19 February 2013

**Hellfire, Morality and Strategy

February 19, 2013,Stratfor

By George Friedman

Airstrikes by unmanned aerial vehicles have become a matter of serious dispute lately. The controversy focuses on the United States, which has the biggest fleet of these weapons and which employs them more frequently than any other country. On one side of this dispute are those who regard them simply as another weapon of war whose virtue is the precision with which they strike targets. On the other side are those who argue that in general, unmanned aerial vehicles are used to kill specific individuals, frequently civilians, thus denying the targeted individuals their basic right to some form of legal due process. 

Let's begin with the weapons systems, the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper. The media call them drones, but they are actually remotely piloted aircraft. Rather than being in the cockpit, the pilot is at a ground station, receiving flight data and visual images from the aircraft and sending command signals back to it via a satellite data link. Numerous advanced systems and technologies work together to make this possible, but it is important to remember that most of these technologies have been around in some form for decades, and the U.S. government first integrated them in the 1990s. The Predator carries two Hellfire missiles -- precision-guided munitions that, once locked onto the target by the pilot, guide themselves to the target with a high likelihood of striking it. The larger Reaper carries an even larger payload of ordnance -- up to 14 Hellfire missiles or four Hellfire missiles and two 500-pound bombs. Most airstrikes from these aircraft use Hellfire missiles, which cause less collateral damage. 

Unlike a manned aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles can remain in the air for an extended period of time -- an important capability for engaging targets that may only present a very narrow target window. This ability to loiter, and then strike quickly when a target presents itself, is what has made these weapons systems preferable to fixed wing aircraft and cruise missiles. 
The Argument Against Airstrikes 

Soft Targets Back in Focus

February 14, 2013, Stratfor

By Scott Stewart

From time to time, I will sit down to write a series of analyses on a particular topic, such as the fundamentals of terrorism series last February. Other times, unrelated events in different parts of the world are tied together by analytical threads, naturally becoming a series. This is what has happened with the last three weekly security analyses -- a common analytical narrative has risen to connect them. 

First, we discussed how the Jan. 16 attack against the Tigantourine natural gas facility near Ain Amenas, Algeria, would result in increased security at energy facilities in the region. Second, we discussed foreign interventions in Libya and Syria and how they have regional or even global consequences that can persist for years. Finally, last week we discussed how the robust, layered security at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara served to thwart a suicide bombing. 

Together, these topics spotlight the heightened and persistent terrorist threat in North Africa as well as Turkey and the Levant. They also demonstrate that militants in those regions will be able to acquire weapons with ease. But perhaps the most important lesson from them is that as diplomatic missions are withdrawn or downsized and as security is increased at embassies and energy facilities, the threat is going to once again shift toward softer targets. 

Soft Targets 

Obviously, individuals desiring to launch a terrorist attack seek to strike the highest-profile, most symbolic target possible. If it is well known, the target can magnify the terror, especially when the operation grabs the attention of international media. Such extensive exposure not only allows people around the globe to be informed minute by minute about unfolding events, but it also permits them to become secondary, vicarious victims of the unfolding violence. The increased exposure also ensures that the audience affected by the operation becomes far larger than just those in the immediate vicinity of the attack. The attack on the U.S. diplomatic office in Benghazi and the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens led to months of media coverage that has included televised congressional hearings and fierce partisan and bureaucratic squabbles in the media. It was the terrorist equivalent of winning the lottery. 

China's String of Pearls vs India's Iron Curtain

By Cmde Ranjit B Rai 

19 Feb , 2013 

“India’s growing international stature gives it strategic relevance in the area ranging from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca…India has exploited the fluidities of the emerging world order to forge new links through a combination of diplomatic repositioning, economic resurgence and military firmness”. 

—Dr Manmohan Singh 

“We see the Indian Navy as a significant stabilising force in the Indian Ocean region, which safeguards traffic bound not only for our own ports, but also the flow of hydrocarbons and strategically important cargo to and from the rest of the world across the strategic waterways close to our shores…And so, the safety of SLOCS will always remain a priority for India in the foreseeable future” 

—Admiral Sureesh Mehta 

The above statements have given grist to China to defend itself on what has been touted by a US researcher as ‘China’s String of Pearls’ of bases in the Indian Ocean. Naval analyst Zhang Ming recently proclaimed that the Islands of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago could be used as a ‘metal chain’ to block Chinese access to the Straits of Malacca. China has gone further to claim that India is building an ‘Iron Curtain’ in the Indian Ocean, which is debatable. 

In recent years, a number of analysts have drawn attention to the similarities of nationalism, between the rise of modern China and the rise of Wilhelmine Germany. Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria, says that “like Germany in the late 19th century, China is growing rapidly but uncertainly, into a global system (including the Indian Ocean) in which it feels it deserves more attention and honor. The Chinese military ( CMC) is a powerful political player, as was the Prussian officer corps. Like Germany, the Chinese regime is trying to hold on to political power even as it unleashes forces in society that make its control increasingly shaky.” 

Maritime Ambitions of China

By Vice Adm RN Ganesh 

19 Feb , 2013 

Chinese Aircraft Carrier 

Before the 15th century China was a seafaring nation, with advanced shipbuilding and navigation skills. After the famous voyages of Admiral Zheng He during the Ming period which demonstrated what a powerful naval fleet could achieve, an eccentric emperor did a complete volte face, banned all maritime activity, and systematically dismantled its sea power, going to the extreme of destroying all important mariners’ records and shipbuilders’ texts in a medieval version of the Cultural Revolution.1 This effectively blocked China from becoming a seafaring nation for centuries. 

China has its own interpretation of its EEZ, within which it claims the right to regulate all traffic, including military vessels. 

Overt nuclear threats by the US during the Korean War made China determined to acquire nuclear weapons, which they saw as the great equalizer. In the beginning years China’s policy for the attainment of its strategic objectives was to “build its strength and bide its time.”2 

Its strategy however remained land-oriented. Its view of naval power was heavily influenced by the many river battles its warring rulers had fought throughout its history. The navy was nothing but an adjunct to the PLA, with a strong riverine component. It was only in the 1980s that the basis for a modern PLAN was created by Adm Liu Huaqing, who persuaded the CMC to shed its coastal outlook and convinced them of the need for a blue-water navy. 

