13 February 2013

Indo-French Relations under President Francois Hollande

By Claude Arpi
12 Feb , 2013 

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh meeting the President of France, Mr. Francois Hollande, on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit, at Los Cabos, Mexico on June 19, 2012. 

One may ask, “Will the election of Francois Hollande as President of the French Republic change Indo-French relations?” The answer is, certainly not. It is true that the word ‘India’ did not appear a single time during the entire campaign but to understand François Hollande’s position, it is worth quoting an article published in Le Monde on May 22, 1981 titled, “India Chooses the Mirage 2000 to Modernise its Air Force”. A day earlier, Francois Mitterrand had become the first elected Socialist President of the Fifth Republic. At that time, Pakistan was trying hard to acquire F-16 fighter planes from the US; the fact that India wanted to purchase 150 Mirage 2000 from France on this historic day was highly symbolic of the relations to come. 

In the French presidential elections held in May 2012, François Hollande, the Socialist candidate defeated Nicolas Sarkozy, the ‘hyper’ outgoing President winning nearly 52 per cent of the votes. One of the main characteristics of the campaign was the total lack of interest in foreign affairs and defence issues maybe because both candidates were not too apart as far as these two subjects are concerned. Take for instance, Afghanistan. Both Hollande and Sarkozy agreed to withdraw the French contingent. The difference was just a matter of timing; Hollande promised the departure of the French forces before the end of current year, while Sarkozy preferred to wait one more year. There were also some divergences on the integration of the French Army in the NATO. The main difference between the candidates was Paris’ position vis-a-vis Berlin. But now some mutual adjustments are underway and the French-German ‘couple’ will, in all probability, continue to give a lead to Europe Union. 

The selection of the Rafale certainly marks a high point in the long and trusted cooperation between France and India… 

The French President 

The President of the French Republic is the elected Head of State with extended powers in the fields of defence and foreign affairs and some control over the Prime Minister (Jean-Marc Ayrault) answerable to the Parliament. The French President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. During the campaign, the Socialist candidate often stated that when he would become President, he would put an end to “austerity everywhere, austerity that brought desperation to people throughout Europe.” However, it is easier said than done. One of the first decisions of the new government was to cut the staff of the non-priority ministries by 2.5 per cent per year between 2013 and 2015. This excluded four ‘priority’ sectors. Defence, apparently, is not a priority anymore and will eventually face budgetary cuts. 

Discussion on Siachen De-militarization with Air Chief Marshal Tyagi, Co-chair Track-II

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
12 Nov , 2012 
I had occasion to discuss the Siachen De-militarization Issue with Air Chief Marshal Tyagi (Retd) today (02 November 2012) during a break in the National Security Seminar at the USI. ACM Tyagi as you know was the Co-Chair of the Track II Team whose agreement with their Pakistani counterparts at Lahore to demilitarize Siachen was put on the net first by Atlantic Council of Ottawa that broke the news to the world, particularly Indians. Given below is the gist of our conversation. 

he said that each and every member was individually selected by Atlantic Council of Ottawa and not by GoI. 

1)To my query as to how the Track II Team was selected, he said that each and every member was individually selected by Atlantic Council of Ottawa and not by GoI. He has no idea how Atlantic Council of Ottawa got these names. 

2). Queried about the source of funding, his response was that the complete expenses at various locales including in Pakistan were borne by Atlantic Council of Ottawa (implying travel, stay, meetings, the works which obviously would be five star). I then asked him if he knew that both the Atlantic Council of Ottawa and Atlantic Council of US are actually extensions of Pakistani Army and funds would obviously be coming from the Pakistani Military / ISI. He said “so be it” but their job was only dialogue. 

3). I then asked him which government officers briefed the Track II Team and what exactly was the content of such briefings? He said that it is the Track II Team that asked for briefing from MEA and the Military. The MEA briefing was largely about the visit of our Foreign Minister to Pakistan and this briefing had NO mention of Siachen, and the Track II Team also asked NO questions about Siachen (rather strange !). In the briefing by the Military, the Military categorically stated they did not want demilitarization from Siachen. 

Rule of Law and China's Economic Future

By Matias A. Sueldo
February 13, 2013 
The West’s bifurcated reaction to the new leadership of China’s Communist Party can best be summed up by this headline: “Economic reform yes, political reform no.” It’s as if one issue had nothing to do with the other. 

In fact, the party’s economic plans will require a parallel effort to promote a professional and independent judiciary—in part to match the rising expectations of China’s new urban consumers. This convergence of will between party and people could finally see the rule of law come to China. 

On the economic front, the party’s new leadership wants to avoid the dreaded “middle income trap” by rebalancing the economy away from state-enterprise investment and toward urban household consumption. 

The backbone of their policy package is to boost consumer demand by emptying the countryside and accelerating urbanization (already past 51 percent). Elements of this strategy include strengthening the legal rights of farmers against “land financing” by local governments, eliminating the one-child policy (which applies mainly to urbanites), and eliminating the rural-urban segregation contained in the hukou household registration system. 

Reform of the hukou system is especially significant because it would give millions of migrant laborers and their children, currently residing illegally on urban fringes, legal access to housing and guaranteed education in their cities. This rural-urban discrimination in social-welfare policy is the primary deterrent to urban migration, and eliminating it would trigger a new wave of urbanization. 

Complementary policies would expand the competitive private economy, thus providing China's new urbanites with better goods, services and capital at cheaper prices. Some of the proposed changes include breaking up state-owned monopolies, providing greater government antitrust supervision over remaining monopolies, and strengthening legal protection against the actions of state-owned enterprises. 

