10 February 2013

Roger That

By S.N.M. Abdi


Intel agencies blast Gen Malik’s comments, say army goofed up 

Pak soldiers (or mujahideen?) in Kargil during the war, June ’99 

Retired Pakistani Lt Gen Shahid Aziz’s revelations about the Kargil war and his swipes at General Pervez Musharraf have not found too much traction in the Indian intelligence community. On the issue of LoC-specific intelligence, though, both RAW and IB officers insist that it is the army’s responsibility and civilian spy agencies cannot be blamed for the former’s failures during the Kargil conflict or today. “Shahid Aziz seems to have a problem with Musharraf. Maybe Musharraf didn’t let Aziz become ISI chief; he’s sniping because he has a grouse,” then IB director Shyamal Dutta told Outlook. “Anything is possible in Pak­is­tan. Apart from giving media interviews, Aziz has also written a book in Urdu which is unintelligible to me. So I’m not even aware of his full agenda.” 

Dutta, who headed IB from April 1998 to May 2001, says Aziz’s disclosures are irrelevant today. “How does it matter whether the Pakistani intruders in Kargil in 1999 were army regulars or mujahideen? We drove them back. Period. The intrusion obviously violated the Lahore peace pact—we don’t need Aziz to tell us that! Neither is India really keen to know how many generals Musharraf took into confidence 13-14 years ago...it’s history. And to be honest, whether Musharraf miscalculated India’s response or knew exactly how we would react hardly excites me.” 

Dutta, though, is livid with ex-COAS General Ved Prakash Malik’s for his scathing remark that “IB and RAW are still in denial on the Kargil intelligence failure”. “Malik can say what he likes. What matters to me is that PM Vajpayee, home minister Advani and defence minister George Fernandes praised the IB on the floor of Parliament. Moreover, the Subrah­m­anyam committee report specifically mentions the June 2, 1998, report bea­ring my signature to the PM, home minister, cabinet secretary, home secretary and dgmo about the ominous developments in the Force Commander Northern Area (FCNA) region.” 

‘The Units We Fought Were All Pakistan Army Regulars’

By Toral Varia Deshpande Interviews Brigadier Surinder Singh

The Brigadier talks about how he was cornered by General V.P. Malik and others and made a scapegoat for telling the truth 

In a no-holds-barred interview, sacked army officer Brigadier Surinder Singh talks about how he was cornered by General V.P. Malik and others and made a scapegoat for telling the truth about what happened at Kargil in 1999 and sticking to his guns. Toral Varia Deshpande met him at his home in Chandigarh. 

Pakistan’s Gen Aziz has validated India’s stand about the Kargil war being fought by Pak army regulars. As the brigade commander of 121 Infantry Brigade who consiste­ntly gave inputs of the intrusion build-up, are you vindicated? 

Of course! Pakistan used the mujahideen bluff in 1948, 1971 and then in Kargil. Now their own general is saying they were regulars. If you see the official records, you will see that all the units we came across—NLI, 24 Sindh, Baloch—they were all regular Pakistan army units. You see, when I briefed General Ved Prakash Malik at the end of August 1998, I gave him very specific information regarding Pakistan army movement that (now reading from confidential internal army communication) one extra infantry battalion has come in addition to one battalion which was already there as routine posture and 24 Sindh, which later on showed up in the intrusions as well, was moved closer and one battalion was moved on priority from Sialkot to somewhere in Skardu. Then two artillery brigades have come, smart weapons have come—everything was given in specifics. All these are hardcore army movements. 

"I believe my seniors deliberately looked the other way even as I reported Pakistani army incursions." 

In a recent interview to The Sunday Guardian, General V.P. Malik said both the IB and RAW misled the army. Do you agree? Especially because you had forwarded specific information consistently through the relevant channels?

The Wages Of Peace

By Nitin A. Gokhale

Kargil was actually about Siachen. India must remember that. 

