20 February 2013

Modernisation of the Indian Infantry

ByLt Gen Prakash Katoch
20 Feb , 2013

DRDO’s F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier as a System)

It is important to note that in 21st century conflict situations not only will operations be increasingly inter-agency involving greater applications of ‘all elements of national power’, but our adversaries will also endeavour to employ hi-tech irregular forces against us. If we can achieve soldier modernisation within the Security Sector and network this cutting edge at the national level, we can be sure to win future conflict situations. Modernisation of the infantry has not been given its due in past decades. This must be treated as an ‘emergent’ requirement in consideration of the emerging threats within and surrounding the country especially considering the rate at which terrorists are achieving sophistication.

Advancements in science and technology are converting fiction to reality. This, coupled with advent of space wars, cyber, laser, plasma, electro-magnetic and precision guided munitions tend to make armies forget the infantryman – big ticket weapon systems overshadowing the cutting edge foot soldier. Having invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, US forces discovered this and underwent course correction post an army level study focused on this very issue.

Advancements in science and technology are converting fiction to reality…

The fact is that right from the advent of warfare to the present and beyond, the importance of the infantryman can hardly be overemphasized, no matter what advances in robotics are made in the distant future. The man behind the machine will continue to be important. Conflict situations such as terrorism, asymmetric and fourth generation wars have heightened this importance.

When the Indian Army introduced Modification 4B for the Infantry a decade and a half back, it was based on previous studies/reports incorporating operational experience with particular reference to fire power, surveillance, communications and night capability. However, the completion of this modification pan infantry took many decades because of the advent of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir that sucked in bulk of this equipment. Then there was the added requirement of equipping the Rashtriya Rifles battalions also with such equipment since these units were permanently deployed in counter-insurgency environment. Resultantly, just about three-four years ago, Modification 4B has been fully implemented in all infantry units. Here again, the scaling for equipment like night surveillance equipment required much to be desired. Over the years, the requirements of survivability in counter-insurgency and counter terrorism, mobility, mine/Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) handling and battlefield management also have acquired heightened focus.

Chopper deal shows Antony's marginal influence in MoD

February 20, 2013 

For a man revered for his probity, Defence Minister A K Antony was caught napping when bribes were paid over the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. With the UPA government staring at another scam, nothing it seems will change, writes Sheela Bhatt.

Christian Michel, one of the middlemen and arms dealers named by Lorenzo Borgogni, the Italian whistle-blower into l'affaire AgustaWestland VVIP helicopters, avoided speaking on the issue when contacted by rediff.com over his cell phone, claiming that he was in Singapore. 

Michel is the most important link in the unfolding defence scam that has added to the woes of the United Progressive Alliance government. He is known to have close links with Indian intelligence agencies and the defence and political establishment. 

His father, Wolfgang Richard Max, was quite a regular visitor to New Delhi with known contacts in the Congress party, Indian bureaucracy, in the top level of the Indian military establishment, and with chiefs of Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency. 

He did his networking quite openly while many times staying in Hotel Claridges, which is owned by the family of arms dealer Suresh Nanda, son of former navy chief Admiral S M Nanda. He died some years ago but was quite a legend in his time, selling arms to high and mighty global leaders.

Borgogni, a company insider and dissenter, has provided lots of information to the Italian police. He told them that his arch-rival and company CEO, Giuseppe Orsi, who has been arrested and jailed, paid out Euros 51 million to get the contract for AgustaWestland from the Indian establishment through middlemen. 

Operation Sadbhavana : Build more than just Goodwill

By Pratibha Singh

Operation Sadbhavana was initiated by the Indian Army as a conflict prevention measure in the violence ridden regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. It aimed at providing a humane face to the army, while also winning over the hearts and minds of people, scarred by twenty two years of violence through developmental initiatives thereby eradicating a perceived sense of alienation. The Army accordingly diverted a part of its efforts and funds to focus on issues which were of concern to the common people such as education, medical care, women empowerment and skill development, especially in the remote areas which were not easily accessible to the civil administration. These efforts have had a positive impact. Construction of roads and bridges, providing medical assistance and improving infrastructure in schools have been areas of focus which have topped the agenda. Women empowerment programmes have also involved training to enhance skills in knitting, carpet weaving and sewing in order to make them self-sufficient. Youth employment guidance node now provides training and counselling to the youngsters for education and job opportunities especially in the militancy prone regions. The Army also occasionally makes it resources available to civilians. For instance, civilians or patients from far flung areas could use the army bus for transportation. The rations meant for the Army have also at times been distributed among the needy villagers. 

However, few aspects of Sadbhavana need to be revisited in a holistic manner. Any lapses would only tarnish the image of the Army which has come a long way playing its role as a facilitator. It needs to be understood that Sadbhavana projects are not aimed at legitimising army in these regions or act as a substitute to state machinery. It is merely a mediator between the State and the civilians when it comes to developmental initiatives. In any case, welfare schemes are not the primary objective/duty of the Army; they face a paucity of funds as well as officers to carry out such activities. Therefore, the first imperative is to synergise activities between the Armed Forces and civil administration. Projects undertaken by the Army could then be handed over to the latter at a later stage to ensure sustainability and continuity. According to one prominent civil official who was quoted in a biweekly national magazine, “The civil administration is upset with the army that it’s creating a parallel infrastructure. [Since], army-civil administration is still a far cry; this puts a question mark on the sustainability of the new model of border management.” 