Challenge China on North Korea

By Doug Bandow 
February 13, 2013 

North Korea has conducted its third nuclear test. Its action was the equivalent of an upraised finger to virtually every other nation. But it was aimed most directly and clearly at China , Pyongyang’s nominal ally. The United States should use the North’s latest provocation to challenge Beijing to do more to constrain the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 

China claims to be upset. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told the North Korean ambassador that the People’s Republic of China was “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to the nuclear test. Yang also urged the DPRK “to honor its commitment to denuclearization and not to take action that may worsen the situation.” He insisted that the North “return to the right course of dialogue and consultation as soon as possible.” 

The irritation almost certainly is real. But we’ve heard all this before. Whenever Pyongyang has tested a nuclear weapon or missile, Beijing has criticized its ally. Sometimes, as after the North’s most recent rocket launch, China has even approved a UN Security Council resolution penalizing North Korea. 

And then nothing has happened—until the next North Korean missile or nuclear test. Indeed, even as Pyongyang has grown more provocative, sinking a South Korean warship and bombarding a South Korean island in 2010, the PRC has expanded its economic ties with the DPRK. Chinese officials undoubtedly wish their Korean dependent was less headstrong, but they long ago decided that the risks of attempting to modify Pyongyang ’s behavior were too great. 

Obama signs cyber security executive order

By John Reed 
February 12, 2013 

Finally. President Barack Obama signed the long-awaited executive order on cyber security today. As expected, the order expands information-sharing programs between the government and private sector and establishes voluntary cyber security best practices for critical infrastructure providers -- though the administration plans to use its leverage to strongly encourage compliance. 

One of the order's main provisions calls for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology to work with the private sector to identify a set of cyber security best practices that can be turned into a "Cybersecurity Framework" that critical infrastructure firms would use to ensure they are defended against cyber attack. A senior administration official said this afternoon that this framework, due one year from today, "is not designed to be a one size fits all approach" and will "not lock in specific technology or approaches." 

NIST and other government agencies will work with businesses that have proven to be the best at cyber security to help develop these practices. "We believe that companies driving cyber security innovations are really in the best place to help us push out best practices across more of the critical infrastructure and companies would have a lot of flexibility in determining how to do so," said the official. "This is about taking the existing best practices and spreading them out to as many of the critical infrastructure companies as we can." 

The Department of Homeland Security will form an organization to push out these standards to critical infrastructure providers. DHS, DoD and other government agencies will develop incentives, in collaboration with the private sector, to coax critical infrastructure companies into adhering to those standards, since they are officially voluntary. 

"There's a whole range of " incentives that have been suggested, added the official, mentioning the recommendations of the Commission for Cyber Security and the 44th Presidency as some examples. 

Possible incentives could include government contracts, according to the official. Government agencies have 120 days from now to come up with these incentives.

What cyber security execs want to see from the government

By John Reed
February 12, 2013

With the White House expected to release its cyber security executive order as early as tonight, Killer Apps spoke with some private sector cyber security experts on what they would like to see. Almost all agreed that the Obama administration -- and Congress -- need to do something to help protect the nation's banks, transport companies, energy firms, defense contractors, and other companies on which millions of people rely, from a crippling cyber attack. 

"It's a public security and a public safety issue, and it needs some level of government oversight because you cannot let market forces completely go in areas where public safety is involved," said Ashar Aziz, chief technology officer of FireEye. While Aziz and other IT security executives Killer Apps spoke with recently agreed that the government needs to do something to ensure that critical infrastructure providers are adequately protected against cyber attacks, they caution that an executive order or legislation should not dictate technical security measures (such as specific pieces of software) that could quickly become obsolete. 

"The regulations don't need to be specified in terms of technology, they need to be specified in terms of posture," said Aziz. "You need to look at where the [evolving] threats are, how the threats operate, and what is needed to counter such threats. . . . All we need to say is, the critical networks need to have safeguards to protect against unknown threats, independent of technology. Use whatever the best commercially available products on the market are." 

Some suggest that the government could follow the model used by the credit card industry's security organization, Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, whose members develop security standards and audit companies that process credit card payments. If a company fails an audit, the council has the power to ban that firm from processing credit cards. 

"It specifies 12 different things that companies need to do in order to secure credit card data," such as encrypting credit card data and using firewalls. "An auditor will walk in and look and see how well you followed that 12-step criteria," said Rob Rachwald, manager of IT security strategy at Imperva. "If you're found out of compliance, different penalties could apply. They may be financial penalties. Worst case -- and this doesn't happen very often but it does happen -- your ability to transact credit cards is pulled. 

The Avoider

BY AARON DAVID MILLER 
FEBRUARY 13, 2013 

Barack Obama's State of the Union address makes one thing clear: The world is no longer America's problem.
If you want to know what an American president's foreign policy is likely to be, particularly in a second term, don't listen to his State of the Union speech. You'd probably have more luck playing with Tarot cards, or reading tea leaves or goat entrails. 

But not this year. Barack Obama's fourth such address left a trail of foreign-policy cookie crumbs that lead directly to some pretty clear, if hardly surprising or revolutionary, conclusions. His first term contained no spectacular successes (save killing Osama bin Laden), but no spectacular failures either. And more than likely, that's what the president will settle for in a second, even as the Arab world burns and rogues like Iran and North Korea brandish new weapons. He's nothing if not a cautious man. 

Behold: I am the Extricator in Chief 

Afghanistan -- the "good war" -- has been pretty much MIA in Obama's speeches since he became president. He's alternated between spending a few words on the mission there (2009) or a paragraph (2010, 2011, 2012). If his words have been brief, the message has been stunningly clear: It's about the leaving. And tonight was no exception. Not more than two minutes in, the president spoke about America's men and women coming home from Afghanistan. 

Obama's signature is indeed that of the extricator. And he broke the code early (the 2009 surge was designed politically to get in so that he could get out with a clearer conscience). He is the president who has wound down the longest and among the most profitless wars in American history, where victory was never defined by whether we can win, but by when can we leave. It is his legacy, and one about which he has reason to be proud. Obama has left himself and his military commanders plenty of discretion about the pace of extrication. But that's fine with the president so long as they're heading for the exits. 