Last July, sitting in Dras in the middle of a two-day celebration of India’s 1999 Kargil military victory, I was interviewing Lt Gen K.T. Parnaik, who leads the Indian army’s northern command. Among other issues, the general, one of the seniormost military leaders of the nation, spoke candidly of the 2010 unrest in Kashmir, the presence of Chinese troops in northern parts of Pakistan, India’s ongoing efforts to improve infrastructure along the China border and, towards the end of the interview, about the growing demands for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battleground. 

One sentence in the general’s elaborate answer to the question on Siachen struck me as particularly significant. “Don’t forget, Kargil happened because of Sia­chen. Why did they do Kar­­gil?” he asks. “If you per­­use their records, which are now out in the public, one of the major objectives of what they did in Kargil was to force us to vacate the Siachen glacier. Now, if that is their intent and that is their credibility, it is up to you to judge whether we should be really vacating the glacier or not.” 

Seven months down the line, a former general of the Pakistani army, Lt Gen Shahid Aziz, who headed the analysis wing of Pakistan’s spy agency, the infamous Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in the summer of 1999 when the Kargil conflict was playing out, has confirmed what Parnaik said last July. Aziz has also blamed former president and military dictator Pervez Musharraf for having kept the nation in the dark on his pet project, the Kargil incursions. Undeterred, Musharraf has described the Kargil conflict as a huge military success. He says the Pakistani army would have “conquered” 300 square miles of Indian territory if then Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif “had not visited the US and succumbed to pressure from then US president Bill Clinton to withdraw Pakistani troops from Indian territory”. 

The Continuing Tibetan Tragedy

Paper No. 5386 Dated 9-Feb-2013 

By B.Raman 

1.As in previous years, the Tibetans are not celebrating their New Year’s Day this year too which falls this month. 

2.Tibetans in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR),Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan as well as the Tibetan diaspora abroad, including in India, are observing their New Year’s Day as a day of mourning and prayers in memory of 99 Tibetans who have so far committed self-immolation ( 80 of them fatal) in the Tibetan areas of China to demand their freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Lhasa. 

3.Their hopes that the advent of a new Chinese leadership headed by Mr.Xi Jinping could mark a relaxation of the suppression in the Tibetan areas and a willingness to address the grievances of the Tibetans have been belied so far. 

4.Since Xi took over as the Party General Secretary from Mr.Hu Jintao in November last year, the Party has shown no inclination to re-consider its policies of suppression and forcible integration of the Tibetans which has driven many young Tibetan monks and others to take the desperate step of self-immolation to draw the attention of the international community to their plight. 

4.Instead of recognizing the continuing self-immolations as an expression of desperation and anguish, the Chinese have been projecting them as part of a conspiracy against Beijing mounted by His Holiness and the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and other external organizations such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. 

5.Instead of sympathising with the relatives and friends of those who committed self-immolation, they have been rounding them up and prosecuting them on a charge of instigating the self-immolations. Eight of them have already been sentenced after sham trials to various terms of imprisonment, including one of suspended death sentence. 

6. In the face of this wave of suppression to put down the self-immolations, the Tibetans in India observed five days of solidarity with the Tibetan struggle for freedom. They observed a day of prayers on February 1 at New Delhi that was attended by about 1000 people including many Indian opposition leaders. 

Afzal Guru's Execution:Possible Security Implications

Paper No. 5385, 9-Feb-2013 

By B.Raman 

1.The intelligence agencies would have examined in depth the likely security implications of the execution of Afzal Guru this morning for his involvement in the attack on the Indian Parliament in December,2001, and taken necessary precautions not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but also in the rest of India. 

2.They would have studied in detail the kind of security problems our agencies faced after the execution of Maqbool Bhatt of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in the Tihar Jail in 1984 for his involvement in terrorism. 

3. The circumstances in 1984 were not as complicated as they are today. We had to contend with only dangers of retaliation by the Kashmiri terrorist organisations. 

4.In 1984, we were not faced with dangers of possible retaliation by Pakistani jihadi organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. They were busy fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan and the attention of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence was also in Afghanistan. 

5.They were not in a position to mount instant retaliation. Their retaliation was delayed till 1989 after the Soviet troops had withdrawn from Afghanistan. 