The Curse of Stability in Central Asia

FEBRUARY 15, 2013 

The autocrats of Central Asia like to tout the virtues of stability. But they're really making excuses for decay.

Central Asia has a reputation for volatility. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the region has been referred to as a "hotbed" of destabilization, instability, violence, Islamic extremism, and other nefarious qualities that once led Zbigniew Brzezinski to dub it "the Eurasian Balkans." International observers cite Central Asia's crumbling infrastructure, brutal dictatorships, and remittance economies as evidence of the region's imminent demise. They watch as it hits new lows on indexes for corruption and repression. No regime with such problems can survive, they argue reasonably. 

Yet year after year, the dictatorships of Central Asia do. 

The slow, tortuous decline of Central Asia is something we should all pay attention to -- not because it will inevitably lead to state collapse, but because it might not. Central Asia shows how a country (Tajikistan) can spend decades sliding toward a failed state, yet never quite arrive. It shows how mass violence can claim the lives of hundreds, as in Uzbekistan in 2005, yet fail to alter the political structure that predicated it. Above all, Central Asia shows how quiet repression can be as damaging as violent conflict -- and more difficult to quell or contest. Central Asia's biggest problem is not conflict, but stagnation: the consistency of corruption, the chimera of change. 

Environmentalists and the Military Should Play Nice

By Carrie Arnold
Feb. 15, 2013

They could see the world and make beautiful data together. 

A few minutes after detonation of the atomic blast in Operation Cue, May 5, 1955. 

Courtesy of National Archives 

Nicholas Makris was on a mission. His goal was simple enough: The acoustical engineer at MIT wanted to find some old Navy equipment to study the cod fisheries in the North Atlantic. The cod population seemed to be in trouble, and Makris wanted to take an accurate census and to see just how bad the situation was. 

Makris thought he could do the job with a special type of sonar and other equipment used by the Navy during the Cold War to monitor the depths for Soviet submarines. It was 2002, however, and much of the equipment hadn’t been touched for nearly two decades. Most of it was inoperable, and even the working paraphernalia was sitting in a warehouse and gathering dust. Ultimately, Makris and his team got the equipment back in working order, but it took a lot of time and money. “There’s a problem when a technology is used for only one purpose and that purpose goes away,” Makris said. “We need to take the sword and forge plows out of it or else the sword is going to rust.” 

A group of scientists makes a compelling case in Science this week for formally bringing together tree-hugging environmentalists and government and military stiffs by having them work together to gather data on the world. The information both groups are after—about everything from chemicals in the air to explosions in the Earth’s crust—is actually quite similar. Scientists are already repurposing some Cold War technologies to study every aspect of the environment, from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the atmosphere. Other technology is still being used for its original military purposes, and the government is already paying to have data monitored and analyzed. It would be an easy and obvious step to piggyback environmental research onto national security research. Rather than fight childish turf wars over who gets what funding and why, the scientists propose that everyone play nice and share. 

How Britain Controls the Global Narrative

February 9, 2013 

Why does the British government build a splendid new home for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) when it is imposing painful cuts in all other areas of public expenditure? 

Why does the BBC need a “World News Room” with more reporters worldwide than CNN and far more than India, China and Africa combined? 

Why continue to have full-fledged services in Arabic, Urdu, Hindi and Swahili? 

The answer is the same to all the questions: it is critically important for British power to impose its narrative on world affairs, and the BBC, a widely effective instrument of propaganda since the heyday of Empire, plays a key role.

Why bother when the Empire is dead and gone?

That’s the beauty of controlling the narrative: the Empire is neither dead nor gone; in fact, it is more powerful today than ever. 

As the formal structures of colonial rule came down in the second half of the 20th Century, Britain created a string of “tax havens” around the world, globalizing a system long dominated by its own Jersey Islands and Switzerland. There are some 70 tax havens now, most of them in small island territories like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Mauritius, and they operate with the City (financial center) of London as a global hub to launder and invest the world’s black money. Partial estimates put its assets at about $30 trillion, double the size of the American economy, and the annual flow of laundered money at $2 trillion, about the same as Indian GDP.

This system handles the proceeds of criminal activity ranging from tax evasion and official corruption to the trafficking of prostitutes and drugs. According to the latest report from the Washington-based NGO Global Financial Integrity, it drained an estimated $6 trillion from poor countries over the last decade, more than ten times what they received as “development aid.” 

The system also victimizes affluent countries, including the United States and Germany; their super-rich use it to evade billions in personal and corporate taxes.

More questions about COIN (VI): Do we really understand the nature of the fight?

By Thomas E. Ricks 
February 18, 2013

By Major Tom Mcilwaine, Queen's Royal Hussars 

Best Defense guest columnist 

Question Set Six :
  1. Do the historical case studies that we do use stand up to scrutiny? 
  2. Again, one question leads us onto a series of further questions. Those case studies (assuming that they are relevant, and that we should not in fact be looking to Omdurman instead) are they based on the accepted narrative or on the historical record?
  3. Did the British really rely on the principles of minimum force, winning popular support, and an adherence to the law? 
  4. Or did they in fact use torture, exemplary force, and laws which in essence placed themselves above the law?
  5. The emerging archival evidence on the British approach, particularly in Kenya, is beginning to show that this might in fact be the case. This is an area which requires more work because the answer to it may well hold the key to answering Clausewitz's question what is the nature of the struggle in which we are involved?

On political science, policy and writing

By Daniel W. Drezner
February 19, 2013

Your humble blogger was not kidding when he said he was on vacation. Furthermore, this isn't one of those vacations where I can just hide away in my hotel room for hours on end, composing the kind of artisanal, hand-crafted blog posts that make feel Wittgensteinian and all. No, this is the kind of vacation where I can feel the disapproving eyes of my family on my hunched shoulders every time I look at my laptop. 

So, in the interest of making everyone happy, this week's blog posts will be of the more old school, "Hey, read this!" kind of link-o-rama that Twitter has made quasi-obsiolete. For each day, I'll focus on topics that revisit an old blog post of mine, to see if there's anything new of interesting out there. 