The Flying White Elephant


By John Allen Gay
February 12, 2013 

It’s been a bad month for American aviation. The 787 Dreamliner, our premier airliner, remains grounded due to safety issues. Now Wired is reporting [3] that the F-35 Lightning II, intended to serve as America’s fighter-bomber of the future, has had its performance requirements downgraded. The Pentagon is admitting that the aircraft will be delivered “heavier, slower and more sluggish” than it had hoped. The Lightning II will be more vulnerable and less capable in combat. 

Worse, these are hardly the F-35’s first problems—it’s endured [4] a litany [5] of technical and budgetary [6] issues. Acquisition plans have been dramatically scaled back [7]—while America originally intended to have nearly 1,600 aircraft in operation in 2017, it now aims for just 365—and the aircraft has been temporarily barred [8] from operating near thunderstorms amid fears that a strike could cause it to explode. Some are even skeptical [9] that it’s stealthy enough to operate in a modern threat environment. The aircraft was designed to be used by multiple countries and multiple armed services while retaining many of the same features and parts. Instead, the F-35 may be a jack of all trades and a master of none. 

Understandably, foreign buyers are cutting back on their purchase plans, and the project is facing ever-increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and the media. The United States needs to ask itself several questions. 

First, are cost overruns, performance issues and long development periods a necessary element of modern fighter development, or is there something wrong with the development and acquisitions process? There’s no denying that the F-35 has some extremely sexy technology on board—among other things, its advanced helmet allows the pilot to see in any direction (including through the aircraft [10], thanks to cameras). Getting such technologies to operate smoothly on their own and with each other was always going to be a complex and time-consuming process. 

Accountability of Intelligence Agencies

 By B. Raman 
13-Feb-2013 

1. Intelligence agencies have to be accountable to the Executive. Otherwise, there will be no secrecy in their functioning. Without effective secrecy, there cannot be clandestine collection of intelligence having a bearing on national security. Nowhere in the world ---not even in the much cited US--- is the executive not primarily responsible for the effective functioning of the clandestine agencies. 

2. However, in an increasing number of democracies, the Executive voluntarily shares with the legislature part of the responsibility for monitoring the performance of the secret agencies to ensure their competence to protect national security and to prevent wrong-doings. 

3. In the US, the Executive and the Congress negotiate from time to time the ground rules for sharing this responsibility. The ground rules are so designed that in the anxiety to provide for accountability, the capability of the agencies to function as the clandestine arm of the State is not blunted. 

4. The US Congress now has the following powers in respect of the agencies of the intelligence community: 
  • To satisfy itself regarding the professional suitability of the heads of the agencies. The Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee goes into the suitability of designated heads and has to confirm their appointment. 
  • To go into the overall budgetary allocations for different agencies and satisfy itself that correct national security priorities are observed in making the allocations. The Congress does not, however, go into allocations for individual clandestine operations. For example, the Congressional Oversight Committees decide whether allocations made for monitoring nuclear developments in North Korea are adequate and appropriate, but cannot go into how the allocations are utilized on individual operations. 
  • To examine the intelligence produced by the agencies to satisfy itself that they adequately meet the national security needs. 
  • To enquire into instances of wrong-doing by the intelligence agencies. 
5. The Executive and the two Houses of the Congress decide for themselves as to how they will exercise their shared responsibility without encroaching on each other’s turf. The culture of bipartisanship in the US facilitates decisions relating to intelligence agencies being taken by the Executive and the two Parties in the Congress in continuous consultation with each other. Congressional leaders exercise their shared responsibility in such a manner as not to weaken national security. 

An Rx for PTSD?

By Remington Nevin
Feb. 13, 2013

The latest edition of the medical journal Psychiatric Annals features military researchers discussing how a procedure known as stellate ganglion block can effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD). 

Injecting a local anesthetic agent into the sympathetic nerve tissue at the base of the neck — a so-called stellate ganglion block (or SGB) – acts to numb signals which travel to centers deep in the brainstem and brain, commonly thought to be most responsible for PTSD. 

The prospect of using a medical procedure to treat PTSD would be a paradigm shift for psychiatry. 

That PTSD can be thought of an injury – something whose symptoms could be alleviated by injecting numbing medicine – would support the assertion that former Vice Army Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli has been advocating for some time that PTSD should be renamed PTSI – with an I for injury. 

“It might seem counterintuitive that treating the peripheral nervous system could affect psychiatric conditions presumably mediated in the brain,” writes Dr. Cam Ritchie, my colleague and retired Army psychiatrist, in a press release for the journal heralding the news. 

Unlike Dr. Ritchie, I am not so surprised by these findings. 

My research focuses on the harmful effects of a class of drugs called quinolines, most notably the antimalarial drug mefloquine (or Lariam), which has been widely prescribed to deployed troops in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan at high risk of PTSD. Many of the unpleasant symptoms caused by mefloquine, including anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, and sleep problems, can often be difficult to distinguish from those attributed to PTSD. 

The Past, Present and Future of Russian Energy Strategy

February 12, 2013
By Lauren Goodrich and Marc Lanthemann ,Stratfor

The future of Russia's ability to remain a global energy supplier and the strength the Russian energy sector gives the Kremlin are increasingly in question. After a decade of robust energy exports and revenues, Russia is cutting natural gas prices to Europe while revenue projections for its energy behemoth, Gazprom, are declining starting this year. 

Russia holds the world's largest proven reserves of natural gas and continually alternates with Saudi Arabia as the top oil producer. The country supplies a third of Europe's oil and natural gas and is starting to export more to the energy-hungry East Asian markets. The energy sector is far more than a commercial asset for Moscow; it has been one of the pillars of Russia's stabilization and increasing strength for more than a century. The Kremlin has designated energy security as the primary issue for Russia's national security, especially since recent changes in global and domestic trends have cast doubts on the energy sector's continuing strength. 

