforts to crush al Qaeda. But let's be honest: The United States has little experience in the vast, lawless Sahel, despite the much-ballyhooed stand-up of the Pentagon's Africa Command a few years ago. America's knowledge of the region remains sparse—chances are you can probably count the number of Bambara or Tuareg speakers in the U.S. government on one hand, if you lop off a few fingers. 

Other allies most notably France, but also Great Britain know more about the region, the turf, and locals than we ever will. And remember: French and Malian soldiers are doing the fighting, the killing, and the dying. So in this fight, America should support them and provide them with assistance: reconnaissance drones, advanced munitions, refueling capacity, intelligence support you name it. 

They certainly need it. In this hot war, Paris has struggled to move men and materiel to the front lines. And Mali's army is beset by numerous problems. But let's not criticize our allies; now is the time to help them. After all, if we can hammer another nail into the coffin of an al Qaeda franchise, it's certainly worth leasing France a few more C-17s. 

America in Strategic Retreat from the Middle East

February 7, 2013

By Riad Kahwaji & Theodore Karasik

Tension is high throughout the Greater Middle East region starting from Mauritania in North Africa all the way to Pakistan with terrorist attacks, uprisings and wars breaking out in various parts. There has never been a period in recent history where this region was so volatile. One might say it is nothing new to the troubled region. However, there are new factors that make this period different than what it was over the past decades. The most important one is the diminished role for the United States. 

Looking closely at the situation in this region, starting with North Africa, the U.S. is hardly present in the most important battle on Al-Qaeda in Al-Maghreb with France leading the way in flushing the radical Islamic fighters from Mali. In the Levant, namely in Syria, Washington has rejected all calls for either intervention or assisting the rebels in their fight against an Iranian-backed regime, and has remained idle watching radical Islamic groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda establish a foothold in a highly strategic place like Syria. What is more astonishing to many observers is to see the Russian Navy move in full strength off the Syrian coastline conducting maneuvers and supplying arms to the Syrian regime. Even the Patriot missiles deployed under a NATO umbrella along the Turkish-Syrian borders are mostly supplied by European countries - Germany and the Netherlands. In the Arabian Gulf region the size of the U.S. fleet was reduced with the withdrawal of two aircraft carrier strike forces. Finally in Afghanistan the United States will soon start the drawdown of its forces that will lead for their full withdrawal by end of 2014. 

As debate rages in the United States on sequestration - that could lead to $600-billion in defense budget cuts - observers in the Middle East wonder about the possible effect of this on the U.S. footprint in the region. U.S. allies in the region worry further when they hear American officials talk about their new priorities shifting towards Asia and the intention to reduce involvement in the Middle East. Significantly, this will feed into the Iranian propaganda that the United States is a fading power and Tehran will be the new rising dominant power in the region. Overall, Iran is likely to be very happy and deem the Islamic Republic's multi-year strategy of removing the U.S. from the region as a success, giving Tehran a needed boost as Syria falls into political chaos. For many years, the administration of President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, repeatedly called for the U.S. to leave the region, specifically the Gulf, and allow the countries of the region to guarantee their own security and to create a new Gulf security architecture minus America. 

The Coming War in the Middle East

February 6, 2013 
By Lieutenant Colonel Joel Rayburn


Photo credit: Austen Hufford 

Imagine a sectarian conflagration, fueled by Al Qaeda, raging across the Fertile Crescent.

In the days of the Ottoman Empire, British diplomats referred to the Arabic-speaking territories of the empire as “Turkish Arabia.” It was these Arabic-speaking lands that Britain and France, in the aftermath of the First World War, divided into the modern Arab states we know today: Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Those arbitrary colonial boundaries have endured for the better part of a century, but the people within them have never fully acknowledged the legitimacy of the lines that British and French officials drew for them. 

Tribal confederations that span the borders, adjacent river towns, minority co-religionist communities in these places, people have continued to live as they had done for centuries, intermarrying, trading, fighting, and migrating with light regard for the political borders of the states in which, by an accident of history, they happened to be residing. It is for this reason that political and social developments in one part of the former “Turkish Arabia” can spread so quickly to another, as they have done at key points in modern Arab history such as the revolutionary year of 1958. 

Today, Turkish Arabia is at another such point in its history, as political forces unleashed in one region are spreading to others. The revolt that began in Syria in early 2011—itself inspired by events elsewhere in the Arab world—is on the verge of becoming a sectarian war spanning the entirety of Turkish Arabia. The most powerful of the Syrian revolutionary forces, the Nusrah Front, has been formed around a core of what we have previously known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent and terrorist organization once led by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Will it Happen?