Today: the state of political science research and writing. 

1) Greg Ferenstein, "Former Political Scientist to Congress: Please Defund Political Science." The Atlantic. My take: in all seriousness, about 85% of all political science research can pass the "mother in law test" -- the question is whether political scientists are articulate enough to do this with their own research. 

2) Stephen Walt, "On writing well," Foreign Policy. My take: outsourced to Steve Saideman. 

3) Jay Ulfelder, "Why is Academic Writing so Bad? A Brief Response to Stephen Walt," Dart-Throwing Chimp. My take: um... yeah, Jay's right. One caveat: writing for a general audience require some genuine craft and care with one's prose style, so those political scientists who want to write for a wider audience do need to care about the writing. Which leads to whispers and murmurs that if they write well, they're not focusing enough on their research. Which leads to a vicious cycle of bad writing. 

4) Adam Elkus, "Relevant to Policy?" CNAS. My take: definitely worth a read, and an interesting counter to Ferenstein in particular. 

And now... time to unhunch my shoulders!!

Amol Rajan: India looks to the US, not Britain, to help it grow

By Amol Rajan 
18 February 2013 

What can the British do for Indians? David Cameron in India

As recently as the 1930s, the official view of Britain’s ruling class towards India bordered on fascism. In those last, sepia-tinged days of the Raj, Winston Churchill, who once called Gandhi a “seditious fakir”, said that if the British departed “India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages”. 
For the British “to abandon India to the rule of Brahmins would be an act of cruel and wicked negligence”. The idea of Indian independence, he added, was “not only fantastic in itself but criminally mischievous in its effects”.

About the mischief Churchill was right; but, over six decades on from the bloody vivisection of partition, the secular republic of India is doing rather well. So much so, in fact, that when one of Churchill’s successors as PM visits the former colony this week, he’ll find the old imperial relationship inverted. Now the question is not what Indians can do for the British but what the British can do for Indians. Unfortunately, David Cameron, the answer is: not much.

He knows it is wise to make a strong ally of India, because this century belongs to her, and for two reasons: democracy and demography. India is the most unnatural experiment in any form of government that’s ever been tried. But the success of that experiment gives it a stability that other emerging superpowers lack.

India can go ahead with Kishenganga

February 19, 2013 


The Hindu File photo of work in progress on 330 Megawatt Kishenganga Hydro Electric Power Project in North Kashmir district of Bandipora. Photo: Nissar Ahmad 

But Arbitration Court imposes conditions 

In a major decision, the Court of Arbitration at The Hague has allowed India to go ahead with the construction of the Rs. 3600 crore Kishenganga hydro-electric project in North Kashmir, rejecting Pakistan's plea that this was a violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty. 

In its award delivered at The Hague on Monday, the Court chaired by Stephen M. Schwebel, said India can go ahead with the diversion of the waters of Kishanganga, a tributary of Jhelum, for hydro-electric power generation. 

However, the court restrained India from adopting the drawdown flushing technique for clearing sedimentation in the run-of-the river project designed for generation of 330 MW power. India may have to adopt a different technique for flushing. 

In the initial reports received by The Hindu it is learnt that the court also sought statistics on the environmental flows into the river downstream of the project. 

Pakistan had objected to the drawdown flushing apprehending that it will affect flows at its downstream Neelam project. 

Maoist’s New Political Line and Challenges

By Nihar Nayak
February 18, 2013 

After seven days of deliberations, the 7th General Convention (GC) of the UCPN (Maoist) party (known as Prachanda faction) adopted the following political line, which will determine its future course of action: The party will adhere to competitive politics (democracy) and work towards consolidation of peace and the drafting of the constitution. It also pledged its commitment to republicanism and ‘economic revolution’ (development oriented pro-people policy in line with party ideology). 

The political line adopted by the party was timely and significant. It has come at a time when Nepal is struggling to find a solution to the ongoing political stalemate since the dissolution of the Constituency Assembly (CA) on 28 May 2012. Over the last nine months, there were efforts/proposals made by the President and major political parties to resolve the constitutional crisis in several ways including reinstatement of the dissolved CA or an “election government” either under a civil society leader or a retired/sitting Chief Justice of Supreme Court. Although the last of these proposals was suggested by many Nepali intellectuals as an adaptation of the Bangladesh model, it gathered momentum only after its endorsement by the Maoist GC. The opposition parties, especially the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML, look at this fresh proposal of the Maoists as a clever ploy to defer the CA elections. 

The GC was attended by 1000s of party cadres from all over Nepal. Its main objectives were to adopt a new political line keeping in view the changing political scenario at the domestic and international levels, the need for restructuring the party as per the party’s new political line, and to provide an opportunity to the party leadership to interact with cadres ahead of possible CA elections. 

Quite predictably, the participants discussed various issues related to the future political line of the party, especially since the party had organized this convention for the first time after experiencing a vertical spilt in June 2012. There were around 60 groups, with 50 members each, to discuss the document presented by party chairman Prachanda. The GC was reportedly delayed due to differences among the three top leaders of the party—Chairman Prachanda, Vice-Chairmen Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha—over nominating their respective representatives for the above mentioned groups. 

Transformation of Tibet Issue from Hope to Despair: What Next?

By Yeshi Choedon
February 12, 2013 

Tibet has been in the news in recent years due to a series of self-immolations by Tibetans as an extreme form of protest against oppressive Chinese rule. This is not the first time that the Tibetans in Tibet have protested against Chinese rule. They have expressed their grievances whenever they saw a window of opportunity, especially since the Chinese liberalization policy of the late 1970s. Under the oppressive Chinese rule, Tibetans have been very innovative in devising mechanisms to express their grievances, such as performing ‘khora’ (pilgrimage/meditation) around the Jorkhang temple, offering special prayers every Wednesday, the procedure for cremation of bodies of those shot dead by the Chinese authorities, and so on. 