Throughout Russian history, the country's energy sector periodically has strengthened and weakened. Managing this cycle has been a centerpiece of Russia's domestic and foreign policy since czarist times. This historical burden now rests on Vladimir Putin's regime. 
Russia's Imperatives and the Energy Factor 

Russia is an inherently vulnerable country, surrounded by other great powers and possessing no easily defensible borders. In addition, Russia is a massive, mostly inhospitable territory populated by diverse ethnic groups that historically have been at odds with Moscow's centralized authority. This leaves Russia with a clear set of imperatives to hold together as a country and establish itself as a regional power. First, Russia must consolidate its society under one authority. Second, it must expand its power across its immediate neighborhood to create buffers against other powers. (The creation of the Soviet Union is the clearest example of this imperative in action.) Finally, it must leverage its natural resources to achieve a balance with the great powers beyond its periphery. 

The Geopolitics of Shale

December 19, 2012
Stratfor ,By Robert D. Kaplan

According to the elite newspapers and journals of opinion, the future of foreign affairs mainly rests on ideas: the moral impetus for humanitarian intervention, the various theories governing exchange rates and debt rebalancing necessary to fix Europe, the rise of cosmopolitanism alongside the stubborn vibrancy of nationalism in East Asia and so on. In other words, the world of the future can be engineered and defined based on doctoral theses. And to a certain extent this may be true. As the 20th century showed us, ideologies -- whether communism, fascism or humanism -- matter and matter greatly. 

But there is another truth: The reality of large, impersonal forces like geography and the environment that also help to determine the future of human events. Africa has historically been poor largely because of few good natural harbors and few navigable rivers from the interior to the coast. Russia is paranoid because its land mass is exposed to invasion with few natural barriers. The Persian Gulf sheikhdoms are fabulously wealthy not because of ideas but because of large energy deposits underground. You get the point. Intellectuals concentrate on what they can change, but we are helpless to change much of what happens. 

Enter shale, a sedimentary rock within which natural gas can be trapped. Shale gas constitutes a new source of extractable energy for the post-industrial world. Countries that have considerable shale deposits will be better placed in the 21st century competition between states, and those without such deposits will be worse off. Ideas will matter little in this regard. 

Stratfor, as it happens, has studied the issue in depth. Herein is my own analysis, influenced in part by Stratfor's research. 

So let's look at who has shale and how that may change geopolitics. For the future will be heavily influenced by what lies underground. 

The United States, it turns out, has vast deposits of shale gas: in Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and elsewhere. America, regardless of many of the political choices it makes, is poised to be an energy giant of the 21st century. In particular, the Gulf Coast, centered on Texas and Louisiana, has embarked upon a shale gas and tight oil boom. That development will make the Caribbean an economic focal point of the Western Hemisphere, encouraged further by the 2014 widening of the Panama Canal. At the same time, cooperation between Texas and adjacent Mexico will intensify, as Mexico increasingly becomes a market for shale gas, with its own exploited shale basins near its northern border. 

Mutual rise of China and India will benefit the world

By Sajjad Ashraf 

Feb 12, 2013 

China and India announced they will resume joint military exercises at the conclusion of the Annual Defense Dialogue on January 14. It suggested a sign of growing engagement. The People's Daily applauded India's decision to go ahead with the exercises in the face of pressure from the US and Japan. 

"The future generations are assured of peace and prosperity," said Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the opposition in India's lower house of parliament Lok Sabha, reacting to the news. 

Days earlier, underscoring the importance of China-India relations, Xi Jinping, the new General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), said in a letter delivered to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that China "expects to carry out close cooperation with India to create a brighter future of their bilateral relations." The world, he added has enough space for the two and "needs their common development." 

Bilateral relations between the world's two largest countries have improved since the late 1980s. Trade volume, which was about US$3 billion (Dh11bn) at the turn of the century has now soared to $80 billion, making China India's largest trading partner, and India becoming China's biggest trading partner in South Asia. Both aim to increase their trade to $100 billion by 2015. 

Indian business circles are ecstatic about the growing China-India business relationship. Ordinary people in India benefit from the flow of cheap Chinese products. Together, China and India are, respectively, a factory for the world and service centre to the world and are on track to drive much of the world economy this century and beyond. 

This volume of business activity has become possible after the two countries settled on the political guiding principles that "economic and trade relations are conducive to the increase of mutual trust and negotiated settlement of border issues." 

The IMF estimates that the China's GDP may overtake that of the US by 2017. By the middle of this century China and India will be the biggest economies in the world. Together their GDP are about $10 trillion and still rising. 

CBI probe ordered into Italian chopper deal


February 13, 2013
Vinay Kumar

The Hindu An Agusta Westland Helicopter on display at India Aviation 2010 in Hyderabad. File photo: K. Ramesh Babu 

The Defence Ministry on Tuesday ordered an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the allegations of bribery and financial irregularities in the Rs. 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal with Italian defence firm Finmeccanica. The 2010 contract involved the supply of 12 Agusta Westland choppers. 

Defence Minister A. K. Antony ordered the CBI probe soon after it became known that Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Finmeccanica, was arrested in Milan on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. 

“He [Orsi] is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale to the Indian government of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica’s subsidiary AgustaWestland,’’ Italian news agency Ansa said. 

Prosecutors suspect that around 50 million euros (about Rs 362 crore), about 10 per cent of the contracted amount, were ploughed back as kickbacks to ensure AgustaWestland won the contract, the agency reported. 

According to media reports quoted in an AFP despatch from Rome, the Italian police arrested the chief executive of Finmeccanica for corruption and embezzlement in relation to alleged bribes given to the Indian government. 

Giuseppe Orsi had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the India deal. The report said the magistrate in the case also issued an order for the head of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, to be put under house arrest. 

AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS ROADMAP TO 2015: INTERNAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE FOR INDIA?

by Monish Gulati
FEBRUARY 11, 2013

A four page document titled the 'Peace Process Roadmap to 2015' seems to be scripting events and future developments in AfPak. Reportedly drafted by the Afghan President Karzai and his inner circle, the document's western 'tone and tenor' has led some analyst to suspect a foreign linkage. The 'roadmap to 2015' on the letter head of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) and datelined November 2012 enumerates a five step process; each step with its objectives and superimposed on a timeline. The plan was presented to Pakistan and the US during visits in November 2012 by the HPC Chairman Salauddin Rabbani. The roadmap 2015 is not without its grey areas, and opens itself to varying interpretations and implications. 

The Afghan peace process envisions that "by 2015, Taliban and other armed groups will have given up armed opposition, transformed from military entities into political parties…and participated in national elections." And more significantly "NATO/ISAF forces will have departed from Afghanistan, leaving the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) as the only legitimate armed forces…" The roadmap, however, seeks to preserve Afghanistan as a parliamentary democracy, denying the militants the Islamic rule. 

The first step of the process includes an end to cross-border shelling, the transfer of Taliban prisoners by Pakistan to Afghanistan or a third country, and pressure on the Taliban to sever ties with al-Qaeda. Step two (slotted for the first half of 2013) includes amongst other issues, agreement on the terms of direct peace talks. The third step slated for the second half of 2013, envisages a ceasefire. Recent events indicate that the first step of the roadmap has largely been implemented despite glitches such as the Taliban's refusal to talk directly to the Karzai government, seek changes to the Afghan constitution and insistence on withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan. 

A key factor in the peace process has been how the US has 'reconciled' its objectives in AfPak. US now believes that the reason it is in Afghanistan is al-Qaeda; an objective that has either been met or is on the verge of being met substantially. The success of the drone campaign and killing of Osama bin Laden are supportive of the notion. The nation building efforts in Afghanistan and the conflict with the Taliban were only means to an end- eliminating al-Qaeda in the region, which paradoxically was mainly in Pakistan. Hence, further engagement of Taliban or nation building are not worthy of more efforts .The primary U.S. national security interests in the region are ( and have been) to quell terrorism against the US and this will determine its future posture in the region including exercising a 'zero option' on residual force levels in Afghanistan post 2014. The 'zero option' incidentally is viewed by some analysts as supportive of the 'Roadmap to 2015' as it addresses a key Taliban demand.

India sees Pakistan imprint in North Korean nuclear test


February 13, 2013
Sandeep Dikshit 

Benazir was a key player in furthering clandestine linkages 

India seized on two developments at the Conference on Disarmament to draw attention to the close links between North Korea and Pakistan in developing nuclear weapons.

With the U.N. disarmament forum taking up the issues of North Korea’s surprise nuclear test and Pakistan restating its opposition to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, sources here drew attention to the close links between the two countries that enabled Pyongyang to proceed further on the weaponisation route.

If indeed uranium was used in the nuclear explosion, the sources said, Pakistan’s imprint was more than visible. As The Hindu earlier reported, the former Pakistan Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was a key player in furthering clandestine nuclear linkages between Islamabad and Pyongyang by personally taking compact discs to and from North Korea.

According to a book by her Oxford collegemate and journalist Shyam Bhatia, who subsequently kept in regular touch with her, North Korea offered to provide Pakistan long-range missiles to offset its imbalance with India’s integrated guided missile development programme then led by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

In the controversial book Goodbye Shahzadi, Mr. Bhatia says that by 1993, Pakistan was under the spotlight as never before (on bartering enrichment technology for missiles), with Russia, India and western secret services monitoring every nuance of its military research.

“This was where Benazir came in useful. As she was due to visit North Korea at the end of 1993, she was asked and readily agreed to carry critical nuclear data on her person and hand it over on arrival in Pyongyang…..The gist of what she told me was that before leaving Islamabad she shopped for an overcoat with the deepest possible pockets into which she transferred CDs containing the scientific data about uranium which the North Korean wanted.”

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India Vinod Rai delivered a speech on Social Obligation of Public Auditors at Harvard Kennedy School in the US.

08 Feb 2013
NDTV.com


Here is the full text of the speech:

I deem it a great privilege to be able to address such a distinguished gathering in such a distinguished school. Privilege - not because I stand in America's most elite university; privilege - not because I stand in front of some of the finest and brightest brains in the world, privilege - because I stand in front of a group who have the capacity and opportunity to transform processes and the very thinking of people. I am conscious as I stand before you that I address a group who will wield tremendous influence on the future of the societies they belong to and who will emerge as future leaders. I say this as many who have passed from this School are indeed very distinguished leaders in many countries of the globe. I consider getting an opportunity to interact with such a group, an honour.

Immediately after my college education, I joined the Indian Civil Service and have been a bureaucrat all my life. A bureaucrat, according to a definition is: an official who works by a fixed routine, without exercising intelligent judgment. Frank Hubert in his science fiction novel, 'Heretics of Doom', says "bureaucracy destroys initiative". He elaborates by saying that there is little a bureaucrat hates more than innovation, specially innovations that produce better results. Adjectives like rigid, negative, close minded, unresponsive are routinely attributed to us. So how is it that after spending 40 years in this supposedly rigid, red-tape ridden system, I stand before you with the confidence that I can call upon you to address precisely those attributes which we are not committed to doing. I do so, with the confidence of my personal experience of a rewarding career in government. I firmly believe that the attributes ascribed to us are bogeys.
They are red herrings.

Governance in government is, exercising power and taking decisions on behalf of people. The well-being and development of this group of people in the village, city or country, depends upon the choices made by the people granted this authority. It is easier to misuse or not use this authority. Good governance, according to the United Nations, is when its authority and institutions are accountable, effective and efficient, transparent, responsive, equitable and inclusive and follow the rule of law. In the present age, governance has assumed such critical proportions that it appears too important to be left only to the government. The stakeholders in governance have expanded beyond the executive, legislature and judiciary to civil society, social organisations, media and the public. Apart from the base expanding,each new stakeholder has become very vociferous and demanding. It is in this context that I propose to discuss with you the role of the public auditor.