The ad-hocism and personality oriented approach could perhaps be replaced with a long term vision for these projects. While commanding officers and senior commanders may have their own vision in mind, it is important that a central long term strategy is executed on the ground. This may at times act as a dampener to the motivation level of troops on the ground but in the long run, effective planning and monitoring mechanisms would lead to further strengthening the relationship between the armed forces and locals. To further facilitate the aspect of ‘winning hearts and minds’ of the people, it is important that the troops have the skills to communicate with the people in their local language and be acquainted with their cultural and religious sensibilities. Focused training on these aspects would pay huge dividends in improving the image of the Army. In addition, the desire to use Sadbhavana as a tool for intelligence gathering is counter-productive and is best avoided. While it may at times give some short term returns, the long term impact is negative. If the locals view Sadbhavana activities as a means employed by the army to gather intelligence, it loses its value. Promoting a positive image of the Army will in the long term eventually lead to very high levels of cooperation between the civil population and the Army and intelligence would in any case then be more forthcoming. 

Hostage for a Day

How I became a bargaining chip in Yemen’s tribal maze. 
FEBRUARY 19, 2013 

AMRAN PROVINCE, Yemen — I knew we should have opted to take an older, cheaper car. As the tribesmen running the checkpoint demanded that we pull over, I cursed myself for letting my misgivings slide. I'd taken the road before -- the split-second pause before getting the go-ahead from the armed locals who run the informal roadblocks dotting the roads running through the villages north of Sanaa may have raised my blood pressure, but I had never had any issues. Until now. 

Confusion quickly ensued. The guys running the checkpoint -- a disorganized group of about a dozen armed, but generally disheveled, tribesmen in their late twenties -- seemed split on what to do. Most just wanted to let us pass, one seemed intent on stealing my friend's car, and a few seemed convinced I was an Iranian spy. After about 15 minutes, I realized that revealing my identity as an American journalist was probably the best of a slate of bad options. 

Frantic arguments continued. Growing increasingly nervous, I pulled out what I knew would be the trump card, threatening to bring their sheikh into the matter. As I dialed the number for a close associate of the sheikh, a longtime friend, I vainly hoped they'd realize that it wasn't worth troubling one of Yemen's most powerful men with what was, until that point, a rather minor issue. 

It didn't work out that way. Dragging the sheikh into it turned out to be exactly what the tribesmen wanted: They now agreed that I was indeed an American journalist rather than an Iranian spy, and further decided that I would be an excellent bargaining chip in their lingering dispute with the central government. 

U.S. troop toll in Afghanistan falls with strategy shift

By Mike Mount 
February 20th, 2013 
For the past month, the U.S. military has experienced something not seen for five years in Afghanistan: No combat deaths. 

Three U.S. troops have died from hostile fire injuries since Jan. 1, and one of them succumbed to wounds sustained in December. 

The trend marks the longest period without a U.S. combat death in America's longest war since 2008, and clearly reflects a strategy shift that leaves much of the fighting to Afghan security forces, whose deaths are going up. 

Afghans now lead more than 80% of combat operations and control areas covering more than three-quarters of the population, according to U.S. military officials. 

The U.S. military has pulled back from direct combat operations into the less dangerous role of advising and assisting Afghan forces. 

American military officials said a cut in the number of American forces is another reason for the decline. 

There were about 100,000 forces in Afghanistan during the peak of the military's troop surge. But that number fell by almost 40 percent when the last of those troops left in September and remains at about that level today. 

Attacks by Taliban insurgents also have declined, officials have said. 

Just as the U.S. toll has dropped, Afghan security force deaths have risen sharply. 

"The Taliban are targeting the Afghan Army and police to try and show the populous the Afghan Security Forces cannot adequately protect them," said Col. David Lapan, spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

"They are trying to undermine the future of the (Afghan Security Forces)," he said. 

China given contract to operate Gwadar port

February 19, 2013 

President Asif Ali Zardari witnessing the agreement signing between Port of Singapore Authority and China Overseas Port Holding Company Limited at Aiwan-e-Sadr. — Online Photo 

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday formally awarded a multi-billion dollars contract for construction and operation of Gwadar Port to China with the hope that the port's development would open up new vistas of progress in Pakistan, particularly Balochistan. 

Under the contract, the port which will remain the property of Pakistan will be operated by the state-run Chinese firm — China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC). Earlier, the contract was given to the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA). 

The contract signing ceremony held in the Presidency was attended by President Asif Ali Zardari, Chinese Ambassador Liu Jian, some federal ministers, members of parliament and senior government officials. 

"The ceremony was actually held to mark the transfer of the concession agreement from the PSA (Port of Singapore Authority) to the COPHC," said the president's spokesman Farhatullah Babar.

The PSA is reported to have abandoned the project on the plea that Pakistan failed to meet obligations under the 40-year port-handling agreement signed in Feb 2007.

Media reports allege that the PSA, which was to spend $525 million on the project in five years, made no investment because of non-fulfilment of its demand for allotment of land worth Rs15bn. 

Last year, the Supreme Court issued a stay order on the Gwadar Port contract, barring the PSA from transferring immovable property of the Gwadar Port Authority to a private party and allowed the Balochistan government to become a party to the case. 