Self-immolation is the latest mode of protest adopted by the Tibetans. This is an act of desperation as there are no other viable avenues to express their grievances. This mode is not a Tibetan innovation as it has been resorted to by others before. However, unlike other cases where a single self-immolation captured international headlines and triggered major reactions, in the case of Tibet the effect has been different. Despite nearly a hundred persons having immolated themselves over the last few years, these events have passed by without much notice, let alone reaction. 

This double standard of the international community is partly to be blamed on the Tibetans themselves. They failed to think and act like a nation according to the general trend in their neighbourhood and the rest of the world. They preoccupied themselves with religion and closed themselves to outside influence. Tibetan leaders bartered away their sovereignty for protection in the garb of a patron-priest relationship with China. Tibetans allowed their martial instincts, well known in their recorded history from the seventh century onwards, to be subdued. In short, Tibetans preoccupied themselves with the next life, forsaking the ways of living this present ‘conventional’ life. 

Historical evidence suggests that Tibet as a nation had inadvertently committed major blunders, and that the people of Tibet, both inside and outside Tibet at present time, are bearing the harsh consequences of those blunders. Tibet is an ancient country with a recorded history of its existence since the seventh century. Its foundation, basic characteristics and consolidation as a distinct country took shape under the reign of 42 ingenious kings, who ruled from around 127 BC up to 842 AD. In the seventh to ninth centuries, Tibet emerged as a formidable military power in Central Asia and adopted expansionist activities towards its neighbours. The King of Nepal and the Emperor of China had to offer their daughters to the Tibetan Emperor in marriage. However, when Lang Dharma, the last of the aforementioned kings, was assassinated in 842 AD, Tibet underwent a period of turmoil and fragmented into small principalities. 

Creating a Diplomatic Security Force: The need to go beyond cosmetic exercises

By V. Mahalingam
February 18, 2013 

If media reports are to be believed, a Diplomatic Security Force (DSF) and a Parliament Duty Group (PDG) are in the offing. The Ministry of Home Affairs is said to be in the process of fast-tracking a Delhi Police proposal to set up a dedicated force to protect foreign missions and envoys. Israel is rumoured to have expressed its willingness to train the Force. It has also been stated that the specialized force may be deputed to protect India’s diplomatic missions abroad subsequently. The PDG, it is understood, would draw its personnel from the best trained men and women of the CRPF with commando and tactical training besides expertise in dealing with biological and nuclear emergencies. 

Security methodologies do not change with individuals 

Professionally speaking, the methodologies for providing security to an individual, a group or to structures do not change based on who the protected is. The level of security to be provided would be based on intelligence inputs and assessment. The location and the circumstances too will have a say in the matter. If protection is the criteria, the state police providing security to the Chief Minister could not be any different from the Special Protection Group (SPG) providing security to the Prime Minister. The degree of protection is based on the threat and not on whose life is more important. 

Rationalization vs. empire building 

A number of organizations including the SPG, National Security Guard (NSG), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), various state police and other agencies provide security to an assortment of people of different risk categories. Each of these organizations adopts its own method based on training, competence and perception. In a number of cases more than one agency is drawn in and the responsibility is shared. Should so many agencies adopting different methodologies be involved in providing security, a job that requires almost similar competencies? The needs of financial prudence, efficiency, professionalism and accountability suggest rationalization of the entire system. 

Maoists’ interests in status quo

By Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd) 
Feb 19, 2013

Punitive measures needed to handle the problem

IN their continuous offensive against the Union of India, Maoists carried out a daring attack on an IAF helicopter on January 18, damaging it badly with over a dozen and a half bullet holes. It was on casualty evacuation mission in the heartland of south Chhattisgarh's Timelwada. The helicopter crash-landed nearby because of the extensive damage done by the bullets. This incident has rattled the forces and aroused fears among the higher echelons of the government that the country is faced with a serious security challenge which has virtually spread to almost all parts of central and south-eastern states of India. It's a grave threat to national security requiring some bold action. 

An agrarian movement that originated in an unknown village of Naxalbari in West Bengal in 1967, consequent to the abridgement of tribals' land rights and economic exploitation by landlords as well as forest officials, it boomeranged into a major movement engulfing the entire tribal belt of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The majority of the 533 tribal communities of India, with a population of 88 million, live in forests. Requirements of forest land for the purpose of railways, roads, dams and other developmental projects uprooted the tribals living in these forests for generations. They were neither rehabilitated properly nor compensated adequately by the government. They lost both their rights and livelihood. 

Denial of economic and social justice provided the motivation for revolt. It was a tribal movement but encouraged and led by communists of devious hues that came to be known variously as Naxalism, Maoism and, lately, Left-wing extremism after the amalgamation of various smaller groups. The younger generation swayed by Marxist-Leninist ideology soon joined their ranks. The movement peaked from 1991 onwards when they started attacking government assets like the railways, police stations and other official installations. The uprising had a far-reaching impact on the internal security of the country and yet the government somehow did not rise to the occasion.

The Maoists are a highly organised and disciplined force. They have a 13-member politburo, five or six members the CMC and five regional bureaus. The armed wings are also equally well organised from platoon level upwards. They are trained in war strategy, field tactics and weapons handling. They are fully conversant with the tactics employed by the paramilitary forces. Their intelligence network invariably surprises the CRPF. Surprise and concealment are their main weapons. They seldom move during the daytime unless absolutely necessary.

Employing India: Guaranteeing Jobs for the Rural Poor

By Eduardo Zepeda, Scott McDonald, Manoj Panda, Ganesh KumarREPORT
FEBRUARY 11, 2013


Eight years after its introduction, India's landmark rural employment guarantee program has made big strides in the right direction, but structural and institutional problems are keeping it from fully realizing its potential.

India’s rural employment guarantee is a milestone in social policy and employment creation. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was mandated in 2005 to implement an ambitious, demand-driven employment-creation program to benefit the rural poor through projects that improve agricultural productivity and alleviate land degradation. Guaranteeing the right of rural households to 100 days of unskilled manual work, the program’s size sets a worldwide precedent. It has achieved impressive results, but the act continues to pose immense design and management challenges.
Important Facts
India faces persistent poverty and inequality despite burgeoning growth. Between 1988 and 2005 the country’s GDP almost tripled, but its poverty rate only decreased by 30 percent, underscoring the need for poverty reduction policies.