India’s Foreign Policy 2012: A Critical Review in Relation to China and Pakistan Military Threats

Paper No. 5388 ,11-Feb-2013 
By Dr Subhash Kapila 

Introductory Observations 

India’s foreign policy successes cannot be measured by the number of foreign dignitaries visiting India annually, from Presidents to Prime Ministers, or hosting international conferences in New Delhi. This would be a delusionary deduction to draw as such beelines were visible also in the hey-day of the equally delusionary days of the Non Alignment era. What was the end result? 

China’s military aggression in 1962 militarily humiliating India not because the Indian Armed Forces were professionally incompetent but because the Indian policy establishment went grievously wrong in assessing the China threat, keeping the country in the dark about it and being oblivious to India’s war-preparedness. Down the line Pakistan too resorted to military aggression twice in 1965 in the Rann of Kutch and Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign policy failures in both cases were obvious. 

India’s foreign policy today can be analysed as effective and successful only when measured against three critical determinants of whether the Indian foreign policy establishment has accurately assessed India’s security environment, accurately assessed and articulated precisely the threats to Indian security, and crafted India’s responses in terms of policy formulations to deal with the threats existent. Regrettably, in the year 2012 that just faded into history, the Indian foreign policy establishment failed to measure upto any of the determinants stated above. 

In the last eight years India has lost political influence over its South Asian peripheral neighbours and India seems adrift in not applying course corrections to regain that influence and control despite the much leverage available at India’s command today. Presumably in 2012 this may have arisen from external readings of India’s uninspiring internal dynamics in terms of political corruption and the governing dispensation not attempting obtaining of bipartisan support for its foreign policy initiatives. 

China’s Total Goods Trade Surpassed U.S in 2012

By James Parker
February 12, 2013

China’s growing economic importance is hardly news, but still certain economic milestones do serve to highlight the shifts underway in the global economy. According to statistics from both China and the United States, 2012 saw China’s total goods trade surpass that of the United States for the first time. 

The stats from the U.S. Commerce Department show that the U.S. total trade in goods (exports and imports of goods) totalled USD$3.82 trillion in 2012. China Customs, who publish the equivalent data for the country, recorded China’s total trade in goods at USD$3.87 trillion, marking the first year in the modern era that China’s total goods trade surpassed that of the U.S. 

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering these statistics. For one thing, trade in goods is not equivalent to total trade. A further category of trade is that in services, where the U.S. has an advantage due to its more advanced stage of economic development. In fact in 2012, U.S. total trade (including goods and services) was recorded at USD$4.93 trillion – the country recorded a trade surplus in services whilst recording a much larger deficit in the goods sector. 

Another issue which distorts trade statistics is that of illicit fund outflows from China. Such outflows usually occur as a result of crimes such as corruption and tax evasion, in which China’s wealthy and well-connected elite are believed to excel. Moving funds offshore decreases chances of detection, and given the incoming leadership’s focus on graft and corruption, it is understandable that such practices could have increased in recent months. Even income equality policies are bound to encourage the wealthy and illicitly wealthy to move their money offshore. 

Gwadar and the “String of Pearls”

By James R. Holmes 

February 9, 2013 


This week the not-so-unexpected news broke that Overseas Port Holdings Ltd., a Chinese state-run enterprise, has taken over management of the western Pakistani seaport of Gwadar from the Singaporean firm PSA International. The transfer of the container port facility — whose development Beijing has bankrolled over the past decade — has been in the works for some years now. It comes as little shock. 

Still, Indian officialdom voiced concern about a Chinese presence along the subcontinent's western flank. Suitably improved, a container port can accommodate men-of-war. Accordingly, many in New Delhi fret over the prospect of a "string of pearls," a network of Chinese naval bases encircling India from the sea and cramping the nation's maritime aspirations. 

A sort of cascade effect is at work in the Indo-Pacific. In the Western Pacific, China worries about being encircled; in South Asia, China is the power seen as intent on doing the encircling. In the Western Pacific, China is the rising naval challenger facing off against a seagoing hegemon, America; in South Asia, China looks to Indian eyes like the seagoing hegemon of the future. It's hardly surprising, consequently, that a hypothetical network of Chinese bases triggers some of the same reflexes in New Delhi that longstanding American primacy triggers in East Asia. 

Are Indian fears overwrought? For now, yes. I first wrote about this in the 2007 timeframe, applying Alfred Thayer Mahan's framework for appraising the worth of prospective naval stations. Mahan measured the value of a base in terms of its position on the map, meaning its proximity to important sea lanes or chokepoints; its strength, meaning its natural defenses against attack or its capacity to be fortified; and its resources, meaning its capacity to supply itself from the port's environs or by shipping in supplies. 

Russia and China: Is the World Ready for Their Decline?

February 11, 2013
By LILIA SHEVTSOVA 


When Russia and China come up as subjects in the media and in political and academic discourse (as they frequently do), they are discussed in terms of bilateral relations, as a segue into a discussion of regional and global politics, as authoritarian threats to the West, or as examples of attempts at authoritarian modernization. Ever since Bobo Lo and I endeavored to compare Russia’s and China’s roads to modernization (see “A 21st Century Myth: Authoritarian Modernization in Russia and China”), I cannot help feeling that a comparison of these two civilizations and their centralized states, as they both look for an appropriate response to the Western democracies, would reveal not only the dramas of undemocratic societies and an understanding of the limitations of modernization efforts by top-down governments, but also the challenges that the West faces—challenges that it is, to date, incapable of assessing correctly. 