In Dec 2010, China had offered the provincial government to construct 20 more berths and make the port fully operational if the port was handed over to it.

President Zardari praised the award of the contract to China as an auspicious development in Pakistan-China relations and expressed the hope that it would create new economic opportunities for Pakistan and Balochistan. 

The spokesman quoted the president as saying 'Gwadar will soon be a hub of trade and commerce in the region as it holds the key to bringing together the countries of Central Asia and lends new impetus to Pakistan-China relations." 

Aftermath of Salman Khurshid’s Visit to Bangladesh: A Role for West Bengal Too

By Gautam Sen
February 20, 2013 

Salman Khurshid, India’s External Affairs Minister, has just concluded a successful visit to Bangladesh where he participated in the second India-Bangladesh Joint Commission meeting, which, as expected, has culminated in a set of agreements within the ambit of the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development concluded during the September 2011 Bangladesh visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The backdrop of Salman Khurshid’s visit is very significant, with Bangladesh in the throws of an upsurge and mass mobilisation of young people demonstrating against the Bangladeshi communalist collaborators of the erstwhile Pakistani regime in an attempt to suppress the Bangladesh freedom movement. 

This latest movement, which started in early February 2012, has snowballed within a short time to the current upsurge centred in Shahbag Avenue in Dacca. The demand of the demonstrators is capital punishment for the communalist collaborators (of the Jamaat–e-Islami Party and members of its student wing the Islamic Chhatra Shibir like Kamaruzaman, Golam Azam and their compatriots derogatorily called the Razakars) accused of atrocities and gross violations of human rights against the Bangladeshi people during their freedom struggle. The people have been agitating for awarding the death sentence to the prime accused like Kader Molla, Assistant Secretary General of the Jamaat, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a hard-line cleric sentenced to life imprisonment and death respectively (Maulana Azad is absconding and has been sentenced in absentia), by the war crimes court (Bangladesh had set up the court under a parliamentary enactment of the International Crimes Trial Act 1973, which de facto came into existence on March 25, 2010) which conducted the trials. The spontaneous upsurge appears to have taken the anti-secularist and status-quoist political forces in Bangladesh by surprise. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has had the Jamaat Party as its political ally and hopes to come back to power in the near future, seems to have been caught off guard by the recent turn of events only a few months before national elections. 

In the conditions prevailing now in Bangladesh, India has to play a very cautious role. While New Delhi should continue its high level of engagement with the Awami League government, encompassing cooperation in different spheres including the building up of bilateral linkages in the realms of infrastructure, water-sharing and its composite management, mutually accepted norms of border guarding and security matters, etc., there is a need to promote deep political links and dialogue involving the mainstream and regional political parties of India (particularly those which have influence in the east and north-east) on one hand and Bangladeshi political parties like the Awami League, BNP and the Jatiya Party of General Ershad on the other. This tier of links will help maintain a favourable orientation towards India in the political milieu of Bangladesh. In this regard, the Agreement to set up a Bangladesh-India Foundation to promote multifaceted exchanges is a step in the right direction and will help in the neutralising of anti-India sentiments which periodically bedevil bilateral relations. 

Why underground nuclear tests can no longer be peaceful

By Jayita Sarkar
February 20, 2013 

On 12 February 2013, North Korea conducted another nuclear test drawing severe criticism from the United Nations Security Council, which called the test a clear threat to international peace and security.1 This is the third time after 2006 and 2009 that the heavily-sanctioned country has conducted an underground nuclear test. In retaliation, the European Union has imposed tougher sanctions on Pyongyang, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his move to attract global attention back to Iran, said that the North Korean test revealed the inability of sanctions to prevent a nuclear weapons programme.2 Kim Jong-un’s government justified the test on grounds of self-defence against US threat,3 clarifying that its intentions are unmistakably security-oriented. Yet, historically, underground nuclear tests had been associated with ‘peaceful nuclear explosions’ (PNEs) until at least India’s nuclear test in May 1974. How did this alter over time? 

It was in 1957 that the United States launched its civil underground nuclear explosions programme called ‘Plowshare’ following the successful Rainier test in September that year. In 1961, the Soviet Union conducted its first civil underground nuclear test. Throughout the 1960s, both the superpowers believed that underground nuclear explosions could be used for peaceful purposes like the creation of underground storage capacity for liquid hydrocarbons, extinguishing fires in oil and gas wells, in situ cracking of heavy hydrocarbons in bituminous shales or sandstones, etc.4 Underground nuclear tests for civil purposes or PNEs were also an important component of the IAEA discussions during the 1960s.5

India’s underground nuclear test on 18 May 1974 changed all that. Although it called the test a PNE, the international community refused to believe it, accusing India of developing nuclear weapons and imposing sanctions on New Delhi.6 Yet, India’s PNE could not be declared a violation of the existing tenets of international law. This was because first, the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 to which India was an original signatory, allowed underground nuclear testing. Second, India could not be charged with violation of the NPT since it had never signed it. Third, Article V of the NPT stated that ‘potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions will be made available to non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty on a non-discriminatory basis’.7 India’s PNE, however, demonstrated that an underdeveloped non-nuclear weapon state could master the sophisticated technology required for conducting underground nuclear explosions.8 It was also the first dent made on the edifice of the nuclear non-proliferation regime by a non-NPT state. 