By James Parker 

February 8, 2013 

In the future, economic and diplomatic historians could look back at the current negotiations underway between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam as a pivotal point in history. On the other hand, the negotiations could end up bogged down in national interests and “red lines”, leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the legacy of being yet another failed attempt to expand freer trade between nations. 

The TPP is the proposed inheriting organization of the original Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP) between founding members Chile, New Zealand, Singapore and later Brunei. Much as the European Economic Community (EEC) grew out of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and into the European Union (EU) and now the Eurozone (EZ), proponents of the TPP hope that if the negotiations are successful, then the organization can provide both an economic and strategic boost to likeminded nations, although nobody so far is suggesting political integration on the scale seen in Europe. So far all members and negotiators for the TPP are also Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members.

For President Obama, the TPP is clearly a strategic issue to both compliment and augment his administration’s “pivot” to Asia. The pivot is controversial in China and elsewhere because it is a bit vague and has left many guessing as to its significance, purpose and process. China perhaps correctly sees it as an attempt to form a containing alliance aimed at Beijing’s growing economic power and international assertiveness. Whether the U.S. is trying to “hedge” against China’s equally ambiguous rise, or genuinely contain it, or whether the TPP is an attempt to put economics front and center of U.S. – Asia relations (rather than strategic issues) are questions that must be left for the future. For now, both the U.S., through former Secretary of State Clinton, and Singapore, through Prime Minister Lee, have openly invited China to join. 

The Warrior King

BY MICAH ZENKO
FEBRUARY 6, 2013 

Isn't this an awful lot of war for President 'Peace in Our Time'? 

During his second inaugural address, President Obama offered two aspirational statements that struck many observers as incongruous with administration policies: "A decade of war is now ending" and "We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war." We should question these observations, not least because of the string of U.S. government plans and activities that increasingly blur the conventional definition of war. 

My own list of war-like activities since Obama's inaugural would include: four drone strikes that killed 16 people (all in Yemen); the acknowledgement by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta regarding drones, "We've done that in Pakistan. We're doing it in Yemen and elsewhere. I think the reality is its going to be a continuing tool of national defense in the future"; the announcement that the U.S. military would provide intelligence, transportation, and refueling support for the French intervention in Mali; the signing of a U.S.-Niger status of forces agreement that will likely include a drone base for surveillance missions, although U.S. officials "have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point"; the forthcoming expansion (perhaps quintupling) of U.S. Cyber Command, including "combat mission forces" for offensive cyberattacks; the executive branch's secret legal review determining that Obama "has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad"; the Marine commandant's announcement of a new "crisis response unit" that would be "rapidly employable" to "address crises"; and the revelation that the United States is negotiating to purchase the Sheraton Hotel in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, to house the growing number of embassy staff, troops, and contractors who implement U.S. security force assistance and counterterrorism operations in that country. (For other examples, see the interesting End of War Timeline that Jack Goldsmith and Lawfare created.) 

U.S. Increases Pressure of Economic War on Tehran

February 6, 2013 

By THOMAS ERDBRINK and DAVID E. SANGER

TEHRAN-All over this city of 12 million people, high-rises are under construction, local engineers and Chinese contractors are rushing to finish a multilevel highway, and the streets are lined with billboards promoting the latest tablets and washing machines made by South Korean companies like Samsung and LG. Supermarkets are fully stocked, and it seems as if new restaurants and fast food joints are opening up every day, and never lacking for customers. 

In short, you would not know that oil exports from Iran have dropped by a million barrels a day, and that the free fall in the currency has caused huge inflation — a result of American- and European-led sanctions as well as economic mismanagement by the Iranian government. The West escalated the economic war another notch on Wednesday, imposing a new set of restrictions intended to force Iran into what amounts to a form of barter trade for oil, because payments for oil deliveries can no longer be sent to accounts inside Iran. 

A senior Obama administration official called the latest step “a significant turning of the screw,” repeating the administration’s four-year argument that the mullahs here face a “stark choice” between holding on to their nuclear program or reviving their oil revenue, the country’s economic lifeblood. 

But there is little confidence among American officials in Washington  and little evidence on the streets of Tehran that even newly stringent sanctions have much chance of forcing Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, into striking the deal that most Americans and Europeans, and even some Israelis, say could defuse the crisis. 