Under the program, members of 50 million households worked a total of 2.5 billion days in 2011.

The act looks to empower women, widen opportunities for marginalized population groups, and reinvigorate community decisionmaking bodies.

The program is meant to operate transparently and fight corruption, but corruption has been seen in the act’s implementation.

Key Findings
  • The act is having a significant impact on the lives of the poor with rural wages increasing, but its effectiveness varies according to activity and location.
  • Simulations using an economy-wide model indicate that the act has a positive macroeconomic impact, leading to increases in GDP and trade.
  • As the program shifts purchasing power from the urban rich to the rural poor, the structure of demand changes. Economic activity in agriculture, processed food, and light manufacturing increases and activity in heavy manufacturing and services declines. Likewise, the demand for unskilled labor in urban and especially rural areas increases, while the demand for mainly urban skilled labor decreases.

How to balance growth and contain inflation?

February 19, 2013 
Ashok Dasgupta 

We have a situation where GDP growth is faltering and needs a dose of adrenalin, industrial growth is straying almost to negative territory and needs steps to kick-start investment, fiscal deficit is way up and needs to be contained. 

All the macroeconomic numbers are in, but barring headline inflation based on the wholesale price index (WPI), which is only mildly positive, none of the other indicators provide any level of comfort or confidence to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in preparation of his budget for the new fiscal.

Having committed to investors at home and at recent road shows abroad on presenting a “responsible” Budget, adhering to the path of fiscal consolidation to contain the fiscal deficit at 5.3 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2012-13 and bring it down to 4.8 per cent in 2013-14, particularly irksome for Mr. Chidambaram possibly a rude shock was the CSO’s (Central Statistics Office) Advance Estimates projecting a mere 5 per cent GDP growth in 2012-13. 

No wonder, in separate statements, the Finance Ministry as well as Mr. Chidambaram himself questioned the CSO’s projection, arguing that the GDP growth this fiscal would be in the region of 5.5-5.7 per cent. It was also pointed out that the 5 per cent growth forecast was a gross underestimate as the CSO had failed to factor in the “green shoots” in the economy. 

North Block’s protests on GDP growth were not without reason. For, it was only in late January during his road show in Hong Kong that the Finance Minister had exuded confidence on economic recovery setting in. Having buried the “ghost of GAAR” (General Anti Avoidance Rules) which had scared away foreign investors, Mr. Chidambaram had said: “At the end of this year, we will achieve the target of 5.3 per cent of fiscal deficit and next year I will budget for fiscal deficit no more than 4.8 per cent.”

Predictably, his optimism stemmed from the data Mr. Chidambaram had on GDP growth. “The projection I have received is that [the] economy will grow above 6 per cent [in 2013]. My own assessment is it will be between 6 and 7 per cent. Will be happy if it is closer to 7 per cent, but we should be happy if it is 6 to 7 per cent,” he had said. 

Renewed Push for Afghans to Make Peace With Taliban


February 16, 2013 

KABUL, Afghanistan Suddenly, the effort to strike a deal with the Taliban is very publicly back on the front burner. 

Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press 

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and the Taliban all have different visions of how to achieve peace after 2014. 

Frozen for months last year as another fighting season raged in Afghanistan, and as election-year politics consumed American attention, diplomats and political leaders from eight countries are now mounting the most concerted campaign to date to bring the Afghan government and its Taliban foes together to negotiate a peace deal. 

The latest push came early this month at Chequers, the country residence of the British prime minister, David Cameron, who joined President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan in calling for fast-track peace talks. Weeks earlier in Washington, Mr. Karzai met with President Obama and committed publicly to have his representatives meet a Taliban delegation in Doha, Qatar, to start the process. 

Yet so far the energized reach for peace has achieved little, officials say, except to cement a growing consensus that regional stability demands some sort of political settlement with the Taliban, after a war that cost tens of thousands of Afghan and Western lives and nearly a trillion dollars failed to put down the insurgency. 

Afghanistan's future: 5 burning questions

By Kyle Almond, CNN 

February 16, 2013

U.S. troops to return from Afghanistan 


President Obama has revealed new details about the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan 

But there are several key issues that still must be resolved in the coming months 

The Afghan military has its critics, but the U.S. has praised its progress 

There are fears that Afghanistan's advancements might be at risk after 2014 

(CNN) -- In his State of the Union address, President Obama reaffirmed that the country's war in Afghanistan would be over by the end of 2014. 

He also laid out more specifics. 

Of the approximately 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now, more than half -- 34,000 -- will come home in the next year, Obama said. 

At the same time, Afghan troops will assume most of the responsibility for combat missions. 

"This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead," Obama said. 

It was previously expected that Afghan forces would take the lead in combat missions by the middle of this year. But a U.S. official told CNN that the military transition has accelerated and that Afghans will lead all security operations by March. 

Staying with Kabul

By C Raja Mohan
Feb 19 2013, 

As Afghanistan enters a new phase, sulking cannot be Delhi's strategy 

As America and Britain prepare to leave Afghanistan by 2014, Delhi appears to have gone into a sulk. Instead of objecting to the inevitable Anglo-American retreat, India must deepen the dialogue with Washington and London on the future of Afghanistan. 

Sceptics in Delhi wonder if Washington and London, in the rush for Afghan exits, want to talk to India at all. Delhi has two important diplomatic opportunities this week to find out. Talks are scheduled on Tuesday with senior American and Afghan officials who will attend the second round of the trilateral dialogue. Afghanistan will also figure at the top of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's conversation today with the British premier, David Cameron. Together, they should give Delhi first-hand accounts of the current efforts in Washington, London and Kabul to seek reconciliation with the Taliban with the help of the Pakistan army. 

Earlier this month, after a trilateral summit in London with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, Cameron raised hopes that peace might break out in the next six months. Some in Delhi are deeply wary of London's Af-Pak delusions. They think Cameron is trying to present Western genuflection to Rawalpindi as a big breakthrough for the Afghan peace process. Others have convinced themselves that the new US secretary of state, John Kerry is ready to pay any price including the handing over of parts of Afghanistan to the Taliban and the ISI in return for a mere promise from General Ashfaq Kayani to make the Western retreat smooth. 