Cyber-security threat characterisation

A rapid comparative analysis 

Neil Robinson, 
Luke Gribbon, 
Veronika Horvath, 
Kate Robertson

Based on an assignment from the Cabinet Office and Department of Defence, the Swedish National Defence College's Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS) asked RAND Europe to undertake a rapid comparison of states' characterisation of cyber-security threats. This involved investigating three lines of enquiry related to the integration of cyber-security within broader national and transnational defence and security frameworks. 

The project was limited both in size and scope and called primarily for desk research. This document is the final deliverable for this study, encompassing results and analysis from desk research, and insights gleaned from previous research on the issue. 

The first part of the document summarises the findings and provides an overview of the scope and methodology of the research. The second part of the document describes the cyber-security strategies and approaches in ten case studies: Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russian Federation, the UK and the USA. At CATS' request we also have profiled initiatives by NATO and the EU. Based on documentary analysis, stakeholder engagement and previous studies, we include a short chapter on potential policy concerns for Sweden going forward, supplementing the case study analysis. The report will be of interest to practitioners and policymakers in cyber-strategy and policy.

Verma panel’s AFSPA remark imbalanced

Feb 19, 2013 

The report of Justice Verma Committee on the ghastly Delhi gangrape case is out. Even a cursory perusal of the document takes the reader into the heart of darkness through the entrails of the medieval horror that reflects the Indian societal mindset in the 21st century. The committee was established as a crash action response to an abominable crime with the charter to “…look into possible amendments of the criminal law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women”.

During the course of their undoubtedly painstaking investigation, the members of the committee interacted with the civil society comprising a range of individuals and civil rights organisations. The final report was derived from inputs conveyed by activists, civil liberties groups and women’s organisations, especially from the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir where popular sentiments and mindset have always been traditionally arrayed against the security forces. The report draws the armed forces into its ambit scorching their alleged misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act when deployed to aid civil authority.

While all sections of the public are entitled to their own opinions, it would have been more in the fitness and fairness of things if the committee had also given an opportunity to the security forces to present their own case before it, preferably in person. In the absence of such an interaction, the end result has turned visibly imbalanced and one-sided.

This is partly also because the committee did not appear to be adequately aware about the obverse side of the situation prevailing in the zones of internal conflict, particularly in respect of terror and connected crimes against women amongst the local population by the hostiles themselves. Hostiles operating against the security forces contribute substantially to the general environment of terror through a systematic campaign of murder and criminal intimidation. Keeping the overall situation in mind, the committee has hopefully satisfied itself about the credibility and reliability of some of the more critical statements against the security forces which have been placed before it, many of which would definitely have been motivated by hostile propaganda. The veracity of these reports can never be satisfactorily established.

However, notwithstanding the foregoing, the Indian Army and paramilitary forces must accept report of the committee in good faith. They should consider it as a stricture against themselves and take corrective action wherever necessary, especially in respect of alleged misuse of the AFSPA when operating in aid to civil authority during counter-militancy operations, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, the two most deeply estranged regions in the country.

The Trials and Tribulations of India’s Armed Forces

By James Hardy 
Region Security South AsiaTopic India February 20, 2013 

While spending billions of dollars on defense equipment, India's military faces a number of challenges in its quest to enter the 21st century. 

The old saying that a developing country is at a crossroads, whether it’s India or Indonesia, is especially tempting when it comes to India’s armed forces. Decades of underinvestment, corruption, bureaucratic ineptitude and hazy strategic thinking have left the country with a decidedly mixed bag of military capabilities

On one hand it is strengthening its strategic arsenal, with a triad of nuclear options preparing to come online and well-documented successes in ballistic and cruise missiles (the latter with some serious assistance from Russia). It also has a healthy appetite: despite recent budget cuts across the federal government, my IHS Jane’s colleague Craig Caffrey predicts that defense spending will reach USD 64.5 billion by 2020, with annual spending on equipment alone expected to reach USD 17.4 billion. 

On the other hand, India has a world of problems: it has obsolete artillery and air defense systems; a rigid attitude to military doctrine and interservice cooperation; a navy whose only aircraft carrier is creaking towards retirement after more than five decades in British and Indian service; and two neighbors – China and Pakistan – which seem to have a much better record of getting a better return on their defense investments. 

With all this in mind, the recent Aero India 2013 airshow in Bangalore was a great chance to assess whether, from a military standpoint, India was going in the right direction or continued to suffer from the same issues. 

First up, the good news for India: the Indian Air Force (IAF) is one part of the military that is buying its way into being a capable, 21st century force. While local journalists told me that the big story was whether Russia was losing its edge as India’s preeminent military supplier, the other side of the coin is how New Delhi’s diversifying its supply chain to get the best from an increasingly competitive global defense market. 

De-politicise defence acquisition processes

Author: Ashok K Mehta 

The Government must review and make the procurement system less cumbersome. The 2009 Bernard Grey review in the UK did just that. Contrast it to the Indian method of canceling contracts and blacklisting firms 

There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip. AgustaWestland101 VVIP helicopter should have made its maiden flight on Friday carrying President Pranab Mukherjee from Jaisalmer to Pokharan to witness Exercise Iron Fist, the IAF’s premier air power demonstration held every two years. Instead, he will travel in the ageing though modified Mi8 helicopter. In another modified Mi8 helicopter, Union Minister for Defence AK Antony will give a lift to an Opposition predecessor Jaswant Singh for the same event. 