The sanctions, while the source of constant complaint and morbid jokes, have not set off price riots or serious opposition to the Iranian government. In fact, the past year has not been all that bad, as Saeed Ranchian, 39, a shopkeeper peddling perfumes in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, said the other day while he was sipping tea and as droves of shoppers strolled by on newly paved sidewalks. Surrounded by colognes with elaborate foreign names like Le Chevalier Primero, Mr. Ranchian admitted that with prices doubling and Iran’s currency crashing, “you would expect people to buy less.” 

The State of Global Jihad Online

By Aaron Y. Zelin,New America Foundation 

February 2013 

An in-depth analysis of past and present chatter on prominent jihadist internet forums, including its implications for extremist ideological penetration in the West. 

More than eleven years after the 9/11 attacks and nearly a decade since the rise of popular online jihadist internet forums, there is strikingly little empirical research on the manner in which jihadist activists use the web to propagate their cause. Whereas researchers and policy analysts have systematically collected and analyzed the primary source material produced by al-Qaeda and its allies, very little work has been done on the conduits through which that information is distributed -- and even to what extent anyone is accessing that propaganda other than counterterrorism analysts. 

As William McCants asserted during December 2011 testimony before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, "There is little research to go on, which is striking given how data-rich the internet is. In hard numbers, how widely distributed was Zawahiri's last message? Did it resonate more in one U.S. city than another? Who were its main distributors on Facebook and YouTube? How are they connected with one another? This sort of baseline quantitative research barely exists at the moment." 

This paper begins to fill that gap. First, it quantifies the use of English-language jihadist forums, which rose in prominence with the emergence of American-born Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki within the jihadist propaganda enterprise. Second, it measures the use of Twitter by online jihadists. Third, it assesses the most prominent English-language forums, the English sections within prominent Arabic jihadist forums, how the English forums compare to the Arabic forums, and the current status of the nascent rise in Twitter activism. 

Read the author's recent Foreign Policy article on this subject, or download the PDF to read the full report.

The Superpower Takes a Breather

By MICHAEL J. TOTTEN
05 Feb 2013

American power hasn't evaporated. Americans just don't feel like using it at this particular second.

France just smashed al Qaeda in Mali with little more than moral support from the United States. Washington didn't even lead from behind. Americans did not lead at all. This time we sat on the sidelines while France France! led and did everything from the front. 

Last winter the entire northern part of the northwest African country was seized by Ansar al-Dine and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, who together transformed it into a Taliban-style terrorist state. The famous ancient trading city of Timbuktu long a mecca for adventurous tourists and the host of an annual international music festival became a grotesque, hand-chopping tyranny that hemorrhaged violence and refugees. 

The international community dithered for almost a year, as if an al Qaeda state isn't all that big a deal. But when the Islamists began expanding south toward the capital and took the city of Gao, France dispatched its war planes and ground troops and threw the bad guys out in a matter of weeks. Its fighter jets are currently pounding terrorist camps deep in the Sahara near the Algerian border. 

President François Hollande visited Timbuktu over the weekend and was hailed as a liberator by throngs of residents, including imams, yelling "Vive la France!" 

The French sure have come a long way from the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" of yesteryear. A Canadian friend and colleague who wholeheartedly approves of what happened now jokingly refers to Americans as "burger-eating surrender monkeys." 

Of course, Americans didn't actually surrender to anyone. We were hardly even involved in Mali. And it's not, as some love to think, because the world has become post-American. The U.S. remains the only country on earth that can project massive amounts of power for an extended period of time anywhere on the planet. The superpower is simply taking a breather. The fact that most of us, Democrat and Republican alike, feel like taking a break from it all doesn't mean we're flat on our collective back like Russia when the Soviet Union imploded. 

Dark side of the moon


February 8, 2013
By  Seema Sirohi 

AP/New York Times A U.S. soldier sitting on an Iraqi detainee sandwiched between two stretchers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq. 

The CIA's extraordinary rendition programme, detailed in a recent report, helped the spread of terrorism rather than contain it 

The title “Globalizing Torture” is arresting and the 216 pages that follow are a chilling account of the CIA’s secret means and methods of fighting the war on terror  almost always extralegal but supported by more than a quarter of the world’s nations. The report by the New York-based Open Society Foundations released on February 5 is the most comprehensive compilation yet of abuses associated with CIA operations. In excruciating detail, it lists the torture techniques and the language of euphemisms created to blunt the effect  torture, for instance, becomes ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. And the meaning of rendition stands forever changed from one of interpreting music or art to picking up suspects and depositing them in dark cells in faraway prisons.