Observing the authoritarian experiments of these two serious global actors (although one of them has been weakened), as well as their search for an appropriate international role, has made for interesting viewing, revealing several paradoxes: first, the paradox of stability covering up a deeper instability and impending upheavals; second, the paradox of economic growth that is most likely only a brief respite before a precipitous fall; third, the paradox of outward displays of force that conceal inner weakness and disorientation. These paradoxes illustrate that there is a conflict between perceptions and reality in these two authoritarian states. The only question is to what extent they are the results of conscious distortions of reality as opposed to naivety or unwillingness to accept inconvenient truths. 

Were Arnold Toynbee alive today, a comparison of Russia and China would provide him with ample material for his theories on the rise and fall of civilizations. Perhaps, Samuel Huntington would have revised some of his conclusions on reform from the top and the role of the middle class in modernization. I hope, too, that Francis Fukuyama will have a chance to compare the modern evolutions of Russia and China, and their systems’ struggles for survival, in the upcoming second volume of The Origins of Political Order. 

5 Ways China Could Become a Democracy

February 13, 2013 

By Minxin Pei

Few have seriously thought about the probability and the various plausible scenarios of a regime transition in China -- until now. 

Speculating about China’s possible political futures is an intellectual activity that intrigues some and puzzles many. The conventional wisdom is that the entrenched Chinese Communist Party (CCP), so determined to defend and perpetuate its political monopoly, has the means to survive for an extended period (though not forever). A minority view, however, holds that the CCP’s days are numbered. In fact, a transition to democracy in China in the next 10 to 15 years is a high probability event. What stands behind this optimistic view about China’s democratic future is accumulated international and historical experience in democratic transitions (roughly 80 countries have made the transition from authoritarian rule to varying forms and degrees of democracy in the past 40 years) and decades of social science research that has yielded important insights into the dynamics of democratic transition and authoritarian decay (the two closely linked processes). 

To be sure, those believing that China’s one-party regime still has enough resilience to endure decades of rule can point to the CCP’s proven and enormous capacity for repression (the most critical factor in the survival of autocracies), its ability to adapt to socioeconomic changes (although the degree of its adaptability is a subject of scholarly contention), and its track record of delivering economic improvement as a source of legitimacy. 

To this list of reasons why the Chinese people should resign themselves to decades of one-party rule will be a set of factors singled out by proponents of the theory of predictable regime change in China. Among many of the causes of the decline and collapse of authoritarian rule, two stand out. 

First, there is the logic of authoritarian decay. One-party regimes, however sophisticated, suffer from organizational ageing and decay. Leaders get progressively weaker (in terms of capabilities and ideological commitment); such regimes tend to attract careerists and opportunists who view their role in the regime from the perspective of an investor: they want to maximize their returns from their contribution to the regime’s maintenance and survival. The result is escalating corruption, deteriorating governance, and growing alienation of the masses. Empirically, the organizational decay of one-party regime can be measured by the limited longevity of such regimes. To date, the record longevity of a one-party regime is 74 years (held by the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union). One-party regimes in Mexico and Taiwan remained in power for 71 and 73 years respectively (although in the case of Taiwan, the accounting is complicated by the Kuomintang’s military defeat on the mainland). Moreover, all of the three longest-ruling one-party regimes began to experience system-threatening crisis roughly a decade before they exited political power. If the same historical experience should be repeated in China, where the Communist Party has ruled for 63 years, we may reasonably speculate that the probability of a regime transition is both real and high in the coming 10-15 years, when the CCP will reach the upper-limit of the longevity of one-party regimes. 

Five Things Japan Could Have Done to Beat America

By James R. Holmes 

February 11, 2013 


How could Imperial Japan have defeated the United States during the Second World War? 

I'm not much of one for alt-history; it's too much like writing fiction, a genre for which I have no gift. Prophesying about what would have happened had one of the antagonists done this or that quickly degenerates into a guessing game. Still, it is possible to identify some things Tokyo could have done to improve its chances of prevailing over an industrial giant that only needed time and resolve to build up overwhelming military power. Bottom line, the weaker side has to fight smart to win against the strong. 

Herewith, my list of five ways Imperial Japan could have offset the resource disparity: 

Don't fight land and sea wars simultaneously. Unable to referee between the army, which espoused war in continental Asia, and the navy, which beckoned his attention seaward, the emperor permitted both campaigns to proceed. Tokyo thus disregarded the strategic wisdom of a Carl von Clausewitz, who warned against opening new theaters that place success in the primary theater at risk. The emperor failed to adjudicate between the military services — and thus compelled the empire to fight a far stronger power with only a fraction of its strength. Dispersing power is misbegotten strategy for the weaker belligerent. 

Few Korea hands on Obama administration’s Asia leadership team

By Josh Rogin
February 12, 2013


As the world wakes up to the reality of a heightened crisis with North Korea following its latest nuclear test, the Obama administration finds itself with remarkably few Korea experts at the top of its Asia policy team. 

North Korea confirmed Monday it had detonated a nuclear bomb for the third time, blatantly disregarding United Nations resolutions and the repeated warnings of the international community. The U.N. Security Council scrambled to call a Tuesday meeting on the incident and U.S. President Barack Obama issued a strongly worded statement of condemnation early Tuesday morning. 

"This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea's obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation," Obama's statement said. "North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security." 

Obama said North Korea's activities warrant "swift and credible action" by the international community but declined to specify what action he intends to pursue. North Korea is the most heavily sanctioned country in the world, and most experts believe only China has substantial leverage to bring to bear on the Hermit Kingdom run by the young dictator Kim Jong Un. 

On the Obama administration's Asia team, almost all the senior officials handling the North Korea crisis have specialties outside of Korean affairs, a stark difference from the last two times Pyongyang exploded nuclear weapons in October 2006 and May 2009. 

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who had extensive experience dealing with the North Korea issue, departed the government last week. His temporary replacement, Principal Deputy Secretary of State Joe Yun, is a Southeast Asia specialist. Yun has served in the Seoul embassy but is not in a senior policy making position. The State Department's special representative for North Korea policy, Glyn Davies, is a nuclear technology and Europe expert, having most recently served as the U.S. permanent representative to the IAEA in Vienna. State's special envoy to the (defunct) six-party talks, Clifford Hart, is a longtime China hand. 