AW101 is a unique helicopter. The pilot sits on the left and not on the right as in other machines. The rotors of the three-engine helicopter move in an anti-clockwise direction, not clockwise, as in other helicopters. The feel of the ultra-safe helicopter is completely different from others, say IAF pilots who have trained in them. The Hindon-based VVIP Mi8 squadron will be phased out within the next 12 months and will require another life-cycle extension in case the contract is cancelled. 

The IAF is hoping that the contract will not be cancelled as it will set the programme back by at least another five years. Westland was bought over by Agusta, and AgustaWestland, the UK subsidiary of Italy’s Finmeccanica, has been issued a notice to come clean. In his conversations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron tried to insulate the contract and AW from being blacklisted as it would affect jobs in Somerset where the helicopter is made. He also lobbied for Eurofighter Typhoon which lost to the French Dassault Rafale, the contract for which has yet to be signed. Linked to AW, a Britisher, Mr Christian Michel, who was allegedly the agent for Dassault Mirage 2000 contract more than a decade ago, could create a problem for the Rafale. The IAF says a lot of work has to be done in finalising cost and production norms of the Rafale. If the Government does not wish to get embroiled in the Rs1,00,000 crore deal before the elections, it may shelve it until after 2014. 

The showcause notice to Finmeccanica threatening to cancel the contract will immediately affect its prospects in the Army-led tender for 197 ULH helicopters in which AW is pitted against the French Eurocopter and the US Sikorsky, and other future projects like Naval radars and the design of the aircraft carrier in the $100 billion arms market in India over the next five to seven years. 

This is perhaps the first time any bribe giver has named the bribe takers and spelt out the services they provided. This is also the first time that payment details have been indicated and names of military officers — a Brigadier Saini who apparently claimed he would be able to swing another deal and former Air Chief, Air Marshal SP Tyagi, who allegedly tweaked the Air Staff Requirement — are mentioned in the Milan dispatches. These are extraordinary bits of findings emanating from the Italian court’s investigations. 

David Cameron in Mumbai: Europe's passage to India

The Guardian, Monday 18 February 2013

UK's importance to India is as a gateway to European markets, a trump card the PM half took out of his hand with his EU speech 

India has so many would-be partners that if international affairs were a ball her dance card would be full to overflowing. David Cameron is only the latest in a long series of western leaders who have arrived in New Delhi on a puff of somewhat overblown rhetoric, leading a train of hopeful businessmen, and aspiring to leave India with a pocketful of contracts.

Here is Barack Obama in 2010: "The relationship between our countries is unique … We are two great republics dedicated to liberty and justice and equality of all people. And we are two free economies where people have the freedom to pursue ideas and innovation that can change the world. And that's why I believe that India and America are indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time."

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, likes the "Indo-German strategic partnership" so much that she even arranged a joint Indo-German cabinet meeting during her visit in 2011. During his own recent trip, President François Hollande mused, perhaps rather romantically, since he was speaking on St Valentine's Day, that "I do sense a connection between France and India. India expects much of France – not just in economic terms, but also culturally and politically … We complement each other very significantly, because we can come together in the field of technology and in politics we can shape the world."

French commentators happily noted that, just as France seemed near to closing a deal to sell India Rafale military jets, supposed to have done well in Mali, an Indo-Italian helicopter deal, in which Westland has a part, was falling apart because of corruption allegations.

Now, hot on Mr Hollande's heels, comes David Cameron, also come to woo. His line is – surprise, surprise – that India and the United Kingdom can forge one of "the great partnerships of the 21st century". Speaking at Unilever headquarters in Mumbai, the first stop on his trip, he told the audience: "India's rise is going to be one of the great phenomena of this century and it is incredibly impressive to see … Britain wants to be your partner of choice. We've only just started on the sort of partnership that we could build. As far as I'm concerned, the sky is the limit."

There is undeniably something comic in this roundelay. India cannot have four (or five, or six, for there are plenty of other contenders) equally unique partners. What it can do is have useful relationships with many countries, including Britain. The question for Mr Cameron, leading the largest British trade delegation ever sent to India, is whether we have any special advantage in this competition. 

True, we were the colonial power. True, the institutions of independent India were shaped by British political and legal traditions. True, there is a large Indian diaspora in this country. True, many educated Indians speak our language. True, there is still a residue of the fascination, always mixed with perplexity, with which the two countries historically regarded each other. Yet none of this guarantees a sound relationship, especially an economic one.

China planned drone strike in Myanmar

Published: February 19, 2013

Ananth Krishnan 

China considered carrying out its first drone strike beyond its borders last year to take out a gang leader in Myanmar convicted for killing 13 Chinese sailors. 

Providing a rare insight into China’s fast-expanding drone capabilities, and willingness to use it, a top official revealed in an interview with a Chinese newspaper that the government had planned to use an unmanned aircraft to bomb an area in neighbouring Myanmar where Naw Kham, the leader of a drug gang, was thought to be in hiding. 

That China appears to have the capability to carry out drone strikes beyond its borders underscores the rapid strides made by the domestic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry, which has surprised foreign observers in recent years. Chinese officials said last year that they had begun to deploy UAVs for surveillance in border areas, besides for a range of civilian purposes at home. 