A calmer Indian approach, however, would begin by acknowledging that the Fifth Afghan War, which began with American occupation at the end of 2001, is coming to an end. The British Raj fought the first three Afghan Wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The fourth was when the West promoted jihadi extremism in response to Soviet Russia's occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989. Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan became the home for international terrorism and the base from which al-Qaeda launched attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. The ferocious American response to 9/11 came in the form of the Fifth Afghan War. 

China To Find A Target-Rich Environment

By Kirk Spitzer
Feb. 08, 2013

LCDR Denver Applehans, US Navy

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force destroyer JS Yudachi sails in formation with the USS George Washington, foreground, during exercises in the East China Sea last year. Japan says a Chinese warship locked targeting radar onto the Yudachi in the same region last month. 

Follow @TIME TOKYO – If Chinese warships escalate from locking-on radars to actually pulling the trigger in the East China Sea, they’ll have lots to shoot at – and it won’t be just the Japanese.

With little fanfare, U.S. commanders have been pouring in thousands of new troops, deploying powerful new war machines and ramping up training with allies from across the region.

Most of this is due to the “rebalancing” of U.S. forces announced more than a year ago. But the buildup seems to be hitting full-stride just as the standoff between Japan and China reaches a dangerous new low.

Japanese authorities bitterly protested this week after they said a Chinese warship locked its weapons-guidance radar on a Japanese destroyer in late January. The incident occurred in international waters near a group of disputed islands. That followed the targeting of a Japanese naval helicopter in the same region two weeks earlier.

No shots were fired in either incident, but Japan accused China’s leaders of intentionally escalating the crisis. China’s Defense Ministry said late Friday that Japan’s version of events “does not match the facts.”

Things I noticed from my China trip

February 16, 2013

I just got back from China this past Monday. I haven't been there for almost 7 years, so it's really a good opportunity for me to be on the ground to see for myself the issues that China and its citizens are dealing with. I've taken some positions on Chinese economy and government, so I wanted to talk to people there to see how they feel about different issues.

First of all, I will just talk a little bit about the small number of military related stuff I noticed while I was there. It seems to me that a good number of Chinese citizens think that a war with Japan might happen. Watching TV, it was interesting to see the number of political/military show talking about possible conflict with Japan. I also saw programs celebrating Chinese heroes from the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945. There is certainly plenty of anti-Japanese sentiment in China right now. There is a lot of pride within China over the achievements of PLA in the past year. Certainly, the commissioning of Liaoning and the first takeoff/landing of J-15 have received the most press. The recent test flight of Y-20 transport has also brought a lot of excitement. Also, I took a flight from Yantai to Beijing while I was in China, so used the Yantai/Laishan airport. Luckily, this also happened to be a civilian/military dual use airport. As my plane was taking off on the runway, I actually saw the JH-7A fighter bombers outside of their shelters, so I took a couple of pictures. I'm pretty sure they were the reason my flight got delayed.

Secondly, let's talk about some of the good things that I saw while I was back there. Xi Jinping's call for curb to extravgance is really working. While I was in Beijing, everyone was telling me about the reduction in these excessive banquets, gift giving and extravagance. A lot of local officials are going overboard in frugality in public in order to impress higher ups. Even in state companies, banks and universities, end of the year banquets are not being held with the fund being reallocated to those who really need the money. The official call for less waste seems to even affect the day-to-day lives. It's definitely good to see this kind of change after years of over abundance under previous administration. The other thing I noticed was how much richer everyone has become since my last visit. While I was in Beijing, it seemed like anyone that has good education and registered in Beijing are very well compensated even by first world standard. The living standard has definitely gone up a lot in the recent years. Even in some of the secondary and tertiary cities, you can find most of the products that you can find in the West. There is definitely a large and growing middle class who are enjoying their new found wealth. I don't know if this is a good indication, but there was a proliferation of Apple product everywhere I went. That's a welcoming news in light of China's desire to shift from an investment based to a consumption based economy. Along with this, it's quite apparent that the amount of available cheap labour has decreased a lot in the bigger cities. In previous times I visited, there were a lot of excessive labour doing jobs which really were not needed. For example, there were more typically more employees in restaurants than people eating there. There were also a person paid to press elevator buttons in pretty much every residential building. Due to the rising living cost and reduced number of cheap labours, businesses have become a lot more efficient. Finding employment is still a big issue for most municipal government, so I think the entire talk of drying up of Chinese labour pool is started by people who have never been inside the country.

China Advocates "Military Preparedness to Curb Outbreak of War"

By Dr. Monika Chansoria
Feb 17,2013

As the conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands intensifies between Japan and China, there is a considerable section within China which appears to be hawkishly advocating in favour of the use of force to regain what China terms to be the Diaoyu Islands. Being cited in a publication of the organ of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the views need to be taken cognizance of, especially given the argument that the conflict between China and Japan will likely intensify. 

In order to address this facet, Chinese analysts, Li Daguang and Li Xuejun of China’s National Defense University, while reacting to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands issue, have more generically advocated that “appropriate preparations for military struggle are needed to curb the occurrence of war.” Li and Li have called for preparations for military struggle in wake of what China refers to as Japan’s military readiness. Both authors argue that while making necessary preparations for a military struggle, China should focus its energies by appropriately gauging the extent of foreign threat and make sure that China’s resources do not get depleted. 

Besides, Li and Li aver that China should adhere to requisite preparations for a military resistance, and “should not give up appropriate and necessary preparations for a military struggle because of the excessive worry about being dragged into an arms race.” The authors go on to argue that China should certainly not blame appropriate preparations for military struggle by considering it a “mistake in strategic policy.” 

It needs to be recalled that in his Selected Works volumes, Chairman Mao Zedong wrote extensively on the concept of launching a strategic offensive. In December 1935, Mao prepared a report “On Tactics against Japanese Imperialism” in which problems concerning the political line of the Party in the Second Revolutionary Civil War were systematically solved. According to Mao, China’s revolutionary war, whether civil or national, was waged in an environment specific to China, thus implying that besides the laws of war and of revolutionary war in general, it has specific laws of its own. Unless these are understood, it would not be possible to win China’s revolutionary war. 