6.Today, all these groups, particularly the LET and the JEM which played a principal role in the attack on the Parliament, are well primed against India and are in a position to mount quick retaliatory attacks not only in J&K but also in the rest of India with the help of their accomplices such as the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Indian Mujahideen. 

7.Our security focus has to be pan-India.

A Glacial Intent

By Pranay Sharma

Gen Aziz’s expose ensures one thing: no troop-free Siachen 

Outlook Archives/T. Narayan 
Indian artillery barrage during Kargil war 
target siachen 

A three-month-long bitter war fought between India and Pakistan in the icy heights of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil region, claiming the lives of several hundred soldiers on both sides, is perhaps a fading memory for most Indians today. But recent revelations by a retired Pakistani top general, backroom negotiations between opinion-makers of the two sides and last month’s tension along the Line of Control show that the political and military establishments in neither India nor Pakistan have been able to fully exorcise the ghosts of Kargil even after 14 years. One reason for this is that the nub of the problem, which prompted the Kargil operation, stays with us as a live issue: the Siachen glacier. 

‘Operation Badr’—as Pervez Musharraf, who was then the army chief of Pakistan, had codenamed the Kargil operation—was aimed at severing India’s supply lines to Siachen and force it to vacate the glacier and enter into negotiations with Pakistan on the fate of Kashmir. 

The revelations of Lt Gen Shahid Aziz (see interview) show how close Pakistan had come to meeting its objective by stealthily sneaking in its soldiers inside the Indian territory in the garb of Afghan and Kashmiri mujahideen and how the Indians were caught napping before getting into rearguard action to throw out the infiltrators. 

The misunderstood monk

By  Utpal Kumar 
09 February 2013 

As we celebrate his 150th birth anniversary, Vivekananda is being targeted by a section of the academia, with some going to the extent of calling him a Hindu supremacist or a caste votary. So, who was the Swami? 

On his 150th birth anniversary, Swami Vivekananda is suddenly under attack. Swords are openly being drawn out against him. And from being a monk whose heart bled for the downtrodden and the poor, he is abruptly being projected as a ‘Hindu supremacist’ and a ‘caste votary’. Incidentally, recent months have seen the Swami being in the forefront of a BJP Chief Minister’s much-successful electoral campaign. So, the question emerges: Has Vivekananda become the target of the ‘secular’ brigade just because he has been positively appropriated by a Chief Minister of an Indian State who too shares the initial name of the great monk? And this takes us to the next question: Is it in any way judicious to evaluate a man who was born 150 years ago in the much vitiated secular-versus-communal parameter of the day? 

With the crystallisation of the Nehruvian socio-intellectual order in the country, it was but natural to find the contributions of Swami Vivekananda being questioned and even relegated to the margins. For, he was unabashedly committed to the country’s spiritual-cum-national regeneration, without diluting his own Hindu identity. As the Swami’s worldview challenged the Nehruvian order, it was quite natural that this would have had very few backers in the establishment and would at best be ignored, if not discarded. 

Kashmir’s Rock Band Storm

By Zafar Choudhary 

Disbanded after curious controversies, Pragaash was not the only rock band in Kashmir. It was one of 42 such groups that mushroomed in Srinagar since 2005. But we have never heard of a public debate on acceptability or unacceptability of western flavour to Kashmiri music. The all-women character of Pragaash is said to have attracted the ire of fundamentalists. But music and dances of local women artistes have been a prominent part of Kashmiri culture for ages. Then what is it with Pragaash that is raising questions, not only in India but also in many other world capitals, about the very basic outlook of Kashmiri society –intolerant, radical, talibanised! Isn’t it too mysterious for a quick comprehension? 

Why blame national media? 

In recent years very few events in Kashmir have attracted as much national and international attention as the recently erupted and still raging rock band controversy. At the centre of this mysteriously, or may be accidentally, manufactured storm are three teenage girls from Srinagar neighbourhoods grouped together in an emerging rock band called Pragaash, a Kashmiri word for first light. Every influential newspaper in US, UK and other places, where South Asia matters, has a story –‘Kashmir’s all-girl rock group disbanded following threats’. Thankfully, unlike Indian media, the foreign press has, so far, not been judgmental in this case. 