Naw Kham reportedly led one of the biggest armed gangs in the “Golden Triangle” region near the Mekong river and was responsible for killing 13 sailors in October 2011. 

“One plan was to use an unmanned aircraft to carry 20 kilograms of TNT to bomb the area, but the plan was rejected, because the order was to catch him alive,” Liu Yuejin, the director of the Ministry of Public Security’s anti-drug bureau, told the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday. He added that China’s Beidou satellite positioning system had also “provided tremendous assistance” in identifying and catching an associate of Kham’s, who had been hiding in the mountains of north-eastern Myanmar. 

Naw Kham was caught in April last year, after police tracked him to a town in northern Myanmar and conducted a joint ambush with police forces in neighbouring Laos along the Mekong river. He was sentenced to death in November last year for killing the sailors.

China now considering drone strikes in its drug war

Posted By J. Dana Stuster 
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chinese government officials considered using an armed unmanned aerial vehicle to target a drug trafficker hiding in Myanmar, according to an interview with Liu Yuejin, the director of China's Public Security Ministry's anti-drug bureau that appeared in Global Times on Monday. The target, Naw Kham, wanted for a drug-trafficking related attack that killed 13 Chinese sailors, was eventually captured last April in a joint Chinese-Laotian operation in Laos and is now appealing a death sentence in China. Yuejin's comments are an unusual glimpse into China's considerations for the use of drone strikes, a tactic that is no longer used exclusively by the United States. 

The proposed Chinese strike would have occurred in Myanmar's restive north, where the Naypyidaw government has struggled to control ethnic conflicts and a thriving drug trade. Much like the U.S. official rationale as for strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, China could have either sought Naypyidaw's support or credibly claimed that the government was "unwilling or unable to suppress the threat posed by the individual being targeted," in the words of the Obama administration's white paper on its own targeted killing program. Similarly, as a violent drug trafficker tied to the deaths of Chinese sailors, China could have justified the potential drone strike under the white paper's loose definition of the "imminent threat of violent attack" against the homeland -- much as the United States justified targeting al Qaeda militants tied to the bombing of the USS Cole with drone strikes, beginning Abu Ali al-Harithi in 2002 (well before the white paper was authored). 

The admission that the Chinese government considered a drone strike comes as its relationship with Myanmar has become increasingly strained amid stalled economic projects and new competition for influence with the West. China also appears to have placed special emphasis on their UAV programs in recent months, unveiling new models (that look suspiciously like U.S.-made Predator and Reaper drones) and retrofitting old Shenyang J-6 jets to fly by remote control. 

Yuejin told Global Times that the drone strike option was passed over because of instructions to capture Naw Kham alive, but his comments demonstrate that China is weighing targeted killings seriously. When -- almost certainly not "if" -- China conducts its first drone strike, it will join just three other nations -- the United States, Britain, and Israel -- and place itself among the drone powers in the ongoing international assessment of the legality of these operations and whether they abridge international law and the established concept of sovereignty.

Does China Want Change?

(Ed.: The following is a guest post by Rory Truex, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Yale University. Rory is currently conducting field work in China.) 

Among China watchers, there is an ever-louder group of voices singing the imminent downfall of the country’s political system. The chorus goes something as follows: “The faux representation afforded by the National People’s Congress, the empty channels for public participation, the meaningless village elections— these shell institutions do little to stem the CCP’s growing legitimacy deficit. Protests are already on the rise. Sooner or later, something will happen and the people will rise up and demand real democracy. It’s only a matter of time.” 

For many in the prediction game, that time has already come and gone, or it is rapidly approaching. In 2001, Gordon Chang predicted The Coming Collapse of China, asserting that underperforming loans would break China’s financial system and trigger the fall of the CCP within a decade. In a 2011 editorial, Chang revised his estimates to say that the system would fall within one year’s time. This has also proven false. In 1996, Henry Rowen used economic data to predict that China will become democratic “around the year 2015.” 

Perhaps the reason the “fall of China” prediction has fallen flat to date is that it rests on the notion that Chinese citizens actually want a new political system. A simple glance at the data, or simple discussions with a few citizens, would make us reconsider this assumption.

The figure above shows summary data from the fourth wave (2005-2008) of the World Values Survey (WVS). Among other attitudinal questions, the WVS asks respondents their level of confidence in their government on a four-point scale. The bars reflect the fraction of respondents responding “a great deal” or “quite a lot.” With the exception of Vietnam, Chinese citizens voice greater support of their government than any other country in the world. 

SPRING’S TRUE COLOURS - The ownership of history is being recovered in Bangladesh Deb Mukharji

Bangladesh is presently witnessing widespread upsurge of student power focused on the war-crimes trial of some of those accused of crimes against their fellow citizens in 1971. The faultlines in the history of Bangladesh lie exposed after 41 years. Verdicts on the trial of the first two of those charged with heinous crimes against the people in 1971 evoked widespread protests and strikes by the Jamaat-e-Islami, whose leading figures are under the scanner of the war crimes tribunal. The object of the first verdict, a sentence of capital punishment, is believed to have fled to Pakistan, while the second has been sentenced to life imprisonment. This, in turn, has led to a tsunami of protests from the youth, demanding the death penalty for all accused. The issue is squarely joined. 