Any Solution to Syria?

NYT , By Thomas L. Friedman
February 9, 2013

Should the U.S. intervene to stop the bloodshed in Syria? I find myself torn between four different perspectives — from New Delhi, Baghdad, Tel Aviv and the U.N. 

Last week, I met with a group of Indian strategists here at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses to talk about how America should withdraw from Afghanistan and navigate the interests of India, Pakistan and Iran. At one point, I tossed out an idea to which one of the Indian analysts responded: That was tried before — “in the 11th century.” It didn’t work out well. That’s why I like coming to Delhi to talk about the region. Indian officials tend to think in centuries, not months, and they look at the map of the Middle East without any of the British-drawn colonial borders. Instead, they only see old civilizations (Persia, Turkey, Egypt), old faiths (Shiites, Sunnis and Hindus), and old peoples (Pashtuns, Tajiks, Jews and Arabs) — all interacting within long-set patterns of behavior. “If you want to understand this region, just take out a map from the Ganges to the Nile and remove the British lines,” remarked M. J. Akbar, the veteran Indian Muslim journalist and author. It takes you back to the true undercurrents of history that have long ruled the Middle East “and to interests defined by people and tribes and not just governments.” 

When you look at the region this way, what do you see? First, you see that there is no way the U.S. can keep Afghanistan stable after we draw down — without working with Iran. Because of the age-old ties between Iranian Shiites and the Shiite Persian-speaking Afghans of Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city, Iran always was and always will be a player in Afghan politics. Shiite Iran has never liked the Sunni Taliban. “Iran is the natural counter to Sunni extremism,” said Akbar. It’s in Iran’s interest to “diminish the Taliban.” That’s why America and Iran were tacit allies in unseating the Taliban, and they will be tacit allies in preventing the reseating of the Taliban. So from India, the struggle in Syria looks like just another chapter in the long-running Sunni-Shiite civil war. Syria is a proxy war between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Qatar — two monarchies funding the Syrian “democrats,” who are largely Syrian Sunnis — and Shiite Iran and the Shiite-Alawite Syrian regime. It’s a war that never ends; it can only be suppressed. 

An emerging R&D superpower

By Biswajit Dhar
Feb 11 2013


Seen from the vantage of patent filings and research output—proxies for innovation—China is outpacing the US

The relationship between innovation and the economic fortunes of countries is not a long-established trend. Its significance is rising by the day as the manifold dimensions of the knowledge economy unfold. However, the question of identifying and ranking countries as the forefront of innovative activities is a contentious one. It is logical to expect such a situation as none of the major economies will accept that they are falling behind competitors in innovation, a proxy marker for where their economies will be in coming years. 

The latest in the series of assessments about the innovativeness of countries is Bloomberg’s Innovation Index. Bloomberg produces a list of the 50 most innovative countries based on an innovation quotient derived using several factors that include the share of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on research and development (R&D) activities (or R&D intensity), productivity as measured by the share of GDP per employed person, R&D per million population, patent applications per million population and presence of high-tech companies among publicly listed firms. 

The index provides some interesting insights. The US is the most innovative country by the sheer strength of its high-tech companies although its R&D intensity is relatively low. South Korea is the second best, because of its relatively better patenting activity. However, its productivity numbers are well below average: a rather strange finding given the high marks that South Korean firms get for their shop floor efficiency. 
But this is not the only counterfactual element of this index. Most countries, other than those at the top of the list, are not known innovators. But the most surprising of the findings is the low ranking of China in the index despite the fact that the country has rapidly increased its R&D spending in recent years. 

Measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), China’s R&D expenditure reached nearly $200 billion in 2012, almost twice the level of spending in 2008. As a result of this surge, China was able to replace Japan as the second largest R&D spender in PPP terms since 2010. China’s spending on this account has registered double-digit increases over the past few years and indications are that its spending in 2013 will rise by 12% on the heels of an 11% increase in 2012. Owing to this frenetic increase, China is expected to spend more than 52% of the planned US spending on R&D in 2013. 

But it is not merely in its financial commitment that China’s R&D spending stands out, the country seems to be investing in several critical areas, most notably in churning out scientists and engineers in which it is currently outpacing the US. Furthermore, China’s share of technical papers published globally has steadily risen over the past decade, while that of the US has gone in the opposite direction. Importantly, the Royal Society, the association representing many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine, in a report published in 2011, showed that China was second only to the US in terms of its share of the world’s scientific research papers written in English. Looking ahead, the report concluded that China’s total research output could surpass that of the US in 2013. If this trend continues, China’s share in the technical papers produced globally will increase to 22% by 2020 while the share of the US will fall to less than 10%. 

China is surging ahead not merely in terms of output of research papers, the impact of its papers, too, is greater. The citation impact of Chinese technical papers calculated by Thomson Reuters has shown a steady increase over the past decade while that of the US has stagnated. 
Research papers are not the only indicator of output in which China is outscoring the US. The same story has been repeated in the case of applications for patents, another indicator of R&D output. In 2011, applications for the grant of patents for inventions filed by resident Chinese in their national patent office, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), exceeded 400,000. 
In the same year, US residents filed about 72,000 patent applications for inventions in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It’s on the back of such aggressive patenting that SIPO has emerged as the largest patent office in 2011, upstaging the USPTO. This rapid increase in patent applications seems to have continued unabated in 2012: data available from SIPO for the first 11 months of the year show that the applications received for the grant of patents for inventions increased by nearly a quarter. In other words, total patent applications that China is likely to have received in 2012 will be in excess of 650,000. There is no doubt that these developments will have a lasting impact on the future dynamics of the global economy. 

Biswajit Dhar is director general at Research and Information System for Developing Countries, New Delhi.