A total of 54 countries made up the vast network used by the CIA to pluck suspects, bundle them on to chartered planes and “render” them to secret prisons around the world for harsh questioning and, often, torture. From Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt  where many suspects were found  to a surprising number of European countries, the web of “black sites” spreads far and wide. Sweden, Finland, Italy, Germany, Britain, Denmark and even Iceland signed up in that post 9/11 ‘today-we-are-all-Americans’ moment.

Time to Change the Rules of the Cyber-Security Game

By Irving Lachow, TIME
Feb. 07, 2013


Getty Images 

Cyber criminals and spies are breaking into companies and government agencies on a daily basis. 

The last few days have highlighted yet another series of such cyber-crimes, this time against the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. 

Such incidents are going to continue until something fundamentally changes. 

Cyber security incentives are badly misaligned. Ultimately, cyber security is about people. We cannot hope to improve the current situation without some consideration of the factors that underlie human behavior. 

Cyber criminals can make millions of dollars with little effort, while defenders can spend millions of dollars and have little to show for it. As a result, criminals are highly-motivated and dynamic, while defenders are often frustrated or resigned to following checklists of industry best-practices that have limited value against sophisticated adversaries. 

Reversing these incentives requires changing the cost-benefit calculations for both parties — by raising the costs for attackers, and increasing the benefits for defenders. 

Progress in three key areas can help change that calculus and realign incentives: technical solutions, legal frameworks and international relations. 

Technical solutions can help change the cost-benefit equation. 

Why Our Drone Warfare Campaign Is Right and Moral

By Mark McKinnon 
Feb 7, 2013 


The Obama administration is making hard decisions on its drone warfare program, but it is making correct ones, says Mark McKinnon. 
War is often about making the least-worst decision. The same could be said about politics. But the stakes are higher in war, when the commander in chief is called upon to defend the nation. And make no mistake, al Qaeda is at war with us still. That is why I support the Obama administration’s policy on the use of unmanned drones to kill terrorists even if those terrorists are U.S. citizens—even as I, like many Americans, find myself conflicted about its morality.

Anti-war protesters display an effigy of a attack drone in a demonstration in front of the White House in March 2011. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty) 

I will not argue about the hypocrisy of an administration that supports drone attacks on American citizens at war with us while calling for trials in the U.S. court system of captured foreign enemy combatants. And I will not dwell on the shocking silence of the media who would be “up in arms” if the Bush administration took a similar position. Nor will I linger on the likelihood that a presidential candidate Obama would not have supported the policy. 

Instead I will argue that there is a rational and a moral case for the use of drone strikes—in general. 

From a totally American perspective, I can think of three justifications. Drone strikes are less costly in terms of dollars. And budgets, we are told, are moral documents. So less money spent on war can go toward human needs, in education, in health care, even in foreign aid. 

Second, drone strikes are less costly in terms of lives lost. In a drone warfare world, there is no GI returning with posttraumatic stress, none back with limbs missing. It means less of the kind of knocks on the door that every mother or father or husband or wife who has someone serving overseas dreads. And the technology of precision strikes means that fewer innocent lives are lost among foreign populations living near the field of battle. 

Which leads me to my third justification—that drone strikes are less costly in terms of objections in the court of public opinion. Insulated by technology, the strikes appear to us—and more important, to those around the world—on our TV screens as little more than a scene from 24. 

And I believe there is also a moral case for the use of drone strikes in many of the specific cases we have heard about, including that of American-born terrorists like Anwar al-Awlaki. By declaring himself an enemy of the state, calling for a violent jihad against the United States, I believe he ceded his rights to the protections of our legal system. 

Drone strikes are less costly in terms of objections in the court of public opinion. Insulated by technology, the strikes appear to us and more importantly, to those around the world on our TV screens as little more than a scene from 24.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born terrorist killed by a drone, speaks in a video message posted on radical websites. (Site Intelligence Group, via AP ) 


While drone attacks fit within the view that America has a role to play in making the world a safer place for democracy, I believe there is also a moral case against the use of drone strikes. Drone attacks subvert the rule of law—we become judge, jury, and executioner—at the push of a button. This seems an acceptable risk right now, when the technology for drone strikes is ours, not the enemy’s. And when those strikes have not occurred on American soil. When that changes, so too do the arguments. 

I would not wish this authority on a moral man—or an immoral man, for different reasons. But terror in the guise of nonstate actors creates terrifying new realities. And so we should have this debate as a nation.