A promising future

By Wei Wei, Hindustan Times
February 17, 2013 

On January 6, entrusted with the important mission to further advance China-India relations, I came to India, a country that always impresses me with her splendid history, inclusive culture and rapid development. While learning more about India, I am also trying to “knock at every alien door” and “wander through all the outer worlds”, as Rabindranath Tagore put it in Gitanjali. The responsibility set me thinking hard on how to bring the 2.5 billion people closer and add a new chapter to the grand oriental civilisation.

Our geographical location binds us so let us be good neighbours, good friends and good partners and let us understand and respect each other. The two nations must pass on the friendship from generation to generation; we cannot afford to do anything else. Today, under the able leadership of President Hu Jintao and President Pranab Mukherjee, relations between the two countries are about to move into a golden age. 

The future of our bilateral ties is promising. That we are standing here today is in a large measure due to an effective way that we’ve found to get along with each other. The two sides take a holistic view of bilateral relations and strive for inclusiveness, mutual benefits and common development. We believe that there is ample space and scope for development and cooperation between the two. 

We must view each other as partners, not rivals. We must realise that we have much more convergence of interests than divergence. We have ample reasons to handle sensitive issues constructively and move towards solutions while maintaining the sound momentum of bilateral ties. As long as we work towards the same end, we will overcome difficulties. 

The world is undergoing profound changes with an ever-increasing trend of multi-polarisation, economic globalisation and the rise of emerging countries. Looking ahead, the people of China are realising the “Chinese Dream” of modernisation and rejuvenation of the country. Indians, too, have their own dream of inclusive development and modernisation. In that sense, China and India are shouldering similar historic aims and aspiring for development. The two governments and their people should lend support to and learn from each other. Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader and reformer, once observed that no genuine Asian century would come without the development of China and India. China’s new leaders attach great significance to the bilateral relations. Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, recently wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and expressed his readiness to cooperate with India to create a brighter future for both countries. 

The Life of the Party

By Eric X. Li

January/February 2013

The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China

Li is far too confident in the benefits of Chinese authoritarianism. So far, what has held China back is not any lack of demand for democracy, but a lack of supply. That gap should start to close over the next ten years. 

Chinese democracy: voting in Guangdong Province, China, March 3, 2012. (Bobby Yip / Courtesy Reuters) 

In November 2012, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held its 18th National Congress, setting in motion a once-in-a-decade transfer of power to a new generation of leaders. As expected, Xi Jinping took over as general secretary and will become the president of the People's Republic this March. The turnover was a smooth and well-orchestrated demonstration by a confidently rising superpower. That didn't stop international media and even some Chinese intellectuals, however, from portraying it as a moment of crisis. In an issue that was published before the beginning of the congress, for example, The Economist quoted unnamed scholars at a recent conference as saying that China is "unstable at the grass roots, dejected at the middle strata and out of control at the top." To be sure, months before the handover, the scandal surrounding Bo Xilai, the former party boss of the Chongqing municipality, had shattered the CCP's long-held facade of unity, which had underwritten domestic political stability since the Tiananmen Square upheavals in 1989. To make matters worse, the Chinese economy, which had sustained double-digit GDP growth for two decades, slowed, decelerating for seven straight quarters. China's economic model of rapid industrialization, labor-intensive manufacturing, large-scale government investments in infrastructure, and export growth seemed to have nearly run its course. Some in China and the West have gone so far as to predict the demise of the one-party state, which they allege cannot survive if leading politicians stop delivering economic miracles. 


13-15 February 2013 

Emerging Trends in West Asia: Regional and Global Implications

West Asia is in the midst of tumultuous changes which presage the emergence of a new and different set of security and economic challenges and new patterns of relationships, both within the region and with countries having major stakes and interests in the region. 
Though the region has witnessed turbulence for several decades, there was, perhaps surprisingly, considerable domestic stability within individual countries mainly due to the relatively unchallengeable control that regimes exercised over their populations. However, quite unexpectedly, there has been an unprecedented popular upsurge against the ruling regimes in many countries in the Arab world during the last two years, leading to regime changes in certain cases. Characterised by outside observers as the “Arab Spring”, some regional commentators have expressed their concerns about the developments, terming these as the “Arab Turmoil”. The essence of the socio-political tumult sweeping the region has been such that the people at large have overcome their fear of the existing regimes and called for drastic and fundamental political transformation, including regime change. This has led to dramatic changes in domestic political environments in most of the countries of the region. 

Dragon at Gwadar

Feb 15, 2013 

By Arun Kumar Singh

As a reaction to the US’ “Pivot Asia” policy, the Chinese are debating a new policy, “Marching West” i.e. to focus on increasing Chinese influence and presence in South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. The first beneficiary of this new initiative appears to be China’s all weather ally and nuclear proxy, Pakistan.

On February 1, 2013, the Pakistani government terminated its March 2007 agreement (valid for 40 years) and transferred the management-cum-development of the Gwadar port from the Port of Singapore Authority International to China’s Overseas Port Holdings. Sixty per cent of China’s oil imports transit through the Strait of Hormuz, located just 180 nautical miles (nm) from the Gwadar port. This strategic port, on the Balochistan coast, near the Iranian border, will be used by Chinese oil tanker ships to offload crude oil from West Asia. That is why, from Gwadar, there’s a proposed rail, road link and pipeline to transport oil and other goods to China, thus avoiding the Malacca and Singapore straits which can be closed during wartime or are vulnerable to piracy.

The Chinese are not just helping Pakistan build the Gwadar port, but have provided practically all the funding.

These developments, when seen along with the Chinese-built ports in Hambantotha (Sri Lanka) and new terminals at Chittagong and Sonadiya port (both in Bangladesh), and China’s move into the Maldives (where it’s reportedly providing “security assistance”), indicate troubled times ahead for India, as they complete the final links in the Chinese “string of pearls” strategy — to safeguard its sea lanes for energy imports, encircle India and dominate the Indian Ocean region.