There may have been some in East Pakistan in 1971 who had with honest conviction believed in Pakistan, until brutally disabused by the marauding Pakistani army. Some, however, were blinkered and bigoted enough not only in their commitment to Pakistan, but in aiding and abetting the Pakistan army in its savage onslaught against the people of the land, and themselves participated with wanton abandon. Many of these belonged to the stables of the Jamaat and are being called to account. 

The origins of the present explosion of public sentiment lie in the inadequacy of the steps taken by the post-liberation government against those who had collaborated with the Pakistan army. In the years that followed, military rule saw the whole-sale induction of these elements into the politics of Bangladesh. The Jamaat was allowed to gain in influence and both the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League found it expedient, at different times, to defer to their ‘Islamic’ pretensions. To the dismay of many, people with blood on their hands from 1971 were allowed to fly the red-and-green flag of Bangladesh as central ministers in the BNP-Jamaat coalition from 2001-2006. This was the period when government indifference, if not collusion, brought Bangladesh to the brink of the abyss of Islamic fundamentalism. 

A leading Bangladesh newspaper has commented that Bangladesh now faces a “unique historical moment whose significance needs to be appreciated”. The principles that had guided the student movements in the 1960s, and which had been the bedrock of the War of Independence of 1971, had been lost in the miasma of the manipulative cynicism of politics in later years. Far from being apologetic, the Jamaat has had the effrontery to acclaim its stand in 1971. Three decades ago, the “mother of the martyr”, Jahanara Imam, had instituted a people’s court to try war criminals, for which she was charged with treason. Her pioneering role has never been acknowledged by any government, but the tributes paid to her in the current phase of agitation demonstrate that the people have not forgotten. Her movement, and those of others, subsequently had kept alive the spirit of ’71. The war-crimes tribunal provided a focus for the pent-up resentment of the youth, who now appear determined to reclaim their lost heritage. 

The Coming Water Wars

By Clark S. Judge February 19, 2013

Recently here at the Thomas Jefferson Street blog, I looked at surprises that the next four years could spring on the nation. I focused on separatist movements around the world, in Asia and Africa, of course, but also in Europe. The gist was that the world map could change quickly, dramatically, and soon if even a few of these movements succeed. 

But what other Jacks are poised to pop out of the global box? 

I have taped two world maps to my office wall. Dated 2011 and 2012, they highlight the areas of armed conflict at the beginning of those years. Published annually by the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, each marks in bright red regions where frequent and organized fighting is in process. Various lighter shades indicate lesser levels of clashing. If you look carefully on the 2011 edition, here and there you will also see drawings of water drops. These indicate areas where clashes have or could soon occur over access to water. 

Around the world, the Institute has fingered more than twenty conflicts and potential conflicts concerning division of river flows between upstream and downstream users. These range from tensions within China over the Yangtze to discord between Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Guinea over the Niger and between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey over the Tigris and Euphrates. Even the United States is on the list: The United States and Mexico have long squabbled over the Rio Grande, Rio Bravo, Rio Conchos, and Colorado systems, all of which rise in the United States but are crucial to northern Mexico. 

As with separatist movements, water disputes also reach into what before the financial crisis Americans were inclined to regard as placid Europe. In 1997 the International Court of Justice was asked to resolve a controversy between the Slovak Republic and Hungary. At issue were a 1947 treaty and Slovakia's (and before it Czechoslovakia's) recent diversion of the Danube. The five-year-long disagreement occasioned escalating verbal battles, massive public protests and at one point military maneuvers along the border. 

Sri Lanka’s squandered opportunities

By Editorial Board, Published: February 19 

ALMOST FOUR years ago, the Sri Lankan government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa won a decisive victory in a 26-year-long civil war with rebels from the island’s minority Tamil community. The cost was horrific: A United Nations investigation subsequently found that up to 40,000 civilians may have died in the government's final offensive. But the triumph made Mr. Rajapaksa a hero among the majority Sinhalese community and gave him an opportunity to modernize his country while healing its ethnic rift. 

Unfortunately, the president and his family — two brothers hold cabinet positions — have pursued just the opposite course. Having acquired a two-thirds parliamentary majority by inducing the defection of opposition representatives, the ruling party rewrote the constitution to eliminate a two-term limit on the president. Government critics in the press, civil society organizations and the judiciary have been threatened and sometimes attacked by pro-government thugs. According to Human Rights Watch, several thousand people are detained without charge, and state security forces have continued to abuse Tamil activists, including through torture and sexual assault. 

The regime has meanwhile brushed off demands by the U.N. Human Rights Council that it conduct a serious investigation into crimes that may have been committed in the final months of the war. Last week the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that no mechanism had been established to trace people who went missing and that investigations of disappearances had not led to arrests or prosecutions.

This year Mr. Rajapaksa has taken two more big steps in the wrong direction. Last month he ratified the impeachment of the chief justice of the supreme court and installed a close follower in her place, neutering the judiciary’s independence. The president’s legislative majority initiated the impeachment after the court ruled against an economic development initiative by one of the Rajapaksa brothers; the plan ignored constitutionally guaranteed rights for local governments.

House of Cards Is a House of Cards

Why can't Americans do political intrigue like the Brits? 