We have heard at least three dozen different voices aired from the platforms of national news TV channels –some expressing concerns over alleged radicalisations and even Talibanisation of Kashmiri society and others just substantiating, justifying and glorifying that contention. In almost all cases the anchors have nearly forced their guests to prove the point of radicalisation in Kashmir. From a widely celebrated liberal Sufi culture some elements in the Kashmiri society are certainly assuming radical character but the phenomenon is not as pervasive and potent that three girls will go in hiding prompting New York Times to do a story and the BBC to get an expert in the London studio. 

See the facebook or speak to them personally, Kashmiris are aghast over their demonization as radical Islamists. After a brief storm but with lasting impressions, commentaries are now churning out of local press putting all blame on the national media, particularly the news TV channels, and the maverick Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmed. One question is being conveniently ignored. What was the Kashmir press, or Srinagar’s newspapers, doing when all this was happening? Have any of the local newspapers or local journalists working for the national media investigated the nature of threat to the budding rock stars? On February 6 when the girls were still updating their facebook page and NYT spoke to one of them, a prominent Kashmiri journalist reported in a national daily that girls were inaccessible and so were their parents. The story was based on ‘sources close to the family’. In fact, from Pragaash’s rise to fame from early last year to its controversial disbanding has entirely been a national media affair. 

The Kargil War- in search of the truth

By Raj Chengappa 

‘I hold Musharraf responsible for the Kargil attack. I can only tell Mr Vajpayee that I did not know that I was being stabbed in the back by my own general,’ Nawaz Sharif told me while he was in exile in Jeddah.

In Pakistan a controversy has broken out again over who initiated the 1999 Kargil War. It was triggered by the release of a book titled “How Long This Silence”, written by Shahid Aziz, a retired Lt-General who was serving with the ISI during the war. Aziz revealed that the entire Kargil operation was executed by Pervez Musharraf, the then army chief, in consultation with a core group of officers and makes the hard-to-believe claim that even the ISI was kept in the dark. The big question still remains though: Did the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, soon after he signed the landmark Lahore agreement with Atal Behari Vajpayee in February 1999, give clearance to Musharraf to occupy the Kargil heights? Or did Musharraf keep his own Prime Minister and the powerful ISI in the dark and presented Sharif with a fait accompli? 

A file photo of Nawaz Sharif with Pervez Musharraf in PoK. 

Five years after the Kargil War, on a trip back from a report on post-war Iraq for India Today magazine, I flew into Jeddah to meet Sharif, who was then living in exile in Saudi Arabia. In a deal brokered by Saudi Arabia soon after Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999, Sharif, who had been jailed for life, was pardoned and allowed to fly out with his family to Jeddah, where he was provided refuge in early 2000. The deal reportedly was that Sharif would not indulge in political activity while he was there or speak out against Musharraf.

‘We Violated An Agreement While We Were At Peace; The Operation Was Poorly Timed And Planned’

By Mariana Baabar Interviews Shahid Aziz

Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz has taken Pakistan by storm with his all-revealing book 

His former boss, and also a relative by marriage, Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, says Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz is a ‘liar’ and suffering from an ‘imbalanced personality’, wondering why it took him 10 years to resort to this ‘character assassination’. But Aziz has taken Pakistan by storm with his all-revealing book in Urdu, For How Long This Silence?, in which he says, among other things, how ill-conceived and badly executed the whole Kargil operation was. Having served in some of the most powerful posts in Pakistan’s army, his book takes a sweeping look from the time he was a cadet to his rise as the Director General Military Operations in 1999, helping Musharraf overthrow the democratic government of the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. 

He was the head of the Analysis Wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence when Musharraf planned the ill-fated Kargil operation, and served as the Chief of General Staff between October 2001 and December 2003. In an interview with Mariana Baabar, the first time to an Indian publication, Aziz talks about his book and its startling claims: 

The Kargil war took place in the summer of 1999. Why are you bringing aspects of its handling by then army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf to the public domain now? 