It will take China about 20 years to convert the Gwadar port into a full-fledged naval base comprising facilities to repair warships and submarines, set up ammunition dumps for arming them, and build a suitable airfield for maritime surveillance and interdiction using drones and aircraft. And it is true that in the event of war, the Gwadar port and its installations could be destroyed by the Indian Navy and Air Force (as well as the US Navy), using land attack cruise missiles and fighter aircraft, but such an action against China and Pakistan two nuclear powers  would have serious repercussions.

Japan Looks to Protect Its Own Overseas

By Kirk Spitzer
Feb. 18, 2013

Marine photo

Japanese paratrooper escorts volunteers during evacuation drill in Thailand in 2012. A similar exercise this weekend took on greater meaning after 10 Japanese citizens were killed in a terror attack in Algeria last month. 

TOKYO – Well, that didn’t take long. Only weeks after 10 Japanese nationals were killed in a terrorist attack in Algeria, Japan’s military is practicing how to rescue citizens at risk overseas. Now all they need is a law that allows them to do it for real. 

Some 80 members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force joined with U.S. Marines in Thailand this weekend to whisk scores of Japanese and other foreign citizens out of harm’s way in a mock evacuation drill. The soldiers learned how to secure landing zones, screen evacuees, call in Marine Corps helicopters and coordinate with other foreign troops, administrators and relief workers. The Japanese “victims” were mostly volunteers and family from the embassy in Bangkok. 

The training event was part of the annual Cobra Gold exercise, which this year includes troops from the U.S., Japan, Thailand and four other countries. A dozen other nations, including China, have sent observers. 

In truth, planning for the evacuation drill began last year, but it took on greater meaning for the Japanese after the slaughter in Algeria. At least 38 hostages were killed by terrorists or died in a rescue attempt by Algerian troops. 

* Pull Back

By Barry R. Posen
January/February 2013

The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy 

Now, more than ever, the United States might be tempted to pull back from the world. That would be a mistake, since an engaged grand strategy has served the country exceptionally well for the past six decades -- helping prevent the outbreak of conflict in the world’s most important regions, keeping the global economy humming, and facilitating international cooperation. 

Despite a decade of costly and indecisive warfare and mounting fiscal pressures, the long-standing consensus among American policymakers about U.S. grand strategy has remained remarkably intact. As the presidential campaign made clear, Republicans and Democrats may quibble over foreign policy at the margins, but they agree on the big picture: that the United States should dominate the world militarily, economically, and politically, as it has since the final years of the Cold War, a strategy of liberal hegemony. The country, they hold, needs to preserve its massive lead in the global balance of power, consolidate its economic preeminence, enlarge the community of market democracies, and maintain its outsized influence in the international institutions it helped create. 

To this end, the U.S. government has expanded its sprawling Cold War-era network of security commitments and military bases. It has reinforced its existing alliances, adding new members to NATO and enhancing its security agreement with Japan. In the Persian Gulf, it has sought to protect the flow of oil with a full panoply of air, sea, and land forces, a goal that consumes at least 15 percent of the U.S. defense budget. Washington has put China on a watch list, ringing it in with a network of alliances, less formal relationships, and military bases. 

* Lean Forward

By Stephen G. Brooks, G. John Ikenberry, and William C. Wohlforth

January/February 2013

In Defense of American Engagement 

The United States' undisciplined, expensive, and bloody grand strategy has done untold harm to U.S. national security. It is time to abandon this hegemonic approach and replace it with one of restraint giving up on global reform and sticking to protecting narrow national security interests. 

Since the end of World War II, the United States has pursued a single grand strategy: deep engagement. In an effort to protect its security and prosperity, the country has promoted a liberal economic order and established close defense ties with partners in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East. Its military bases cover the map, its ships patrol transit routes across the globe, and tens of thousands of its troops stand guard in allied countries such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea. 

The details of U.S. foreign policy have differed from administration to administration, including the emphasis placed on democracy promotion and humanitarian goals, but for over 60 years, every president has agreed on the fundamental decision to remain deeply engaged in the world, even as the rationale for that strategy has shifted. During the Cold War, the United States' security commitments to Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East served primarily to prevent Soviet encroachment into the world's wealthiest and most resource-rich regions. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the aim has become to make these same regions more secure, and thus less threatening to the United States, and to use these security partnerships to foster the cooperation necessary for a stable and open international order. 

** Generation Kill

March/April 2013

A Conversation With Stanley McChrystal 

In July 2010, General Stanley McChrystal retired from the U.S. Army after almost three and a half decades in uniform. Soon after graduating from West Point, McChrystal had joined the U.S. Special Forces, and he eventually led the Rangers, the Joint Special Operations Command, and all U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. Author of the recently published memoir My Share of the Task, he spoke with Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose in December. 

A knowledgeable author wrote in a recent issue of this magazine that "as head of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command . . . , McChrystal oversaw the development of a precision-killing machine unprecedented in the history of modern warfare," one whose "scope and genius" will be fully appreciated only "in later decades, once the veil of secrecy has been removed." What did he mean?

I was part of a [special operations] effort that we can call Task Force 714. When the counterterrorist effort against al Qaeda started, it was narrowly focused and centralized; you only did occasional operations with a high degree of intelligence and a tremendous amount of secrecy. That worked well for the pre-9/11 environment, but in the post-9/11 environment -- particularly the post-March 2003 environment in Iraq -- the breadth of al Qaeda and associated movements exploded. This gave us an enemy network that you couldn't just react to but actually had to dismantle. It also gave us a very complex battlefield -- not just terrorism but also social problems, an insurgency, and sectarian violence. 

So the first thing we did when I took over in late 2003 was realize that we needed to understand the problem much better. To do that, we had to become a network ourselves -- to be connected across all parts of the battlefield, so that every time something occurred and we gathered intelligence or experience from it, information flowed very, very quickly. 

The network had a tremendous amount of geographical spread. At one point, we were in 27 countries simultaneously. Inside Iraq, we were in 20 and 30 places simultaneously -- all connected using modern technology but also personal relationships. This gave us the ability to learn about the constantly evolving challenge.