In Britain's 1990 House of Cards, the Machiavellian minister, Francis Urquhart, is referred to as ‘FU' by those around him. In the American adaptation, released this month in a 13-part series available only on Netflix, the congressman's name is Francis Underwood. Same initials, but you never hear them. The inside joke has gone. 

Much more had changed in the Netflix version. The U.S. production wasn't just longer. Like much of American political drama, it was bigger and glosser than its British counterpart. The stakes were higher, the story lines more implausible, the characters at times unrecognizable. (Has anyone ever seen a congressional wife as glamorous as Mrs. Underwood? Or, for that matter, an NGO office Anna Wintour would be comfortable holding meetings in?) 

Spacey's performance as Underwood lacked the rapier-like realism of Ian Richardson's Urquhart. It wasn't just Spacey's hit-or-miss Southern drawl that was unrealistic, it was his politics too. Would any politician really care about pushing an expensive education bill through the House? A more likely issue would have been defense -- or gambling. 

House of Cards isn't the first British production to be heavily made over for American audiences. Fans of the BBC series State of Play, which begins with a House of Commons researcher being pushed to her death on the London Underground, might wonder at the hyperbolic script in the Russell Crowe/Ben Affleck movie adaption. ("Billions of dollars. That's wrath of God money.") 

But plausible and watchable don't always mean the same thing. Even fans of original U.S. programming like Scandal, 24, or Political Animals realize we are not watching anything close to an accurate representation of political intrigue. And as for the West Wing, yes there was oodles of intrigue but very little of it political. 

So why is American so bad at this game? The difference begins at the source. Compare London's Prime Minister's Question Time to any debate on Washington's Senate or House floors and you'll immediately understand the difference in style. Britain produces politicians who are at ease making inside jokes and classical references (just look at these recent horsemeat scandal jokes by MPs). Their language is articulate, produced by an education that prizes debate. In London, speeches are more likely to be made than read and sarcasm is a plus. Politicians see themselves as entertainers. (Exhibit A: London Mayor Boris Johnson.) The entertainment takes place in Westminster. Screenwriters just have to adapt what they hear. 

Why America Reserves the Right to Nuke You First

And why it shouldn't. 

In 1945, Harry Truman ordered the first atomic bombing of another country; today, Barack Obama reserves the right to mount the world's next nuclear strike -- as have all American presidents since Truman. It is very odd that senior U.S. foreign policy officials, who have devoted most of the past seven decades to trying to control the spread of nuclear weapons, still want Washington to be able to use them first in a pinch. Even President Obama, a supporter of the abolition of all nuclear weapons, wants to be able to fire the first nuclear shot. No wonder North Korea, Iran, and others view efforts to get them to renounce their proliferation programs with much skepticism. 

To be sure, the American ardor for atomic weapons has cooled since the famous Fortune magazine survey of December 1945, in which 22 percent of the public expressed the view that far more than "just" two nukes should have been dropped on Japan. Yet even as enthusiasm for inflicting massive destruction on others waned, there was still considerable fascination with these weapons in government and the military. Indeed, the idea of waging preventive nuclear war on Soviet Russia or communist China -- that is, hitting them before they had nukes of their own -- was closely considered for years, finally being rejected by Dwight Eisenhower in 1954. 

This was the same year, however, that he articulated a doctrine of "massive retaliation" for any sort of act of aggression. Thus an incursion by some aggressor's conventional forces was now theoretically subject to a nuclear riposte. The idea was that this threat would keep the peace around the world. It didn't. Instead, a spate of irregular wars and acts of terrorism arose and, as Thomas Schelling put it in his classic Arms and Influence, the massive retaliation policy "was in decline almost from its enunciation." 

Still, a version of massive retaliation lived on into the 1960s in the minds of NATO strategists who were concerned that Russian numerical superiority in tanks and warplanes was too great to match. And even after Western forces were beefed up, making conventional defense possible, the nuclear option was kept on the table in the form of an attractive euphemism, "flexible response." This meant that NATO would try to defend without resort to nukes, but would use them if it had to. Every "Reforger" exercise that began with conventional defense ended with the call for nuclear strikes. 

Sink or Swim

Why doesn't America train its diplomats? 

Imagine the following scenario: A 29-year-old restaurant manager becomes a U.S. diplomat. Five years later, he is appointed the founding director of the Arabian Peninsula office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a major State Department program aimed at creating and strengthening civil society in a region vital to global stability. 

Even though he is considered a good officer in general, the young diplomat has little idea how to do his new job. He speaks no Arabic and has never managed people or a budget outside a restaurant -- let alone $2 million of taxpayers' money. He has minimal knowledge of democracy promotion, institution-building, or grant-making, but he is expected to identify suitable NGOs in eight countries and award them grants to build an alternative to the authoritarian regimes across the Middle East. 

Despite the diplomat's obvious inexperience, he is sent to his new post in Abu Dhabi without a day of training. The State Department expects him to learn how to do his job by osmosis -- to watch colleagues, figure things out on his own, improvise, and rely on luck. 

There is no need to imagine this scenario -- it actually happened in 2004 to a U.S. Foreign Service officer named Hans Wechsel. Having completed his undergraduate degree in secondary education at Montana State University, Wechsel managed restaurants in Montana and Oregon before passing the difficult written and oral Foreign Service exams in 1999. He is the first to admit that his performance in Abu Dhabi suffered from lack of training.