Law did not allow me to speak till two years after leaving government service. I retired from NAB (National Accountability Bureau) in 2007. My articles appeared in The Nation two years later; plus appearances on TV. They didn’t help much, since the focus of the media was on personalities rather than issues. So I started writing this book, which took a while. 

What were your main objections to the way in which the Kargil operations were handled by the Pakistani army? 

Will China’s Navy Soon Be Operating in the Atlantic?

By Felix Seidler

Location of the Azores.An Important Stop 

On his way back from a trip to South America in the summer of 2012 China's Premier Wen Jiabao made the strangest possible stopover. He landed on an American-Portuguese air base on the Azores. The Lajes Field Air Force Base is one of many on the Pentagon’s list to be reduced or scrapped. In the National Review, anti-China hawk Gordon C. Chang speculated whether Wen Jiabao’s stop on the Azores island Terceaira could have a strategic-military context: 

“Terceira, however, has one big attraction for Beijing: Air Base No. 4. Better known as Lajes Field, the facility where Premier Wen’s 747 landed in June is jointly operated by the U.S. Air Force and its Portuguese counterpart. If China controlled the base, the Atlantic would no longer be secure. From the 10,865-foot runway on the northeast edge of the island, Chinese planes could patrol the northern and central portions of the Atlantic and thereby cut air and sea traffic between the U.S. and Europe. Beijing would also be able to deny access to the nearby Mediterranean Sea.” 

However, terror-filled visions of Chinese aerial patrols over the Atlantic are out of place. How would the aircraft, including personnel and equipment, get there? And what types of aircraft could perform such feats? China’s military is not blessed with too many long-range bombers or maritime patrol aircraft. Even if they had such capabilities, why should China try to send men and material, strongly needed in the Indo-Pacific, to the other end of the world? From these current practical limitations it would be easy, but wrong, to stop the discussion about China's role and potential operations in the Atlantic. 

In order to show its flag in the Atlantic, it would be sufficient for China at this point to use the airport and the ports for, let’s say, a “scientific research station.” It is in a similar manner that the British, French, and others pursue their interests in overseas territories. Incidentally, such a station would be an excellent opportunity for electronic espionage – signals intelligence (SIGINT). Furthermore, as a former emergency runway for the Space Shuttle, Lajes Field might also be of interest for China's space program. 

China’s Hydro-Hegemony

February 8, 2013

Map © Brahma Chellaney, “Water: Asia’s New Battleground” (Georgetown University Press) 

ASIA is the world’s most water-stressed continent, a situation compounded by China’s hydro-supremacy in the region. Beijing’s recent decision to build a slew of giant new dams on rivers flowing to other countries is thus set to roil riparian relations. 

China which already boasts more large dams than the rest of the world put together and has unveiled a mammoth $635-billion fresh investment in water infrastructure over the next decade  has emerged as the key obstacle to building institutionalized collaboration on shared water resources in Asia. 

In contrast to the bilateral water treaties between many of its neighbors, China rejects the concept of a water-sharing arrangement or joint, rules-based management of common resources. 

For example, in rejecting the 1997 United Nations convention that lays down rules on shared water resources, Beijing placed on record its contention that an upstream power has the right to assert absolute territorial sovereignty over the waters on its side of the international boundary  or the right to divert as much water as it wishes for its needs, irrespective of the effects on a downriver state. 

Today, by building megadams and reservoirs in its borderlands, China is working to re-engineer the flows of major rivers that are the lifeline of lower riparian states. 

China is the source of transboundary river flows to the largest number of countries in the world  from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the states in the Indochina peninsula and southern Asia. This pre-eminence resulted from its absorption of the ethnic-minority homelands that now make up 60 percent of its landmass and are the origin of all the international rivers flowing out of Chinese-held territory. No other country in the world comes close to the hydro-hegemony that China has established. 

Locked On

China and Japan 

Feb 9th 2013 | BEIJING AND TOKYO 

The dangerous dance around disputed islets is becoming ever more worrying 

ARMED conflict between Japan and China over the five tiny, uninhabited Senkaku or Diaoyu islands still seems improbable. But that does not make it impossible. This week it was revealed just how close their stand-off has come to a shoot-out. On February 5th the Japanese government claimed that six days earlier a Chinese warship had beamed “fire-control” radar at a destroyer belonging to Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force some 3 kilometres (2 miles) away—a step towards shooting a missile at it. “It was a unilateral, provocative act and extremely regrettable,” Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, told the Diet, or parliament, on February 6th. 

The incident, which occurred about 100km from the Senkakus, fits a pattern of Chinese sabre-rattling. On January 19th a Chinese frigate is also thought to have “locked on” to a Japanese ship-based helicopter. Since September, when Japan’s government “nationalised” three of the islands by buying them from their private owner, China has been challenging not just Japan’s claim to sovereignty over the Senkakus, but also its control of them. Ships and aircraft from both countries have patrolled the islands, and each has scrambled jet fighters in response to “incursions” by the other, leading to a string of aerial and maritime near-misses. 

The American government, which takes no official position on who owns the islands, has confirmed that they are covered by its security treaty with Japan. Its diplomats have scurried to Asia in recent weeks, urging restraint and “cooler heads”. During the cold war America and the Soviet Union at least established mechanisms to prevent a serious conflict being caused by miscalculation or accident. China and Japan have very few such mechanisms. 

Oddly, the January 30th incident came just as tensions seemed to be easing. There was talk of a fence-mending summit between Mr Abe, who took office in December, and Xi Jinping, China’s new leader. China has been using mainly civilian agencies rather than the navy to patrol the islands. And the Chinese press has not been uniformly bellicose. In Global Times, a Communist Party newspaper whose default mode is tub-thumping nationalism, two commentators this week separately urged caution, recalling China’s history of being set back in its development by Japanese aggression—in the 1890s and again in the 1930s and 1940s. 

A BURMESE EXPERIENCE - Death of a pongyi

By Malavika Karlekar

09 Feb 2013

Getting a visa for Myanmar (Burma) had somewhat reassured our anti-junta mindsets. A simple form with none of the requirements that make one feel like a criminal (bank statements, income tax returns, itinerary, contact persons — the list is endless for most Western countries) — and our passports were back with us in three days. And when we flew in to Yangon International Airport and were quickly through immigration counters headed by bright young women, we could not but exchange appreciative glances. Among other things, the present government is clearly keen to put on display evidence of its high female labour force participation rate of 75 per cent. After the elections of 2010, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won 259 of the 330 contested seats. Although Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (it had won the 1990 elections but was not allowed to take power) decided not to participate, in the byelections of 2012, its candidates won 43 of the 44 seats that were contested. Aung San Suu Kyi became the leader of the Opposition. Although many private journals publishing photographs and stories after Suu Kyi’s release in late 2010 were subsequently prohibited from doing so for a while, today, memorabilia with her image in lacquer, gem-encrusted portraits, key chains, t-shirts flood market places and tourist spots. The refrain is, “She is our leader, she is the daughter of our Bogyoke (General) Aung San.” While a few were cagey, most of those we spoke to did not look over their shoulders or even askance as they enthusiastically spoke of Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The present regime or any other that might succeed it has its work cut out for the next decade and more. The country’s social development indicators continue to decline as it remains one of the least developed countries in the world. Food is the major expense for most families, leaving little for health and education — paltry government support for the latter means that families often have to pay for their children’s education. “I dropped out of school as my farmer father could not afford it,” said Thin Thin, a bright-eyed young woman who sells Bagan’s famous sand paintings on the pathway leading to Dhammayangyi temple. Where did she learn English? By watching DVDs in her thatched home, her particular favourite being Bollywood and SRK. Next generation taxis that zip around Yangon’s old-fashioned avenues and ubiquitous colonial roundabouts may be comfortable — most were introduced a few months ago — but getting around the city means heavy investments in innovative sign language. Thin Thin is clearly an exception as knowledge of English is minimal. One indication that the gap between the small number of the wealthy and the poor has been widening is the ominous-looking rolls of concertina wire fixed to the outer walls and gates of most homes in posh residential areas. 

Friedman's Civil-Society Panacea

By Lewis McCrary 

February 8, 2013 

There may be effective methods for comparing political systems, but they require more care and nuance than one can sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin—or perhaps even outline in an op-ed—particularly, it seems, if The New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman is the columnist. 

Friedman, fresh from a trip to India, used his column this week to engage in a favorite Washington cocktail party game, speculating about the fate of the world's emerging powers. But he added a twist by including the disappointing Egypt among the other big headliners of China and India. He focuses on two variables: first, the strength of the state; and, second, nongovernmental associations. He concludes that all three countries are missing at least one element (and one is missing both): 

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. 

One would not expect an opinion leader such as Friedman to be behind on the fashionable lingo of our day. Yet his use of the term "civil society" indicates that he is living in a prior decade. This shorthand for the nongovernmental sphere took off in the 1990s, in a post-Cold War world looking for the secret sauce that would make non-Western nations as free and prosperous as the West. It led to the dramatic expansion of the global institutions known as NGOs and made the democracy-promotion movement a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. 

Top U.S. officer says sufficient troops to remain in Afghanistan

By David Alexander 

Feb 9, 2013 

(Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer said on Saturday he was confident enough U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 to accomplish the three-part mission agreed to by allies at last year's NATO summit in Chicago. 

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not know whether President Barack Obama would announce the size of the post-2014 U.S. force for Afghanistan during his upcoming State of the Union address.

But he said an announcement on the management of forces in 2013 "has to come fairly soon, simply because we're two months in(to)" the year. Officials have said a decision on the size of the post-2014 U.S. force would be made before any announcement of the speed of the 2013 drawdown.

Afghan forces are expected to take over the lead role for security in Afghanistan this spring. The international force plans to hand over full responsibility for security to the Afghans by the end of 2014, with most international combat forces being withdrawn.

Dempsey spoke to reporters while en route to Afghanistan for a change of command ceremony for the International Security Assistance Force. Marine Corps General John Allen will hand over command of the international coalition to Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, expected to be the force's last commander.

Dempsey played down a suggestion by some White House officials that the United States might consider a "zero option" and leave no troops behind in Afghanistan. Dempsey said no one had suggested that to him, "and I would never recommend zero."

White House officials told reporters last month ahead of a visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the possibility of leaving no troops behind after 2014 was an option.

"The military at this point is confident that the number will match the mission," Dempsey said. "Let me put it this way: I will not at any point ask 10,000 troops to do 20,000 troops' work."

At a NATO heads of state summit in Chicago last year, the leaders agreed that the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan would focus on counter-terror operations against al Qaeda, training and assisting Afghan forces and supporting other U.S. government diplomatic and development operations.

Conflict and Negotiation in Cyberspace

By James Andrew Lewis

Feb 8, 2013 

This report looks at the political-military aspects of cybersecurity and attempts to place it in the larger context of international security. Networks are embedded in our economies and our political and social life. They have become the central tool for human activity. These networks form cyberspace. They hold information of immense value, and they control the machinery that provides critical services. They create immense economic benefit, but they are also a major source of risk to nations. Governments have been hesitant to interfere with the golden economic machine, and the result is a weakly governed space, much like a failed state or contested terrain. 

Because of the newness of technology, the lack of explicit agreement among states, and rampant cyber espionage and cybercrime, this unstable environment invites miscalculation, misinterpretation, and inadvertent escalation of conflict. Changing this requires identifying which instruments of statecraft are most effective and where we may need new institutions, norms, and laws. Progress in cybersecurity requires manipulating complex international processes to change what governments consider as acceptable national behavior in cyberspace. 

Cybersecurity has been an issue for national security since the 1990s, but the U.S. response has been ad hoc and reactive, marked by uncertainty over how to deal with a major new problem for international security. This report identifies six principles that should guide the United States in developing a strategic approach: 
  • Cyberspace is not a unique environment. States will behave in this environment as they would in any other. 
  • We cannot “disarm” in cyberspace, and there will be no “global zero” for a cyberattack. 
  • We have entered a period of sustained, low-level competition for influence where opponents’ miscalculations and misperceptions are a source of risk to the United States. 
  • U.S. interests are best served by embedding cyberattack and cyber espionage in the existing framework of international law, and long-term U.S. interests are best served by winning international agreement to this. 
  • America’s immediate goal in negotiation should be to increase the risks of launching a cyberattack or engaging in malicious cyber activity for both state and nonstate opponents. 
  • There is a limit to what negotiation can achieve in reducing risk; there will always be risk. The U.S. goal should be to decrease and bound this risk as part of its larger efforts to strengthen international security. 

Five myths about Obama’s drone war

By Mark R. Jacobson, Published: February 9 

Mark R. Jacobson is a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. From 2009 to 2011, he served with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. 

by Mark R. Jacobson At least since Pope Innocent II banned the use of crossbows against Christians in 1139, new military technologies have always created strategic and ethical dilemmas. And armed drones — the weapons of choice for today’s battlefield without boundaries — are no exception. Do drone strikes provide a compelling option when battling terrorist networks, or do the controversy they generate outweigh the benefit? Debates about technology, targeting and transparency have muddled an already complicated matter, so let’s take aim at some of the most common misperceptions. 

1. Drones are immoral. 

Drones are neither autonomous killer robots nor sentient beings making life-or-death decisions. Yet, with the “Terminator”-like connotations of the term, it is easy to forget that these vehicles are flown via remote control by some 1,300 Air Force pilots. Drones are an evolution in military technology, not a revolution in warfare.

From a moral and ethical standpoint, drones are little different from rifles, bombers or tanks. Decisions about how and when to use them are made by people. No doubt, the distance between the human warfighter and the battlefield has never been longer, but the psychological proximity can be closer for drone pilots than for other military personnel. Intense surveillance makes these pilots so familiar with their targets — when they sleep, eat and see their families — that some have reported difficulty reconciling that intimacy after they’ve pulled the trigger.

The toughest moral question is not about technology but about targeting and transparency: When militants plotting against America operate globally, don’t wear uniforms and may even be U.S. citizens, who can be targeted and where? The White House recently released to members of Congress a Justice Department memo providing details of the targeting process — this may alleviate, but not eliminate, those concerns. 

Will the White House Finally Grow the Backbone to Digitally Counterattack China?

By Jason Mick
January 31, 2013

(Source: Reuters) 
Hack on The New York Times is latest incident to illustrate China's dominance in the new era of warfare, and the U.S.'s inaction

In the campy remake of the 1980s classic Red Dawn, MGM last year recast the titular enemy as not the Soviet-era Russians, but the Chinese. The movie may have been panned, but it did have one thing going for it -- it was uncomfortably close to reality.

I. A New War

China is unlikely to ever raise its guns or tank barrels on the U.S. It does not need to. The ultimate goal of all conquest is money, power, and influence. Today we stand on the brink of a new age, an age in which warfare has moved from trodden soil into the buried tracts of internet cable beneath it.

Today any country still has to deal with the far more familiar face of physical threats, be it "terrorists" or domestic dissidents. These threats will surely persist for a time, as much of the world -- for example, large tracts of the Middle East -- still exists in a pre-industrialized state. Even in regions with some digital capabilities like Iran, access is stifled under crippling walls of censorship and poverty, leading citizens to take up traditional, terrible blood-filled methods of conflict.

But if we listen careful, we hear the sound of change. The time of physical battles is coming to an end. Because in every way digital war is far superior to the wars of yore.

The era of digital war has dawned. [Image Source: Interplay (cover art for Neuromancer game)] 
In digital war, a wily adversary can cover their tracks. They can attack silently behind a wall of official denials, while tasting the sweet spoils of conquest. They don't have to face the public relations backlash that bombs and missiles evoke.